Welcome to the 2011 Onalaska Church of Christ Dominican Republic Missions Ministry web log. This site is to keep you informed about our mission, preparations for our trips and communications with the missionaries in the Dominican Republic.

Our vision is captured in the messages on our flag:

viajar - Servir - madurar
to go - To Serve - to grow

Levante las Velas y Adelante al Horizonte (LLV y AAH)
Hoist the Sails and Onward to the Horizon

Blog updated March 5, 2011
The OCC - DR blog is being updated to provide information about the 2011 trip and the planned visit to the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2012

Accounts from our activities on Thursday, February 17 are now posted.

This Site
This Welcome section and the Current News section that follow have their permanent homes here at the top of the blog. Starting with this update, posts will follow in order written immediately below the Current News. This means that all posts will be available in this window or through the archive list that can be accessed in the Blog Archive menu at the bottom of the right hand side bar.

What time is it in the DR?


Current News

2011 Visit to the DR
The team for the 2011 visit occurred between February 16 and February 22. Reports are being provided in new posts, one post for each day of the trip. We will soon be making plans for our next visit to the Dominican Republic, tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2012.

Day 1: Thursday, February 17

After my visit here in 2009, I wrote in my journal that “I normally wish no ill will on any person or animal, but for one yappy little dog in the apartment next door, I will make an exception.” Now I feel bad that maybe this actually led to some calamity befalling said pooch as I did not hear even a single yap all night. OK, maybe I don’t feel all that bad, what with having actually enjoyed a restful night before a busy day.

As usual, we started the day with breakfast then, after a headcount to make sure we were all present or accounted for, we set out for the exchange office. There, in addition to getting pesos for our dollars, we had a shot of thick, sweet coffee. This is a place I could do business with again! Now, about the headcount thing: this is normally Sharayah’s job but she wasn’t along so it fell to me. She did offer some encouragement, though. On the trip down, she sent me a text that read, “I think even engineers can count to two!” We’ll see.

It was a busy day and before it was over, we had visited with Juan de León Gutierrez and his sons, getting caught up on some new and exciting ministries.

Driving Through Santiago

Our first stop was at Juan senior’s law office below the Cien Fuegos church. We visited briefly and he told us about the new church leader training program, Escuela Teológica Luz y Verdad or ESTELUVE. This is a program of 12 classes which are offered at the church on Thursday evenings. Completing the course requires attending classes over a 14 month period and the first round of classes started this year.

Jeremías de León is the director of admissions and registrations at ESTELUVE and, today, he came along with us on our morning visits as a translator. With David driving the van, he led us into a nearby neighborhood where we met with Jonas de León, who has started a church and education center called Las Piñas. There are about 80 children in the classes, which, at the moment, are not certified. These are children who are not able to go to school for various reasons; Jonas is working to get the school certified, something that will require him to hire professional teachers. Jonas would also like to offer breakfast. All of this, of course, requiring funds which are not available. Jonas makes regular visits to homes in the neighborhood, witnessing and inviting them to church services where there are about 25 members at the present time.

The Learning Center at Las Piñas

Children in Class at Las Piñas

Roadside Fruit Stand

We then made our way to the home of one of the leaders of the Yaguita de Pastor church where Juan’s son, also Juan de León (or “Juancho”) is the pastor. Juan’s wife, Karo, was there along with several other families from the church. We enjoyed fellowship and a wonderful meal of chicken, yellow rice and peas, a lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad and fried yucca. Juancho told us about some of the work being done by the congregation at Yaguita. They have started small group meetings in the nearby neighborhoods of La Pastor and Las Carachas and are encouraging people there to join the congregation. Both neighborhoods are about 5 to 10 minutes from the church by car, 25 minutes on foot. A number of the church leaders have distributed bags of rice as an outreach to the community. Karo leads a women’s group, which meets every 2 weeks. One of the programs was a lesson in candle making with the candles subsequently being sold.


Jeremías and Juancho

Time for Conversation

On the way back to David's house, we visited the Las Carachas neighborhood where the Yaguita church will be holding a revival (see the post for Monday).

In Las Carachas

What's That Going to Look Like?

We found William and Jackeline at the house where William filled us in on his prison ministry, which he is very excited about. He had just had a session of the Authentic Masculinity class with about 65 prisoners attending. He also told us that he would soon be starting a class for the guards. Carmencita was through with work, so she came over and joined us for the remainder of the day,

William, Ramon ('mon) and Carmencita at David and Virginia's

In the evening, we went back to Cien Fuegos to see the ESTELUVE classes in session. There were two classes going at the same time, one in the church sanctuary and the other in the upstairs classroom. Juan hopes to be able to get more desks refurbished so that they can hold all classes in the two classrooms that are set aside for the courses. After an hour, the students swapped rooms for a second round of classes. Then, during the third hour, they all gathered together in the sanctuary for the Spanish 1 class.

One of the ESTELUVE Classes in Session

David Entertains at Cien Fuegos

It was, as I said, an exciting day. There are important things being done in the local churches. The people are reaching out to their neighbors and taking the need for training seriously. We can learn from their example...

It Was a Long Day For All of Us

You can learn more about the de León family ministries at their website, deleonministry.org.

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