Note: The following was written by Samantha Edinger, a member of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh who was awarded a $500 Study Grant from the Synod of the Trinity. Those funds were awarded to Grove City College where Samantha is a student, and the money helped cover her costs to the Dominican Republic from Jan. 7-21, 2017. To learn more about the Synod’s Study Grants, click here.
My two weeks in the Dominican Republic has been life-changing to say the least. I learned so much about my Father and my relationship with Him. I grew more spiritually in two weeks then I have over the past year. I cannot honestly thank you enough for the financial assistance that made this experience possible.
I went down to the Dominican Republic with a group from Grove City College to volunteer at Meeting God in Missions. It is in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. My favorite part about Meeting God in Missions was that it allows its volunteers to perform various service projects ranging from vacation Bible school to construction. I enjoyed the variety of ministries because it allowed you to see the Dominican Republic from many different perspectives. During my two weeks I was able to serve on ministries such as vacation Bible school, medical, optical and construction.
Each ministry holds a special place in my heart. There are three major experiences that I will never forget. First, in the optical ministry, a woman got glasses for the first time in her life. When she put her glasses on, she said in English, “I see. I see. Now I can read my Bible.” There was a powerful presence in the room that day.
Additionally, during my time in the vacation Bible school ministry, I witnessed numerous children being saved. They were expressing their love for Jesus Christ. It was so uplifting to see children so excited about the Lord. Lastly, working on the construction ministry fulfilled me. At the construction ministry, I helped build a school for the deaf. Throughout the week, members of the deaf school performed songs for us at the Meeting God in Missions compound. The joy these children possessed made the hard construction work all worth it. There were so many God sightings throughout the week, but these three memories are vivid in my mind.
One of my favorite activities in the Dominican Republic was attending local churches. The churches are nothing like the churches in America. They are a lot smaller than the churches around me, but they have as big of a heart for the Lord (if not a bigger). Church services are filled with dancing and clapping. As you drive up to the churches, you can hear their praises. It was such an amazing experience being surrounded by people who worship the same God as you, but in different ways.
This trip also showed me how much the Lord has blessed me. A man also staying at Meeting God in Missions told me, “The people living in the Dominican Republic have little, but they are so happy. How can we be so upset when we have everything?” This truly hit home for me. I find myself constantly comparing myself to what other people have and what I do not have. True joy does not come from material objects though; it comes from the Lord.
Overall, the Dominican Republic has completely reformed my spiritual life. One of my biggest takeaways from the trip is the importance of morning devotions. In the morning, we would wake up and do our personal devotions followed by worship and a short message. Putting God first in your schedule is truly important. It sets the tone for the rest of the day, and I cannot thank Meeting God in Missions enough for stressing this.
I find myself thanking the Lord more and more for the blessings He has put into my life, whereas before I took these blessings for granted. My prayer life has completely transformed. Before, praying was a task. Now, I do not view it as something I simply have to check off my list. I learned the importance of becoming a spirit-filled Christian. It is easy to fall into the trap of becoming a cardinal Christian or a Christian simply going through the motions. Though, I am still a work in progress, I find myself seeking to know God more and more each day.
Before going on this missions trip, I was excited to make a difference in the lives of the people living in the Dominican Republic. Though this occurred, they made more of an impact on me. Their joy for the Lord showed me a whole new world. I was only in the Dominican Republic for two weeks, but I learned so much information and grew immensely as a person and a Christian. I would like to thank the Synod of the Trinity again for giving me the opportunity to grow spiritually. This trip honestly transformed my life, and I cannot wait to see what God has planned for me in the future.