Villa Esperanza

Villa Esperanza

About Me - trying to live a life that is as full as it can possibly be - loving God & loving others

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Time to get inspired!

24 hours ago I was with Mission DIrect team 4, dedicating the two homes that they had sponsored to two beautiful families. We visited the shacks that the families were moving from and got a real insight into the massive difference that these new homes would make to them.
The homes may not look all that amazing to us, in our European/North American eyes, but compared to mud floor, tin shacks that leak every time it rains and have to toilets, the homes are palacial.

The homes are a free gift to the people, they dont have to pay any rent, which means that the tiny incomes the families may be able to scrape together can now be spent on food or other essentials. This makes a massive difference, as does the fact that the new homes are built in new communities, where we also build medical clinics, schools and churches. The aim of the Samaritan Foundation is to improove people's lives, not just give them a new house.

Team 4 were a lovely team, they were committed to getting the job done, and to serving the people here in any way they could. They were flexible and helpful and that truely was a blessing to me as their leader, and to the people here.

Having worked with mission teams for the last 3 1/2 years, in the same area, I have met some amazing people! There is one lady that I would like to tell you about today, because she never ceases to inspire me. I have heard her share her life story dozens of times, but it still makes me smile, feel inspired and sometimes shed a tear or two. This lady is one of my heroes of the faith, and its time you got to hear more about her....

Sister Mercedes!!!!

She is a normal lady, living a devout life as a nun in the Dominican. One day she felt God calling her to begin working with disabled children, so she went to help at a children’s home. After 3 months Sister Mercedes returned to live in her nunnery. People around her kept asking her why she didn’t start her own home for abandoned children and orphans. Sister Mercedes was pretty reluctant to take on such a massive commitment alone, but God kept putting it on her heart and mind…. So after much prayer, reluctantly but obediently, Sister Mercedes opened a children’s home, called Nazareth House. She started 11 years ago with 5 children, and today has 18 children living with her. 16 of the children have physical and mental disabilities; only 7 of the children are able to attend school.
Sister Mercedes has no regular financial support from anyone and is totally, 100% reliant on God for everything – for her own personal needs and for the needs of her 18 children and 4 staff. The Dominican governments don’t support Sister Mercedes; there are no government benefits or social healthcare available to her and the children. Medication is expensive, and most of the children need lots of medication due to their complex disabilities. To trust in God and to step out in such real, dependent faith for His constant provision – not just for your own needs but for those of so many others too – that is inspiring faith. Sister Mercedes doesn’t have a big bank account waiting as a back-up if God falls through one day. If there is no money, they don’t eat. If there is no money they can’t pay their rent. She lives on the edge, but without stress!
Nazareth House is not an institution, it is Sister Mercedes own home, which she shares with her 18 children. The children call her Mum. She doesn’t get to have a day off. She loves her children completely and sacrificially and she had no idea that this would be God’s call for her life.
She is one of the most humble women I have ever met, doing an amazing and beautiful thing to serve God and his people. Her love for God and conviction to care for the children that no one else wanted is what makes Sister Mercedes my hero of the faith.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 v19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
… Moving on to verse 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
Sister Mercedes is someone who embodies this passage. She prays, she doesn’t worry. She knows her Father will provide, and He does.

When the Holy Spirit tugs at your heart, you have to act. It is a dangerous thing to ignore God. Many of the people I work with here have similar testimonies as to how they ended up working full time in missions – most of us were a little reluctant but were obedient in a small way, which God used to lead us into bigger things. Be faithful in the little things, God has a BIG adventure in store for each and every one of us – it might not be to open a Nazareth House, but you never know!!!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Learning....

Its August which means two things....1.The Dominican is CRAZY hot and HUMID 2.Mission teams are here from England, building homes....! Now in England its not ever crazy hot or humid, even though English people like to moan about the weather, their idea of hot is nothing close to the DR's idea of hot! We have all been working really hard in the hot sun, sweating like pigs! There have been some stinky stinky bus rides back to the hotel after construction sessions!!

Since June I've been working with teams solidly, building basic housing for those living in shacks. Giving people a home is an amazing thing, and house dedication day makes all the hot construction well worth the effort, even though construction is not something that I get overly excited by anymore! The end justifies the means, and on Monday we are giving two more families new homes. So far this summer the organisation I am here with has given 4 homes, with another 4 about to be handed over in the next 3 weeks.
Every mission team is different and has a different character to it. Each group of people notice new and different things - everyone has a different perspective on what they see and experience here, even though most teams are doing similar activities. It excites me to see teams really trying to understand the situation that people here are living in, trying to understand why it is hard for many Haitian people to find work in the Dominican, trying to understand a little of the daily struggles that thousands of people here face. Its so different to British life and culture and it takes a while to even begin to understand life here. Ive been here 3 1/2 years and still dont claim to understand!

What excites me is when people on teams ask questions, to try and gain understanding, instead of making assumptions. We see people sitting around and our first assumption might be that people are lazy and cant be bothered to go to work... when we ask questions we begin to discover why people arent working - without the legal documention required it is almost impossible to find fairly paid employment. Transport to get out of the villages we work in costs at least an hours wage, if not more.

My hope is that we all continue to ask questions, and to learn and discover more and more. Understanding leads to compassion, empathy and action.

The current mission ream have 4 more days here with us, they are a fantastic group, full of questions and willing to serve and get involved. We almost managed to wear them out yesterday, with two days of full-on construction... today they are recovering! Im recoving too...! Then I have 5 day and the next team arrives for two weeks! Summer is busy, busy, busy, but worth the exhaustion!!

Im hoping that the next batch of 28 birth certificates will be ready to distribute, along with the 6 passports being ready to collect next week too... ! Seeing the fruit of ones labor is SUCH FUN!