Ocean waves, palm trees and fresh passion fruit are usually the trappings of idyllic vacations. But for fifteen intrepid Candlewood adventurers, these Caribbean staples instead framed the scenes of intense spiritual conversations. This small elite crew, comprised of members from across Candlewood’s ministries of The Rock, CWS, and young couples, headed down to the Dominican Republic on May 10th to spend their week in the Caribbean fighting for souls of the Dominican people.
Every morning after debriefing and sharing stories with others on the crew, each team of five ventured out to the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (University of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capitol city) to engage students in conversations about having a relationship with God. And what exciting times were had! The hearts of the Dominican students were incredibly soft and many spent two or three hours dialoguing with the Candlewood teams as they began to understand their need and desire for a relationship with God. Fifteen students made decisions to give their lives to God, and multiple others now have a much deeper grasp of the truth of God’s love for them. Many other students also joined for a daily Bible Study at the University, hosted by the campus student group, La Vid (the Vine). Though a small group, La Vid made up for their numbers with zealous enthusiasm, as many of the students joined the Candlewood teams for the 5-6 hours on campus every afternoon to help in translating conversations with students who spoke only their native language of Spanish.
When not on campus, the teams spent the remainder of their time immersed in the Dominican culture. Volleyball on La Guibia (the beach) with friends newly met at the University, sharing meals with students to get to know them and their culture better, and encouraging the believers of the San Pedro church filled many of the evenings.
The small team from Candlewood did not head off to this foreign country on a whim, though. They were invited to join a sister church in Des Moines, Walnut Creek Church, who has been sending teams to the Dominican Republic for over four years. A team of about 20 from Des Moines joined Candlewood for the May 2014 trip and were very gracious in showing everything they had learned about planning and executing a safe and successful mission trip in the Dominican Republic. The hope is for Candlewood to be able to plan their own individual mission trips in the future where more members can join in sharing the good news of God’s love for us with the Dominicans.
After working long and hard for the entire week in Santo Domingo, the team rejoiced in the great things God had done in their midst. They chose to spend their final afternoon of celebration in the striking blue waters of the Caribbean Sea – the perfect place to reflect on their week of watching God at work in changing hearts, and to give Him the glory for the greatness of His creation.
On May 18th the team said goodbye to their new sisters and brothers in the Lord, and trooped back to the States to continue working for the Lord on their native Nebraska soil.
Wish you could have been a part of this epic mission trip experience? Watch for news in the upcoming months on how you can join the DR 2015 Team!