Dordt College News

AMOR trips

January 21, 2003

A total of 35 Dordt College students participated in mission trips to Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic with AMOR (A Mission OutReach) during the Dordt College winter break.

Thirteen of the students went to Nicaragua, where they worked at “the ranch,” a center where Nicaraguans receive an education about how to create and maintain a portion of land to earn a living from this resource. AMOR volunteers built an office, painted a ceiling, picked the pigeon pea crop and cleaned the goat barn (yes, including scooping manure!). They also spend a couple days at the Christian Academy Center doing some painting and dirt work, as well as meeting and helping the teachers get ready for another semester. Other jobs included pouring and mixing cement, tying rebar and digging trenches.

At Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic, 12 students worked with Worldwide Christian Schools and COCREF. They did block laying, working at two different schools to build additional bathroom stalls and an office, along with walls around the schoolyard. While there, they were able to interact with the locals, and “were able to see the how awesome God is.” AMOR Haiti

At Haiti, 10 students worked at an orphanage called Children of the Promise. They helped take care of the babies and also did some construction work. They constructed two round houses on a new site where the orphanage is eventually going to be located.

The following are some of the reactions AMOR volunteers had about their trips:

Rachal Ledeboer, Nicaragua: “It was an amazing experience and difficult to put into words. But, we were able to take an indepth look at the diversified Nicaraguan culture and landscape while helping several Christian organizations further their ministries in a struggling nation. Seeing firsthand some of the polarization between the rich and poor in that nation was also difficult. At the same time, it was great to see Christianity spreading through various levels of the country and the positive influences that are resulting from His work in Nicaragua.”

Sally Vander Griend, Nicaragua: “AMOR has been such a blessing to me. In the short 2 weeks you grow so close to the other team members, while you of course are continually learning more about yourself. Our team had a mission and we all worked incredibly hard. It's such a rewarding experience to know that your team plays a small role in missions around the world. The people we met in Nicaragua were also very encouraging to us. John Lee, a missionary who lives in Nicaragua, was such an awesome role model for our entire team. He was doing exactly when the Lord wanted him to do, and to see someone who was pretty young being led to another country was very encouraging. I would and will encourage everyone I know to go on AMOR. It was an awesome experience and one that has reshaped my attitude.”

Christy Runia, Nicaragua: “AMOR was nothing short of an awesome experience. God's creation is diverse and beautiful in Nicaragua. Working together in another country was challenging at times, learning to do their work the way they wanted it done with their resources. It was a learning experience for all of us and brought us close together as a group. It was good for us to live as they live, with little water (and the water they have is cold), occasionally no electricity, and limited resources. Makes us realize how blessed we really are!”

Katie Van Engen, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: “I am not sure there are words to describe it. It was a true eye opener. The last Saturday we were there a young man started talking to me in both English and Spanish asking me why I was here. I told him I was on a mission project. He said with the church, and that was it...God just shoved this young man on the same path I was on and I was able to witness and share about God's love and his ability to forgive us. And how he is not the only sinner but I am a sinner too. God loves us, he forgives us and he accepts us as we are, because we are his children. It was a truly humbling experience and I can honestly say it has forever changed me.” AMOR Dominican Republic

Steph Gunderson, Dominican Republic: “The Dominican Republic was amazing. There were so many cultural differences even within the country that there was always something new to observe. The atmosphere was so different from what I was use to that it took me a long time to be able to just go with the flow. The Dominicans, in general, were very friendly people who always made us feel welcome and we never felt out of place.

“I think the most awesome experience for me was going to a church service last Sunday where they spoke in Creole so we did not know what words they were saying but could tell by their actions and smiles that they were praising the Lord. It was so amazing. They made us feel so welcome at their church and added extra seating for us in the front and then the Pastor, who we had been working with over the last two weeks at the job site, invited us to have a pop after church with them.”

Rebecca Baber: Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic: “It was awesome and I think everyone should experience another culture.”

Sheresa Wilson, Cap Haitian, Haiti: “It was really amazing, and humbling. At first I didn't like it at all, with rats and tarantulas in our bedroom, a cold shower, a toilet that didn't flush, and just adjusting to the surroundings and culture. It all seemed so dirty and different. Then I began to realize that even though our surroundings were pretty rough by American standards, we still were better off than most of the general population of Haiti. It really made me appreciate the little things. It was also really cool to see how even though our backgrounds, traditions, cultures, and languages were totally different, we still loved and worshiped the same Lord. It was really powerful to see how God can transcend all these barriers and make us one in Him.”

Jimmy Sieperda, Cap Haitian, Haiti: “I thought it was an awesome trip and a great experience for me. I really enjoyed my time down there. It is a lot of hard work and it takes up a lot of time for the missionaries down there to be able to run this orphanage and I was glad that I was able to have the opportunity to go down there and to be able to help them out in the work that they do there every day.”

Sarah De Hoog, Haiti: “My AMOR trip has been an amazing experience. I can't believe the poverty that these people live in and they're not even that far from us. What a different lifestyle. It is strange coming back to Dordt after these two weeks of absolutely no concept of time to having such a strict time schedule and deadlines to meet. Once the sun goes down now I sit in my apartment in the light. When I go outside I don't have to worry about taking my flashlight so that I don't step on a toy or maybe a tarantula and I can actually see where I am going. At Haiti we sat around in the candlelight or with flashlights in hand. When meal times come around I know that I am going to have food to eat, but there we sometimes didn't know the next time we were going to eat because they ran out of bread or cheese in town.”

“We take so many things for granted I can't even fathom it. We never have to worry about having enough water to take a shower or for that matter enough water to drink: in Haiti these little things are what they deal with on a daily basis and it never stops! I get to come back here and jump in the warm shower and put the leftovers in the refridgerator but those things are not an option there. I know going there has really opened my eyes to things that I can do differently and how blessed that I really am.”

“I love children, especially babies, so I was having the time of my life down there. What more could I ask for than to be able at anytime to go grab a baby and play with it for hours teaching them songs, and working with them developmentally and emotionally. But it was also shocking to see the lack of sanitation down there and how far behind some of the children are developmentally, just because of the circumstances that they were born into. But I know just by being there and holding the kids and playing with them made a difference and whether we realize it now or not.”

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