We Couldn’t Have Known.
A year ago we gathered up our littles, a passel of work clothes, and the faith that we were embarking on a journey to do work that matters in the name of Christ in the unpaved recesses of a big city in the Dominican Republic.
We could not possibly have known how that week would influence and define our family for the next year.
We couldn’t have known that we would meet a woman named Margarita, a mother of eight kids, a mother who had never had a home for those children, who had never had four walls and a sturdy roof to protect her littles from the Caribbean rains or the blistering sun, whose only bathroom for herself and her children – one of whom had special needs – was a PVC pipe in the back of what can best be described as their shanty.
We couldn’t have known we’d be part of the team finishing building Margarita a house. Or that we would stand one afternoon in that house when it was all finished and dedicate that house – in front of Margarita and a cloud of witnesses – to Almighty God with a group chorus of “Lord, prepare me / to be a sanctuary / pure and holy / tired and true / with thanksgiving / I’ll be a living / sanctuary / for you.” Tears flowed.
We couldn’t have known we’d meet a Haitian-born Dominican worker named Max whose skin was as dark as night and yet who let the sun beat down on that skin hour after hour to mix cement that would be taken by bucket brigade to become the floor where Margarita would stand while swaying her littles, where Margarita’s littles would sit and crawl and play just feet from their first real bathroom, just feet from running water in their first-ever sink, just feet from their first front door, the floor under the littles’ first-ever mattresses and furniture.
We couldn’t have known we’d go to a leprosarium and meet a man named Edwin whose aches would leave aches in our hearts for his healing and whose blindness would open our eyes in eternal prayer and hope and soul-piercings for the alleviation of suffering in someone we met once but consider now an eternal brother in Christ.
We couldn’t have known that we’d make lifelong friends with fellow believers we’ll only see once a year, if that. The Sweeneys. Hannah Rose. Hannah Rice. Nicole. Allie. Allison. Joe. John. Emanuel. Alex. Dorca. So many more.
Or that we would count down the days until we could once again work ourselves ragged day after day in the sweltering heat only to count down at the end of each day how many hours it will be before we can get up the next morning and do it all over again.
Or that we would know this very night – the night before we go back to Mission Emanuel in the Dominican Republic with an extraordinary group from our church and from a church in North Carolina – that at the end of this week of what will cement God and His goodness and provision and trustworthiness and love even deeper in our souls, we will already be ready for the next year when we can go back and do it all over again.
We are coming to see you, Sweeneys. And Hannah Rose. And Hannah Rice. And Nicole. And the whole lot of you. And you, Max. And you, Margarita. And you, yes you, Edwin, so dear to us. Do you have any idea how many people have been praying for you a thousand miles away?
And we’ll see you, Christ. Our Savior. Our Lord. Our only real hope. The Light of the world.
See You in the Dominican. And thank You for allowing us to go.