To change the world start with one step…If you give, you, you begin to live…you get the world. – Dave Matthews Band-You Might Die Trying
The more you give yourself to helping others, the more life and the world in which we live begins to make sense. It illuminates the purpose for our lives. Recently, I was part of a group that had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic with an organization called Makarios to help complete renovations to a school focused on providing education to Haitian immigrants who otherwise would not have the ability to attend school in the country.
Makarios is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educational development in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and other impoverished areas of the world that is committed to a child’s spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual growth, to provide hope for a better future.
Our journey to the Dominican Republic began several months ago. For all it was a walk by faith and trust for an experience we could not fully be prepared. The team met and made plans. However, similar to all things in life, our plan could only take us so far before relinquishing control and allowing the true plan to unfold and guide us down our intended path.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27
To care for the orphans and widows was the impetus of our mission trip. James 1:27 can be seen as the foundation for Makarios and the Makarios school in the Dominican Republic. What greater purpose than to provide hope through education, food, encouragement and love? It was the motivation for our journey. And so, on August 13 we went.
We saw, we experienced and had emotions that produced a heart change in everyone. We interacted with the local children through various activities such as a Vacation Bible School, sports, games and simply conversing. However, as we lived life with the Makarios staff for a week it became clear that our greatest calling for the trip was in providing support with preparing the school, developing relationships with the Makarios staff and living in true community.
As we spent time in the village where we stayed as well as visited Haitian bateyes, the team was humbled to see that true community can be practiced daily. We were overwhelmed by the joy displayed from those who were in the greatest depths of poverty many of us have ever witnessed and viewed what it meant to live life correctly despite and without allowing circumstances to dictate one’s view and approach to life. Everything in the villages was built around the premise of survival through living in community. We were amazed to find that we were surrounded by smiles, surrounded by joy. Happiness is not found in possessions, but is an attitude toward all experiences one encounters in life. People describe this idea almost daily, but we were given a vision to its reality by the joy found in a place and a people that had nothing but the desire to live.
As our group reenters and acclimates to our lives before our journey began, there is a strong desire to not allow this previous existence to become to comfortable and a need to continue the community that was formed many miles away. The strength of our bond provides a greater understanding to the journey that is faith and encouragement to share it with others. The group remains committed to each other and focused on taking on new projects that support Makarios in the coming year. Austinites can support the mission of Makarios daily through the local coffee shop Dominican Joe’s. Its primary coffee is purchased from Makarios, which works directly with farmers in the region and pays fair trade prices for the coffee. The purchase of the coffee also helps provide scholarships to students in need.
The blessings of our journey to the Dominican Republic continue as we walk together down the path with faith, trust and community. September 20 marked the first day of school at Makarios in the Dominican Republic. Here is a great post displaying the schools transformation during the summer in preparation for this school year.