We had been quarantined and under curfew for 85 days:
Gordy and I set out with Ernesto, Rev. Cancu’s driver, with 65 bags that each contained rice, beans, pigeon peas, spaghetti noodles, sardines and salami. We also had an additional 80# bag of rice in the back of the van. We headed out along the ocean road. It was surprisingly quite emotional for us to drive outside of the city after 85 days of being restricted to our neighborhood. We drove along the ocean for a few miles and then began to zig zag into some rural communities.
Our driver Ernesto grew up in an orphanage in the southwestern part of the country. He told us stories from his childhood and we talked about the effects of the virus in the DR and about the protests in the United States. Dominicans definitely follow the news in the north since over 1,000,000 of their family members live in New York City. It was so touching to hear about the world from his perspective.
We arrived first in San Rafael at Pastor Carolina’s church. There were many youth from her church there to receive the bags and help her to distribute them. One of the young men is in seminary, training to be a pastor with her and another woman was there, a lay pastor from their mission church in nearby Samangola.
We brought the food into the church and spent some time taking a look at a new construction project in the works.
When we were ready to leave, Pastor Carolina asked about the other 80 pounds of rice (Rev. Cancu had called her.). Ernesto had already decided that the families in another community really needed that extra rice so he and Carolina had to make a decision together. She was so passionate about the families in her own church that she was not going to simply concede to Ernesto. We left half of the extra rice for her to share.
We all prayed together.
We went on to three other communities where Pastor Santiago is in charge. Gordy has worked with Pastor Santiago in the past in the community of La Jagua, which is a batey community where Haitian sugar cane workers settled many generations ago. Gordy helped them expand their little church and begin a parsonage on the second floor of the church. We also worked with Solar Ovens and Vacation Bible School in that community. We arrived in Yaguate, which is the mother church to La Jagua, and a small group of elders were waiting for us. They knew exactly where the food would go and were all so grateful. All of us were with face masks and couldn’t do the customary hand shaking and hugging. The little group immediately shared their frustrations with the restrictions of the pandemic. They told us how much they wanted to have a service together and sing.
We all prayed together.