Our Teens Make a Difference in the D.R.
"For sure, I'd go back," says Jack Steurer, 15, one of five boys who traveled to the Dominican Republic earlier this month and saw first-hand how they could make a difference in people's lives. For a week, the mission team, comprised of Jack, Hunter Burnett, Nathan Gargano, Nicholas Wingate and Kevon Lewis, accompanied by Pastor Jeff Gargano, lived among poor mountain villagers near the city of Jarabacoa. They got to know the villagers, played with their children and joined together in worship and prayer each day. The mission goal for the week was to put new floors in two 400-sq.-ft. houses, home to a family of nine and a family of seven.
The team mixed 4,000 lbs of cement for new floors in two houses and prepared the base; a church-hired mason poured the floors. Most village homes are constructed of branches and scrap wood and metal and often have earthen floors or floors of broken, deteriorated cement, so a concrete floor is a significant upgrade and joy for a household. This was not lost on the boys. Said Pastor Jeff, "We talked together one night about how in just two days--the time it took to take out the broken, rat-infested flooring and pour a new cement floor--they significantly improved a family's life for a generation. It was poignant."
Hunter, 17, and Jack spoke about their experiences to the congregation recently, describing some eye-opening moments. Hunter said, "They were a lot poorer than I had imagined, lacking everyday necessities, like a kitchen and bathroom in their house. For a bathroom all they had was a bucket under a plywood roof out back."
The villagers accepted the team's help and were gracious, he added. "As we were leaving, one guy kept saying 'God bless you', when in reality we were trying to bless him because he was more needy." Said Jack, "They were so happy, considering how little they had, not even $5." And they were hard workers, too, he noted, recalling meeting an 11-year-old boy who worked every day as a busboy at a restaurant, commuting on a motorcycle he drove himself.
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