A phone call from the gate security at 4:50 a.m., meant that Scott Kinzel had arrived to take me to the church for another missionary trip to the Dominican Republic. It is now my third mission to the Spanish-speaking country which is a part of Hispaniola in the northern Caribbean waters. Due to the late arrival of our coach, the Jamaican team arrived before we had left. Together with them as well as parishioners and friends, Veronica Francis led us in prayer before beginning our journey.
In spite of leaving more than 45 minutes after the scheduled time, everything went smoothly, no doubt as a result of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. There was little traffic en route to Miami International Airport; the baggage crew accompanied us to the ticketing desk, thereby eliminating any wait in a queue, and our gate was within a minute’s walk from security. It all worked out fine. We also had the privilege of meeting a mission team on the plane from the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.
We traveled on a Boeing 777, the largest American Airline on which I have ever traveled, (and I have traveled on many of them). We arrived safely at the Santo Domingo International Airport, Dominican Republic, at 11:20 a.m. EST, 15 minutes before the scheduled time, and Karen Carroll, Diocesan Mission Coordinator, met us.
On our two-hour journey to Bonao, a town located in the middle of the country, we saw the luscious greenery, and vendors selling colorful rugs, made of fabric. People are usually selling items along the streets of Santo Domingo and en route to Bonao – always trying to “make a living.”
After checking in at the Hotel Golden Premium, we traveled to the church to meet some of the parishioners of the Iglesias Episcopal de San Juan Bautista. We were beautifully serenaded by their singing group. Padre Vicente showed us two new stained glass windows, by a parishioner, and erected on the wall in the sanctuary. He also gave me a tour of the work that was done in the café, which we assisted in building last year. Although it is not being used as a café at this time, it has the makings of a great place in which to socialize over a cup of tea. Father Vicente is also involved in a clean water project to help poor people drink cleaner water. He is implementing this project using a bucket system, where water is filtered from one bucket to another. There are a few hundred buckets being stored in the café and he has already helped over 100 people. It was rather enlightening listening to how he is reaching out to the poor in the community.
In addition, Father Vicente spoke to me about the gallery of pictures he is seeking to place on the walls of the church sacristy. He showed me a few he has already erected. He is trying to complete the tenure of his ministry in Bonao since the Bishop has called him to be his representative in the relationship between the Church and the Government. He and his family are relocating at the end of July to Santo Domingo, where he will also serve as an Associated Priest to the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Epiphany.
After our visit to the church, we returned to the hotel for a wonderful dinner, prepared by Padre Vicente’s mother-in-law. Then we retired for the night.