That they may live

I got a good solid four hours of sleep last night and was up and ready to get moving by 7. Beats me how. Must be all y’all praying back home. After a buffet style breakfast, where I had a cheese omelet and a pancake (and looked cross-eyed at the juice and the fruit — no tummy troubles, please!) we all piled onto the bus and took off.

The air was humid and the sky overcast, with water in puddles on the ground from last night’s rain. The hotel overlooks the ocean. You can smell it. You can see it. But you can’t get to it. At least not easily– you’d have to cross three highways to reach the beach from the hotel. Needless to say, I have not attempted it. Steve promises that Nick and I will get to beach this week– probably on a bus instead of on foot. But I’ll take the ocean however I can get it.

The main road goes for miles with palm trees and blue ocean on one side, and city on the other. Buildings vary wildly in design, from mini-marts with barred windows, to American-style Texaco stations, to stucco arch-windowed hotels, to sheet metal shacks, to ancient fortifications built by Christopher Columbus (designed to stave off the original pirates of the Caribbean).

People swarm everywhere, walking, biking, motorcycling. Whole families ride on tiny motorbikes with babies sandwiched between dad and mom, all placid faced and comfortable. Tiny pickups zoom by, their beds loaded with bananas and eggs and people.

The first Compassion project was supposedly half an hour away, but ended up feeling further because of stopping along the way to pick up various Compassion workers who would help us with translation. As we approached the project, houses got smaller and sidewalks disappeared. We parked next to a playground fenced with barbed wire and rough poles. Inside the enclosure kids played on a rusty swing set and bounced a basketball into a wobbly basketball hoop.

Across the muddy road stood a little church. We were ushered inside just in time for a nutrition presentation by health ‘implementers’, Compassion volunteers who worked for this project. The presentation was put together for the 52 mother/child groups in Compassion’s child survival program. All these women were either pregnant or had babies under the age of 3, and had been chosen because of their need. The goal of this program is to keep moms healthy during pregnancy and to help them keep their kids healthy during their first three years of life.

The air was warm and wet and full of the smells of cooking and of people and exhaust from passing vehicles. Everywhere I looked there were gorgeous babies and toddlers. Babies squalled. Toddlers made cautious forays into stranger’s space, then ran bashfully back to their mothers. A mother pulled her baby from her breast, but replaced him with a smile when he gave a displeased squall.

The nutrition program began with the reading of the first 3 verses of Psalm 40, and some great singing that made me very much wish I knew the words. Instead I had to content myself with humming and hand-clapping — not terribly satisfactory.

The actual nutrition part of the program gave the mothers useful information, but also had its share of humorous moments. Check out Melanie’s blog for a rundown on the best moments. I found out later that about half of these women were single mothers, and almost half of them were under the age of 18. Compassion moms benefit from the program in many ways. But mothers that I talked to said that the best thing is the access to good medical care for their children.

After the program we were able to visit with the mothers involved in the project, as well as go on a couple of home visits with the health care implementers. There the workers checked the baby’s growth, talked to mothers about ways to keep their children healthy and safe, and read the Bible and said a prayer with the mothers. I was honored to be part of the group praying for these women who obviously cared so deeply for the well-being of their children. And I was deeply impressed by the scope of the work that Compassion is doing on behalf of some of the most vulnerable little ones in the world.

Click on the link on the left side of my page if you would like to sponsor a Compassion child in the Dominican Republic. Click here here if you’d specifically like to give assistance to the child survival program. Your help can mean life for precious little ones like the ones I saw today.

Most of these picture were taken by Keely, our trip photographer. Doesn’t she do awesome work?

Go here for links to the other bloggers on this trip or visit the child sponsorship page.

{ 12 Comments }

  1. Look at those beautiful faces!!!

    Thanks for the update – I am thinking about you all constantly!

    May God bless you and all those wonderful people doing such fantastic work!

    Give Jennifer a hug for me. So strange that I have still never met her in person!

  2. beautiful pics, thanks for sharing

  3. I am following your trip closely. Thank you for sharing it with us, and for being open about what you are experiencing. God Bless!

  4. thank you for sharing. you are an inspiration to me mary!

  5. Mary,
    I blogged about you today!!
    Prayers to you!!

    Shannon

  6. Beautiful photographs! And I love the CSP part of Compassion! Thank you for the chance to hear about it so intimately.

  7. Oh, and I’m SO WITH YOU in the needing-to-get-to-the-beach part! LOL!

  8. I spent a month in Hanoi, Vietnam a couple years back. It is amazing what they can pack onto a motorbike isn’t it. We would see families of 5 with their chicken going down the streets on a motorbike 🙂

  9. Hi Mary! I couldn’t find a way to contact you other than to leave a comment, so I was wondering if I could have permission to use one of your photos on my blog. I’m passing along the story of the Compassion Bloggers and asking my readers to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I love the picture of the baby girl that you posted, and I would love to use it to put a face with the need. If that would be okay with you, please let me know. I don’t want to step on any copywritten toes! 🙂

    God Bless You! I’m praying for you all while you’re away from your families.

  10. So excited for you! Thank you for keeping us updated!

    Steph

  11. Are you staying in Santo Domingo or are you going somewhere else in the country? Just curious to know what all you’re going to be able to see.

    BTW, I ate lots of fruit and juice in the DR without incident. Just stay away from ice in your drinks. 😉 And no water if it isn’t bottled. 😉 But I ate some fruit there that I’ve never seen in any other country. Don’t even know what it was because they said the name in Spanish and I couldn’t find an English translation. But it was DELICIOUS! 😉

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