Mission Team Information
What is a Mission Trip?
For our group, "Mission trip" means going to be with and care for people
as a way of sharing the love of God. Spending time with children is a way
of showing God's love. Showing confidence in a community investing time
and money in construction is a way of showing God's love. Many people
in the Dominican Republic desperately need medical care; providing
it to them is a way of showing that love. You'll find that a lot of
patients will leave at the end of their visit saying "Dios te bendiga"
(God bless you). As a team, we'll say grace before meals, go to church
on Sunday, do daily devotions (normally someone reads a passage of the
Bible and we talk about it before breakfast), and share our high's and
lows of the day. A mission trip is about caring for others, whether it's
someone on our team or someone from the DR.
How this trip got started
Our team mission trips to the Dominican Republic began in 2003
when a few of the Girl Scouts at St. John's Lutheran Church decided
to complete their Gold Award by leading a group trip. Two girls
did a sports camp and two girls taught first aid. Through this trip,
an ongoing partnership began with Pastors Mercedes and Isaias Nelson,
though whom much of the mission is coordinated at present. The next
year, Linda Walsh organized a small medical team to help meet the needs
that were seen the first year.
- Saturday, June 22, AA847 from PHL to SDQ, 8:20am-12:05pm
- Saturday, June 29, AA848 from SDQ to PHL, 1:00pm-4:50pm
The team usually meets monthly to do team-building activities, fund-raising planning,
and to prepare for the trip.
- "Interest"/Information sessions:
- January 13, 2019, 12:15 at St. John's Lutheran Church
- February 24, 2019, 11:15:15 at Lansdowne UMC, 114 Lavern Ave., Lansdowne, MD 21227
- Consider sending a letter to everyone on your "Christmas Card List" asking for financial support.
- Collect reading glasses
- Collect summer weight children's clothing and shoes
- Participate in team fundraising (TBA)
The cost of the trip is $1300. The cost
fluctuates year-to-year depending on the cost of airfare. Everyone is expected to participate in fundraising. Fundraising
is used for work project materials, medicines, and other supplies.
- Scripture (read with yourself, your team, and Dominicans in mind)
- Thoughts on Cross-Cultural Service
- General Information on the DR
What we actually "do" in the Dominican Republic
Our mission work is based out of San Pedro de Macoris, on the southern coast of
the Dominican Republic, about a 1 hour drive from Santo Domingo, the capital. It
is about 6 hours east of the Haitian border. We work in surrounding barrios,
including Esperanza, a generation old Haitian refugee village, and Sarmiento.These
neighborhoods have churches pastored by Mercedes and Isaias Nelson, respectively.
- Medical Mission:
The medical portion of the trip is headed by Dr. Linda Walsh, a family physician
from Harford County. The medical clinic is set up in stations: 1) History, 2)
Vital Signs, 3) Providers (Physical and Diagnosis), and 4) Testing (Hemoglobin,
blood glucose, urinalysis, and pregnancy) and Pharmacy. Common medical problems
include parasites, fungal infections, diabetes, and hypertension. For the chronic
illnesses, we give people enough medication for 1 year. A fair number of them
come back the next year for another year's supply.
- Children's Ministry:
One of the highlights, biggest challenges, and most rewarding experiences is
working with the children. Sharing bible stories, making arts and crafts,
leading songs, and playing games are cross-cultural activities that bring smiles
and share Jesus' love with the children. The children especially enjoy playing
sports. Baseball is very popular in the Dominican Republic, and you'll find that
many kids claim they are somehow related to Sammy Sosa. Jump-rope, parachute
games, and hand games are other "go-to" games.
- Work Projects:
Many years, the team has worked together on some type of construction project.
Past building projects have included the second story of a church in Sarmiento
and its tile floor, the second floor of a school in Esperanza, and a protective
wall and playground in Esperanza. The team is responsible for buying the
construction materials and paying the wages of the local laborers who guide the
What to do now
- Sign the team covenant and bring it to the next team meeting.
- Make sure you have a passport that's up-to-date
- Get a Hepatitis A Vaccine if you haven't had one (or a 2nd if you've only had 1)
- Make sure your tetanus shot is up-to-date
- If you don't know any Spanish, we recommend getting the Pimsleur Spanish CD's
from the library-- they're great for learning some basic Spanish phrases in the
car while you're driving. We also recommend Duolingo, an app for your mobile devices.
While in the Dominican Republic...
The Dominican Republic is generally safe in terms of violence; the major crime
is theft. Although our housing is safe and is usually under watch, don't bring
any item that you can't afford to lose.
Emergency services in the Dominican Republic are unreliable if not unavailable.
Practically, this means that we must always
think of safety while doing our mission work and using our free time. Each member is
asked to not take unnecessary risks, understanding that risky behavior has the
potential to have an effect on the whole team.
We all stay together in a large house. There are several bedrooms with sets of
bunk beds, segregated by gender, with possible accommodations for married
couples. There is an area where we can meet and share our mealtime. There
are several showers, but there is no hot water (only cold water), but the
weather is so hot there that it usually feels good! There is electricity that
stays on most of the time. We hire a neighbor to do our laundry once or twice,
but be prepared for it to take a day or two before you get your clothes back.
There may be wireless internet access, but please limit your usage to contacting
The tap water is contaminated with parasites and is the cause of many of the
health problems we see in our clinics. We drink only bottled water while we are
there (including brushing teeth!). We also bring a water cooler with us when we
go out to do mission work.
While in the Dominican Republic you will get to experience home-cooked,
authentic Dominican cuisine. If you have health-related dietary restrictions,
please let a team leader know so those needs can be communicated with our cooks.
- Team Time:
The team does devotionals together each morning and spends time sharing highs and lows of the day in the evenings.
If you know some Spanish, it's time to brush up because you'll use it. There are
interpreters around who are able to help the people who don't speak it, but the
more you know the better. Even around the house where we're staying, the
Dominicans who are taking care of us are thrilled to speak with us in Spanish.
The kids are very curious and usually try to talk with us; of course they ask
lots of questions and they're not shy about correcting you if you say something
silly. Don't worry if your Spanish is rusty or mediocre, you'll learn a lot
while you're there. People are in general very patient when you have to talk
around words that you don't know or occasionally even act things out.
- Seeing the Country:
The team usually takes one "beach day." This provides some much-needed
relaxation, but also provides time to see some of the beauty of the Dominican
Republic that otherwise seems so hidden by its poverty. Our Dominican friends
Pack all of your personal items in your carry-on suitcase. We will use the
checked luggage for the donated items. If you have items which are prohibited
by the airline for carry-on, please place them in a Ziploc bag, labeled with
your name, and bring them to the packing day the Sunday before departure. See
the TSA web site
for information about
packing liquids in your carry-on. Anything that is going to the DR in a checked
suitcase must be present at Packing Day for packing and weighing
Carry-on Packing List
- *Bug Spray (with DEET 30% or Picaradin 20%)-- may need to be packed on Packing Day
- *Sunscreen-- may need to be packed on Packing Day
- Personal mission supplies (e.g. Stethoscope)
- Something to sleep in (Pajamas)
- Light-weight robe?
- Comfortable Closed-toed shoes
- Flip-flops or other light weight shoes for around the house
- Bathing Suit (modest)
- T-shirts (must cover shoulders)
- Modest shorts or skirts
- Scrubs for medical clinic?
- Business-casual outfit for church (traditionally, women have needed to wear a skirt below their knees and have their shoulders covered, but this seems to have changed in the past few years)
- Towel(s) (Hand towel?, small beach towel?; Microfiber towels like this one pack light, dry quickly, and do a good enough job of drying you!)
- Toiletries (Shampoo, soap, deodorant, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash)
- Prescription medication
- Water bottle
- Lip balm
- Money belt (optional-- most people don't need one)
- Rain jacket?
- Money in multiple denominations for shopping, tips (for helpful translators, cook, drivers, etc.), laundry, gifts, or incidentals
- Ear plugs (for blocking out the occasional night-time barking dog and moderating the sound of a rock-concert loud church service...)
- Personal battery-operated fan (optional)
- Notarized Consent to travel if under age 18
- Snacks to share