Last month, 21 people from Estherville and the surrounding communities went on a mission to build a church in the Dominican Republic. They left Estherville to help change the world and in the process came back changed.
Shining in the sweltering sun like gold, the ominous mountain of rock known to the indigenous people as, "Caliche" did not dissuade the foreigners standing around it. The journey was long and arduous, but this was part of what they had come to do.
Picks were continually swung in an attempt to etch away portions of the fossilized coral that would set up like concrete when left alone for even a moment. Behind the pickers, shovels quickly dove into the loosened rubble as wheelbarrows began to line up to receive the priceless bedrock.
Calvary Gospel Assembly Team members: Left to right - Travis Rosinger, Dawn Rosinger Michael Hansen, Tim Soper, Nicole MCardle, Shannon Sovia, Crystal Clabaugh, Jenny Hansen, Josh Harts, Matthew Holmgren, Anna Coffin, Sarah Ussery, JoEllyn Madden, Samantha Rosinger, Cathy McCauley, Mike “Big Nacho” Nichols, Maggie McCauley, Damaso Hanson, Darrel Ussery, Peggy Hoffbauer, and Alex Rosinger.
This was the first layer required to the lay the foundation of a needed structure. Sweat dripping down their faces and arms fatigued from exhaustion, both men and woman hustled the heavy contents of the wheelbarrows into the building to disperse it across the floor. With the floor covered, those who had been mixing cement by hand were ready to lay the foundation. Cement blocks were being laid and stucco was spread out on walls as things continued to progress. These were just a few of the many tasks the 21 individuals from Estherville had volunteered to complete on their mission to build a house of worship in a quaint, mountain village.
This summer, just a few short weeks ago, the team from "Calvary Gospel Assembly", after a 19-hour trip, arrived back into Estherville from the Dominican Republic at 5 a.m.
The familiar clean streets and well-kept buildings of this American city must have seemed like a world away from the little, mountain village they had visited. Dirt roads filled with horses, potholes, and little children playing in them were common. As they stepped out of their vehicles, next to library square, they knew they had accomplished something of value, something that transcends the temporary things of life. Why did this team from Estherville decide back in November of last year to take the 2,202 mile journey to the Dominican Republic?
"It's simple," said Pastor Travis Rosinger. "Faith is only as real as the action that follows it. We wanted to help these wonderful people build their church so that they could meet the needs of their community. There were no churches in that town of three thousand people, except the one we were building."
The idea of Estherville having only one church seems foreign to our minds. Yet, that further illustrates the countless needs of so many people and communities throughout the world.
The team also had many other opportunities to make a difference while they were in the Dominican Republic. During one afternoon of the trip, around 150 children showed up for a "kids" outreach led by the Calvary team. Animals made from balloons, face painting, games, coloring, playing with a parachute, and singing were some of the activities the children were able to enjoy. Another night, the team hosted a showing of the movie, "Courageous." Without any movie theatres around, you can imagine why about 200 community members showed up and packed into the building. The only thing missing was the smell and taste of fresh popcorn! At one point, Pastor Travis had the opportunity to teach at a Bible Institute for Pastors located at the University in Nagua. Another highlight was when all the team members had the privilege to visit many Dominican's in their homes, exchanging words of encouragement and communicating love.
Although, they spent only eight days in the in the Dominican Republic, many of the team members taking the trip said they wished they could have stayed a lot longer.
"Thanks to all the great support from the amazing people here in Estherville, we were able to go there and make a very real, tangible difference," said Rosinger. "We were so grateful for all of their financial gifts, prayers, and support. This trip wouldn't have been possible without them!"
While there, the church construction took a big leap forward, but the team reported that they were not able to completely finish it, before they ran out of time. Fortunately, another construction team from the Midwest will be arriving any day and the church should be one hundred percent complete by the end of July.
Rosinger said, "It was so humbling and incredible hearing the words of gratitude from Pastor Juan Santos, the pastor of the church we working to build. He said, 'You worked for God, and God pays well!'"
He was right. The hearts of two communities, over two thousand miles apart are now filled with a whole lot more love. That is probably the greatest payment of all.