Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 18, 2011

I am quickly awake and ready to go to the gymnasium just to do something. Wake up!! After the work out, I am back at the house for a good conversation of memories and reflection with the Pastor’s wife. The Pastor comes back from where he went and chimed in. It was good. Just a light morning. We looked at avocados. They have a beautiful tree that puts out real big avocados. Delicious. They will be ready by September. Watch out!!!

I am quickly in the shower and ready for the day. I have an appointment with the Thomases to go to the Market and Barra Payan. These are two important places that anyone coming to Santo Domingo needs to go to. The market place is where you buy all of your souvenir. It is of course a tourist trap, but you understand how to negotiate. Barra Payan is a sandwich and juice place that should be on the national registry for this country. All natural. See how many local people come here on a daily basis. It is amazing and fun to watch. It is good to be a part of this ambiance and find yourself in the middle of it. JT got himself a Barra Payan hat. Mine is to come later. Free publicity.

It is time to leave. It is 7:00pm. Time to head home. I am so full. Can’t eat anymore! I know the Pastor’s wife will have food at home. I will just have to politely decline. Really!!! Yes it is true. She definitely has food ready. She keeps asking for me to eat but I can’t. Just being a great host.

Well, I have to pack, get some sleep and be ready for tomorrow’s ride to the airport to catch my early morning flight out of the country. Have I been able to do all that I needed to do on my trip here? Yes, I believe so.

I love Dominican Republic. Let God use me to be His servant and touch the lives of many around the world.

July 17, 2011

The Pastor is always up before everyone. A time for personal prayer, watch an Enlace ministry program on TV, then some sports news. I am getting up quickly and ready to get going.

Buenos dia Hermano? Bueno dia. In Dominican Republic. (S) at end of words is sometimes silent., depending on who you are talking with. I have to get ready so we can go to church. Today is John Alex Thomas’ dedication at the church in El Eden.
The service was great. Personal testimony from JT about their new son. Testimony from Olivia and Bailey about their brother. Pastor Mario shared about the family, then went into the whole process of dedication. Everyone in the church is great. We reconnect with many friends as we are moving through the church. I see Drs Victor Alcantara and Rosmery Rodriguez. I see some old friends. It is good!!

I drive everyone home and then come back to pick up Pastor Mario who was counseling a young man from church on his life.  

We received a personal invitation to a complex an 1 hour away from Santo Domingo. To retreat from the huzzle and buzzle of the city, to swim, eat, play and enjoy ourselves. I am driving the car with the Thomas in it. Pastor and his family are in another car. The scenic view is breath taking. The complex itself is amazing. We are taking some souvenir pictures. Our host is kind and well-known. I enjoyed playing pool table and lost a few games.

After several hours, we are driving back to Sto Dgo so that I can go to another meeting this evening with several doctors who collaborate with us on medical missions. My work is not finished. I have to network and get to know people and meet new ones. This is part of sharing your needs and hopes with others so they know you want them and that you can count on them as well.

It is 1130pm and we are going back home to rest and reflect upon all that just happened this whole day.

God is good. I made good contacts with people. Let the future take its course.

July 16, 2011

It is Saturday. I get to read more, relax, do some exercise, and then have a big glass of a Freshly prepared juice by Pastor Mario’s wife. She is so wonderful!!! This is a season for Mangoes, bananas, pineapples and more fresh fruits that are sweetened from their branches, not in boxes. Ha Ha!!

My work out went well. No fans and/or air in the gymnasium. Workout the old fashioned way. Sweat and all. I see many Dominican locals working out, young men and women, doing exercises. It is good. A walk back to P. Mario’s house is relaxing, my time to enjoy nature. Dogs barking, chickens running around, people already going out for whatever they need to town. I am seeing day workers coming around looking for employment. Great!

Take time JP to relax. I am reading a book and finishing up on a few things. I get this big glass of freshly squeezed juice. Whoa. Neighbors and guests come in and out looking for the pastor.
JP quieres ir conmigo? No hermano. Me voy a quedar aqui a la casa. So the pastor leaves me behing.

At 2pm, I am leaving with the Thomas family to go to the National Zoological Park. We got to see Panthers, Crocos, Rhineceros, Zebras, a variety of parrots called Lori somethings, Lions, Hyenas, etc…. It is nice for all of us riding a choo choo train going around this rain forest looking zoo that was built by Dominican Engineers back in 1975. After that, a trip to Mega Centro Mall on Careterra Mella is sufficient. A fun time looking for some Cubaveras and Chacabanas for JT and J. Alex.

I am picked up for a meeting that was magnificent. We talked about lots of things to do with ministry and how BGA ministries would like to do more in Dominican Republic. Stay tuned as God leads us in this direction to fulfill the vision I have.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 15, 2011

Buenos dia Pastor. Buenos dia mi hermano.  Todo bien? Si. Creo que si. Gracias a Dios. Here is a morning welcome and salute. I am ready to do a few things to get myself ready.

Go to see JT and family to see how they are doing. See you in a couple of hours, I told them. Pastor and I have to go to La Victoria and run a few errands.

Travel to La Victoria took about a half hour. We deliver what we are taking to them for next year medical missions. Everyone is happy. We have to stop at the money exchange office to get some $$ into pesos.

Back to the house. We are taking a friend, member of the church to the airport so she can travel to Puerto Rico with her 2 kids. Busy!! The Pastor stays on the go all the time. After finding out that I will not be going home to the USA today, I am back at Pastor’s house to relax and plan for the rest of activities.

It is raining again. WOW, I feel like I am in an equatorial climate or in Seatlle Washington where it rains every day. Ironically, this is good. Since it is hot right now, this rain cools things down. It is a blessing. The Pastor and I have commented on this several times. His wife has traveled to Santiago to a Women’s conference for the weekend. So it is JP, Pastor Mario and the kids.

I am thinking about BGA Ministries, travel conditions in other countries and how to best keep our partners and those traveling informed about all of the processes that are involved in Cultural Understanding and traveling abroad.  My own communication with the Pastor and those around him who I come in contact with. Definitely, knowing the language helps tremendously. I see diplomacy in action without actually officially practicing it in a political sense. Even things I see on local TV, I have to make sure my comments do not offend my host since this is their country, whether I like what I see or not. How do I let them know that I am happy, unhappy, shocked, etc… all the feelings that you get at any given moment. Diplomacy is a good way to say it, because at the end – we have to stay focused on our objectives, on target, being graceful and loving for the glory of God.

John Alex Thomas is very playful and got me to do some exercises. We walked the neighborhood for about 6 laps.  He is very energetic.

Time to rest, relax and call my wife home to let her know I will not be home today!!! 

July 14, 2011

You know by now the routine. I always see the pastor outside feeding his chickens and checking for eggs that have been laid by his birds. He checks to make sure none are sick and if they are, he finds meds for them. I curiously watch and it is fascinating to me. For me, I love to walk my shit zus and play with them, or ride with them in the car. It is a pastime…

We pray together as we are prepare to go to La Romana. We are meeting with our church planters and other pastors in this city to talk strategy about what they are doing. I am observing, but also advising. We talk about marriage conferences, how By Grace Alone Ministries is figuring out in all that we’ll be doing in Dominican Republic in the future and elsewhere.

We are to meet with the Governor and Senator of El Seibo along with the local Free Methodist Pastor as they are interested in collaborating in a medical mission program. The focus is to support the local church and be a vehicle for outreach for them. More negotiations still need to take place. We are focusing on a BGA/FH medical trip in DR for February and a BGA medical trip in March 2012.

This is a season for lots of fruits in Dominican Republic. There are mangos and pineapples to die for. There is a town or city called Cotui, in the Cibao region. If you buy from a vendor and eat a pineapple that has grown from this area, you will wish you had a 10 gallons stomach to keep eating more. They are so fresh, sweet and juicy. Anyway, I just did that. 4 pineapples between Pastor Mario and myself on our way back to Santo Domingo.

Back in Santo Domingo for another meeting with the medical doctors who will be working with us in both February and March 2012.

A dominos game always brings everyone together. I played hard and well. The two Thomas girls are becoming champion competitive dominos players against a well known neighborhood hard hitter Bolivar. You should see their excitement and focus. So we played throughout much of the night until it was time to go to bed. This game keeps us sane.

Tomorrow is a new day. I have several errands to run before leaving later in the day. Go to La  Victoria and meet with the Alcade of the municipality,  etc…

July 13, 2011

I woke up so early at 4 am. No more sleep!!! Time to spend with the Lord and in prayer. Tried to go back to sleep but it was impossible. I caught with Pastor Mario who was already outside at 630 am feeding his chickens.  After a while, I went back in to read a book. “Secrets of Leadership”.

It is 930 am. So we are taking the Thomases to see their Adoption Lawyer and the judge. Things are a bit off skelter here. They happen as you go. So we have to be there even though there is not a planned appointment with the judge. After 30
minutes, the lawyer showed up. So much back and forth whether we will be seen or not. Finally it happens. The judge sees the Thomases and there is hope in why we are here at the cout. It is 12:45 pm, it is a good thing if we can go to Barran Payan, our favored Sandwiches and Natural juices place. YEAAHH, everyone votes for it. So there we go.

Completo, Pierna y pollo, jamon y queso sandwiches plus Granadillo, Zapote, mango, melon juices con leche evaporado made big sense. I am telling. Once you eat from this place and enjoy the ambiance, you forget some of your worries. Sometimes I like to people watch and see hoe the locals are enjoying their favored eatery.

A quick visit with the friends of the Thomases in Arroyo Hondo allowed for a time to get away.  We are finally going back to the house. It has been a long day. It is 4:30 pm.

At 6:45 pm, I am riding the Dominican Metro system on my way to the stop at the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. It actually is nice. There are guards in each car for security and protection of passengers I thought. People are talking to each other. Some are quiet if they do not know you. I joked with someone about people keeping to themselves. He said that they are busy thinking about how they can provide for their families the next day. That is why they are quiet in this island country where people are friendly. A drive to the malecon is nice at night, with lights reflecting on the water. Dinner at Adrian Tropical Restaurant is nice. Typical. I am a juice lover. So I order Jugo Caribbeano (mango, pineapple, strawberry, chinola or passion fruit) all together. Yummy!! The sitting is right on the ocean. If you have your car keys and you do not keep them safe, they may drop in the Caribbean sea.

It is late, time to go home. What are the plans for tomorrow Pastor Mario? I would like to be prepared and be ready for our trip to La Roman again. We are being called for a couple of meetings.

July 12, 2011

Buenos Dia Hermano. Como durmiste? Que pasa. Good morning brother. How did you sleep? What is happening? I am ready. Time for departure to Nagua is in about 1 hour. We have several meetings in Nagua and also visit the orphanage in the Colegio Alfa complex. We have worked at this complex for several years doing medical work as well as repairing and building playground for the kids in this orphanage. We have painted the whole complex and cut grass to keep the place livable and safe for the kids.

The new highway to Nagua and Samana is quick and cut down your travel time by half from the old way we used to travel several years back. The 3 tolls you have to pay are ok, granted you are getting to your destination faster. Don Francisco rest and eatery place was a saving grace. We all were hungry and needed and bathroom break. A couple of pieces of pork chop, fried plantains, sweet potatoes, yuka and a coke made it possible to carry on our journey. We arrived at the orphanage well. We dropped off the Thomas family who were there to play and visit with the kids. It was nostalgic and memorable to see these kids again.

Pastor Mario and I went on to several meetings to meet with the church planters and their mentors. Pastor Manuela and her husband Rey, Pastor Tomas De Jesus, etc… to catch up, discuss marriage conference, discipleship, medical missions and others. At the end, the meetings were fruitful.

We stopped at a local supermarket/ grocery store to buy supplies for the orphanage. It is getting to be time for us to go back to Sto Dgo. The weather is again threatening with rain. Rain has been a constant here. This is the reversal of season. It is Summer time and it is raining so much and daily in this country.

Back in Sto Dgo, La Sirena supermarket is always a good place where you can find anything. We purchased what was necessary and headed on home.
Welcome back!!

July 11, 2011

Buenos Dia JP! Como durmiste? Bien, I said. That was the Pastor asking me as I came out of my room after taking my shower and getting myself together. Bueno, sientate. Sit down. He was watching TV. Que esta pasando? I asked him. Hay una Huelga anivel national. There is a strike on a national level.

Basically, the whole country is sitting still. There is a strike. Nobody is moving from their homes for fear of getting caught in the streets where people may be burning tires and blocking roads. They are striking because the cost of living is going up and up and salaries remain the same.

Well, we had plans to go run errands and do things. So this day, I am obviously staying home. He is staying home. No taxi is running. Nobody is moving. Be home and that is what we are going to do today. Read, watch some news to keep up with this strike, sit outside on the patio to play Dominos, be creative and enjoy your free time.

I had to write some letters to give to some local leaders. I went to see a member of the church that had a printer. While printing my letter, it broke down. I then stayed at these church members home and began to play Dominos with them. Before I knew it I was 9:45 pm and it began to rain. It just is a walk up the street from Pastor Mario’s house. They had to bring me back so I would not get wet. I played a lot of Dominos games (4 people). We won some and lost some. That is ok.

Tomorrow is a new day. Check to see if there is carry over of the strike before getting on the road. We are planning a trip to Nagua.
Has anything been resolved? What is the outcome of the strike? No one talks. Move on..

July 10, 2011

I am up at 4:30 am so I can shave, shower,  and get ready for the busy that will be coming to pick us up at 6:00 am to go to Puerto Plata. From North Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata, it is a 4 hours trip. 30 people sit in this nice 35 passengers Toyota Coaster mini bus. I elect to sit all the way in the back, in the corner, so that I can either sleep or read a couple of books I am taking for the ride. Besides fellowshipping with these friends, brothers and sisters, there will be some down time I will have to myself.

Froylan Perez, one of the nicest and kind man in Pastor Mario’s church leads the devotion while the bus is moving, prays for us and then leads about 7 songs that everyone chimed in in Spanish. I recognize the tunes, but not all the words.

I see young men and women who are now grown, some of whom I saw as babies and kids when I began coming to Dominican Republic. Wow, time flies when you are on a good team, Jesus’ team.

We made good time, arriving in Puerto Plata just as the church was starting at 10:30 am. The hymns, special music, the singing by everyone, the preaching by the Superintendent of the churches reading from Exodus 14:13-14 whose theme was “Porque Claman a mi, dile a mi pueblo que marchant”. He charged, urged the pastors to carry on, the parishioners to make their church a place where new believers can find their places and voices so that the gospel can spread. Many invited guests (pastors) were there. They prayers, gave their benedictions. Pastor Mario and I represent the “Church Planting Movement “ began by Forest Hill Church here in Dominican Republic several years, of which Pastor Mario continues to be our partner and Dominican Coordinator alongside the Evangelical Free Methodist Denomination. I played his American counterpart for Forest Hill Church. Where do we go from here?? We both spoke and gave thanks for the invitation.

Lunch for everyone is at the church. Every body ate well. People began to disperse to go back to their homes and other places. I saw many friends from my times and visits to Puerto Plata.

It is time to go back to Santo Domingo. We load up the bus, and everyone pretty much goes back to their original sitting places. Some lively conversations are taking places here between the 16, 17, 18 to 35 to 40 and 50 year olders. For the young people, they are about future with spouses, dating, and school work. Some parents who are on the bus, could not do or say anything, but listen. I listened. I chimed in bit when my opinion was asked. Well. It is interesting!!! We make it back to Santo Domingo at 7:30 pm, tired, hungry, sleepy and all. The bus takes everyone else to their original pick up stations. Great day for God’s Kingdom and a temple that was dedicated for Him where many poor kids and families will come to fellowship with and know the Lord.  Buenas Noches!!!

July 9, 2011

It is early in the morning. I am fascinated by Pastor Mario’s morning routine. He gets up, feeds all of his chicken. He has a mini farm going on here. He knows what and how they all look like. He knows when his chickens are laying eggs and goes all around the bushes around his house picking up these eggs. His chickens know when it is time to feed and they will come running once he sits outside in a green plastic arm chair around the back of the house… Imagine being in South Charlotte in a neighborhood and having 150 chickens running around and no one saying anything!!! He has a little farm going on here. It is similar to going to Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and seeing goats, lambs, chickens, ducks and others roaming around. This is what makes our partnerships unique and authentic. Being that they are in their own localities and adhering to their own set of values. We accept them as they are and where they are. We can NOT change their ways just as they can NOT change our ways. We accept each other as followers of Jesus Christ out to touch one person at a time and changing the world. Together united in mission. It is beautiful. It brings reality to me and what I get to see, reflect upon and think about community, society and they way of life by people in other parts of the world different than mine. I love it.

People are friendly. They greet and wave at you. They stop by to shake your hand and wonder why they have not see you for some time.

It is raining again. This day has been wonderful, peaceful and reflective for me. I am thinking about tomorrow and the road trip to Puerto Plata where I will be part of a delegation of 30 people going to support the church of the Tabernacle of Adoration led by Pastor Tomas Cabrera.

A game of dominos at night makes everyone competitive, excited and cool down from the stress of the day. Dominos along with Baseball are two of Dominican Republic pastime activities.  

July 8, 2011

Well, 5 days ago since I arrived, things are well. It keeps raining every day and cooling the weather down.  Today we are on our way to meet with Campana and Associates lawyers to see about John Alex. Things went well, the meeting was pleasant.

We need to go to a photo studio  to get a couple of passport pictures for J. Alex. It is about time to give the taste buds what they need. Time to chow down.  JT  and the kids love Barran Payan. It is a famous local sandwiches and natural juices place that has an incredible ambiance for those visiting for the first time and/or returning customers.  I love it too.

By the time we got back to Pastor Mario’s house, it was later in the day. I just needed to close my eyes. The trip is going well. I am getting everything that need to be done – done. It is hot right now, but it looks like it will rain very shortly.
Truly enough, rain has come. It is evening and the heat is cooling down. I am reflective about the ministry and how much impact we are making here. I am meeting a lot of local people (church members, friends of the pastor, others in the community). It is good to network with people and be relational. Does that contribute to BGA doing what we need to do well? Everything becomes the sum of bits and pieces.

The night is young . Lights have finally come on. So I can actually read something.  Please continue to pray for us that Doors and/or opportunities will open for us to share the gospel. It is happening. If you know Pastor Mario, he has NO problem  approaching anyone, talking to anybody or otherwise. It is contagious.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 7, 2011

Good morning Santo Domingo!!! My natural alarm clock woke me up, plus the electricity was out the whole night until 4 o’clock this morning. So I am ready to wake up but it is 4 am. What to I do? I guess I will read some.

A 1 hour workout  at 7am at the local gymnasium set me in a mood to get things going. After a light breakfast, we just hung out for a bit waiting for the driver of the van could get here to pick up  JT and Angie and family to go for a run into the city. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGIE.  JT’s favor place to go is a juice and sandwich place called BARAN PAYAN, then Mercado modelo to buy some souvenirs, El Conde and see Columbus House.

Pastor Mario and I left to travel to La Romana to meet with the church planters (3 churches) and their supervisors. A stop at Juan Dolio and Boca Chica would suffice. I was so tired and Hungry. Also sleepy. Remember I was up since 4am. This road trip added on another dimension to my fatigue. Reconnecting with our friends from La Romana was essential. Seeing some of the work our different short term teams have done in the past was gratifying. God allowed us the privilege and honor to raise funding to see a church/community center built in a poor community of La Romana in Los Mulos.

Back to Santo Domingo during rush hour traffic. You need to be in it to see it for yourself. It beats I-485 and I-77 North and South bound. It puts to shame South boulevard or Park Road or even Independence boulevard near Matthews coming from Uptown in Charlotte, NC – because of the way driving is done. Everyone for themselves when it is time to go.

At the house, Olivia Thomas and Deyanira Rodriguez are really beating everyone else at a Domino game. It is time for me to relax and reflect on my days since arriving here on Sunday night.

July 5, 2011

WHO NEEDS AN ALARM CLOCK to wake you up when you have roosters, then dogs barking helping you to get up?

A small excursion at a local neighborhood gymnasium (25 pesos to get in) got me started and I was ready to go on with my day. JT is sitting doing some work in his street office. A special/specific place right there where he can get phone reception, like an area the size of 3 feet square. The Kids are enjoying themselves. Pastor Mario has some neighbors helping him straighten some avocado branches that are leaning about to crack. I have eaten avocados from this tree and they are delicious! They will not really be full grown until September.

Time to go to La Sirena to buy some provisions and get a battery put in my watch that had stopped to work.  Pastor Mario and I stopped by the Headquarter of the Church of God denomination to talk to the Rector about Marriage Conference.

Went to meet a lady from Pastor Mario’s church whose husband was electrocuted and died trying to help an elderly neighbor connect electricity in her house. He died and left 6 children age 18 to 6. She is struggling in life. NEEDS HELP!!!!!!

Back to Pastor Mario’s house to wait for a team of doctors who collaborate with us doing medical mission work so we can talk and plan about 2012 trips.

July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!! Fireworks, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Pizzas,… Friends and Family gather to celebrate and have FUN Parades in the streets of certain cities.
Well, I am in Dominican Republic. No hot dogs and hamburgers, but rather La Bandera Dominicana (rice, beans, salad and some kind of meat) plus juice(s). Fellowship with friends playing Domino game. Talk a lot of Spanish instead of English. I saw pastors Libni and Washington who were here to help Pastor Mario do some work at his house.

A chance to meet John Alex (my God-son) face to face was very intriguing for me What an honor and privilege!! It has been an incredible 3 years journey for the Thomas family to get to this point.
Pastor Mario and I left to go run some errands and then back home.
I am very tired. I am going to take a nap. It turned out to be a 3 hr long nap. It has been raining heavy, and at time thundering and storming. Other time just a quiet rain which allowed me the chance to sleep soundly.

I am awake now. It is 9pm. Every one else is going to sleep. Mario Jose and I are up late at night watching “Hot Rod Cars” being built somewhere in the US. I decided to read a book to relax my thoughts  -“Eternity in their Hearts” and a chapter from the Bible. Time to put lights out and go to sleep! Tomorrow is a new day, Lord willing..

July 3, 2011

I am traveling, flying to Dominican Republic for strategic planning and reconnect with our partners there. STAY TUNNED….

I left Charlotte, NC at 1:45pm with a 2 hours transit in Miami. Miami to Santo Domingo took about 2 h15 min.  The plane left on time as scheduled and arrived in  Santo Domingo at 8:30 pm on a clear, warm with a cool breezy evening at the Aeropuerto Internacional Las Americas.  That was unusual!!!

After clearing the immigration and the customs, taxi drivers were outside trying to get me to pay for a ride. Pastor Mario was already there to welcome and pick me up for a ride  to Villa Mella.  Both legs of the trips were nice. Charlotte-Miami Miami-Santo Domingo. No turbulence. We flew at 37,000 feet and avoided much of it.
WOW. Nice landing by the pilots. That was very smooth. I expected the bump as wheels touched the ground.

A 45 minutes ride to North Santo Domingo provided a time to relax and look at the night lights. Dinner was ready. Got to see our friends JT and Angie Thomas and their 3 kids and shared briefly.

Fatigue is setting in. It is 11:45 pm and time to go to sleep. So good to see all of our friends again. Praise GOD for this beautiful time to travel and for your provisions. 

July 2011

JP Sangai is in Dominican Republic right now meeting with Church leaders and church planters to plan for upcoming trips during the later part of this year and early next year in 2012. Please keep him in your prayers for safety and wisdom and that doors will be opened to share with others about BGA and opportunities.

June 2011

A group from FH church is in Brazil now ministering to our friends and partners there doing construction work and building relationship. Praise God for His greatness that we can serve!

By Grace Alone Ministries has entered in a collaborative partnership with UWM (United World Missions) organization. Please go to our Website to find the link to and read about UWM organization.

May 2011

FH sent a group of several of its volunteer short term missionaries to go to Djemane outside of the city of Thies in Senegal for a construction trip, care and relationship building with one of the adopted villages.  All of this is done in collaboration with MIS (Mission Inter Senegal) led by Jose and FranceLise Olivieri. MIS is another partner we work with to further God’s Kingdom and reach the Least and Lost. The
adopt a village program is centered in the SouthEastern part of Senegal with the Serreer people group.

MIS has a hospital called Barthemee Hospital where certified health care providers can go to give of their time and serve those in need. They are in need of specials in all areas of medicine to collaborate with them.

Beacon of Hope is another location where young people from college come to work to teach ESL to the Senegalese. There are many more things to do there…Please go to our Website, find the link to and read about Mission Inter Senegal.

APRIL 2011

THE BIG DAY HAS COME. This April 7th, 2011, By Grace Alone Ministries is having its official launch both locally and internationally. Several friends of the ministry, representatives from local churches, other mission organizations both local  and international were on hand to help celebrate this great occasion in our lives and  where and how God is calling us to serve His Kingdom through word and deed. God is good and gracious. It humbles me to see Him at work in our own lives.
A great time of Music and worship led by Gentry Edding, Don and Sally Meredith, founders of Christian Family Life Ministries and authors of Two Becoming One materials were present. Pastor Mario Rodriguez and his wife represented the Evangelical Free Methodist Church of Dominican Republic. Dr John Bernard, President of United World Missions prayed and interpreted the dialogue from Spanish to English for those assembled. Drew Harding, Founder and CEO of Senai global was present. Jean-Pierre Sangai shared his dream and vision for BGA ministries. Pastor Thomas Kakadelis gave the benediction and prayer for JP and Donna Sangai and all present at the assembly.  Laura Snow was the Emcee of the program. This gathering could have not been possible without the help and support of many of the volunteers and friends who labored to put the tables together, welcome the invited guests, donated materials, made sure that food was delivered and prepared well and of course our partnerships. Thanks Toben for the videography. To all of you, my deepest thanks and gratitude. I always think of you.

Let’s get to work now. The needs around the world are great and the Harvest is plentiful.

March 2011 - Haiti Trip

We went on a pastoral trip to Haiti, right outside of Port au Prince to look at possibilities of a partnership between Mission of Hope ministries based in Haiti and Forest Hill and BGA ministries. BGA is represented for its role of relationship building between partner indigene ministries and their North American counterparts.

A team from FH Ballantyne and FH South Park was on hand. They worked at homes that are being built for people that were displaced by the January 2010 Earthquake in Haiti. MOH has a school that has over 2000 students pre k to 12th grade, a hospital on location where certified medical practitioners can go to work at, an orphanage for those who care for children left orphans or abandoned, a kitchen staff that is volunteers led. People are coming there as far as Canada to work. There are a couple of projects going on in Cabaret and. Please go to our website and find the link to Mission of Hope to read about what they do in Haiti. 

March 2011

A BGA medical mission trip followed the success of the Puerto Plata trip, working with the same partners. We were called to work in the community of La Victoria, in North Santo Domingo. It is quite poor. Many people in needs not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.

People came there from all over the communities in nearby north Santo Domingo.
A combined 9200 people were treated this week for parasites, pain, dental issues, eye problems, cold, cough, high blood pressure, etc…

Many physical needs were taken care of. It felt like a drop in the bucket. It is not about the bucket being full but rather positioning the local church to have the most impact in the community after the missionaries have left.  We trust in God in His Sovereignty and the care that He brings to these brothers and sisters. While many people are in line waiting to be treated, the pastors are mingling with them, sharing the gospel, praying for immediate needs and asking people to come to the local church. If not, they are given the name of the local pastor and church from the communities where they come from. Some give their lives to Christ right there.  Some ask to be prayed for. That pretty much sums up the intent behind why we are here. To give and share the love of Christ, unconditionally. Lives are won for the glory of God, one by one , with our hands we change the world.

February 2011

Forest Hill Church went on a medical mission trip to work alongside our partner and friends, one of the church plants in Puerto Plata, which is in the north of the Dominican Republic. We served alongside Pastor Tomas Cabrera in the community of Sabana Grande. It was an intense week of collaboration between two friends – short term FH missionaries, Dominican lay leaders, Dominican physicians, interpreters, pastors, school administrators and this allowed us to consult over 4000 patients in the areas of dentistry, general medicine, eye, and pediatrics. We did laboratory diagnostics for those that needed them done and treated some metabolic syndrome diseases as well. A street value of over $300,000.00 meds were dispensed. We were able to strengthen relationships with those we did not know before and rebirth some others. The gospel was proclaimed and lives were touched and changed. It is never amazing to see God’s work in all areas of our work. He is Sovereign. How does God work in simpler forms – to see someone who comes in with a tooth that is bothering them. After pulling it off, they get relief from it and start praising God and/or are opened to hear the gospel and pray. Many more accept the Lord for the first time. We reach, serve and meet the physical needs of the people where they are and they are ready to hear the gospel. We pray for their physical needs, for God to work on their hearts and they can know Him just as they are.

Traveling from Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata gave the team the opportunity to see the countryside (Sto Dgo Norte, Villa Altagracia, Bonao, La Vega, Santiago, Altamira,…), a different terrain than that which we have seen in the eastern part of Dominican Republic.

The opportunity to worship in Pastor Tomas’ Church in Puerto Plata was gratifying and allowed us to see a young church growing little by little. The keynote speaker was the Eminence Bishop of the Evangelical Free Methodist Church.

It is sad to see work come to an end. We have to go back home. Travel back to Santo Domingo, worship in Pastor Mario’s church and finally a ride back to the airport for a voyage to America.

Thanks to the leadership of the team for a job well done. This team made sure that we were safe and understood all the implications of travel abroad while enjoying the beauty of the scenery in a foreign country and enjoyed our time together.
Debrief the trip. How do we feel? Where are we?

January 2011

Early this year, we at By Grace Alone Ministries were excited and happy to enter in a collaborative partnership with FH Church. BGA Ministries has agreed to manage all of Forest Hill Church’s global outreach mission trips around the world. BGA Ministries is a ministry organization that focuses on doing mission trips well.  BGA handles everything from logistics to training trip participants; to partners communication before, during and after mission trips.  How do we get team participants to have a better understanding of cultural nuances and have a better trip experience even after they come back home and help them manage the energy and experience from their trips into something fruitful?

What is the timeline for the trip as we plan and prepare to go? Are we going to really collaborate with the partner or is this something we are putting on the partner because we want to do it? How did we get to know and choose this partner? Did we vet him or her? Is this a friend of a friend? Did we just randomly pick a country to go to because it sounds good and something to do? Is the project viable for both parties? Does it make sense and fit with the church and/or ministry’s objectives and goal? Is everyone on board? How about the trip leader – how did he/she get picked to lead the trip? Is he/she prepared to do this? Does he/she have the love and compassion in his/her heart for the poor, the ministry? Can he/she go the long haul versus something to do right now and drop out?  Are we going to build a community of participants/ stakeholders that can pray, reflect, and look at the vision for the project, ministry in the chosen country? Where do we go from here?

These are some of the questions and things BGA would like to help with.