I’m blue / Da ba dee da ba di

Or, the cabinets in the group home are. 

I stayed far away from "Caribbean Sky" and let four willing servants who came all the way from Garden City, KS, do the dirty work - and work they did. Local leaders had helped me identify a few honey-do type projects that I thought might occupy one or two team members during isolated blocks of free time, but when the dregs of a hurricane put the kibosh on multiple other planned outings, group home improvements and time spent with new friends emerged as a unifying thread of the Hageman team's - surprisingly varied, all things considered - time in Santiago. 

Ramona (above, right), Estefaní (below, left), Junior, Randy, Frances, and Moisés are proud of their home and love pitching in to help care for it. 

Team #4 of 4 will finish the job by adding a coat of clear varnish in mid-October. 

Estefaní and Melanie

Michael and Francis

Shanna and Ramona

Moisés and Kyle

Before any work could happen, a hardware store run was in order!

It rained HARD Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons like clockwork. On Tuesday, that meant no visits in Palmar, but things dried up in time for us to gawk at this sunset the whole way to dinner. 

We spent Wednesday morning in Licey on what wound up being the first day of school. Because five days' worth of Ministry of Education programming were now crammed into three, the team led an abbreviated version of the English lesson they'd planned. 

"Point to: Je-sus." 

I love taking teams to my happy place - the botanical garden!

Nurse Melanie helped Pueblo Nuevo launch monthly "Family Nights" with a talk on preventative healthy habits. October's, too, will feature a short-term team member's vocational skills!

The rest of the team - as well as leaders from within the congregation - helped with visual aids and snacks. Here, Shanna writes out one of two Bible verses Melanie used to wrap up her talk by tying in the Gospel:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24). 

Learning about diaconal ministry during a brief time of fellowship afterwards. 

Michael preached (through an interpreter) at seminary chapel on Thursday morning. 

Later that morning, some team members chose to sit in on Rev. Sergio Fritzler's Liturgy class...

...while Kyle did his best to seal several persistent leaks at the group home. Visits were cancelled again that night, this time in Licey, but the team toured the regional office and enjoyed a pasta supper at the Krey home.

Friday morning, we hijacked (by invitation!) Concordia Lutheran School's "Christian Formation" hour to do a dramatic retelling of The Parable of the Lost Sheep and cross necklace craft, and to color pictures for the Kansans to take home. 

Lunch at another of my favorite Santiago hangouts: Centro León. 

It was sunny when we got to the Monument, but as we watched clouds build gradually in the distance, I was NOT optimistic that we'd get to go to Cienfuegos. 

I've been up in the Monument multiple times, but it's not every time you see a rainbow. 

When seminarian Carlos told me volleyball practice was on, we fought rush hour traffic to get there as soon as we could. I interpreted a brief introduction to the barrio and Carlos's regular involvement in it before we headed down to the court for an activity and devotion. 

We had the pleasure of meeting Justin, one of the players who attends Carlos's Thursday Bible studies and will attend Pueblo Nuevo's Divine Service for the first time on Sunday, October 16.

Note to self: Come dressed to play next time!

In keeping with the theme of the trip thus far, our Friday host home dinner was cancelled (for reasons other than weather); instead we went out for a "Last Supper"/Melanie's birthday dinner. She got up and started dancing when our server brought out a slice of cheesecake and a birthday song started blaring over the loudspeaker!

Saturday morning, I got up to see the team off to the capital for their return flight at 6:30 am. Back in Garden City, they already made a DR bulletin board across from the church office, will present to their congregation this Sunday (10/2/22), and are working with me to schedule an Online Mission Education "trip" for early 2023. 

Team #2 of 4 is supposed to arrive tomorrow, but if it isn't one hurricane, it's another. Ian cancelled their flight from MIA already, so pray for discernment as they weigh the options available to them. 

Until next time, blessings in Christ!