I am convinced our team is being blessed immensely more than we are blessing the Dominicans. This afternoon I had the incredible opportunity to spend time talking and worshipping with Doña Maria – the matriarch of the Christian community in El Montaña. Part of our team is working on painting her house, and although I really should have been helping paint this afternoon she told me my work was to sit with her, to learn from her wisdom and faith. It was a blessed afternoon.
Doña Maria is 92 (or 93 – she doesn’t remember) and lives by herself in a home in Lower Montaña. She doesn’t recall when she moved into El Montaña, but she has been a pillar of faith in the community for many years. Before we really started talking she told me “Only God knows about my life. I studied a lot, and I worked a lot. Now I can’t remember anything, but God is still good and knows all.” Although her memory fails her, the one thing that hasn’t left her brain is her firm faith in Jesus Christ. She has many worship songs and much of the Bible memorized, “because faith isn’t in the brain, it is in the heart.”
It was some time in the 1960’s when Doña Maria found Christianity. She listened to Luis Palau on the radio regularly, and made the decision to follow Jesus. During that time, the Dominican Republic was a very difficult place to live. Despite this, Doña Maria’s faith thrived and she began ministering to those around her. I expected that when I asked her what her favorite verse was, she wouldn’t be able to pick just one, but without hesitancy she said Philippians 4:13 – “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece.” “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Later in our conversation she also quoted a few complete Psalms to me.
Her advice to all young people is to always follow Christ. She kept repeating “With Christ everything is possible.” She also said always having a heart of worship and thankfulness is important. Live your life for Christ, without exception. When I asked her if she had any favorite worship songs she sang praises to God for the next half hour. When I wasn’t talking with her, she was praising God in gratitude for how much he has provided for her. Although Doña Maria’s body is weathered and her memory is failing, her spirit of worship is contagious, and I am beyond grateful for my afternoon spent “working” at her house.
A little team update – today we are having a twelve hour day of ministry, and the team is doing a fantastic job at keeping up their energy and pouring into the people around them. This morning we did VBS, this afternoon service projects, and this evening youth rallies. Tomorrow, the beach! (And Connor’s face is completely healed from 9 bug bites – he woke up without any signs of the bites!)
Dios les bendiga! God bless you!