Loving Christ. Loving One Another. Loving The City.

Get Connected

Mission Trip Updates

Uganda Team Update: June 14, 2022

God has been at work in amazing ways! From providing for all our needs to making connections that we could never have planned, it has been pure joy to see God at work.  We have seen some really hard things, and yet the ministries we’ve met with and their Ugandan staff are full of joy and hope in the Lord!

God is doing miraculous things in Uganda right now, and the Holy Spirit is clearly present. The team has been able to spend time with the staff of Operation Uganda, Rescue One More, Andy Agaba , and the Buule Music Ministry. Each team member has clearly seen the hand of God moving as they have spent time with these ministries.

Please continue to pray for the team as they meet with ministries in Uganda and discern how God is calling FPC into collaborative ministry partnership. Pray for God to speak clearly, and that the team would listen well and think creatively. Please also pray that the team would remain healthy and Covid free and be sustained with God’s grace each day.

DR Team Update: June 14, 2022

Hello from the Dominican Republic!

We arrived Saturday evening to Santo Domingo. We ate a delicious dinner and were greeted with a warm welcome from the hotel staff. Sunday morning Christina, a long term partner from AMO, picked us up from our hotel and brought us to church with her family. It felt as if we were at First Pres as the community and fellowship reminded us of home. We went out to lunch afterwards with Christina’s family for some delicious Dominican food. Plantains in every form!

Sunday afternoon the Food for the Hungry staff picked us up and drove us about an hour and a half to a small community called El Cercadillo. Our team consists of 6 members from First Pres: Carrie Everson, Alex Solorio, Danielle Couch, Savannah Schatte, Jake McKenzie, and myself, Paige McKenzie. Our Food for the Hungry staff consists of a team leader and two translators.

Our car ride ended on a red dirt road in front of a small house. Our team leader told us our house was like a castle compared to others. It is a 3 bedroom, one bath home. 2 bunk beds in each bedroom. Cement walls and a tin roof. No running water. Bucket showers. Buckets of water to flush. No AC but some portable fans. This was expected, but also a shock when you see it.

As soon as we arrived, we walked to the local church where the community greeted us so warmly with songs, dancing, and kind words. The children dressed up, decorated, and prepared for our arrival.

Our first full day, farmers showed us their land and plants. We saw and tried so much cacao. We also saw okra, corn, squash, bananas, and plantains growing. The farmers were so kind and excited to show us their land. In the afternoon, we helped with VBS and talked with the local teenagers.

There is a sweetness to the relational and slow-paced way of living here in the DR. There is much time spent outside, playing games, and dancing. The people reflect the relational and servant-hearted nature of our Father.

Please pray as the team learning how First Pres can build lasting relationships with the people of El Cercadillo. Also pray that we can reflect God’s love to the people and see the Spirit move this week.

Do not worry about us as we are eating better here than at home!

Paige McKenzie

Day 2 – Savannah Schatte

Hello everyone! 

On our second day in El Cercadillo, we woke up to the smell of Dominican coffee wafting in from the kitchen adjacent to our rooms. We enjoyed a slow start to our morning with our team, including Lea, Robert, and Pedro from Food for the Hungry. We reflected together on James 2:1-10 as we began our day with God’s sweet Word in scripture and in song (our new friend Pedro has a beautiful voice and led us in worship with a full and joyful heart).

We split into two groups today- some of us went on home visits and some of us took part in a work project. The work project was continuing to dig a trench to bring water to a latrine close to the main road in the area of El Cercadillo that we’ve been staying in. There were about 15 people total, including Paige, Danielle, and Alex, that showed up. The group was less at first, but more people eventually showed up to work together- one older man in his 70s even showed up, ready and able to lend his hands. The sun was hot, but the work was good, and the people were equipped to do what was needed with willing hands and servant’s hearts. 

I had the opportunity to be a part of the group that went on home visits, along with Carrie and Jake. We visited 5 houses and got to talk with people about their families and their presence in the community and ask them what they wanted prayer for. At each house we visited, we were welcomed in and given a seat- a physical extension of our gracious and invitational hosts. At some houses we sat together in a living area inside, and at other homes we sat on the front porch, often surrounded by lemon or cacao trees or under the cover of shade trees or pergolas adorned in vines with bright pink flowers. One couple, who have been married for well over 60 years, offered us fresh lemonade and biscuits- as well as some precious words of wisdom from their endurance of life and love. Our friend Pedro brought his guitar and we sang some contemporary worship songs and some Dominican worship songs together at each house, in English and in Spanish. It was so beautiful to hear people sing because they love God and they love to sing to Him together.

We’ve heard lots of hopes, prayers, and dreams for El Cercadillo from the people who live here. It’s been beautiful. People can see what they have and what’s still left undone, and they dream of ways to couple those two things together for the benefit of their community. I’ve been very encouraged by our time here so far and I’m excited to continue to see how God moves- He’s already been moving in big ways! 

Day 3 – Carrie Everson

Greetings From the Dominican Republic!

Today was our third full day in the community of El Circadillo. Our team split into two groups for the second day in a row – one went to do home visits and the other to work on the water supply project. I was with the latter group. Although home visits are definitely my strong suit , I was eager to get my hands dirty (literally) and serve the community through physical labor. In reality, I don’t think we helped the labor progress much, but the men in charge of the project were gracious and let us try our hand at mixing cement, hauling concrete blocks, and digging a trench for a water pipe. The community has struggled to find a consistent water supply. In the past they had a pump that supplied water for the entire community , but it broke a couple of years ago. Since then community leaders, with the help and support of Food For the Hungry, have been working together to find a way to provide consistent, clean water for their community. Eventually they discovered a spring, so they are in the process of digging a well and making a trench that will hold a pipe to pump water to a central location. We had the honor of seeing the work that has been done so far and getting to pick up shovels and do our small part to contribute. Although my arms are not strong, it was a blessing just to be able to partner with these leaders in a small way.

After lunch and some rest time, we had a meeting with community leaders. This was one of my favorite moments of the week. Our leader asked them to share their hopes and dreams for the community, and their responses were inspiring. They spoke about the need for consistent water and more reliable electricity, as well as having a library, daycare, and community center. They spoke with such passion and conviction about their desire to make a better life for their children and grandchildren. But what impressed me most was their hope and unity. Though they have already encountered many setbacks, they continue to dream and work hard for their community. And they are all in it together. There were around 20 leaders gathered on a Wednesday afternoon, but the president of the neighborhood association said that this was only a fourth of the leaders they have – most were at work at the time. As someone who used to be a part of similar work in an inner city neighborhood in San Antonio, I have never seen so many dedicated, hard working leaders working together with such hope and determination. It was inspiring!

After the meeting we went to the church to lead VBS for the kids and then a session for married couples. A local pastor spoke, and then I was able to share a few of my thoughts as well, through Scripture and my own experiences in marriage. It was beautiful to see so many couples there, eager and ready to learn and engage the topic – they ranged from one year to sixty years of marriage! Then we went back to our place for dinner and time with the team and Food for the Hungry Staff. Continuing on the theme of relationships, one of our translators told us the beautiful and engaging story of how he and his wife got together. What a blessing to have so many varied experiences in one day! Although we participated in several different activities, they all had one thing in common – they all reflected the hope and good news of the Gospel. It is so encouraging to be so far from home and yet to see God so clearly at work. How great and how beautiful is His Kingdom!