Tag Archives: Dominican Republic

La Mosca – Garbage dump city

Thursday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and after breakfast on the refreshingly windy third floor terrace where we take our meals, we made the 20 minute trip through Santiago to “La Mosca,” translated, the Fly, where we ministered to about 60 – 70 kids at the G.O. Ministries nutrition center.  La Mosca is a gathering of (1,000? 5,000?) squatters who have made their homes next a great mountain of garbage (I will add pictures soon).

All in all, it was a sight of sadness. Scrawny, emaciated dogs were everywhere.  Purposeless human beings leaned against posts and sat on “porches.”  Upon arrival at the nutrition center, John warned us about the significant dangers of disease (after we touched anything, including the people, we were always to keep our hands away from our faces) and then, as we got out of the van, five to 10 little urchins surrounded him and began hanging on him like metal shards to a magnet.  When John disappeared to set up our visit, I became the magnet.  Apparently these kids didn’t care who was loving them – they just wanted a friend to play. 

Josh (and Elisabeth as the arms) is the wee little man

Our ministry seemed to go very well.  The little VBS that the Knowlton family set up went well, complete with a skit and a nice little craft that we spent hours preparing for what we think will be a total of 300 kids (more kids’ ministry in other locales was to come)  – Sycamore trees out of paper bags.  We helped the La Mosca kids with their crafts, served lunch, had a conversation in broken English/Spanish with a couple of teenagers, and then wandered over about 50 yards for a greater view of the garbage. 

A river of sludge from the festering trash ran next to the mountain of refuse.  Beautiful little girls played nearby on steps made of used tires.  One man wandered through the mountain looking for treasure, often shards of metal that can be traded for cash which will bring meager sustenance.  One “home” seemed especially close, and a couple was sitting in the back.  The woman asked John why he hadn’t brought them something, a completed craft, I suppose, and he said when he had tried to invite them and their kids to the gathering, they were outdoors engaged in… do you want to guess? 

Would you call this love in La Mosca?  I hesitate to do so.  Sex maybe, but I would cast serious doubt on love.  There are many children in this place, but also many single mothers.  Men use these women and leave them, cruelly treating them just like the mountain of refuse where they make their homes.  

Come, Lord Jesus.


Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Off to Hispaniola

It’s Tuesday morning, 7 a.m., and there is much to do. We’ll be taking off for Chi-town later on this evening, and catching a flight out of O’hare Wednesday morning to the Dominican Republic, where we will meet our long-time friend and missionary John Martinez.  John will be our host over the next week and a half as we minister to local pastors and kids.

It was probably a couple of years ago that I proposed the idea to John about making this visit. Or did he propose it to me?  Who knows, but it was a great idea. Over the last 10 years or so, I had gone on two different trips to Belarus, the one-time satellite of the former Soviet Union, where I twice taught a course to Bible students on pastoral duties (preaching, praying, leading, and loving). John and I thought this course might work well with the pastors to whom he ministers, so we had a basic plan, but lots of pieces needed to fall into place first.

As the trip started to become more and more of a real possibility, it was only a few months back that I began to talk to Diane about coming along.  She and John were friends in graduate school before I was even in the picture, and it seemed only natural to have her come along and minister in some capacity also.  Then one Saturday afternoon a couple of months ago, she and I were beginning to think through a tentative plan for the kids in our absence, and we started to feel that we should actually take them along. They’re all old enough to make a great contribution, and we’re trying to pass on a heart for the world to them as well.  It all seemed to fit.

Then our youth pastor Jamie Thompson came into the picture about the same time.  He’s going to teach the pastors a different seminar on youth ministry, while checking out the ministry and locale for the possibility of bringing the youth group next year.

So now, here we are, about to embark on the great adventure of missions together.  While I teach pastors this course on pastoral duties, the family will be ministering to local kids at 4 or 5 different locations around Santiago. We’ll have about two hours at each site with a total of 300 kids, and we have prepared a little VBS-type teaching, complete with crafts and songs on that famous “wee-little-man”, Zacchaeus.  I think it’s going to be terrific.

John and a friend enjoying his company

Though I’m not sure how it’s all going to fall together, there will be other experiences: We’ll make a day trip to Haiti to see John’s work there.  Josh and Diane will doing some medical missions (he’s planning to study pre-med), and all all of us will be taking part in some construction work, likely on Tuesday of next week.

At the end of the week and a half, we’re going to have one overnight at a beach resort on the northern coast (we have paid for this portion of the trip ourselves).  It’s funny: thinking about it a year or so ago, I really wanted to do this trip in January.  That’s a no-brainer – if you’re going to go on a mission trip to Hispaniola (the name of the island shared by the Dominican and Haiti), you might as well go in the winter. But we didn’t have our act together, so we’re off to the tropics, basically in the summer.

But then again, our timing is not so bad.  On Wednesday, May 30th, serendipity descends.  As our time is winding down, and we are driving through the mountains and arriving at the beach for a day of R & R., Diane and I will celebrate our 20th anniversary.   And, truth is, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate…serving the Lord with our children in Hispaniola.

Final note: We don’t have wifi in the dorm where we’ll be staying, so I’m not sure how it’s going to work, but I’m hoping to make two or three blog posts over the trip, to keep those who are interested informed.  Either way, we’ll be making a family report at the worship services at Edgewood on June 2nd and 3rd.  And lastly…we would really appreciate your prayers!


Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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