This past year I had the opportunity to be a part of the Quest program. Quest is a leadership development program for high school juniors that provides opportunities to grow in faith, leadership skills, service and team building in order to better equip us as godly leaders in our churches and communities. The culmination of this advantageous program is an overseas mission trip. Students were sent to four different locations: South Africa, Hawaii, Scotland and the Dominican Republic. I was chosen along with eleven other students to go to the Dominican Republic. When I was told who would be on my team I have to say I was slightly confused. Everyone on my team seemingly had extremely different personalities and interests, and I was under the impression that none of us had anything in common. Consequently, I prayed and asked God to work through our team and to bring Himself glory. Then on February 14 all twelve of us and our four adult leaders embarked on our ten-day journey.
Arriving in the Dominican Republic
While serving in the DR we were able to work alongside many amazing people. It was truly humbling to witness all of these sacrificial missionaries passionately serving God and the people of the Dominican Republic. As a result my team and I were encouraged to wholeheartedly serve as well. During the course of the week our team had many opportunities to serve. One project we were privileged with working on was painting the inside and outside of a church and putting in a perimeter wall around the building. We did this despite less-than-ideal weather conditions. Some days were rainy while others were blistering hot, but even so, we knew that the work we were doing was more important than our comfort.
We also worked alongside Pastor Alberto and a few of his friends and church members. Pastor Alberto really had a heart to share the Gospel with his community. He and his family loved serving the Lord, which was evidenced by how diligently they worked. The pastor and his friends began working each morning before we arrived and were there long after we had left, taking few breaks in between. This challenged our team to work harder. We said, “Let’s stop working like an American, and start working hard like a Dominican.”
A Growing Bond
As the week went on, our team gained a strong bond with one another, and though on the surface we didn’t have much in common, we were still united by Christ’s love. As we grew closer, we became more transparent with each other and contrary to what I previously had thought, our team had much in common. Some of us even shared the same struggles, doubts and past experiences. Our transparency with one another helped us work together to achieve our common goal. We would often sing worship songs as we worked, which stood as a reminder for why we were serving. This especially helped on our last day on the worksite.
On our last work day we had to mix, move and pour concrete into the perimeter trench we dug around the church. When we mixed the concrete, we had to transport it to the trench, so we created an assembly line. Each person passed a bucket down the line until the concrete was gone, and we had to mix more. This was not easy work because each bucket weighed about 20 pounds. This task required a lot of trust. The person holding the bucket had to trust the person in front of them to pay attention and catch the bucket. This final project tested our team’s bond, and thankfully we didn’t break, and were able to successfully complete the task. It was hard to leave the worksite. Our team fell in love with the people we worked with and the children in the community. As we left the worksite we prayed for Pastor Alberto and his church, that they would be able to reach their community with the gospel.
When I was in the Dominican Republic I realized I was wrong about my team. I thought we all had nothing in common and our personalities wouldn’t work well together, but thank God I was wrong. In fact, I believe we were able to better serve and minister because of our unique personalities and backgrounds and gifts while we were on our trip. God used each one of our gifts while we were on our trip. Some of us spoke Spanish, some of us were able to connect with kids and others had experience with painting and building walls. We needed different people with different gifts to complete our goal. It was difficult for me to see what God has in store for our team, but we just had to trust in him. With Christ as our commonality, we were able to accomplish so much more as a team then we could have ever accomplished on our own. This experience taught me to always trust in God’s perfect plan.
Sam Morzella is an active member of Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield, CT. Sam was a member of the Quest 19, Dominican Republic team. Quest is a servant leadership development experience for high school juniors sponsored by the BCNE. Recommendations for Quest 20 are now being received.