Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Least and the Most

Last week was spent serving in the Dominican Republic.  It's a place we know well, as it was Brian's tenth trip and my third trip to the community of Cielo in Santo Domingo.  A team of 40 (including my parents and mother-in-law!), were able to start building three homes for some hard-working Dominicans and Haitians.

 In case you weren't quite sure of its location: 

We were able to spend a lot of time with the children of Cielo; doing Vacation Bible School, playing sports, and teaching them English while trying to learn spanish from them.  (FYI to Americans: putting a spanish accent on english words does not make them spanish. ) 

There was one morning that truly stood out during our time there.  

We had the opportunity, as we have done in past years, to visit a Leprosorium (otherwise known as a Leper Colony).   It's community of people who have contracted leprosy over the past decades.  Almost all have been shunned by their families and most have lived at the Leprosorium for many, many years.  

Leprosy, once it is regulated by medicines, is not contagious, though it wreaks havoc on the body.  Most of the residents are disfigured and missing limbs.  Many are elderly at this point and have never left the community once they were admitted.  Very few are visited by anyone on a regular basis.  

They are the Least of These.  By society, they are forgotten.  They very rarely get human contact, as the stigma of their disease cripples the hearts of those they once called family.  

We were able to spend some time with them and through translators we got to know a little of their stories. We sang with them and laughed with them.  For some, we just held their hands.   

We gained much perspective in our brief time with them.  

Their Joy is evident immediately.  And it doesn't come from their material things.  It doesn't come from their jobs or their place in society.  In just listening to a few of their stories, I quickly saw that their Joy comes from knowing that this is not their home.  Yes, the Leprosorium is where they currently live.  But this is not the end for them. 

Their joy comes from knowing their Savior.  And knowing that HE is their home.

I was reading in Psalms today, and Moses said this so well:

"Lord, through all the generations YOU have been our home! 
Before the mountains were created, before you made the 
earth and the world, 
you are God, without beginning or end."  Psalm 90:1

At the end of our time together, our group was gathered with some of the residents in their community center. One of the Dominican men asked if he could share with us.  He stood up, hunched over with a cane, and called the translator over.

He wanted to sing us a song about our God.  And so he started singing.  As the song went on, he stood taller and taller.  And by the end of the song, he was spinning around and belting out lyrics at the top of his lungs for us.

And we were humbled.  Because this time at the Leprosorium wasn't about us and how much joy we could bring these residents.

It was about how much the Least of These could show us about our Most High God.

HE is our joy.  And HE is our home.

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