Mission Teams from Maranatha CRC York heading to the DR with The Samaritan Foundation

jumping back in

Over a year has past since the last blog post, and so much has been happening! But the most exciting thing is that we once again have a team ready and willing to head down to the Dominican Republic to serve with the Samaritan Foundation.

And so we are jumping right in and getting things rolling with our fundraising. We are asked to raise $6000 to fund the cost of building a home, as well as we require an additional $200 per team member to cover in-country costs (transportation, translators, drinking water on the work site). So we have our work cut out for us and only a small amount of time to accomplish it, but we are truly blessed by our church, our family and friends and our community and we have always surpassed our financial goals! We continue to be awed and inspired by the generosity and support of these mission trips, and hope that will hold true for this year’s trip as well.

Which brings us to our first fundraiser – the Caledonia Town-wide Garage Sale, Saturday, June 3rd. We will once again be hosting our sale in the Shopper’s parking lot, offering up household goods, furniture, tools, and lots of random garage sale delights, as well as delicious bbq hot dogs and water.

If you have anything that you can/are willing to donate to our sale, please be sure to contact Pete or Teresa to arrange pick up or delivery of your stuff – we’d rather not have it show up Saturday morning but we won’t turn you away!

We really appreciate your support and hope to see you bright and early June 3rd!

giving it over


Teresa Wunsche

I have to admit, this past trip had me more anxious that previous trips.

We were embarking on truly sensitive territory – entering a village that has never hosted a mission team before and had a tentative, but volatile relationship with the Samaritan Foundation. We were breaking new ground here on so many levels. But the one that hit me the most was how we truly had to rely completely on God and have faith in His leading.
You see, if you haven’t already noticed, I do well with words. Given pen and paper, I can articulate my thoughts and feelings for anyone to read. But taking those words and making them reality – that is the challenge. And a real struggle for myself. I soon realized that I was spending too much time worrying over not just my own words, but those of our entire team, not giving them enough credit to use discretion and compassion when necessary. And I certainly wasn’t giving it all over to God as I should have been, letting Him carry this burden of worry and anxiety.
Thankfully our Lord is loving, compassionate and in complete control – making my worry irrelevant. We were welcomed into the school with open arms, and respected as co-workers on the jobsite. The perceived stumbling blocks He put in place led John and his staff to a place where new agreements and stronger relationships could be built. He is in control! He is building this place. And although His ways are beyond our comprehension, we trust in His guidance and His timing.

always uplifting


Henry vanDoorn

This is my second mission trip so I knew a little bit of what to expect. Having said this, when we went to the job site Monday morning, it was not what I had envisioned, but as we got started I knew we had a big job to start. As we worked and working with the block layers it was so different from the last time we were here because last time building the park we were our own bosses. But as we started and we were introduced to the men, little did I know that by the end of the week, great new friendships would be made. On Wednesday, when we did our visiting at the rehab center, I could not believe the age of the men there; last time they were middle aged men, this time so much younger but they still were on fire for the Lord.  The pregnancy center was an eye opener; the work they do there is amazing and seeing the milk bag blankets used was really uplifting. And seeing some of the projects the Samaritan foundation is working on is always a wonderful worthwhile experience. In closing it was a good an uplifting experience – the friendships made, the hard physical work and the closeness of the team was just awesome.

the children


Marilyn Miedema

The highlight of my trip was definitely the children.  They just craved our attention.  When we went inside a building to tour, they would be waiting for us when we came out, seeking out the same person they were with!

The work at the school was also a highlight.  We read them a Bible story that was translated by Isacaar.  They were so eager to learn about God and to to do the crafts, so much so that they all came back the next day even though there was no school.   They are so happy with so little which we can surely can learn from, they taught us much as we did them.

At the men’s rehab shelter it was heart breaking to see young men as young as 14 and 15 that have been drug addicts and alcoholics.   When we got there they were singing and praising God with all their hearts!  They were so thankful to God for their release from addiction. Again they were so happy with very little.  We can certainly learn from their dedication and love for the Lord as well.

The relationship we built as a mission team and with John and Jane, the translators and the bus driver was spiritually uplifting.

It was truly a rewarding trip!

getting dirty hands


Wally Zandberg

I am so glad I took the opportunity to go on this Mission Trip, it was my first.

My concern or fear leading up to this trip was: “How can I make a difference and what would the work look like?” I wanted to get my hands dirty.

I soon learned again that ….. God had his plan and he would work it out in his time, even if it was the eleventh hour.  God sent a man who lived next to the new Rehab center construction site to check out what we were doing, his name is Flavio.  I welcomed him to the site as I shook his hand. He seemed to approve what was going on and it didn’t take long for him to help us. He was carrying blocks and shoveling stone, he seemed to enjoy the comraderie. I had a chance to share with him what this project was all about and the good that would come out of it. I think he liked our example of acceptance, joy, and dedication to the Samaritan Foundation’s mission to build a rehab center. I told Flavio we were Christians and that we were being used by God to accomplish God’s work. I gave Flavio a Bible (Spanish of course) on behalf of Samaritans Foundation. I asked him to pray for understanding of the word and to read it daily.

By the time Thursday came around it was evident to me that we wouldn’t finish the block work and that was hard for me to except.

On Friday I began to understand what God was doing. I was busy in my mind, setting goals.

But it wasn’t just about the physical building, no, it also had to do with relationship building. I believe God connected us to the men in the old Rehab Center to help me understand that it doesn’t matter what the color, race, religion or what you’ve been through. God loves them all, I believe those men could feel the love of God in us as we praised God together and accepted one another in Jesus’ name.

This mission trip was such a great experience for me and I would encourage anyone to pray for the opportunity to be a part of a mission project.

four marbles


Caroline vanDoorn

So many highlights and such little space. The church service, the school we taught bible stories, in the men’s shelter, the pregnancy center, the sharing of meals with our new friends, but there was one memory that will always stay with me and that was all the beautiful children that tugged at my heartstrings. It was about the 4th day I realized after  wishing we could take all the children with us, I needed to stop feeling sorry for them and noticed that they were truly happy and that it would be better if I could understand their way of living. After taking notice and watching them, I could then see their happy faces and big smiles, and all the giggles and laughter they had by just playing outside with nothing but their own friendship they had for each other. It hit me then how God loves all these children too that have so little; but God too will watch over them. It warmed my heart.

We had brought some treats everyday we taught the children, and I will never forget the little girl who each day would put her treats in a napkin and put it away. I then asked the teacher why she wasn’t eating her snacks?  She then told me she was taking it home to share with her family, again so grateful with so little.

There was also a little 5 year old boy who had the biggest brown eyes and the warmest big smile with the biggest dimples who caught my eye. I again would go to that place thinking what his story and his life are about. Not only did I have the Joy of being in the school with this little one but I also had a day at the worksite with him and his uncle. It was then again when I watched him all day how he was filled with joy and laughter. This little child had no more than 4 marbles that he could play with for the next 6 hours that we would be there. He had made so much fun playing with these marbles that it just made me smile and think wow again so happy with so little. It was a day I will never forget in remembering how thankful we should be for every blessing whether big or small. Learn contentment and realize everything we receive is a gift from our Loving Father.

in God’s time

Andy Miedema

What an awesome God we serve! Not sure of what to fully expect when we arrived at the worksite, especially after hearing about the various setbacks that the Samaritan Foundation had faced with this project, I was amazed at the work already done. Having learned to set a slow, yet fairly steady pace, I laboured alongside my teammates and a few local tradesmen and workers. The language barrier made talking to each other difficult, but we did communicate with hand signs, pointing and of course with our interpreter Sandy’s help.

After almost two full days of moving stone, fill and blocks to various parts of this long structure, Wednesday was a nice break from the physical stress, but it was a very emotional day. For me Cristo Transforma was … wow. The place hadn’t changed much, but the men – actually some were even young teens – were a youthful group this time, or so it seemed to me. to see God at work in these men is amazing and yet humbling.

The next two days went by too fast. I’d hoped to bet more done on the new building so these men can detox, rehabilitate and renew in a safer, healthier environment. This will happen, but in God’s time. To Him be the glory and praise!

the love of a little girl




Ruth Zandberg

The highlight of my Dominican trip happened on the first day at the Esperanza church service in Spanish. I was sitting in the pews with our team members, taking in the excitement of the Spirit of God moving among these peoples’ hearts.

After maybe 15 minutes in the service, a little 3 yr old girl waked down our pew and wanted to sit on my lap. she snuggled right in to my arms. I said “Do you want to sit with me?” as I caressed her cheek, and she looked at me with her beautiful, dark brown eyes, purist white teeth and smile. She snuggled even deeper. Then a few minutes later, her sister came over to snuggle on my other leg. There I was, snuggling two beautiful little gifts from God, with tears in my eyes of fulfillment of god’s love pouring through me. It was an unbelievable feeling at that time, a dream that I always had.

I actually said to our team members – I think my mission is fulfilled already.

We had only begun …

Teaching VBS Bible stories- how beautifully the children were listening to God’s Word, while the interpreter was translating in Spanish, was so touching. Then doing a craft and a colouring page, followed my a snack and seeing the smiles on the children’s faces all seemed so rewarding. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

I truly thank God for allowing me the privilege to go to the Dominican and be a part of the work of the Samaritan Foundation with our Maranatha Team. I thank God for the wonderful work that John and Jane Huizinga are doing in the Dominican, putting all these different projects together through the Samaritan Foundation to help make a difference int he lives of the Dominicans and Haitians.

Mission work sure changes your outlook on life. You soon realize what is important and all the stuff we take for granted. I truly felt God’s love and strength throughout this week’s journey with our Maranatha Team, through all we have seen and done.

To Go I give thanks and the glory for all.

answered prayers


Pete Wunsche

Every time I go on a Mission Trip, I grow in my love for my Saviour & Lord and how He works in and through me. In the last two years, I have come to realize that He has given me the gift of compassion for helping those in need – whether abroad or here at home. My prayer life has changed from “Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed me with, and these are the needs around me”, to “Lord, use me in Your Kingdom work; let me be Your salt and light to those in need; give me opportunities to serve You.”

God answers prayer.
He answered prayer and worked through this specific team at this new village in the school and the work site.
He answered prayer when we were allowed to work on the building of the new Rehab Centre and when we were welcomed to teach Bible stories in the public school.
He answered prayer by sending beautiful people to work alongside us, touching us deep to the core and moving each of us closer to Him.
He answered prayer when the work at the Rehab Centre was halted earlier this year, allowing the Samaritan Foundation to step back and realize the greater needs of the village.
He answered prayer when we were able to bring much needed groceries and supplies to the men currently living at Cristo Transforma Rehab Centre.
He answered prayer by blessing the meetings and conferences and phone calls between the Samaritan Foundation and key members of the village, opening their hearts to be receptive to the Samaritan Foundation and their work. This is definitely the house that the Lord is building and we give praise and thanksgiving for being able to be a part of it.

The biggest answer to prayer was more personal for me. When visiting the Cristo Transforma Rehab Centre, a young man approached me with our translator Isachar, and told me he needed to speak to me. He told me that we had never met, but when he saw me walking up the hill towards the centre he had a deep, sharp pain in his chest and a voice spoke to him with a message for me. He said he had nothing to gain from this and the message was meant for me. I was startled to say the least. The Lord had put in on his heart to tell me that my prayers and all my striving to want to know God’s plan was not in vain; my prayers were being heard and to keep moving forward in His Kingdom work – the Lord had brought me to this place to serve Him here. This brought me to me knees! What an awesome God we serve!

saying our goodbyes

Today we head home. Our bags are packed, and a soberness has already fallen over the group.
Friday, the entire group came to the worksite, the ladies ready to lend a helping hand where we could. We were immediately greeted with warm hellos and big smiles – a vast improvement over our welcome on Monday. The sun was strong yesterday, so it was nice to have enough workers to share the load. Pete and Andy were successful in removing a large
mango tree stump from inside the building – a job started already on Thursday! Henry and Henk worked alongside the head bricklayer (and the only bricklayer that day), keeping him busy, while the rest of us shovelled gravel, mortared brick and did any other small task that needed to be done. The walls were going up quickly, and one of the giant piles of gravel had finally disappeared.
John and Jane came to the worksite in the afternoon along with Pastor from the Rehab Centre, and were pleasantly surprised by our progress. And as we gathered for a small dedication and prayer, John shared a few surprises of his own. After all the struggles, setbacks and frustrations, the leaders from the village of Severé agreed to work out a contract with the Samaritan Foundation, allowing the Rehab Centre to be finished if they stayed true to their word about helping the village. What an answer to prayer! John read Psalm 127, sharing that unless the Lord builds the house, the labour is in vain. The Lord is building this place. He is in complete control – His plan is greater than we can imagine.
So as the workers tidied the jobsite, we began to say our goodbyes. We have spent so much time establishing friendships and building relationships, that this is always the hardest part of the trip. There were bittersweet hugs, group photos and many sad goodbyes with well wishes until we meet again.
The work of the Lord was truly evident this week. His Holy Spirit was among us as we ventured into this new territory, guiding our actions and moving in the hearts of the village. We know that God is working in this place. He is building this place. And we pray that His continued presence will allow for strong relationships to grow, exemplifying His grace and giving Him the glory. We are so grateful as a team to have been able to play such an integral role in this new beginning. God uses us all in unique ways that glorify Him through the gifts He has bestowed on us, and we are blessed to be able to serve Him in such a tangible way. To God be the glory!

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