Day 5, Dominican mission trip

•September 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

After all of our hard work, this day felt sacred. Not that our work days weren’t beautiful, but we spent this day with kids. We went to Nico’s church, about 20 minutes out of the city and had a service at his church with the kids in the village. We started with singing, led by Samira Krauss and Melissa Sabri and Nico, then a presentation of Joseph and his multi-colored coat by some of the youth on our trip.

The outside of Nico's church

Beautiful kids!

Brie and Christy Stauffer playing with the kids.

After the play, we helped serve the kids lunch. It was beautiful to see the older kids make sure that the younger ones were fed first.

Getting ready to eat some lunch.

Helping serve food.

Pasta, rice, chicken, yum!

After we had served the kids lunch, we got into the bus and drove just up the road to Nico’s house, where we had lunch and chatting with Nico and his family. It was great to play with the kids there and get to know Nico’s family a bit more.

Brie, getting flowers put in her hair.

All of the pretty ladies with flowers.

Adam, Nico and Brie.

After lunch at Nico’s house, we drove about 30 minutes to a church that was being built in a settlement in the country-side. This neighborhood was set up by the Dominican government after an earthquake a few years ago. They built a few houses and started some roads, but the job was never finished, so they were left with no proper roads and no running water or sewer services. And these people who had lost everything were left to build their houses with trash and discarded building materials.

G.O. Ministries had built a large cafeteria and dormitory and the second story will eventually become a church sanctuary. Currently, it is a wide open roof with nothing on it, but a fantastic view of the country-side.

The view from the top of the church/cafeteria.

We were there to play with kids on a “sports day” It was fun! We had whiffleballs and bats, frisbees, footballs, jump ropes and other things to play. Tim and other G.O. leaders said that these kids don’t get much attention from their parents who are trying to make ends meet and so our job was to love these kids and play with them.

We did!

My best friend for the day.

Brie's best friend for the day.

Our group, playing in front of the church/cafeteria/dorm.

We ended our Sports day with the “Gringo relay” where we all put kids on our shoulders and backs, ran to a rope marker, then ran back, picked up another kid and did it again. It all started out orderly like a race, but just ended up in beautiful chaos with lots of laughing kids and adults! It was a blast.

The gringo relay!


Day 4, Dominican Republic mission trip

•September 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Our last work day and it was a tough one! I started off by adding a sand/rock mix to the foundation of Pastor Edward’s house. We shoveled the mixture into wheelbarrows and then wheeled it to the various areas of the foundation to make it flat. After doing that for 2 hours, I went up on the roof of the church/dormitory and mixed concrete and hauled cinder blocks. After lunch, I laid down on my bunk to relax for a bit. Then I went back up on the roof for another 2 hours and then finished the day again at Edward’s foundation. It was all very exhausting in the high heat and humidity. (I didn’t get pictures of the work this day, but I snagged one from fellow traveler, Tiffany.)

Levelling the foundation of Edward's house.

After our hard work day, we drove into downtown Santiago and visited the Hero’s monument. “Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración” (Restoration Heroes Monument) was built in honor of a hundred years of Dominican Republic Independence, in 1944. It was beautiful to see the views of the city and relax for a bit.

The Hero's monument.

Looking up at the Hero's Monument.

Brie and Zoey Kraus

Brie at the base of the Hero's monument

After our trip to the monument, we went and had a late night snack – empanadas! They were great. I had one chicken and one cheese with a very tasty cream soda!

Day 3, Dominican trip

•August 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the delay in adding posts about my trip with Brie to the Dominican Republic – we’ve had a busy few weeks!

On day 3 we didn’t get up as early. But we did work hard. I didn’t want to work inside on the painting project again, but luckily some of the folks who had worked outside the day before wanted to switch and work inside. So, I helped get the painting crew started and then headed outside. Brie was outside working on taking the two piles of sand and rocks and leveling out the road in front of the church. I hoisted buckets of sand up the ladder and onto the roof during the morning and then, after lunch, I moved to continue the road-leveling in front of the church. It was a tough work day.

We also took a break and walked to the school and the area with the other dorm. It was great to learn about the school and all of the good they are doing there. There is a fantastic opportunity to sponsor the education of a child at the G.O. school – please check out this link and sponsor a child!

Also, a few of our team-members had some health scares – a young lady passed out because of heat exhaustion, Brie used her lifeguard training to assess the situation and make sure she was okay, and another young lady had a severe case of dehydration and had to be put on an IV. We prayed for both of them and it was a good reminder to stay hydrated and pace ourselves!

The newly painted kitchen!

Brie and Jared worked in the road in front of the church.

Walking to the G.O. school.

Our group listening to the director talk about the school.

The original church (also where Tim and Samira were married.)

Brie also helped with the dishes! (silly girl!)

Day 2: Dominican Republic mission trip

•July 31, 2010 • 1 Comment

Day Two:
We woke up way too early. Breakfast wasn’t until 8, but our lights were on in the men’s dorm room at 6:15. We had breakfast and heard about our projects for the week. We would be 1) taking loads of sand and gravel and leveling out the road in front of the dorm, 2) taking another load of sand and gravel and filling in the foundation for Edward’s house, (Edward is one of the pastors that partners with G.O.,) 3) bringing sand, gravel onto the roof of the dorm via buckets and a ladder to add more cinder blocks to what will eventually be the sanctuary above the dorm, 4) transferring truck-loads of fill dirt from behind the dorm to other work sites G.O. has going, 5) working in the G.O. warehouse to sort clothing and other various donations to be split among the several churches that G.O. partners with and finally 6) painting one of the classrooms and the kitchen.

Brie and Amy prepping the walls for paint

Brie and Amy prepping the walls for paint by scraping them with rocks.

Putting on the peach paint in the classroom and kitchen - photo from Alecia Johnson.

We had our work cut out for us! Isaias, Tim Kraus’ brother-in-law put me in charge of painting while Brie went and worked in the warehouse for the morning. After lunch, we went got on a bus and drove to the “Hole.” The Hole is Santiago’s trash dump, however people have set up a squatter community within the dump because building materials (trash,) are free. Felix, another pastor partnering with G.O., over the past 9 years, has built a church and nutrition center where 250 kids receive a lunch meal 6 days a week.

Walking down the steps into the Hole

The church sign

We helped serve the kids their lunch and went upstairs to see the church. Felix explained that when he started, there was no church or feeding center, just 6 people meeting for worship in the small room of a house. He went on the tell us that years ago, he approached the drug-lord that ran the sex and drug trafficking in the Hole and told him that he wasn’t there to report him to the police or interfere, he just wanted to help feed the kids and share God’s word. The drug-lord said, “I’ve been watching what you’ve been doing and I like it. I also notice that you bring lots of gringos (white people,) down here. If you ever have any problems, you let me know and I’ll take care of it.” Amazing how God works through anyone to facilitate His plans! After lunch, we went to the basketball court that G.O. put in and played with kids. It was eye-opening to see these kids, in absolute poverty and yet they loved to play and laugh and have their pictures taken with us.

Brie playing with kids before their meal.

Brie playing with kids before their meal.

What's for lunch?

Tim Kraus and Felix

Make-shift houses in the Hole

We soon left and went back to our projects. Brie switched to road-levelling and I continued with the 2nd coat of paint. That evening, we went to the Tiger Mart to buy some snacks and coconut soda.

Day 1: Dominican Republic Mission Trip

•July 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dear friends,

First off, I want to offer a sincere “Thank you” to you all for your prayers and support so that Brie and I could go to the Dominican Republic with G.O. Ministries! It was a fantastic experience for us both! I will be posting daily with stories and pictures from our days in the DR. To learn more about G.O. Ministries, please visit

Day 1:
We woke up at 4am to pack our last minute items and put our suitcases in the car. We drove to Kentwood Christian Church and met our fellow travelers armed with steaming coffee and lots of goodbye hugs. After the bus was loaded, we left the parking lot around 5:45am. We departed from Chicago at 10:15 and headed to Miami and then on to Santiago. Our plane touched down at around 8pm and we stepped off into a humidity that was very similar to my childhood Papua New Guinea.

Brie and I in Miami, waiting for our plane to Santiago.

Brie and I in Miami, waiting for our plane to Santiago.

Brie, waiting for our bags to be loaded onto the bus in Santiago.

Brie, waiting for our bags to be loaded onto the bus in Santiago. (See, the security guy is already suspicious.)

Clay Stauffer at the airport.

Clay Stauffer at the airport.

Brie and Ryann Zourdos, on the bus.

Brie and Ryann Zourdos, on the bus, waiting to head to our dorm.

We were still on the airport grounds when our convoy was pulled over by the police. After a few minutes, we were driving again and the brief explanation, in my inept understanding of Spanish, was that we looked like a group that might have money, but after our driver, Paton, told the police that we were doing mission work, they let us go with no money changing hands. We arrived at the Central Church/Dorm and unloaded our suitcases, picked our beds and had a snack while Tim Kraus made a few announcements. We were all excited and exhausted from the long day.

The last line in my journal reads, “We are here, in this beautiful country, ready to work alongside these beautiful people and here, God’s story is resonating loudly.”

rusty pick-up truck.

•April 24, 2009 • 1 Comment


Isn’t it funny how different your kids can be from each other?! Haleigh has been on a kick lately. She says that when she turns 16, she wants to buy a rusty pick-up that she’s saved up for. Our friend Matt has a great truck and Haleigh has told him that if he still has it when she turns 16, she’ll happily buy it.

I was showing her pick-ups a few days ago and I pointed out one and she said, “That’s cool, Dad, but it’s not rusty enough. It can’t be fancy, it just has to run.”

When I was 16, I had dreams that my parents would see the wisdom in buying me a Pontiac Fiero or something else as flashy. I love that Haleigh sees the simplicity of having something that is paid for, that she wouldn’t freak out if she ran into a mailbox or snow-drift. She is content. She may be young, but she has some wisdom with that.

Funny girl.


A day of firsts

•April 5, 2009 • 1 Comment

Today was a day of firsts. Today was a day where my littlest seemed to grow up a bit and a day where my oldest seemed to grow up a lot.

It began with Charlotte having her first taste of food, rice cereal.



She really gobbled it up.  Dad enjoyed finally being able to participate in feeding her.

Then, our day ended with…


Brie leaving.  Now, Brie has left before.  She will be gone for a week.  That too has happened previously.


She boarded the bus with her youth group.


She is off to Mississippi.  She will be working to help rebuild after hurricane Katrina.  This is her first Mission Trip. Brie hopes to go on many more.

How time flies!  I remember when Brie was finally big enough to enjoy her first bites of rice cereal too.