MEET LAURA HATCHER: she gave her best yes and learned that there is joy in taking time to simply enjoy the gift of fellowship.
How did the Lord call your heart to the Dominican Republic?
For me the call to the Dominican Republic was one due to my family. I have immediate family who are serving in the DR, and that basically made the choice for me. I had heard the stories of their experiences with the DR from before they made the move to serve, and it made the decision to go with them so exciting.
What fears or hesitations did you have about going on your first mission trip, and how did the Lord help you overcome them?
When I took my first mission trip in the summer of 2016, I was so scared to leave home and travel by myself. I went to the Dominican Republic for a month to serve, and when I came home I traveled alone. I was so worried about going through customs, and the big ‘what if this happens’ mindset. However, through lots of prayer, a peace came over me. There was a peace in knowing that this is where I was meant to go, and that all of my fears would be taken care of.
How has spending time serving overseas affected your views of life here in America?
When you travel to a different culture, you have to adapt to their daily lives. For me, I went somewhere that doesn’t have a lot. My first trip over had the biggest impact on me in how I view my life in America. The first trip I took was in the summer before my first year of college. I had been so stressed on what I “need” for my dorm, and what new technology I needed to succeed. However, during my visit to the DR I realized how much I really wanted those items, but I did not really need them. I was able to see just how loved I am in America. When I graduated family and friends were very supportive and helpful in getting me started in college, but in the DR many are trying to make it day by day.
Another key thing I have learned is that it is ok to take a second to breathe and enjoy fellowship. There is a joke in the DR that you are on Dominican time. This time is never what you actually see, it could be 5 minutes late, or sometimes it could be an hour late. Many times this Dominican time is due to the fellowship happening on their front porch or helping their neighbors. I find myself going through the fast motions of everyday life. I have (still working on it) tried to remember that it is ok to not be right on time, and to take the second to say hello to someone new or to help someone with a simple task.
What has your time serving in the DR taught you about the love of Christ?
Something I couldn’t have ever prepared myself to see is how fast the love of God has moved amongst those in the Dominican. When Sabaneta Missions first started, their goals were to start a church in an area where one was not reasonably near by. The “church” that resides in Sabaneta is a mix of Catholicism and Voodooism. When they first started sharing the word, the crowds came. Many were seeking the new “Americans” in the community. However, now many of the members are taking on leadership roles in the church. They are seeking opportunities to share the word in fellowship with other members in the community. When I first went to the DR, I was able to watch as the “new” Christians were seeking knowledge of the word. Then, when I went back I was able to watch as they were sharing the love of Christ to others, wanting them to feel the unending love of God.
If you could tell the world one thing about serving internationally, what would you say?
GO!! If you ever feel a slight call to serve somewhere you could do it. God will provide everything you need to succeed while preparing and serving. The joy you come back with is overwhelming. No matter where you are called, always remember that you are called for a reason!
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