We “met” Dalia the same way sponsors “meet” their students. A photo arrived in the mail with a few details about the little 9-year old student at Ebenezer School in the Dominican Republic. We tried to imagine what her life was like and prayed for her every night without knowing very much about what to pray for. We didn’t know yet that she was orphaned. We had no idea what the opportunity to have a nutritious meal and an education would mean for her. We only knew that $30 monthly might make a difference.
We met Dalia on many subsequent trips to Ebenezer. She attached quickly to Chris, and was able to tell her story through a translator, but the language barrier was limiting. We attended the first worship service she led in Ebenezer Church when she was 13. We had the chance to encourage and support her studies when she moved on to high school and then college. At a Mission Possible board meeting in Barahona in 2011, Dalia greeted Oren with a hug and, “I love you and am learning English so we can talk more.”
In June, we received a beautiful, handwritten invitation to Dalia’s wedding to Yeri “Jerry” which included a special request. She asked Oren to stand in as her father and give her away. We were amazed and touched to be so included. Dalia arranged her wedding date to be sure we could come.
We had a magic time in Barahona. This was no work trip—it was a celebration time. Ebenezer Church is beautiful with the balloon and streamer decorations that 2 dozen friends made. The church was filled with friends and schoolmates. If you think the children look good dressed for school, you should see them dressed up for a wedding! Dalia is beautiful in blue jeans, but was radiant in her bridal gown. Jerry is downright handsome in a tux. About 200 neighbors from the batey crowded the steps outside to see the ceremony. Church weddings are now a rarity there.
The father of the bride has more duties than we knew. He drives the wedding party to the church, walks the bride down the aisle, stands next to her during the marriage ceremony as a witness, drives the new couple to the reception, gives a speech, says the blessing on the meal and offers a toast to the new couple. He even does the Daddy Dance much like you might see here. The joy of the festivities is universal—only a little translation was needed.
We were overwhelmed to be included and honored by Jerry and Dalia and the church family in Barahona. This isn’t a story about the typical rewards you might get if you sponsor a child in the DR or Haiti. It’s a story about the welcome and love that the people of Ebenezer Church share with the Mission Possible sponsors and the love that God can nourish despite barriers of distance and language.
It is also a tribute to the life-changing work that Mission Possible is doing in Batey Central. Jerry and Dalia have both lost their parents, but they still have a home because of Ebenezer Church. They have built a house across the street from Ebenezer School where both are teachers, educating children and raising up the next generation of leaders in the DR.
Oren and Chris Mason