HILLCREST FORGES DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MINISTRY PARTNERSHIPS THAT GO BEYOND MISSION TRIP HIGHS
Since 2009, Hillcrest senior classes have made five trips to the Dominican Republic, most recently in November of 2012. These short term mission opportunities have had an enduring impact on the student body, but there is also desire to ensure a lasting impact on the people of the Dominican. To that end, Hillcrest began a ministry partnership with a Christian grade school in a barrio of San Pedro named Santa Fe. Santa Fe is an impoverished area comprised of about seventy percent Haitian immigrants. The school has an enrollment of about 150 students which meet in two separate shifts.
A large part of Hillcrest's ministry on the ground in the Dominican Republic takes place in this school. Their campus consists of nothing more than an open dirt yard with two concrete classrooms, surrounded by a fence made mostly of scrap metal. On the mission team's first stop at the school they spent time cleaning and repainting desks and chalkboards, helping the school to make the best out of the limited resources available to it. On subsequent visits to the school, Hillcrest students mainly took time to care for, play with and share items that they had brought from home for the children. "I handed one small boy an old ball, and he hugged it so hard. I don't think he ever put it down or stopped smiling," recalls Marisa Monacelli about the gratitude of one of the children. Along with simple toys and candy, the mission team brought along bags of school supplies, first aid materials, clothes and other necessities they had collected.
However, not all of the needs the mission team addressed were as tangible. "One thing that we noticed as a team was the eagerness of the kids to come up to us," said Taylor Brue, one of the team members. "Despite the fact that they didn't know us, many still came to us giving a hug or asking to be held. I remember holding a little girl who squeezed tight and clung to me for a long time. The reality we learned was that a number of these kids were not from the best family situations. They needed to be loved."
THE MISSION CONTINUES AT HOME
Hillcrest's partnership with the Santa Fe school does not end when the mission team boards the plane to return home. Over the past several years, Hillcrest students have been able to raise funds to help purchase land for the school, build three classrooms, support teachers and buy desks for the students. Currently Hillcrest is partnering with Santa Fe to build a water purification plant which can serve an an ongoing source of revenue for the school and benefit the surrounding community. Both schools have also committed to including each other in their daily prayers.
The pastor who oversees the daily operations of Santa Fe hopes to model his school after Hillcrest. When Hillcrest instructor and mission team organizer, Gregg Preston, asked him what that meant to him, he said it would "become a place of learning in which students go to the ends of the earth in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
A LASTING IMPACT
For the past ten years, Hillcrest has sent its senior class on short-term mission trips to either Mexico or the Dominican Republic. To ensure that the time spent in these areas is effective, the school has partnered with a Christian organization called Christian Outreach International (COI). COI has bases in the Dominican Republic and Mexico which partner with local Christian churches for ministry.
Because of this partnership, Hillcrest students have had the privilege of working with Dominican churches to preach the message of the Gospel, help Christian schools, and worship with other Dominican believers in churches and youth groups. Senior classes at HLA have been eternally blessed by:
- Practicing the Great Commission and obediently speaking the Word of God.
- Describing the message of the Gospel to those who have not heard.
- Praising and worshipping the Lord with brothers and sisters of other cultures.
- Serving with the local Dominican churches and Christian schools.
- Honoring and loving children of other cultures who have truly experienced neglect, poverty, abuse, and abandonment.
- Continuing to labor from home to provide prayer and financial support for ongoing work in the Dominican.
The experience that HLA students have had on the Mexican and Dominican missions has been so profound, life-changing, and powerful, that many have cited these mission trips as the most influential experience of their Hillcrest years.
Dominican Mission Experience
2014 Dominican Mission Highlight
2012 Dominican Mission Documentary
2012 Dominican Mission Highlight
A Walk with the Dominican Mission
2011 Dominican Mission Highlight Video
Zach Nersten | Student Testimony
Cooper Patch | Student Testimony
Gracia Larson | Student Testimony
Jason Fox | Student Testimony