Students receive an incredible education on the Dominican Trip. Their outreach challenges their faith as they share the Gospel on the streets. Their time in schools pushes some to new heights in communicating in Spanish and building rapport with students who eagerly listen to the story of Jesus. But their time in homes for children with disabilities and church ministries to the elderly bring most of the liberal arts education at Hillcrest together.
Students recall the history of Hispaniola, remembering faint references to the slave trade that forged its way through the tiny island. Books read in Mr. Undseth's class, like Uncle Tom's Cabin, began with an overview of how the United States reached racist lows. Seeing the disparity that remains on the island between the Dominican people and the Haitian immigrants forces conversations on humanity that clear a Biblical foundation for students to begin building a framework for ministry.
As students walk into homes that care for the least they are drawn to remember Mr. Preston's history classes where he outlines the movement of mankind to lift-up human endeavors and thwart God's design. Understainding European history and the Colonial period in Hillcrest's classrooms is paying-off for students who are now seeing that Christians, compelled by the love of Christ, have changed the course of nations through the power of Gods word. Students take stories like William Wilberforce and Benjamin Rush as living history, engaging in racism and medical care for people who are made in God's image.
Students use classes like Anatomy and Physiology and Chemistry as they sit with young boys whose muscles are wound so tightly from deformity that their backs and legs nearly touch their head. Understanding the muscle groups, students massage and sing to the young children, providing a ministry of presence and a caring touch that causes smiles, groans and clapping, the only expressions some can muster.
Students in Journalism snap pictures and take videos, skills they've learned in the foundation of Hillcrest's technical program. These skills will help tell the story to underclassmen friends who are on the fence regarding the trip. The seniors always return saying the trip was the hardest and most exhausting experience they've ever needed and loved. The urgency to share the Gospel is a real experience for these students, who are encouraging new friends in churches that dart the Dominican landscape.
With the basis of Latin that most six year Hillcrest students have taken, students communicate with old men in the nursing homes. Picking-out root words and decyphering the message, delivered sometimes in Creole and other times in Spanish, students nod their heads which encourages conversation as partner church members translate stories of faith and questions of doubt the octogenarians have in the nursing home. Students' presence encourages the Dominican church, that looks forward to the yearly visits from their Minnesotan friends. The base language studies gives students confidence, using their education to inspire the church.
As students come home they have a renewed sense of mission. They are looking forward to joining the rest of their senior class to finish the year strong, planning conversations with friends who many not have a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The mission experience is one of many capstone events in the life of Hillcrest students, equipped to live a life of eternal significance.