The Dominican Republic mission trip had no lack of photo opportunities. My role on the trip was to capture the “heart” of Hearts Afire through the fifteen-member team. This was a “dream come true” for me and a chance to focus on the interaction of the team with the Dominican people.
Between the feeding program and Vacation Bible School, Abuela’s place was a respite for children from the surrounding neighborhood. I saw God’s love shine through the team as they scooped the little ones up, played clapping games, and kicked the soccer ball. A two-year-old child napped on the youth pastor’s shoulder. Much love is needed here, as this is the place the children come every day for a meal, as well as to be loved and cared for.
Each day brought new experiences of how God used the team to “bring Heaven to earth.” A small child climbed into the open screenless window to get closer to a team member and put her hand on his shoulder: a tender moment for them both that needed no language interpretation. Emotional scenes changed rapidly and at times the shots were taken just in time.
We had different stations set up to serve the people. I rotated with my camera through the medical clinic, eyeglass station, prayer ministry and Vacation Bible School for the children. Patients waited in the sun and under trees in front of the primitive church building. Inside, the team doctor saw the elderly and groups of families with unhealed wounds, upper respiratory infections, parasites, skin rashes, and ringworm. They retrieved their medication in the pharmacy through an open window. Many received prayer for hope and healing in the shade. Eyeglasses were a favorite and they waited patiently to be given the eye chart test that hung on the wall. Reading the Bible was the “eye exam” for those who needed reading glasses.
The children begged to have their photo taken, loved posing and giggled at seeing themselves with digital technology. The children’s smiles were mirrors of their young, joyous hearts. But close ups of the elderly told the story of their difficult lives, caught in the many years of trials of survival.
I happily fulfilled my role as photographer looking from the outside in. Not only are the photos images of smiles and sadness, but also more of love and hope shared from the heart of the team.
By Rhonda Pecoraro, Co-Founder Hearts Afire – Dominican Republic Mission Trip 2013