Mission Trip Report – June 2011

The overarching purpose of the mission trip sponsored by Christ Church (Valdosta) to El Pedregal in June, 2011, was to establish a ministry of presence. To see other photos from this trip, click the picture above.

Report of the Mission Trip in June, 2011

The Diocese of Georgia conducted a mission trip to the Episcopal Camp of the Transfiguration (Campamento Episcopal Monte de la Transfiguración) from June 18-25, 2011. The Camp of the Transfiguration is located in El Pedregal, a small village about 2 miles east of the large city of Jarabacoa. This mission trip was organized by Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, and included 30 people from 5 dioceses of the Episcopal Church and 1 diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. This trip in 2011 marked the tenth year that a mission trip from the Diocese of Georgia has come to this location. The team flew from Orlando to Santo Domingo on June 18th and rode in a chartered bus from the airport to El Pedregal, a trip of about 4 hours. The bus transport was coordinated by the mission team support staff of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. The team members stayed in the dormitory rooms of the Episcopal camp, and their meals were prepared by members of the camp staff and served in the camp dining room.

On Sunday, the first full day of their mission trip in El Pedregal, they attended church in El Pedregal where the three priests on the mission team, The Rev. Tar Drazdowski (Christ Church, Valdosta), The Rev. Lonnie Lacy (St. Anne’s, Tifton) and The Rev. Justin Yawn (Trinity, Statesboro) were the co-celebrants. During the service, their mission team crosses were blessed by Padre Carlos Santana, the priest in charge of the camp, school, and church. The team members presented Padre Carlos with a ciborium to match the chalice a previous mission team from Christ Church had donated in an earlier year.

During the week the mission team members were in El Pedregal, they completed construction projects such as excavating a site for a new electrical power substation, roofing two houses, removing a chain link fence and its foundation to prepare for the installation of a new fence and concrete block wall, cleaning and then painting a tile roof over a carport on a house in the camp property, installing three ceiling fans in the camp dining room, and installing ceilings in bathrooms in a new camp dormitory building. They also conducted knitting classes for approximately 75 knitters and Vacation Bible School classes for approximately 125 children. They attended a graduation exercise for the Episcopal school on the camp property, and helped conduct a water splash party for the village children.

Watercolor: 'Five Palms'

Michael Wood, an artist and a member of the mission team, created three watercolor paintings from scenes in El Pedregal. One of these paintings, “Five Palms,” was painted in El Pedregal during the mission trip, and the others were painted after Michael returned home. Prints of these paintings are for sale, and net proceeds benefit future mission work in the Dominican Republic. To see illustrations of the three works and for more information on purchasing prints, go here.

On Thursday, June 23rd, the last full day they were in El Pedregal, the community joined them in the camp dining room in a covered dish supper with dancing afterward. The team presented team t-shirts and crosses to several members of the community and the camp staff. They also donated a large banner decorated with handprints of the VBS children to the Episcopal church in El Pedregal, and gave a stole decorated with thumbprints of the village children to Padre Carlos. The Rev. Tar Drazdowski, the mission team leader, also received one of the stoles decorated by the village children.

On Friday, June 24th, the team left El Pedregal by bus to travel to Santo Domingo. They arrived in time to see part of the capital city and to eat supper in local restaurants. On Saturday morning, June 25th, they rode busses to the airport for their flight back to Orlando.

For photographs from this mission trip, check here (summary set), here (part 1 of an extended set), and here (part 2 of an extended set). For a detailed daily journal from this trip, check here.