A Letter About the 2014 DR Mission Trip

A Letter About the 2014 DR Mission Trip
By Fred Richter
Posted March 19, 2014

Fred Richter (green shirt) working with two residents of El Pedregal on a construction project during our June 2013 mission trip.

Dear friends,

Just a note to welcome those of you who have committed to our June 7-14 mission trip, and to offer some encouragement to those of you not yet decided. Our team is now comprised of 13 people. However, we still have room on the team, both for knitters/crocheters, for light construction workers and others with servant hearts. As you will know from past experience or from the Ariails’ communications, the work teams generally divide along those lines. What is new this year is that the preparations for our time spent there have never been better. Thanks to the time which Julia, Julius, Tar+ and Jim Drazdowski recently spent in the Dominican, most of the details of our work projects, our liaison with our hosts, including translators, and our accommodations have already been completed or are well on the way. God-willing, this should be one of our best trips ever.

Almost everything you may need to know can be found on the Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, mission trip planning page website:


If you think of things that need to be added to this planning page, please email Julius Ariail at jariail@bellsouth.net.

Thanks to our friends’ recent trip to the Dominican, we have a good deal more information than usual at this time in the planning stages. We will be staying in the relatively new Gordon dormitory, a genuine improvement over our previous quarters, including better bathroom facilities. Under the new leadership of Padre Álvaro and his wife, Ángela, who has charge of the kitchen, we anticipate excellent meals and first-rate Dominican hospitality. Ángela is also very interested in working with our team of knitting instructors and a group of 20 dedicated knitters in the village to build on our classes of previous years to focus intently on a set of handmade items that can be produced for sale to support both the village residents and the programs of the camp, church and school.

Some of the village knitters with their handmade scarves in June 2013.

We will work both in the Camp on several small projects including painting, and just outside the church boundary on building a modest new block home for a young mother of four, Jackelein Almonte, who works in the nearby greenhouses which our hosts are trying to develop toward profitability. If all goes as planned, the ground work for the house will be done before we arrive, and we can get down to work erecting the walls without delay. We anticipate partnering with a Nebraska group who will arrive after we are gone to complete the house. If funding permits, we will also contribute to and perhaps install new, heavy-duty playground equipment at the school.

Jackeline Almonte (teal shirt) in her current house with three of her children and Padre Álvaro and his wife, Ángela.

Among its other functions — as one of the the Dominican diocesan retreat centers, as the site of an Episcopal day school (K-8) and a community church — Campamento Monte de la Transfiguración also provides a playground for the school children and other children from the community. So as we have done in the past, our team will host a picnic party for the kids on the day before our departure. I expect we will also be treated to a fiesta dinner, with music and dancing, on our last night at the Camp.

Our 'splash party' for the village children in June 2013.

“It’s all about relationships” says our informal motto. Not only the relationships we form with team members, some of whom have been traveling to the Dominican together for ten years now, but with our companions in this materially poor but spiritually rich community in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. So in spite of the language barrier for most of us, we manage to make friends and leave with rich memories of local people, the many women young and old who enthusiastically participate in the knitting and crocheting classes, the men of all ages with whom we labor, and the children, the beautiful children everywhere present and eager to work and play with us.

Working side-by-side on a construction project.

If you haven’t already made up your mind to travel with us in June, let me encourage you to do so by April 15. You can reach me via my contact information below to discuss your participation in the trip. Tickets purchased in the last several days cost $562 (plus trip insurance, $42, which I choose to buy), and it is likely that the cost will go up as we approach June. If you need financial assistance, please let me know about that; we do have some resources to share. And if you decide you can’t make the trip but would like to contribute in some way, please let me know that too. You might support another traveler or donate toward the scholarships for the children attending the school at the Camp. An amazing bargain, it takes only $350 to support a child for a full school year. Parents must contribute a token sum for their children to attend the school, but most of the cost of supporting the school comes from scholarships that we and other visiting teams provide. With the help of our churches and individual contributors, we would like to be able to support at least 25 children for the coming school year. Whether you are able to go or not, please do consider this valuable gift to the children of El Pedregal.

There’s room on the trip for you and your gifts. Come and share.


– – – – –
Fred Richter
Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro GA
(912) 531-4021