The D.R.E.A.M.S. trip is one experience that I will never forget. I embarked on the trip expecting no more than to build a house and return feeling good. Instead, what I received was an experience that opened my eyes and brought to light the truth that western culture has taught us to so easily forget – that luxury does not bring happiness. In our pursuit for material and monetary gain, we have simply pushed aside the greatest things which God has blessed us with; our faith, our family, and our friends. The people of the village were always full of joy, yet in the case of possessions, near empty. Their source of laughter and of their smiles was not the number of possessions, but rather community and family. Simple things like tossing stones, or piggy-back rides resulted in more laughter than the handing out of material goods; it was the relationships built that had a greater impact than the charity of goods. One of the greatest lessons I learned on the trip was the importance of compassion and love in our actions. Paul in the Bible says “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor.13:3). Our actions, no matter the intensity of it, mean nothing without love and compassion. The love we gave the people, and the knowledge that someone out in the world cares for them had a more lasting impression on them than the clothes we donated ever could. As the days went by, this truth became more and more real to me. Our stay in the village ended with the emotional goodbyes and the assurance that we did truly make a difference. During the ride back to the convent, the observation that impacted the group the most was the sight of a beautiful house directly beside a shack. The fact that the rich person could live ignorantly of the person in need was appalling. As I reflected on that image, I realized that we do the same in our daily lives. Paul in the Bible says “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). We who have been made rich in our faith in Christ walk ignorantly past those who are in the debt of sin, whether on the street, in our workplaces, or in our schools. When we do such, we are no better than the rich person taking no notice of the person in the shack. Christ has called us to be the salt and light of the world, to share our “riches” with the poor, both materially and spiritually. Lastly, I felt that D.R.E.A.M.S. was a chance for me to serve Christ, and to be Christ to those in need, as Jesus says “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). D.R.E.A.M.S. not only opened my eyes to the world of need, but also to the prosperity that God has so richly blessed us with here in Canada. It is an experience I will never forget.
The witnesing above was sent to me by my Canadian friend, Don Hall. The writer, Sheyan, was a participant in their school’s D.R.E.A.M.S. program in which groups of students go to the mountains of the Dominican Republic to build homes and schools.