(Written December 2005…9 months after our trip to the Dominican Republic)
To our Friends and Family…
We would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who generously joined us in prayer and financial support and sent us on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this year. It was an amazing experience serving with Children of the Nations. A journey that intensified our faith and love for Christ in abundant ways. In this letter, we hope to convey the remarkable impact we had on the people in the DR. We hope, with this small window into our experience, that you will be able to see how Christ is moving and changing people’s lives all around the world!
Below is a Jewish Prayer I found a few months ago, that has had such a penetrating impact on my life. This prayer has been carved so tenderly into my mind, I now find the words singing in my heart and echoing throughout my soul as I reminisce about being amongst the children in the DR. May these words also minister and speak into the depths of your heart as your read them…
“Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing; let there be moments where Your presence, like listening, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns unconsumed. And one day we will reach out for your holiness and exclaim in wonder: ‘How filled with awe is this place, and we did not know it! Blessed is the Eternal One, the Holy God.’ ”
Every afternoon in the DR, I stood surrounded by the most beautiful faces one can imagine. These were faces that weaken my heart, simply as I stared into their eyes, because I saw ALL that God had created them to be. When the children danced to the rhythm of the most heavenly noises of praise and joy, the dust rose amongst their feet. At that moment, I didn’t see destitution: I saw deliverance. I didn’t see suffering: I saw hope. I didn’t see the broken: but I saw His beloved. Although the brokenness was there and the suffering was very real, it was the JOY of the Lord that surrounded these children everyday. This idea has had a lasting impact on my life. That in the midst of their destitution, these children rejoiced in the Lord for the miracles and love Christ provided on a daily basis.
“Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing…”
Each one of those little children, that would grab my hand each day, were miracles from God. Truly, I know I am too often walking sightless among miracles in my daily life in the United States. I was, though, able to see God’s awesome miracles at work in the DR. One example was with vaccinations that a group of our nurses and doctors administered. The DR Government supplied us with tetanus and MMR shots. There was a line, as long as the Mississippi River, of moms and children waiting for their life saving vaccinations (because a fair amount of children had recently died of tetanus). We had no idea if we would have enough shots to vaccinate all the children. After a quick “God help us” prayer, the nurses and doctors from our church started poking each child. One by one. For some children it was just a quick, painless ordeal. With others, they would act like they were going to die…kicking and screaming the whole time. It got down to the last dozen or so kids and we ran out of vaccinations. Not wanting to turn any child away, we prayed…and when we looked inside one of the coolers, we saw that their was EXACTLY the right amount to give, down to the last child. The Lord filled my eyes with seeing His miracles in the DR, and I pray that I am willing to open my heart and see them all around me on a daily basis at home!
“…let there be moments where Your presence, like listening, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns unconsumed.”
The DR government has set up “check points” every 2 to 4 miles along the roads in the DR. While Aaron and I traveled through the towns with a group from our church, we saw men and women being pulled out of vehicles in front and behind us. We found out that these people were of Haitian decent, trying to pass as a Dominicans to get to the next village along the road. Anyone that drove through a checkpoint was required to prove citizenship to a large guy with a gun, otherwise they risked the possibility of getting deported to Haiti. Over the years, many children have become orphaned due to disease, famine and abandonment (because the children were not wanted and/or because their parents had been deported to Haiti). This is where “Children of the Nations” or COTN (the organization we went down to help) has stepped in. As a small organization, they can’t change the government, but they can go in between these check points and build schools, medical clinics, churches, etc…and reach the poorest people living in the Dominican Republic. With Christian organizations like COTN, I saw and experienced just how Christ’s presence illumined the darkness in this world. I found myself, “wherever I gazed,” claiming that “His bush burned unconsumed” while working hand-in-hand with the staff in these remote villages!
“And one day we will reach out for your holiness and exclaim in wonder: ‘How filled with awe is this place, and we did not know it! Blessed is the Eternal One, the Holy God.’ ”
As I recall my trip to the DR, it often leaves me speechless and in awe of God. As the days pass and years quickly vanish, may He illumine your heart. As Christians, we anticipate the Christmas Season for fun, laughter, great food and time with family and friends. But we also appreciate God’s plan of sending Jesus as a baby. We honor this humble baby year round, born of humble means who’s essence and power are immeasurable. And we anticipate the day when He returns and claims us as His own for heaven! If only you could hear now, the joining voices that will be heard on that glorious day when Christ returns, you would be whispering in wonder, “How filled with AWE is this place, and we did not know it! Blessed is the Eternal One, the Holy God.” In closing, Aaron and I are so grateful for the life changing experience we had in the Dominican Republic. It has made Christ and the meaning of Christmas more powerful for us this year. From our home to yours, may you experience a joyous Christmas, and the peace of Christ in your hearts. And may love surround you throughout the coming year.
For Christ and His Kingdom,
Aaron & Dana Kangas
P.S. Aaron and I are trying to downsize this year, and we would love for you to donate to Children of the Nations instead of giving us gifts for Christmas. If the Lord leads you, please visit http://www.cotni.org and click on “Make a Donation”. You can also donate by mail at: Children of the Nations, PO Box 3970, Silverdale, WA 98383. For more information on giving donations or signing up to sponsor a child monthly, call (360) 698-7227.