Thursday, March 02, 2006

Meeting in the Dominican Republic

This picture was taken sometime in 1993 in the Dominican Republic near a place called Playa Grande (Large beach). The brethren live on a hilltop not far from this house, which is the home of a relative. Rather than ask us to "go up" to their house they came down and we had Bible study on this porch. It is a small congregation, so they normally meet in one of their houses. In fact, very few churches in the Dominican Republic have their own building--most rent a small house, one half of a house (think what it's like when the neighbors want to play music or watch TV), or even a shed in the middle of a field. Two of the sound churches do have a permanent place to meet--one in the rent house of their former preacher, which he gave to the church and the other meets on the porch of their preacher's house.

Actually meeting on the porch was a lot more comfortable than most of the meeting places--at least you could feel the breeze. Most meeting places are too small, so everyone is sitting shoulder to shoulder without much ventilation, natural or otherwise. One church has a small fan on a shelf that we would throw away--it has not grill to protect fingers, but that's not a problem as they have to spin the blade to start it up and it spins so slowly I don't think it would hurt you if you hit it. The worst of it is that these meeting places are not usually permanent--at most 2 years and then they have to search and find another place and start all over.

Yet the brethren are faithful in attendance, as well as in life. Many have to travel by bus and/or taxi to get to services. Everybody has to walk at least part of the way but they do this 3 times a week--once during the day Sunday (many Sunday nights there is no power), then Tues. & Thur. or Wed. & Fri. nights. They may not have a lot, but they insist on sharing what they have with you.

If happiness depends on material things brethren in the Dominican Republic will likely never be happy. Yet they are happy and when you are there you can be happy even without. One Sunday afternoon every house on the block had their music going full blast and it was all different--all the noise made me tired. About 5 PM the power went out, which made me very happy--it was quiet finally! We all sat on the porch and rocked until the mosquitoes came out.

Tol Burk

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