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We all have something to give, even if it doesn’t seem like much

After spending time with the children in the Child Sponsorship Program on Thursday, we served them lunch and then headed to meet with a local pastor who was involved in this Child Sponsorship Program. He showed us some of the amazing outreach opportunities his church is spearheading in their community.

One of them is this Water Store that Debbie, a woman who is on this trip with us, helped to fund. The store has a water purification plant that provides water to their church, the Child Sponsorship Program, as well as providing a very inexpensive source of water for this community.

{Piles of trash like this were very common in many of the places we visited.}

There is a huge need for clean water in almost all parts of the DR, but it can be expensive to have to purchase all of the water. The Water Store offers water at about half the price of what you’d pay elsewhere, so people from all over come to buy it!

What I loved most about the Water Store is that it is self-sustaining and income-producing. So not only is it helping to increase the health of thousands of families in this community through clean water and providing the water at a great price, but it’s also creating a source of income for a number of families, too.

The Water Store is staffed by four employees, plus there are many people who buy the water in bulk and have set up numerous distribution points in outlying areas. In this urban area where jobs are very scarce, the Water Store is helping to provide an income source to many, many families!

They are currently planning to expand the store because the demand is so great. By expanding, they will also be able to supply many more distribution points and provide even more revenue for more families.

What we were most inspired by was how hard this local pastor and church was working to reach out to those in their community. In addition to the Child Sponsorship Program and the Water Store, they offer a medical clinic, classes for the local public school students, retreats for young people. They are also actively working on setting up a vocational school for their community with plans to offer English classes, computer classes, vocational classes, and more in order to help those in their community find jobs.

They had so little themselves, and yet they were doing all they could to help those who were in much worse situations. It was so convicting to me to see firsthand!

Maybe you don’t have money to invest in something like a Water Store, but I want to challenge you to follow the example of this pastor and think about what you can do to bring health and hope to those in your own community–and around the world. We all have something we can give, even if it’s just a cup of cold water to someone who is begging on the streets.

Start looking for opportunities to reach out and give and you’ll likely find them all around you!

Tomorrow, I’ll share about our experiences visiting the slums in Santo Domingo. It was definitely a life-impacting experience for both my husband and me!

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  • Mother Lydia says:

    The Signing Time lady, Rachel Coleman, was just in Ghana and blogging about it:

    She mentioned early on that there is a generator fenced of f– provided by another group but when the gasoline ran out they could not use it anymore. I like this way of working with local folks and making things self-sustaining!

  • Debora A. Acevedo says:

    I am currently reading the book you recommended “Kisses from Katie” and God is tugging at my heart to do volunteer work in my community as well as outside of ‘my perpect little world’. Just today, I resisted the urge to stop at a fast food restaurant on my way home from work. I said to myself, “the money I spend there on food that it’s not only unhealthy for me, but I use it towards feeding a child in the Dominican Republic. God has a way of showing you the way through people and actions and he has used you to help me be part of the solution. Thank you again for sharing your experiences.

  • ksenia says:

    I love these blog posts. Very interesting, eye opening, and inspiring. Thank you! I hope my family can do what we can for those in need around us as well as those who seem a world away.

  • J says:

    Crystal, why doesn’t someone clean up the trash? Or recycle or burn it? Just wondering if you know.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m not sure… does anyone from the DR know why? I wondered the same thing myself.

    • Heather says:

      Just a guess: Usually those sorts of services are funded by taxes. So perhaps there just isn’t the money for frequent trash pick-up.

      • Crystal says:

        According to the locals, the government is very corrupt and the tax rate is astronomical, so I don’t think it’s that there isn’t tax money to pay for these services. 🙁

  • Doesn’t giving simply rock? It’s an amazing feeling to give to those in need. Thank you for your observations while you’re on your trip.

    I think one important lesson we can learn from all this is that even giving something small can make a world of a difference.

    God bless!

  • Natalie F says:

    Inspiring and encouraging.

  • lori says:

    Crystal, I am enjoying reading your posts on the DR. My husband and I stopped there as part of our honeymoon cruise. The cruise lines do a pretty good job of only showing you what they want you to see, and what we saw in the tourist areas was nothing like this. Thank you for sharing the tales of your journey. I just purchased two more copies of your book as birthday gifts for my friends, and I have to admit a large catalyst of that choice was knowing that you are donating all the proceeds to Compassion.

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve heard they have a really nice resort area that is where most tourists go. We didn’t get a chance to see it on this trip, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty much a stark contrast to what you’ll see on the rest of the island.

      Thank you for your kind support; I’m going to share pictures of our CSP sometime this week. It was so amazing to visit there and see the work they are doing!

    • Meghan says:

      Port cities and the rest of the countries they’re in are usually worlds apart. Port cities themselves change between when boats are in and when they’re not. Prices go up, in particular! Cruises are great for relaxation, but they’re not a good way to get to know a country, its culture, or its people. Seeing poverty, crime, dirtiness, etc., take away from the atmosphere that cruise ships work hard to maintain for their customers…..and from the atmosphere that makes those customers want to take more cruises (and spend more money)!

      A lot of times, many of the stores/services/excursions in ports that cruise ships pull into are owned by……the cruise lines. Ever wonder why certain cruise lines push “Diamonds International” stores? Because they’re owned by….the cruise line! Why do they promote certain businesses/excursion providers? Because they provide a financial incentive to……the cruise line!

      There’s nothing wrong with cruising (I’ve taken several), but I always remind myself that I go not for the ports, but for the relaxation. The things you see in ports while on a cruise are not reality, generally.

  • Enjoying hearing about your trip. I’m sure it was emotional to experience firsthand!

  • Yvonne says:

    I am loving your posts from your trip! One book that I suggest for you to read is ‘When Helping Hurts’ by Steve Corbett
    & Brian Fikkert

    It was really eye-opening for me and helped me to realize that Compassion is an amazing ministry that is doing things right to help release these children from poverty.

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks so much! I’m hoping to read that book soon as it’s been highly recommended to me.

      It was so good to get to sit down and really talk with the local pastors and people to hear what would *truly* help them. My eyes were opened in so many ways and we’ve come back with some specific direction and vision on how God wants us to serve and help those in the DR–and around the world!

      • Julie says:

        Thank you so much for your kindness of heart and openness in sharing your stories. I love what you wrote in the comment above – asking and then listening to the people to what would truly help them. Building relationships is essential in giving and receiving. I studied abroad and volunteered in the DR and it is truly a beautiful country – I think a little piece of my heart will always be there!

      • Yvonne says:

        You are welcome! The book was recommended to me when I became an advocate with Compassion last fall. I know you will enjoy it.

  • I love reading these posts, thank you for sharing!

  • Allison says:

    I really enjoy seeing your pictures. It’s interesting to get a glimpse into everyday life in another country.

  • Kassandra Wood says:

    Oh, Crystal! I just LOVE this post! From the time I was a child, I’ve had a dream to provide clean water to a community. This dream began in my heart when my community was hit by Hurrican HUGO in the 1990’s. There was one day when it was hot and humid, we were forced to ration water. My husband and I are working hard towards a dream to own a house outright in the next few years. I work as a housekeeper and a waitress… and those jobs can be humbling. My husband was just hired by Boeing, which has lots of room for growth, advancement and overtime pay. I keep moving along, knowing that every dollar saved and every time we get closer to cash-only, home ownership moves me one step closer to my final item on my bucket list, which is to provide water to a community. Thanks for the inspiration, Crystal!

  • My mother went to Nicaragua on a missions trip years ago with our local church and came home and started Renew The Hope. A nonprofit organization that now supports the Orphanage in Nicaragua (that with the support has grown from 15-20 children to now being able to support over a 100) but has outreach groups all up and down the Krin Krin River and has a scholarship program that has sent a number of orphaned Nicaraguan children into the US for college to become doctors, engineers, and more…..Started Gardens and businesses there that locals can work at to provide for their family.

    It’s amazing the change that one person’s vision can make. AND their obedience. She, herself will say she argued with God for a year trying to tell him she didn’t have time for that venture. Similar to your, “I don’t know how to write a book.”

    Thank You Crystal for honoring the calling God has put on your heart. I obviously grew up with an amazing understanding of you help those people you can reach but I am thankful for such great “public” inspiration that leads others to look outside of themselves.

    Regardless of our economic conditions there is ALWAYS something we can do to reach out to someone else.

  • Great encouragement as always. I actually had a few posts last month on ways to spread kindness (and help others) even with no (or very little money). I don’t usually link to posts in comments, but these are very relevant to this topic and might spark some ideas – check them out if you are interested:

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