2019 Dominican Republic
Mission Team
Christ Episcopal Church
Valdosta, Georgia
It's Not Over....
The mission trip has ended. We're all back to where we started, but there's still work to be done and information to be shared.

If you got sick after you returned, please let Bonnie know about that right away. She will be compiling a medical event report from our trip to send to the mission team support office in Santo Domingo for their information and possible guidance for other mission teams. Your report to Bonnie will be confidential, and her report will not include names, only symptoms and treatments. Bonnie's contact information: email <jwhanson@surfsouth.com>, call or text (229) 834-6019. Bonnie will also be at Christ Church for the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, June 30, if you would like to speak privately with her then.

To access an online questionnaire to evaluate the mission trip experience, click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VW7Y8SP. Please complete this survey by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3. Your responses are anonymous. The responses will be compiled by Friday, June 5, and you will get a copy of the final results. This compilation will also be sent to our rector, Fr. Dave Johnson, and to the mission team support office in Santo Domingo.

The temporary trip photograph album on my Facebook page is linked here. I will be adding more photographs and rearranging the images into a Google Photos album over the next week or so, and will let you know when that album is ready to go.

Julia and I have had several questions and comments about the current tragic series of deaths of tourists in the Dominican Republic, and so I have posted a response on our trip planning page here. If you receive similar comments or questions, please feel free to refer to the information on this planning page.

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Finally, a word about the future. Before this trip began, Julia and I informed Fr. Dave and the Christ Church vestry that this 2019 trip would be the last one that Julia and I would lead. During the trip, several of you asked if we would reconsider that decision, and we would like you to know the reason that we cannot reconsider. Both of us have health issues that will curtail our future travel and ability to participate in complex events with inflexible timelines.

Three years ago, Julia was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. So far this fairly mild form of leukemia has not presented any complications for her other than a slightly elevated white blood cell count, and it is possible that condition will continue for years. However, her condition could change at any time, and then she would have to receive treatment that would necessarily confine her to the Valdosta area.

Over the past two years, I have lost some of my sense of balance, and that is why I was using a walking stick during the last days of the trip. I am also aware that I am not as mentally sharp as I once might have been. In August, I will be 75, and my loss of balance and mental acuity are certainly age-related and will probably become more severe. I am also a Type II diabetic, and can manage that fairly well by a controlled diet and medication. On a mission trip in the Dominican Republic, eating meals prepared for a large group, I cannot control my diet very well, and so the diabetic symptoms manifest themselves more during those trips. (Of course, Tomasina's cooking at the Campamento is so good, who could resist?)

Having written all of this, both Julia and I would like to continue traveling to the Dominican Republic as we are able, visiting with our dear friends in El Pedregal and elsewhere, and working as volunteers with Bishop Quezada and the staff of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic. If they happen, these trips will not be as complex as the annual mission trips, and could be easily cancelled at short notice if that was necessary for health or other reasons.

On June 26, we met with Fr. Dave and shared these health conditions and our decision to step aside from mission trip leadership. As always, he was very understanding and supportive. Once we complete all accounting and reporting activities for the 2019 trip and send the donated scholarship funds to the Episcopal school in El Pedregal, we will turn over the mission fund account to Fr. Dave and step aside from mission trip leadership. Any decisions about the future of Christ Church's mission work in the Dominican Republic will be made by Fr. Dave in consultation with the vestry.

We want to thank you individually and collectively for all your hard work. This team was the best ever! You worked together so well to accomplish strenuous and complicated projects while maintaining such positive attitudes. You all have such great servant hearts. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with the people of El Pedregal. I hope you came home rejoicing at the wonders God has shown us. Blessings on you and all your future endeavors.

Julius

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The planning webpage for the 2019 mission trip is online here. All information about the trip will be added to this page just as soon as it is available.

For information about Christ Church's mission work in the Dominican Republic, including a summary report and photographs from the 2018 trip, click here .