Last October, we welcomed a visit—for the first time in 20 years—by Pastor Osvaldo Vilorio, along with his wife Rosa Vilorio, and scholarship recipient Fabianny Pelegrin. The visit was a celebration of our mission partnership with the Dominican Republic community of Gaspar Hernandez. The week was filled with fun activities for our guests. While we were not able to arrange for Osvaldo to see his beloved Cubs play in one of the pre–World Series Games, he did have a chance to have his photo taken sitting next to Sammy Sosa’s sidewalk signature block at Wrigley Field.
One of the key reasons for bringing Osvaldo to Arlington Heights was to give First Pres members and friends a chance to meet him and to hear firsthand the impact our mission partnership has had on the churches and the community he serves. At a special dinner on Saturday evening, Alex Lang and Osvaldo had an opportunity to dialogue, with Osvaldo answering Alex’s questions about the mission for dinner guests. It was a very clear message. Osvaldo spoke with great appreciation for the impact that our partnership has had and he expressed anticipation for its continued success.
As with any good program, our mission to Gaspar Hernandez has been flexible, adapting to the changing needs of the community served as well as those doing the serving. In the beginning, we helped build four churches, to enable Osvaldo to reach out to the barrios that surround the main church in Gaspar Hernandez. Clean water and health clinics were next on the agenda. The community is now implementing the fifth evolution of water-purification systems, with our help. The clinics that our people used to conduct are now run by leaders in the local congregations. These leaders now reach out on their own to provide the medicines we supply, in addition to using funds we provide to purchase medicines locally, in nearby Santo Domingo.
Classes in ESL (English as a second language) continue, with local people as instructors. Crafting fellowship events are also now conducted by locals. Finally, thanks to the wonderful financial support of many within our congregation, we are helping about 50 young people in high school and college with scholarships. Most are studying to be teachers, but many are seeking other careers as well, including the ministry.
In May, we will once again collect medicines for a small team to take to the Dominican Republic in July. This will not be a formal mission trip, but one where many of us are interested in attending a wedding. We are asking for donations of Tylenol in formulations for infants, children, and adults; vitamins for children and adults; antifungal
liquids or creams; ibuprofen; calcium tablets; allergy medicines; and arthritis pain tablets. If you would like to join us, contact Larry Hayes at , or Judy Hockenberry at judyhockenberry
Thanks again to all who have supported the mission in the past; and welcome, to those who will support it for the first time.
-- by Roger Bertelson, on behalf of the Mission Committee