In March, a group from Amazing Grace Adventist Academy in Palmer, Alaska, spent two weeks on a project with Maranatha Volunteers International. The group laid block walls for the La Caleta 6 Seventh-day Adventist congregation’s new church building in the Dominican Republic. Project Coordinator Richard Jordan recalled his first impressions of the congregation’s meeting space. “When I went on my site visit in November, there must have been almost 40 people meeting in a backyard. You had to walk through a house to get to the backyard, and it was just an unideal situation.”

The 21-member volunteer team was inspired to help La Caleta 6’s meeting space, but Jordan wasn’t sure if they had enough manpower to finish the project. He was pleasantly surprised when volunteers actually exceeded their construction goal. Not only did they finish the building’s exterior walls; they completed a sizable portion of interior walls as well. “This is, hands down, the hardest working, best group I’ve ever worked with,” said Jordan. “Everybody showed up ready to work.”

In addition to construction work, the group’s eight student volunteers led a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program at a public school around the corner from the building site. At the end of each weekday, they presented the same program to a different class, tailoring the content for each age group. The VBS team presented to roughly 400 kids total and were thrilled when several of these public school students joined them for church on Sabbath.

Maranatha has a long history of working in the Dominican Republic. In 1980, after the destruction of Hurricane David, Maranatha constructed 160 houses here. In 1992, the Dominican Republic was the site of a watershed moment of growth for Maranatha, when the organization coordinated the construction of 25 churches over 70 days. Dubbed “Santo Domingo ’92,” it was the first time Maranatha concentrated on one place for multiple volunteer projects. Later efforts occurred in 2003 and 2013, and in 2022, Maranatha returned once more.