The Secret to Giving Great Gifts – A Spin of The Globe

On February 17, 2014 by Eric

A Spin of the Globe is a series compiled by Praying Pelican Missions Mission Coordinators and Advocates. Within our individual blogging, most readers only get a narrow glimpse of PPM and our world-wide ministry. Between us bloggers, we realized we never speak much to countries we don’t have experience in – so we are Spinning the Globe. We hope through this series, you can experience another country within (and even outside) the world of PPM and get a taste for ministry that is unique and powerful, in every location. We pray you are blessed.  For more details about all of our domestic and international locations, go here:

Holly is a co-worker of ours who works as a Mission Coordinator in the Dominican Republic. Today, she shares with us a story illustrating the heart and culture of the people in the DR. Thanks for reading, and feel free to visit her blog,, to read more about her experiences leading mission teams in the Dominican.


You can describe the Dominican Republic in one simple, surprising phrase – que rica. How rich.

This probably sounds a bit odd when you’re talking about a developing country – a “middle-class” developing country, but developing all the same – where the average annual income is around $9,300 per person, where many children still don’t have the opportunity to complete school beyond the elementary level, where plenty of people live their lives without many modern conveniences like indoor plumbing, hot water, or consistent electricity. That doesn’t sound so rich.

But that’s not really the only way to describe “rich,” is it?

Kids give their smiles away like they’re nothing...and it fills your heart right up.

Kids give their smiles away like they’re nothing…and it fills your heart right up.

The Dominicans I know are warm, friendly, open, proud, easygoing, happy people. Happy is an understatement, really – they are joyful. Consistently joyful. Ready to share, whether it’s a smile or their mad cooking skills, or their knowledge of the island {want to know where the best beaches are? ask nicely and you shall receive!}, or whatever resources they have that you may need.

After a spring and summer spent traipsing back and forth between Minnesota and this island in the Caribbean, I had plenty of stories of the kindness of host pastors, the church community who stayed up until almost midnight waiting for the team to arrive so they could welcome us, and the blossoming relationships between North Americans and Dominicans. One of my favorite moments this year was more personal, though – what I would call a moment of excessive generosity, and what has become one of my defining descriptions of the Dominican church.

Looking through the summer teams, I discovered I would be spending my birthday in Santiago instead of at home with my husband. It was going to be fine; we don’t go overboard for these kinds of things, so while I was a little bummed, it wasn’t a big deal. The schedule for the week worked out so at least we’d be checking out a new beach for a future team’s recreation day. Even on a rainy day, it was a beautiful and relaxing break in the week. It’s amazing what 15 minutes of your toes in the sand can do!

We – Juliette, (one of our Dominican staff), William (one of our host pastors), his wife and daughter, and I – headed to a little restaurant in town for a quick bite before the drive back to the city. Just as we finished eating, William slipped away to talk with one of the restaurant hosts. Two minutes later, everyone starts singing in Spanish and English, and I turn around to see this coming my way:

Dominican Birthday Flowers

along with slice of amazing chocolate cake, candle blazing and all.

It was touching. Que rica.

What hit me hardest – beyond the surprise, beyond the “typical” of birthday flowers and cake, beyond the sheer expense of buying that massive arrangement and the dessert to make it perfect – was what I was reminded of in that moment. That a real gift, a meaningful gift, is one that has a cost willingly shouldered, to show love and care to someone. It just made me laugh and shake my head and say, gracias, gracias!, and simply accept.

I kept that fabulous bouquet alive as long as could, carefully toting it from Sosua to Santiago to Santo Domingo. I think it lasted four days until I realized it had outlasted it’s realistic life. It was an extravagant demonstration of love and goodwill that was utterly useless beyond the ability to bring beauty into my room and my heart. It was unexpected and freely given. It made me rich.

This is my symbol of the Dominican Republic – rich, unassuming, extravagant love – and this is what I hope to embody, as a piece of my new self, wherever a spin of the globe takes me next. This is how I want to give gifts – surprisingly and with open hands, with consideration of the cost…yet choosing generosity.

For God so loved the world…

Would you like to be a part of a ministry like this? You can find more information on Praying Pelican’s Dominican Republic trip info page, or contact PPM to receive more information on how you can be a part.

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