Clark County R-1 Graduate Serves As Missionary in the Dominican Republic
By Kevin Fox
Many people of faith feel called to be missionaries, but few sell what we have and follow Him.
This week I was honored to visit with one such servant, and that was Ian York who is a missionary in the Dominican Republic. Ina is a 1978 graduate of Clark County R-1 and went on to Hannibal LaGrange College finishing up at Southwest Baptist College. She would teach in Iowa, Missouri, Maine, Massachusetts and South Korea.
Ina Stated, “There is no way to describe how happy and content I was while in Massachusetts. But I agreed to take a missionary trip to Ceradillo, Dominican Republic. I have to be honest and say I wasn’t really quite sure where the Dominican Republic was. I went there for a week. After I was there for a couple days I had an overwhelming feeling that this is where I needed to be. I had grown up in the First Baptist Church in Kahoka and there was always a lot of talk about and support for missionaries, so I had in the back of my mind the seeds already planted about being a missionary. So I left my teaching in the states and moved to Cercadillo. The village has a population of something less than 800 and is extremely poor. The Cercadillo Project has four goals, which are: Children and adults will have access to quality education, Teachable trades such as sewing will provide a means of income, Increased access to water and medical care to improve overall health, and A vibrant church will help the villagers grow into strong followers of Jesus.
We have made major strides in all of the goals. For example we now have two hand pumps at the village, so health conditions began to improve almost instantly when they no longer got water from streams, which were polluted. We now have a sewing ministry and it has gone over extremely well, so much that they hate to quit sewing for the day. The school is also growing, but it’s a challenge since it only last two hours a day and with a lot of children it’s difficult to cover everything. The exciting news about the church is that we will have over 100 in attendance and recently we had six baptisms. A larger church from Santo Domingo, which is about 45 minutes away, is also working with us and helping us with the church. But the villagers are helping as well and at a recent Bible School the villagers worked in various areas.
But things take time, however I am very excited about how things have gone. You have to realize that when you first arrive there they are a bit skeptical. As one man put it, “We thought you were here just to see and take pictures of how poor we are, and then leave. But we now know you are going to help.” They are wonderful people with strong family ties. The major religion of the people is Voodoo, so they still believe that spells can be cast and if something doesn’t heal, they do not know about infection, instead they think it is a curse or possessed. A great many of the men go off to work every morning by walking out to the main road, which is several miles away and there they’re picked up and taken to job sites to be laborers. A great many are carrying machetes or shovels with them as they head off to work. That full day of work will earn them roughly around what would be $5.00 in our money.
Among the many challenges is the lack of documentation such as birth certificates. For example if your parents didn’t have a birth certificate then more than likely you do not have one. And if you do not get one within the first two years, then it’s extremely difficult to get one. This makes medical treatment and records difficult as well without birth certificates. They also do not keep track of birthdays. For example, if you ask a mother when a certain child was born, she will respond, “I do not know, but I do remember it was a very hot day, or it was raining.” But they have no idea of the actual day or date. So that is something else we are working on.” Another challenge is of course the education of the villagers both adults and children. But with that education they can get jobs in the tourist trade in service as well as it’s many other bonuses.”
Ina lives away from the village in a house that has electricity and water, which it regularly loses depended upon a great many variables. She takes cold showers and is dependent a great deal upon a generator to run her fans and other items, which we take for granted. To get to the village of Cercadillo Ina must use an SUV, as the roads are terribly rough. The area is not a safe one and Ina is often told by the women of the village to return to her home in the evening and not be traveling at night. This SUV is also used to haul supplies and items used for sewing and teaching to the village by Ina. That SUV is Ina’s lifeline if you will to the village and is in part her reason for being back in the states. Each year Ina returns to the states for a time to report to her many sponsors about her work in the Dominican Republic, as well as generate additional funds that goes towards her work there. Among the many needs that Ina has for her work there is a SUV. There have been various fundraisers and Ina will be speaking at several of the churches in Clark County while here. She will also be spending time visiting with her family and friends, which she sorely misses while in the mission field. Please plan on attending a fundraiser or church service where Ina is. Her story about what God is doing in this village is a fascinating one as well as an eye opener about how we take everyday things for granted. You will also quickly note Ina’s passion for her work and for her village.