Ben Arnold attended a Dispatch trip to the Dominican Republic this past February.  We had a chance to ask him a few questions about his experience, takeaways and ways he is paying it forward. His story is shared with you below!

If you’re interested in next year’s trip to the Dominican, just send us an email and we can get you more information!

What did you take away from your Dispatch trip?

I think there were three key take-away’s for me:

First; The trip leader (Duane) talked with us Saturday night (our first night in the DR) to give some context around how shockingly different it might be for us attending church with the Dominicans with respect to cultural, language and socio-economic differences. Any differences that might have been noticeable completely became irrelevant the second we started worshipping with the congregation. We sang, “Gloria a Su Nombre…” (Glory to Your Name) and were instantly united under the same God.

Second; the new church building had already been started before we arrived, and it was finished after we left, which meant that this was not “our” (Dispatch Project members) church. It was a privilege and blessing to work alongside the community to participate in building THEIR church – we didn’t build the church, and in fact, they didn’t need us from a physical construction standpoint.

Third; BUT the fact that they didn’t need our construction expertise doesn’t minimize the impact that our physical presence made – They thanked us specifically for being the face of the answer to prayer for their new church building. How humbling!

Tell me about a specific moment that stands out from your trip.

I am going to talk about two; worshipping with the congregation on the Sunday before we started working and the dedication prayer that we had late Friday afternoon to conclude our work, were perfect God-centered bookends to the experience. In both cases the gracious and graceful welcome, embrace and heartfelt gratitude was so warm – I was touched and changed for the experience.

How did this trip impact you as an individual and in the roles you play (father, husband, employee, leader, etc)?

Ironically, this trip coincided with being about half-way through VantagePoint3’s “The Journey, which is a nine month academic study that drives a group-based, highly introspective study of who is God, who am I, and what does God intend to do through me. My Dispatch Project experience in the Dominican Republic confirmed for me that I am called to serve in some service capacity on mission – this will not be my last service trip.

Within two weeks of my return from the Dominican Republic, my daughter who was in her 22nd week of a difficult pregnancy had complications that nearly ended her pregnancy and resulted in 10 weeks of bed rest – she moved in with my wife and I and I was able to serve her with more grace and from a position of deep joy. At this same time, my father was brought to Sioux Falls by ambulance to the VA hospital, where he went through several surgeries and nearly six weeks in ICU with terminal lung cancer. He also has moved in with my wife and I so that we can care for him through this last journey of his life. Again, I have found deep joy that comes from our sovereign God that I know was deeply impacted by my Dispatch Project experience.

I love the work that I am privileged to have both with my employer and in my church. I am mentoring a couple of young men, one from each context and sincerely grateful for the incredible blessings that I experience on a daily basis. I have a much different framework for my approach to mentoring that I hope will help the extend a sense of how richly we are blessed.

Have you had the opportunity to share your experiences with others? And if so, how?

I have been able to consistently share my experience, starting with our plane ride home – on the last leg of the journey – the flight into Sioux Falls, I sat next a woman on the legal counsel team from Citi and we were chatting about where we had just traveled and I shared my experience and about Dispatch Project – she was very interested in talking with her management team about bringing the idea to Citi.

I have shared with many of my friends and was able to bring my experience to my company, sharing pictures and stories with my work colleagues. I will be the on-site coordinator for sending the next two Meta employees in 2015/2016 and will take any opportunity to share Dispatch Project with my friends and contacts in other companies!

If there is one word or one phrase that would sum up your experience, what would it be?

Dispatch Project was an incredible, God-centered experience that blessed me beyond anything I was able to do in the work of serving saints in the Dominican Republic in the building of their new church.