"Due to poverty levels, many of the children aren't able to go to public school," Bender said. "This pastor has taken it upon himself to build a school. It really isn't being funded by anyone other than him."
By Labor Day last year, Christa and Abby decided it was time to go to the Nike Air Max 90 Premium Suede Women's Shoe
"When you walk into places, they're all over you; they just want to show you love," Bender said.
One constant was the welcoming reception received by the Americans wherever they went, she said.
Some homes have only dirt floors, she said.
"It's something we felt led to do," she said. "Taking my 12 year old daughter into a foreign country, a rough country, wasn't easy, and people think of the depressed areas . and they are poor, very poor. We've seen a lot of things."
"The band played for free," Bender said. "Everyone has been so supportive."
But through it all, Bender says the trips have been quite a learning experience for the whole family.
"It was an amazing journey," she said. "It was a lot of work, and she (Abigail) put her whole heart into it."
Growing up poor in the Dominican Republic, 9 year old Jasmin has very little to her name. The little girl owns all of two stuffed animals and, last summer, she tried to give away one of those as a gift to another girl, so her new friend wouldn't forget her when she returned to the United States.
It's basically unknown terrain, a different world, Christa Bender said, and the poverty can be overwhelming. But even as they sang and prayed with the people, and helped with the Bible school, they kept trying to see how they could best be of help. That feeling didn't leave after they returned to Myerstown.
in the night, someone who floated into their lives and out again."
"That time, we took some things for her family and we really went on a whim, wherever he led us, that's where we went," Bender said. "There was really no plan."
"When we returned home, we felt the need to go back again," she said.
Christa and Abby are planning their third trip to the Dominican Republic in August, when they'll stay for one week. Christa's niece, Amanda Houser, 24, will join them.
Dominican Republic again. The Benders speak no Spanish, so they kept in touch with the interpreter who accompanied them on the trip.
The Bender family includes husband Andrew and daughter Ali, 9. The family felt Ali was too young to participate, so Mr. Bender stayed home with her.
The people of the Dominican Republic are what made the difference, why the Myerstown group couldn't forget.
daughter from Myerstown help the needy in Dominican Republic
than just 'one hour' in their lives," Bender said.
"Because she (Jasmin) didn't want us to forget her, that was touching, and that's what made us want to be more Air Max 90 Breathe Green
The extent of the poverty varies from area to area, Bender said. Some families are able to Air Max 90 2015 Womens Price afford basic apartments, while others don't even have plumbing. Some homes have basins that catch rainwater and are used as kitchen sinks.
Christa and Abby took as many goods with them for their second trip as possible, including hygiene products, clothing and toys.
"What happened was, we couldn't let it go," said Christa Bender. "We got very attached to some of the families and we didn't want to be just a breeze Air Max 90 Premium Womens
The friend is Abigail "Abby" Bender, 13, who traveled to the Dominican Republic with her mother, Christa Bender, of Myerstown, for a mission trip with other members of their church, Myerstown Church of the Brethren.
"The living situations really vary from area to area," Bender said.
"You wouldn't believe how excited those little girls get over nail polish," Bender said.
One of their reasons for the second trip is a new school being built by a native pastor.
The Benders are doing what they can to help out, to make sure the school will be built. They have sponsored a few fundraisers, the largest being a recent event in the Newmanstown Social Club and headlined by Lebanon County Christian rock band Damaskus Road.
Upon reaching their destination, the mission group found the state of the residents' lives to be quite eye opening, a stark difference from the mostly comfortable lives known by many in Pennsylvania.
Bender said the experience served to strengthen the faith of her own daughter.
Even now, Abigail is looking forward to learning Spanish in school, to better communicate with the folks she's met and the friends she's made.
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