With Love, Olivia Mars

This morning I was woken up by my dad with one of my favorite coffees in hand. He told me there was a bagel waiting for me downstairs and I could come join them whenever I was ready. I opened my eyes and soaked it all in. I was laying in my warm, soft bed, sunlight streamed in the window, and the aroma of coffee was filling my room. I was home.

Yesterday when I woke up, I was in a foreign country sleeping in the same room as 20+ girls. I was exhausted, filthy, and not at all comfortable. It was the end of a week-long mission trip that had challenged me and broke me. My heart was bursting with gratitude for what I had and for the power of our God. This trip to the Dominican Republic has taught me many things and showed the goodness of my God.

To be honest, I am still processing all that happened on my trip and still trying to figure out all the ways God’s work was carried out. Many challenges and heart aches occurred for me on this trip and through those my greatest lessons were learned. The word I can best use to describe this trip right now is faith. Throughout the week I kept waiting and searching for my prayer to be answered that I would find my purpose and place in this trip. Yet, on the plane ride home I still found myself confused and unsure if I even had an impact on the hearts of the Dominicans and those on my team. I was frustrated to not be able to find answer but then I heard a voice. A voice that told me I need to have faith. I need to have faith in the unknown and the unseen. I need to have faith that God was and is working in ways I cannot understand right now.

I felt a loneliness on this trip I have never felt before on my previous three mission trips. The pain of broken relationships and feeling isolated within myself had taken my attention. My mind was so engulfed on focusing on the wrong things that I did not take a moment to sit in awe of my God. I felt pain from not being able to hear my God I so badly desired to hear from. I felt utterly alone. However, although I had this pain I was dealing with in my own heart, the pain of the country I was in overwhelmed it all. The way these people lived left me speechless and all I wanted to do this week was help. So everyday I got up and I put my entire being into serving the people of the Dominican Republic.

My verse I picked for this week on the first night was Isaiah 41:15-16: “Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; you will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, and will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, and the storm will scatter them; but you will rejoice in the Lord, you will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” Now there are a lot of things I did not understand the meanings of in this passage, but something about it clicked in my head. Granted, I was without internet access to be able to better understand this passage so forgive me if my interpretation of the verse was inaccurate. From this passage, I heard we are equip by God to do all these works and have been provided with a purpose. We live it out and are making progress, but storms will come and cause distractions. Winds will blow and our hard work may seem to wash away. But do not fear because God has your back and is working in ways we do not see. From this came my goal for the week: Live out my purpose and when distractions and pain hit, don’t give up and keep working hard all while rejoicing in God and seeing His glory in all things.

The distractions and pain definitely came, but my ability to see God working in the lives of others did. Though I struggled to see how He was specifically using me, I easily saw how His goodness prevailed in others. God is working in even the smallest ways. By attending one church service, a desire in my heart for the American church to change arose. By singing a song while fixing a Dominican pastor’s house, I realized the importance of inviting the Holy Spirit into my every day life. By playing with little kids, I understood what matters most. There are so many ways God worked in this trip but this post is already growing long so I will focus on just these three ways this trip transformed my mind and my heart.

First, the church. Their meet and greet rocked my world. People were walking up and down the aisles, across the church, and to everyone. The men gave warm handshakes and the women gave genuine hugs and kisses on the cheek. Little girls danced up the aisles hugging everyone they came into contact with. A smile did not leave my face the entire ten minutes of meet and greet. Everyone knew their worth and felt loved. What if we made our thirty seconds at home like this? I believe those who felt alone before walking in our church doors would feel a part of something great. God’s Truths would be revealed when people followed the calling to go speak to someone. Signs would be seen and loneliness would dwindle. We would be in it together. No longer did I desire to go and change their lives, but I wanted to bring their culture home to transform ours.

One of the days was spent building a church for a pastor while also fixing up his house which was right next door to where the church would stand. For a portion of the time, I was inside the house painting the walls. While doing so, our team began to sing songs of worship. It is moving. However, tears welled up in my eyes as these words came out of my mouth: Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by your presence, Lord. We were inviting the Holy Spirit to come and work in this home. I was praying for lives to be transformed and for hearts to be in search for our Lord. I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence as we invited Him to reside in this place and it touched my soul. I desired this for my life at home. I was hit with the question, am I inviting the Holy Spirit to take part in and transform my life? This was a huge lesson for me. I realized I needed to be letting the Lord come into every part of my life, big and small, and allow His Will to be carried out.

The last one I am going to talk about was one learned out of frustration. I was disappointed in myself and felt like I had no impact thus far on the trip. Everyone had stories to share during group time of how God worked through them and I just couldn’t come up with anything. I was so frustrated. However, after group time, I was sharing with someone how I felt. He told me that even though I felt like I did nothing through the manual labor we did, I took time to do the most important job. I took time to play with the little kids that were surrounding the work area. He helped me realize that me taking a break and loving on the Dominican kids was not weak but important. Souls are what matter and the impact we have on souls are what will last for eternity. He spoke words into me I needed right then. This made me realize the importance of seeing how God works through the small acts and you do not need to do the big things to make an impact for Christ.

So in conclusion of this long post, have faith. Have faith that God is working in you through the confusion and chaos. Have faith that His love for you prevails in the loneliness. Hold tight onto the Truths of our Lord and know His grace is everlasting. I am still seeking the answer for what my purpose on this trip was and that is okay. It is okay because the mission does not stop after this week. It did not stop when I got home to my cozy bed but rather it has just begun. The battle for more souls is never-ending and our purpose is constantly unfolding. I am excited to see how God uses this trip in my future and ready for whatever is thrown at me next. For though the storms will come, God’s goodness will  never fail. So in this time of the unknowns, I will have faith that I was worked in and through and I am not alone.

With Love,

Olivia Mars

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}




Stoned Out of Town

While living in Hato Mayor, Zeral Brown and family along with three other missionary families were ministering in the area.  It was decided among the four men to make a trip to the town of Higuey to carry the Gospel message to the people there.  Now they had each of them made other trips there to walk the streets, pray and hand out Gospel tracts.  You see, this town is and was the center of Catholicism in the Dominican Republic. 

This time these men decided to take their army jeep, outfit it with a generator, loud speakers, record player, new testaments and all that is needed to hold a service in a park.  They chose the very park situated directly in front of the Cathedral.  Soon they had the music playing and the microphone hooked up and were announcing to the general public their intent of having a special meeting.  They called all the people to come out to participate.  And yes, the people began to assemble, more and more until the park was filled.  But at the same time the noise began.  It was as though Satan himself had also arrived and was arousing the people to interfere with the message.

Then another voice was heard as the priest himself got on his loud speaker and began to call the people to come and drive these “evangelicos” out of town.  At first this did not scare these dedicated men.  It wasn’t long before the stones began to fly.  My husband, Zeral, remembered hearing that it was important to face the enemy and trust God to deliver.  So he stood on the Jeep and turned to face the people.  Then a stone hit him in the forehead and the blood began to flow.  At the same time some men took hold of the jeep and began to rock it back and forth.   Finally the word was given, “Let’s get out of here”.  They started up the jeep and left in a hurry.

It was close to mid-night when they arrived at our house delivering each man to his home.  Among the excitement they tried to convince me they needed to take Zeral to the hospital to make sure he didn’t have a concussion.  Being the non-sympathetic person that I am, I tried to convince my husband that this was surely not necessary as I was positive he was not seriously hurt.  But no way, he went on with the guys, went to the hospital and after waiting all night he was finally examined by a doctor and, sure enough, he was fine. 

Was that a foolish idea for them to try and evangelize this town?  I really don’t know, but what I do know is that today there is an evangelical, gospel preaching church in that town.  And it is being pastored by a man I knew as a little naked boy in a sugar cane village near Hato Mayor where Zeral visited every Sunday morning with the Gospel message.  This pastor loves to tell me  how he and his other little friends, when they saw Zeral’s car arriving, would run and hang on to the back of the car.

But this is not the end of the story.  Sometime later these four missionaries were invited to appear in court in a nearby town.  They were asked to identify the priest who had ordered the stoning.  You see, even though we were living under the ruthless dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, we were granted complete religious freedom.  However, these men refused to testify, even though they knew who it was.  Their reasoning was that they wanted to be able to continue trying to reach these people with the Gospel without causing any enmity between them and the Catholic church.

{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}





In 1948 while living in the town of El Seibo, Dominican Republic  my husband Zeral Brown, along with another missionary decided to take the Gospel to the village of Miches, located on the Samana inlet directly north of where we  lived.   There was no road to get there from El Seibo, only a little traveled path over the mountain.

However this did not deter them from going.  They rented mules and began their journey loaded down with tracts and Bibles. They started out very early in the morning thinking to avoid the heat of the day.  The pathway led them over some very steep hills which caused the mules to really work up a sweat.

As they journeyed upward the saddles would slide back and reveal some serious sores on the mules’ backs.  The combination of the heat of the sun and the sweat of the horses, made it very difficult for the men to stand the odor.  Soon they were going down the hill and then the saddle would slide forward and make breathing easier.

As they came across men who were shoveling dirt in the attempt to build a road the missionaries would ask them, “How many kilometers from here to the town of Miches?  The answer was, “about 20 more”.  An hour later they would stop the next fellows and ask them the same question.  This time the answer would be, “About 40 kilometers more.”  The truth is no one really knew the answer.

In the mountains they stopped at a small shack and asked for a drink.  The man of the house soon climbed a cocoanut tree, dropped down a couple of green coconuts, chopped off the end and gave each of them a drink of coconut milk.  Delicious!  And safe to drink.  Sitting in the doorway of the house was a Singer sewing machine.  Zeral’s first thought was, A Singer but no Savior!

After giving the people the Gospel message, they asked permission to take a picture of the family.  When indicating they wanted to take their picture the women rushed around changing clothes and dressing up.  It was a long, long wait before they were ready.  After a very long day they arrived at Miches, spread the Word of God to many individuals and arrived home very late that night, exhausted but satisfied that they had completed the task and had taken the Word of God to many lost souls.

Today there is a fine paved road from El Seibo to the town of Miches.  A trip that took the missionaries an entire long, hot day can be made in a couple of hours in an air-conditioned automobile.  Also you will find an established evangelical church with baptized believers!


{TIME | More Than Missions – Short Term Missions!}