Cindy Pine (home congregation: Holy Ghost, Monroe), serves the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, based in the Dominican Republic. As the region’s project manager, Cindy reports to the business manager and the regional director while managing several LCMS projects in this part of the world. She also works with local church partners on various initiatives. Cindy has approximately 6 months remaining in her 2-year assignment. While she is called a “career missionary,” she took on this position at the age of 69 at the urging of Rev. James & Christel Neuendorf of Ponce, Puerto Rico (home congregation: St. Paul, Ann Arbor). You can read her full bio here.
In this article, Cindy, who is supported in part by the Here We Stand Campaign’s International Ministry Initiative, shares a bit about her life in the DR and the effects of the pandemic on the region. She also wrote an article last April about the work of the missionaries. You can read it here.
I was privileged to stay in Puerto Rico for the entire 4.5 month shutdown in the Dominican Republic (DR), and it was great working remotely from there. I spent two days as a tourist in San Juan. It was wonderful!
We are walking the tightrope here in the DR just as you are in the U.S., trying to keep our worship services and mission get-togethers in person, but being very careful. Most Dominicans we see are committed to wearing masks. I do my grocery shopping in the early morning when the stores first open and I can see maybe only 10 other people in the store. I also buy fruits and vegetables from the vendors I know who come along my street in the morning.
I attend our church services and work events regularly. I have made several good friends among the Dominican church members—particularly the older people, plus two blind women who have become communicant members. I give them rides home from church, or to and from evening services. Both women in our Pueblo Nuevo church became blind as young adults because of badly-managed diabetes.
Our prayer requests often are for our parishioners and their extended families. The economic situation here is dire. I have seen many more people actually begging for money, whereas before the pandemic, most of the folks we saw on the street corners were selling wares to earn a living. We also pray for the Dominican children here who are not in school. All learning right now is provided virtually over radio, TV, or by Zoom for those fortunate enough to have Wi-Fi, devices, and parents who can help.
We are grateful for the many connected institutions we have here—the 5 churches (2 in Santo Domingo; 3 in Santiago; and a couple of possible missions forming); the Group Home for the 6 incapacitated young people who were rescued and adopted by the Mission here; the two primary schools associated with two of the churches; the Seminary with its 9, soon to be 12, in-person students and 32 virtual students in pastoral formation; the Library at the Seminary which is in the works to help us reach accreditation-worthy status; and the great missionary families. We’re also thankful for wonderful cooperation between the LAC (that’s us, Latin America & Caribbean) and the national Lutheran churches in several of the countries including Brazil and Bolivia now.
I have recently been transferred to an NSM status [and here is some interesting information regarding missions and the pandemic]. The acronym NSM stands for Network Supported Missionary—a fundraising model adopted about 12 years ago by the LCMS, where each missionary finds his/her own network of support by visiting congregations, individuals, etc., and getting pledges for their two or three-year assignment. They have to be almost fully funded for the two-year budget in order to get the green light to go into the field. While many people complained at the time that the LCMS was abandoning its missionaries, this NSM model has been our salvation, financially speaking, during the pandemic. We saw 300 missionaries leave the field here as soon as the pandemic began. Many other missions and churches have had to close, but our NSM missionaries continue to be fully supported, and are in very good shape financially.
As for my job, I’m working on about 4 assignments right now, and I love the project management work. My largest project is to get the Seminary’s library “up and running” by assisting all the people doing their job. Other projects are assisting with an outreach to Venezuelan refugees in Santo Domingo, building a “home” for a collection of ancient Catechisms we have just been given for the seminary, and coordinating improvement and upkeep of the seminary/school grounds.
I am grateful for the partnership of the Michigan District and for your generosity. God’s blessings to you and, as we say to each other here, “Cuidese mucho” or “Take good care of yourself.” This year, that means a lot!
Photo courtesy of LCMS World Missions