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In the beginning of Aug., members of the Greenview Alliance Church are traveling to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip to provide aid to the poor and spread their faith. Photo courtesy of Alex McWilliams

A Montoursville Area High School student is traveling to remote and impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic, specifically the region of Santiago, with the Greenview Alliance Church this week to perform mission work and provide assistance to those in need.  

According to The World Factbook, the 48,670 square kilometer Central American country houses approximately 10 million individuals as of July 2018, and the country faces many environment issues, including water shortages and harsh tropical storms.

“I really believe that this will reveal to me what my calling is. I want to help people. I want to minister to them and come alongside them to build up their small village into a self-sustaining community,” said senior Alex McWilliams. “At the same time, I am excited to be molded, shaped, and disciplined by the way God wants me to be on this trip.” 

“I am going with over a dozen members of my church, two of them being my mother and my step-father. I also have three other youth coming with me, all friends of mine, as the trip is designed to be an 11th and 12th grade trip for our local youth group,” said McWilliams. 

According to McWilliams, the mission trip’s purpose is to bring Jesus to the community through worship and involvement in Vacation Bible School programs. In addition, they hope to bring resources, like snacks and heavy duty tools, to those in need. 

“We received a grant from the Alliance because, for many of us, this is our first overseas mission trip. This really helped offset the costs,” said McWilliams about the donations received. 

In terms of the tragic deaths, unfortunate health circumstances, and violent incidences transpiring in the Dominican Republic in the recent years, McWilliams said, “I personally am not concerned. Although a few might be worried, this is something we turn over to God.”  

“Our group will be staying in a closed-gated community and the people have already received help from other international workers, thus those in the Dominican already know what to expect. The other thing to consider is that the violence is happening in resorts, and where we are staying is not a resort at all.”

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Montoursville student Julia Mertes’ journalism experience includes the Montoursville Area High School’s Arrowhead Newspaper as a News Section Editor, and now as the Editor-in-Chief for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. Mertes is involved in a variety of extracurricular activities, including Relay for Life, Key Club, and Cross Country running. Currently, she is working as a student journalist for NorthcentralPa.com.