COVID-19 has turned 2020 into a year of changes and sacrifices.
Work and school have been turned upside-down since March and missionaries are also struggling to reach others in their field once again.
Tracee Pepper grew up in Manitoba. She and her husband are two missionaries struggling to gather the resources they need to act on God's calling on their lives in the midst of a global pandemic.
Pepper was 19 when she first visited the Dominican Republic to do missions work. After a few weeks of homesickness, she quickly realized a deep love for the country and it's people.
"Since my time there, I've always felt like God is calling me back and I've always had the desire to be a part of something bigger," Pepper says.
Pepper returned to Canada to attend Steinbach Bible College, where she received her BA in Counselling. She's been trying to make her way back -- permanently -- ever since.
"Our goal is to start an organization by the name of Heart of Homes," Pepper says. "We are excited to be able to go down there ... our goal is to help restore relationships with God, self, and others by fostering spiritual, physical and emotional wellbeing in the lives of children and families."
It will be through Bible studies and home and church visits, Pepper says, that the pair hopes to accomplish this goal.
The community Pepper and her husband have chosen to serve is Palo Blanco.
"The Dominican has really captured my heart. The people there are super friendly and hospitable and caring and it's always an open door community," Pepper explains.
Since her initial trip in 2005, Pepper has returned to the Dominican Republic nearly 10 times, many of those times with her husband.
"We both have that calling and desire to be there and want to reach out to those who are in poverty," she says.
But COVID-19 means there are barriers between the Peppers and reaching the people of Palo Blanco with the love of Christ.
Pepper says travel is not their primary concern, but rather, funding. The pair is required to raise at least 75 per cent of their funds through the organization Commission To Every Nation, who they've partnered with for their Dominican ministry.
A large part of this would typically come from speaking at churches and hosting meals and opportunities to meet others and fundraise their needed costs.
"We wanted to get the awareness out there of what we are planning to do," Pepper says. "A major part of fundraising is meeting people face-to-face and being able to do events."
Unable to do these, Pepper and her husband remain in Canada at a bit of a standstill as they figure out how they can pull together the funds to return to the Dominican.
"We've had to try and look in a different way at doing fundraising."
Pepper says they have started a fundraiser on their ministry's Facebook page at this time and have sent out several prayer letters to friends, families, and churches.
"We've been getting some responses so God's still working in all of COVID," Pepper says.
She and her husband continue to rely on God to bring them back to the Dominican Republic in his time. Patience, she says, has been the most difficult part of this process for her, but she continues to reminder herself that God is the God of the gold and the silver.
"He is bigger than of this and so we just continue to trust that God will continue to provide," Pepper says.
"God has proven over and over again that he will continue to provide for our needs."