June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Once again I’m writing this post the day after. Yesterday was an amazing day. It was a long yet quick day, that was so full.
We started the day stopping at a stadium to play with the local kids and teens. It was a hot one. The sun was out and beat down on us. It was a true Domincan weather day. Apparently we had been spoiled with ‘cool’ weather. The cloud coverage and rain from the past few days was a wonderful blanket from the hot sun.
The baseball stadium we visited was quite different from one back in the states. But it was considered one of the nicest ones in the area. It was large and had open grass fields to play soccer, baseball and various other activities with the kids. As is the norm around here, the area surrounding the entrance was covered in trash. I’m still not used to seeing such dirty conditions. I’m not used to accepting that as normal. The people here though don’t really know another way. What’s ironic is that there was a trash can in the midst of all the trash on the ground.
The time spent here though was special. We were able to play and communicate as best we could with the kids. I made a friend in a little girl about 10 years old. Her name was Ysoary, I believe. Through the help of Erin, Sarah, Josh and Megan we were able to share our faith with her and question her about her own. She too was a believer, and it was awesome to finally cross that barrier of communication to find this out.
Slow and steady seems to be the approach when you don’t know the language.
Our next stop was lunch, followed by a stop at the local grocery store. I was again impressed with the amount of normal American style foods mixed in with the Dominican local ones. We picked up 25 bags worth of groceries to feed 25 families. These were stowed on the bus as we made our way to our next stop.
Our drive up the mountain and down dirt roads led us to a local village. The village was even farther than our bus could take us. We stopped and parked after bumping along down the dirt roads. We then had to get out and hike down the roads, that were narrow and bumpy and dirty. It was such a sight to watch our group walk single file down the narrow paths to the homes. I can still see our kids carrying the yellow bags of groceries under their arms, and on their heads, not really sure of where we were going but following along nonetheless.
Our path took us past true village homes. Poor village homes.
I have never been to a home like this. Where material possessions are not something that is even thought of. The most these people had was a roof of sorts over their heads and a humble, rugged garden, maybe a few animals. The makeshift buildings were built out of old wood, worn down from the weather. I’m not sure really how they held up against a strong rain or wind. There were families sitting and watching us, eager to see what we were there for, eager to wave and shyly smile our way. Children were playing outside in hardly any clothing. Some just in simple underwear. It was the kind of sight you see on TV and never think you will see in ‘real’ life. But it was very real. It was their life, and all they knew.
Denny had said that in the past ten years he had never been to that area, those people. And honestly he didn’t think they had ever seen white people, nor had they ever been to the city. These people lived off their land, and saw each other only day after day.
One of the things that stood out to all of us was the open-ness of them. The hospitality, the kindess. These people were so kind, and offered us seats and water, when we were the ones that came to give to them. They were giving to us in their own way.
We stopped at home after home and shared Jesus with them, along with giving them food. Many of them knew Christ and heartily agreed with us as we told them about Him and about His love. We were able to pray with them and over them, one family after another.
When we asked about their needs, or things we could pray for them with their response was surprising. They didn’t ask for a bigger house, for more clothes, for a car. They asked for prayer for their families, for sickness, for protection of their homes from the rain. Do they even know what material possessions they don’t have? I don’t think they did, and they were happy. It was humbling to say the least.
Looking back I remember the poorness of the area, but the contentment on their faces. Would I be as content if I were to live in a shack in a village, stripped of worldly possessions with nothing but my love for Christ to keep me going day after day? I am challenged to let go even more of the ‘things’ I hold onto. And here I was, proudly thinking I was letting go of materialism. Seeing these people has made me realize how much farther I have to go. How much my faith needs grow.
Our visit yesterday was one we all took to heart and will not forget. Our meeting later with the girls was one that I also won’t forget. The walk through the villages changed us each in a different way. It opened our eyes spiritually to what we can do from this point on. Many of the girls hearts are at a point of wanting to do more, in our own community. Wanting to reach those that are at our back door. My prayer is that we follow through with this, that we don’t forget, that we go back to the photos of the faces that changed us. The place that seemed to be almost back in time, so far removed was it from where we live. What an amazing experience it was.
I won’t forget the aged faces from hard labor.
The grateful eyes and kindness from them.
The prayers we were able to pray for and with them.
Our hands over them as we prayed.
The emotions from our group after seeing them.
I will remember the tender hearts of some of our girls, being moved to offer hugs after seeing the tears in the eyes of these people.
After our village visit, we stopped by a local field where a game of softball with the locals finished out our night. They were good. So good that they sympathetically ‘dropped’ a few balls to allow us to take bases. It was a fun filled way to end the day.
After this we headed to Denny’s house where Chris treated us to another home cooked meal. The time there was also special to me as I was able to hear some of the kids testimonies, some of their burdens and also share my own. There is something powerful about speaking out what God is doing in your life, how He is working, how He is directing, How he speaks.
I’ve been learning this year that you need to speak out. You need to tell your story, because you don’t know how God will use you to speak to others. Boldness only comes through Christ. I remember thinking this as I was trying to speak of Jesus love to a young Dominican woman at the village. Through the help of Denny interpreting I was able to brokenly tell them about why we were there.
It was an amazing day, and I was grateful to be able to be there, to see what I did. May I never forget, and may I use it to move me to do more in my own community.