Day 9

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s the last day of our trip. We knew it would be a long day of travel, but we didn’t know exactly how long. One thing I’ve learned from the Dominican life is to go with the flow and be flexible, especially when it comes to planning and punctuality. There isn’t such a thing as a specific time, at least planning for a specific time. More like a general time frame. It’s this laid back kind of attitude that drove the type A planners in the group a little crazy. However by the end of the trip even they learned to lay back and go with the flow. And actually our ‘planned’ days all worked out just fine. I’m glad I learned early on to accept things as they came and to go with it and not focus on how ‘off schedule’ we were. This learned skill came into play especially today. We arrived on time at the airport (this was after a 3 hour drive to get there) checked in and ready to board our plane- already planning on the four hour layover in Miami. Once we made it to Miami that is. We made it safe to Miami, celebrating our arrival onto American soil! Once we were there we made our way through customs, found our baggage, and rechecked it again, then set off to eat our first meal of the day. My how good that meal at Chili’s was! After this we made our way through security to find our gate and wait out (what we thought) the couple of hours before our flight left, taking us to Atlanta. Our 7:45 flight time came and went. Our gate changed. Then our flight time changed again. Then our gate changed again. Then our flight time changed again. Was there a little worry over this? Slightly. We were a little worried our flight would not get out that night as it got later and later. However we didn’t know what would happen and made the most of our time in the Miami airport. Thankfully there was a Starbucks. And some card games. And some crazy spirited teenagers that were starting to get stir crazy, and slap happy. Truly I think it was the most fun I think I’ve had in an airport. There were handstands, and splits by the girls, and a handstand or two by Landon. A few crab crawling races and some videos. It was too funny. We were eager and ready to go home, but at the same time really had no choice in the matter. Overall the spirit of the group again manifested itself in how they all reacted to the situation. The entire trip was very much the same way- unified and uplifiting. I was so honored to be a part of such a great group, and I knew it would be sad to end it. Eventually we did hear those blessed words that we were free to board. What a wonderful feeling it was to board for home! Our flight was fast and uneventful. Home never looked so good, after 18 hours of traveling. At least for Jonah and I, as we made our way to his parents to stay over and pick up our sweet boy. It was a long day, but in a weird way a quick one. I have found that the only way to approach something you aren’t particularly thrilled about is one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. Much like the traveling we did on those bumpy dirt roads in the DR. You couldn’t look ahead for fear of tripping up and falling, and also seeing how much farther you had to go. You just had to focus on your steps, and keep those consistent. Isn’t this the way it often is in our spiritual life too? I’m thankful that I can’t see the long road ahead, the unknown. I’m thankful God helps me each day, each step and that I am learning and growing in that. This post ends our amazing trip to the DR. It’s bittersweet that it’s over. We all took so much away from it and I know it’s touched us each in different ways. What a special trip this was. It was eye-opening and heart changing. I’m excited to see how each person is changed from here on out. May I truly be changed, and live like it.

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Day 8

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m writing this day’s post while en route to America. Yesterday was so full that by the time we were back in our rooms my eyes were too heavy to see and my mind to tired to think.

It was a wonderful day, a very eventful last day of the trip.

Since we have a good 14 hours of travel today, I was sure I’d find some time to catch up!

We started the day driving back to Rafael’s church. There were many hands to help with some construction on an addition to the church. Actually there were too many hands with all of us. The guys ended up doing the outside work, while the girls headed inside the tiny little church to play with the kids. We blew up balloons, face painted and blew bubbles. We played on the bongos, and danced with them. They were so happy just to play with us, so loving.

Outside the guys leveled out the ground for the addition, all the while rotating the few tools they had among the guys.

Honestly it was a hot day. I was not feeling great. My body ached from sinus irritation, my stomach turned from the change in diet, and I was tired and hot. I know I wasn’t the only one, many of us just didn’t feel well. It was hard to be enthusiastic when I just didn’t feel good.

But I didn’t complain. I didn’t whine, I didn’t ask to leave. All I had to do was take a look around me.

Starting with the pastor’s house.

Their house was directly behind the small church, and actually smaller.

You entered immediately into the living, dining area, with the small bedrooms on your left- one side for Rafael and his wife, the other bunk beds for their five boys.

Out back behind the house was the kitchen immediately on your left. The kitchen consisted of an open type fire where campfire kind of cooking took place.

The bathroom was across from this in the form of a very ‘rugged’ outhouse. I say that loosely because it was truly one of the worst outhouses I used. It was rough.

Next to the bathroom was a pigpen that housed a large pink pig- a future dinner for the family I’m sure.

I was humbled to say the least at this family’s lack of things, and yet at how grateful and kind they were.

I thought of living in the same house and using the same things for cooking, and everyday life. Could I do that?

I think one thing I learned on this trip was that when you get down to almost nothing and only have the bare essentials- food, water, a bed and clothes, as a Christian you really don’t need more. We have Christ. We have much.

I am not the kind of girl that loves to sit and sweat in the heat, wearing dirty clothes, eating small simple meals, and traveling constantly in rugged conditions is not my idea of a fun time.

But yesterday as we were traveling down very bumpy busy crazy roads on route to visit an orphanage, on our big bus filled with our team members that were hungry perhaps, tired, hot and maybe not feeling the best, I thought “isn’t this what mission work is all about? Were we ever called to be completely comfortable all the time, to never stretch outside of our own comfort zone, to never grow to never open your eyes to a greater world view?”

I can’t help but think of how many other villages, how many other people there are in the world that have been ‘untouched’ by us, by the people that have the most to give. How will they hear of Christ? How will they know there is a Hope that never fails?

I was excited. I remember feeling excited to minister to others despite what my own physical needs were. It’s been an amazing eye- opening experience being here in the DR, being a part of this great team. I have not always enjoyed every new thing, in fact I was scared about a lot of new things, but I knew that God called me to go on this trip and I was determined to follow Him and sometimes that meant getting through and getting over those scary parts. I know that He helped me along the way. I know that there was an important reason He told me to go. I may not know why now or ever but I am so grateful that I went. Sometimes just listening and obeying is part of the battle.

The second part of our day was spent at the Market. This is a place filled with vendors selling their wares. We were highly encouraged to bargain, then bargain again for a good deal on any item. It was a neat place filled with everything from bracelets to machete’s. We only had a short time to make our selections before we headed off to dinner.

Our last stop for the night took us up a steep incline, up a mountain, all the way to the top. It was so steep in fact, that our bus driver turned off our air to get more power.

At the top we pulled into a beautiful restaurant that overlooked the entire city. It was beautiful. Lights twinkled below us for miles and miles. Our seats at the restaurant were outdoors, where the air was cool and refreshing after such a hot day. What a treat it was to sit and watch the city lights, and also enjoy some delicious meals that tasted more like home.

It was a lovely way to end our trip, and one that I know each team member will remember.

Before we left to head down the mountain we all joined hands and prayed over the city, over the people, asking God to continue the work that we started. It was one of those moments I know I won’t forget as we were all united in Christ. There is something about community prayer that is so moving and powerful.

Arriving back to our hotel later than usual, we were tired but encouraged at the past weeks events. How special it was to meet the people here, to be pulled out of our little boxes, to open our eyes and hearts to the needs around us.

For now I will end here. I have many things that I don’t want to forget, and I hope to write them down soon.

But for now I’ll go, as we are about to touch down on our first stop before home- American soil. How thankful I am for that!

Day 7

June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Really? Day 7 already means we’ve been here a week and I can hardly believe it. I was talking with Megan and agree that some days have felt longer than others, but overall it’s been a fast week. Here we are about to end our trip, tomorrow being our last day of work before we travel home on Tuesday.

Home.

What a sweet wonderful word. I am truly looking forward to seeing our son. My heart aches to hold him and smell him again! At the same time I know I am also saying goodbye to the people here and I know that is sad too. I know a lot of these kids have really had their hearts touched by the people here. It’s awesome to see God working in each person, stretching and molding them. Myself and Jonah included.

Today was church day. This morning we were able to a little more work on a church near Denny’s house, then after lunch we made the drive to Rafael’s church.

It was a long drive- the longest part was due to the bumpy dirt roads we had to travel on to get to his church. It was located in a village surrounded by little homes, much like the villages we’ve been visiting. I went there excited to see how these people worship, expecting it to be joy filled. I wasn’t disappointed.

The church building was small. It was built out of typical cement blocks. Plastic chairs were set up in rows, many of them filled with us. It was hot. Very hot. Today was actually one of the hottest ones yet. And there is no AC. The fans were even off. Electricity can be sketchy here, not very reliable. The hot, humid air was like a thick blanket, and we sat and poured sweat. Interestingly enough, the people there paid no mind to the heat. Nevermind the sweating, they were so excited to be there to worship God.

The service was in spanish, with an ‘interpreter’. I say the word interpreter with a chuckle because his interpretation was rather loose according to those that speak spanish. Plus he didn’t know the English words for the books of the Bible, so we’d hear Denny in the back telling us what book.

The service itself though was pretty neat. A very different experience, one I will not forget! The people were so enthusiastic. So excited! Hands in the air, praising, clapping, shouting Amen. Their music was accompanied by a set of drums and a keyboard. When the people sang they clapped and moved in rhythm, so happy. They were so happy to worship God! Enthusiasm like that is contagious and I found myself wishing our services back home had more of that zeal, that free spirit kind of worship.

Towards the end of the service they asked if anyone would like to come forward to receive prayer for any sickness. This struck a chord since many of us were suffering from digestion problems from the diet. A couple of the girls went forward and they had Chris pray for them. I love how real they made our faith. I remember them saying that God is there with us, and even though I know this, they way they said it…praised it really, shouted it, made you really believe and know that yes He was right there with us. It’s funny how I can forget this as I go about my day to day.

I was also in awe of the tiny home that the pastor and his wife reside in….along with 5 children. Think of a one bedroom apartment, then downsize that and take away luxury items like a closed off bathroom, and a modern kitchen. Think outhouse. Yes, I got to experience that one too.

It’s humbling to see how they live. It’s encouraging to see how they believe. What an example they set to us, to be alive and on fire for God. Even with little in terms of material possessions, they have much. Little is much when God is in it.

After the service they each took time to shake our hands (men) and give us hugs (women) and went out of their way to be sure each one of us received hugs and handshakes. I was so impressed by their generous outpouring of love towards us- whom they had just met.

What an example they set for me.

The night was ended by a trip to pick up some dinner, some going to Taco Bell, some Pizza Hut. Ahh American food. So good.

Tomorrow will be our last day! Then onto America!

May we not forget what we saw and learned. What God spoke to each of us. For now it’s another goodnight.

Day 6

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.

Day 5

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today was a change for us. It was FUN day! And truly it was.

We had two different water outings today followed by a trip to a mall type place called Jumbo, where we enjoyed some ‘American’ style foods.

Our first adventure was an early morning ride to a place that has 27 waterfalls that you hike up, and jump off of to get down. Now honestly, I’m a big scaredy cat when it comes to heights and hearing about this trip earlier in the week kind of freaked me out a little. Well actually a lot. I was told there were many waterfalls to jump off of, with the highest one being 20-30′. yikes, really? It made my heart beat hard just thinking about it! I prayed. Really I did. I prayed for strength, a good attitude and for victory over fear (God hath not given us the spirit of fear…). I know this may sound petty to some, but truly it’s a huge fear of mine and I struggled with it.

I have to say that God truly helped me through this one. I went, and I jumped. Again and again. Each waterfall and rockslide getting more scary as we made our way down the falls. It was a victory at each one. I know that going as a group helped this tremendously because you had no choice but to go. It was incredible. The falls, the rock formations, the God-made lazy rivers and beauty of it all was unbelievable. Something I will always take with me. I recognized this experience as a gift, to be able to see this part of earth and the beauty of it, was a gift from God.

Of course the kids all had an amazing experience, and most did not share my fear of heights. We all did it. We all made the big jumps over edges of rocks down into beautiful white/blue pools of water. At one point we drifted down a lazy river in between tall rock walls on each side of us, narrow and smooth from water, and very very cold against the tropical heated air. It was a quiet beautiful spot. I still can’t believe I managed to jump. And not once but many times. I’m thanking God for safety and strength today!

There is much to be said about mind over matter, about conquering your mental fears. I feel this trip has pulled out fears in me and made me ‘conquer’ them without me having a chance to wrestle too much about them. I feel God has been stretching me to lean on Him more.

Our second part of the day was spent at Ocean World. It’s an aquatic center that has several different exhibits you can choose to be part of. Jonah and I were fortunate enough to go see a dolphin exhibit with four of the girls in our group. This was an amazing experience. We have both always wanted to go visit dolphins and play with them at some point in our lives. This was our first chance doing so, and we were able to touch, kiss and play some with a dolphin. Pretty cool experience! The rest of the group split between going to see a sea lion and swimming with sharks. (we had also chosen sharks initially, but the spaces were limited so we had to opt out and choose either dolphins or sea lion….of course we chose dolphins!) It was a neat place that also had it’s own ‘beach’ that was saltwater for us to swim in. There are also other things to see there, including a white tiger. Ocean World is literally right on the coast, so we can see the ocean behind it. The beautiful blue water. It was so pretty!

After our water excursions we headed to Jumbo (a mall type/ Walmart place with a food court), and were able to eat some delicious American foods. Jonah and I joined Justin at a place that served us Cuban sandwiches, fries and….papaya shakes. Amazing. The sandwich was delicious as was the shake. I’m not sure if it was because we had been eating a lot of rice and beans or if it was just amazing. Either way, delicious.

It was great to take this whole day and have it be one to ‘relax’ some.

We ended the night with a quick meeting with the girls (not sure what the guys do at Denny’s) in our room for a devotional. Two of our girls led it (sarah and megan). They read from Philippians 2, an appropriate passage that reminds us not to murmur or complain, and also how we are like bright stars in God’s eyes. Both good reminders to us now at this point in the trip.

As much fun as we had today, it’s truly reaching the point in the trip where I’m tired, and homesick for my little boy. The time where I’m starting to feel tired from the past few days, a little lighter from the lack of variety of foods in my diet. My spirit is not as enthusiastic. And I’m ashamed of that, but I also know it’s okay to feel this way, but not okay to complain and voice negative thoughts to others. Now is the time to encourage. Now is the time to lift up each other and hold our tongues if we feel ungrateful words coming out.

Going to Jumbo tonight, be it as brief as it was, was a quick reminder to me of how much my mindset has changed in a week. Having a full belly and sipping on a papaya shake was a luxury. Isn’t it funny what things suddenly become luxury items when you’ve been away from them for  a while? I think I need to do this more often, so that I am truly grateful for what I do have. I have SOOO much! I have too much. I’m thinking now of the houses we passed on our way back from the waterfalls. Literally shacks. Cut out windows and doors. Structures that are standing, but I’m not sure how. And I wonder how I can easily just slip back into my own life again, just walking down the sidewalks of our beautiful house-lined streets. Homes that are just not even close to the homes here. I have seen so many things on our busrides. So many people and so many mothers holding babies, so many kids playing with almost nothing, so many men trying to sell from makeshift fruitstands, so many peddlers selling their wares for small amounts of money, just so they can get by.

And by getting by, I wonder exactly what that means. Does it mean one more meal for them? A pair of shoes? A bottle for the baby? Whereas getting by for  most Americans would be finding money to pay for that cable bill, cooling that home, driving that SUV.

Truly we have been given much.

My heart hurts for the people that have next to nothing, but it also hurts as I’m seeing a new world view as a Christian, as a woman, as a mother.

My prayer is that I won’t forget what I’ve seen. That the pictures will be a reminder for me that this life is about Jesus. It’s about serving Him, not about gaining more possessions that don’t matter at all.

Just some thoughts that are compelling me to think harder and deeper tonight. For now it’s off to shower and bed. I have a feeling everyone will sleep pretty hard tonight!

Day 4

June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here we are at the middle of our trip. Today was quite a contrast from yesterday.

We started out the day driving up to Denny’s house (our local contact) to meet up with the guys and hang out for a bit before we headed across the road to help with some construction on a church. It was definitely a physical workout the first part of the day. Several of us were in charge of literally moving cinder blocks from one area to another. We formed an assembly line and after a couple hours with some water breaks we successfully moved the pile to….well, another pile.

No, not really sure about what the point was for us to move one big pile to an organized second pile. But the effort put in by everyone was something to see. Others in the group worked on some other tasks, nailing boards, sawing, and some framing.

Some interesting facts from this experience:

we saw a tarantula, kind of freaky

ginormous bugs crawled out of some of those blocks, including a very large centipede like creature

some of the children that were part of the pastors family (I think) were jumping in to help, not because we asked, because they really wanted to help

the church we worked on was also very tiny, and very open to the air

I am still just amazed at how the buildings in the villages are built. They don’t have sealed up walls, glass windows and well built roofs. The windows are slats you rotate for air, and as we drove by, I could see light through a space between the roof and wall, which meant it was certainly not sealed. They are so open to the outside air and bugs and whatever else. Again I am thankful for the hotel we are staying in that has air and sealed walls and windows. I think of the guys and how they are experiencing the trip and I know it’s totally different for them.

But more so I think of our homes back in the states and how incredibly nice they are, how rich we are in comparison to these people. They delight in such small things. It’s humbling and I want to shut my mouth if ever I feel I have a reason to complain, because I really truly do not have reason to complain!

This morning as we were driving up the hilly mountainside to head to the missionary home, we passed by a local little ‘shop’ that housed a chicken coop of sorts, with a counter you walked up to get your eggs. I saw a lady there ready to buy. It was so interesting to see this lifestyle and think that this is their daily way of life. I won’t forget the way the buildings look, so small, so colorful from layers of paint that has worn off time and time again, the looks of the Dominicans faces as we pass by in our big bus full of Americanos.

The second part of our day we headed over to an orphanage. Because of some recent rain (it was still raining slightly) we debated actually staying there once we arrived or coming back another day. We decided to take off our shoes and socks and stay and play in a covered area at the orphanage. This time our visit with this orphanage was different. The kids were already outside playing a water game of sorts where you run and slide on your feet or knees in the water. Again, the innovation to make up games wherever you are is amazing to watch. Our group of course jumped right in. It was a blast. Jonah and I jumped in and tried as well, although my gracefulness won out and pulled us down in a heap on the ground.

It was a great contrast from the previous day.

I’m again so impressed with the spirit of this group I’m with. These kids are amazing. They are not afraid to immediately start playing and talking with each Dominican we meet. They are not afraid to jump into whatever task we do. Their willingness, kindness, truly loving hearts are shining through. I am learning just from watching them. The love they have been pouring into each child, adult, teen we meet has been so awesome to see. It makes me want to love harder, deeper.

Our night ended at Denny’s  home, with our latest arrival, Chris (founder of 963 Effect) who cooked us a wonderful, more American style dinner. It was delicious and a feat to accomplish, as the kitchen he used was very small and very much limited in comparison to our kitchens!

It was a good day.  A full fun, somewhat wet, day.

My favorite memories are from the orphanage. I remember watching the girls with the kids, how loving they were, unafraid to hug on the kids, play with them, some sharing their own raincoats to cover them from rain and splashing. Some taking time to befriend them so quickly and deeply that when we left, the orphan girls cried to see us go. How great of an impact is that in the lives of others? The love of Christ is being shown through this small body of believers.

For now it’s another goodnight. Tomorrow starts early for us as we head out for a day of fun at waterfall jumping and a Seaworld of sorts!

day 3

June 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

I am actually writing this post on day 4. Last night it was too late and i was too tired to clearly articulate the day.
As i write now i can’t help but think how appropiate it is that i waited until today to post. I believe the silence and rest that the night brought was enough to clear my thoughts enough to type out the details and thoughts from the day.
It was orphanage day yesterday.

Our first stop for the day was at a handicap orphanage. Mentally, i don’t think we were all prepared for what we would see.

The orphans varied in ages from babies to young adults. An interesting, and heartbreaking fact, was that some were only physically handicap, and others mentally. This meant that some only suffered from physical problems that could easily be fixed by simple surgeries here in the states.
There was one little boy that stood out to me among the rest. He was a thumbsucker and looked to be around oliver’s age. His issue? He had what looked like club feet. I know a surgery in the states could easily fix that. However because of where he was he wouldn’t recieve that. Oh how i wanted to take him home and give him a life he will otherwise not really have. I found myself praying over these special kids. Praying they would see and feel God’s love through us.
This visit really impacted our whole group and it was something to watch the individual reactions on each team member.

I remember seeing tears on many faces, and eyes that hurt. The initial reaction was an quite reserved expression on each of us. We were not sure what to think. Our means of communication was different this time.

We brought bubbles along with us and used these to speak to the kids.  Many of the kids could not speak, they weren’t mentally able to, or just too young to. We were able to reach out and touch them, hug them, hold hands.

It was a different, humbling experience. These kids had almost nothing. Maybe the clothes they were wearing, some not even that. Poorly constructed diapers was the only means of clothing on some.

They laid on cribs with only a simple sheet. A few toys could be seen. It was clean there, but so bare. I was amazed at the nothingness there.

Some things I will remember,

kids with only diapers

white painted walls

bare metal cribs, white sheets

kids reaching out to be held

tears in their eyes from being touched

tears in our eyes from their reaction to love

simpleness of their living

watching our group offer prayer over some of them

We walked away with hearts that were burdened to do more for them. Our bus ride away from the orphanage was different, it was quiet.

Silence.

I could write much about this, it was hard to watch, to take in, to let sink in. But as Jonah said to our group of girls last night, what will I do with what I’ve seen? How will I let it influence me from here on out?

Our next stop was at a sports complex in a local village. There were many there ranging in ages from little children to adults. We were able to play volleyball, basketball and so many other sports with them. Interestingly I’ve watched many of them make up games out of nothing. At Denny’s house the guys were playing with some of the local guys here using bottle caps and a stick for a game of baseball of sorts. It’s that kind of thinking that always keeps us busy, keeps us interacting with the locals here.

It’s such an awesome experience to be here with each of these kids. Seeing them in this environment with very little material possessions, has been so inspiring to me. The kindness, generous hearts in each of them is a true reflection of the very reason they came. To show Christ through each of them. I only wish each parent could see how they daily talk, play and influence all the Dominican people we come in touch with. I am humbled and pushed to reach out even farther past my comfort zone, to do what may not be easy, to get dirty when I may not feel like it, to offer hugs, loving words, smiles, and songs when I don’t think I can. Jesus living through me. Isn’t that why we are here?

I’m so proud of the stand that each team member is taking, especially each teen/college age member with us.

I hope we can accurately portray this through our travel blog photos and videos.

The memories are forever. I hope!