At first I didn’t want to go on this trip. Let’s rephrase that: I had a lot of anxiety about the unknown aspects. I really figured that I would go once and be done. I was excited about the trip because I do love to do mission work but I didn’t think that one more person would be the difference on such a large trip. I continued to look to one verse though Philippians 4:6. It says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” So I told God I was nervous and I asked him to use me in a way that would bring joy to the people in the Domincan republic.
A few days into the trip after seeing the power of hope in the Bateys, sharing smiles with these amazing people and painting about a fifty sets of finger and toe nails with verde nail polish with those who have virtually nothing, I realized something. This trip was changing me and making me more aware of the many blessings that I have in my life.
The trip is powerful. Surrounded by 89 people you make a lot of friends and form some really right bonds. You go through things together and see things that can’t truly be captured in a story to bring back home. But I’m going to try to tell you one story.
Movie night or Noche de la pelicula was an exciting night in Batey 50. The idea of bringing something so magical to a Batey was exciting enough, but now I knew Batey 50 residents and I was excited to get some time to spend with them. When the movie started there wasn’t a frown in the entire place. All of the Dominicans eyes were on the screen and all of the Americans eyes were on the kids. Watching their faces alone is an experience I will never forget. But watching the food get handed out is something I can’t get out of my mind. There was enough sandwiches juice and popcorn for every child. But one little girl didn’t think that everyone would get one. She sat quietly watching each sandwich come out of the bag. Her eyes would follow the sandwich to the persons hand and the process would repeat. I continued to watch her bc I knew she would get a sandwich. When she finally did a smile of pure joy spread across her face and soft tears fell from her eyes. She engulfed the sandwich in about 2.5 seconds and continue to pat her belly in delight for the rest of the night.
We knew that the movie would be an amazing experience and it was. But the food that we were able to bring to a starving child was so much more.
I was also able to meet and spend a day with my sponsored child Yarifreisi who I am obsessed with. To hear her say “I love you” in English was one of the most moving experiences in my twenty five years. I look at her picture every day and I constantly think about when we will be reunited together next year.
So as you can see I had a great trip. I was able to speak the word of God and pray for others while having the time of my life. When the trip came to an end I didn’t want to go home. I was hesitant about going and then hesitant about coming back. I have made friendships in those Bateys that will last a lifetime. I left part of my heart in the land of endless sugarcane and blue skies. And I am truly thanking God for that every day.
Being home now for about a month I have adjusted back to American life. I find myself complaining about “first world problems” as I am sure everyone does. The difference now is that I catch myself. The difference now is that I don’t take the little things for granted. And the difference now is that I pray for those Batey families each and every day. I’m truly a lifer and I am counting down the days until I can return.