Well, I arrived back in the old US of A a week ago today, but I haven't really been able to process what I saw and did in the Dominican Republic until about now. All I have really been able to say is a very breathy "It was AMAZING" or a quick "It was just awesome". Now, I think, I can tell the tale in detail. After two long flights, one on a small plane next to some fragrant people, we arrived at the airport, swung by customs, and boarded a bus, sandwiches in hand, to get to the camp. Though we knew that the bus was the last we'd see of our friend AC for a long time, to be cliche, we had no idea what else we had seen the last of and what we would see for the first time once we got there. I'm not going to go into every minute detail about what we ate, because I can pretty much sum it up with the words rice, beans, plantains, yuca, chicken, empenadas, and fruit. The food was amazing, though, a lot of it being stuff I would have never tasted before or stuff we can find here that just doesn't taste as good. It was a mission trip, so there was a little bit of work involved. While some of us dug an area around the soon-to-be pool, my friends and I painted. And painted. And painted. We covered and covered 2 rooms and a bathroom in peach paint, and while it was tiring and frustrating, we got it done. Other rooms were also painted yellow and blue, and I was able to work in those rooms during the afternoon. While most people went to volunteer and Vacation Bible School at some local churches, I usually stayed behind to work on painting the peach and blue rooms. I decided to join my friends at VBS on the third day, and I was so glad I did. While trying to speak Spanish while handing out cotton balls was a bit stressful, it was amazing to see such happy kids who were so excited to be around each other, us, and God. I was also really excited to speak my broken Spanish, in the end being somewhat successful. I had gotten to speak it while painting earlier in the week, but it was so much cooler to do so while working with those amazing little kids. We even got to go to an amazing church service spoken entirely in Spanish later that night. A few of us were able to understand some of it, but it didn't matter if we could or not. It was filling and interesting to hear familiar songs in a less familiar language and to watch our fearless leader get up and speak with such passion about what we were doing. Though she was the only person from our group to get to speak to that group about that passion, it was something we were all feeling. Through the work we were doing and the amazing people we were meeting, we found a passion and a purpose if only for a moment that drove us to realize we were doing something good. Though I've been on mission trips before, this is the first one where I've gone out of the country and realized so much more about the people around me and myself. I got to meet some incredibly happy people from both the DR and the US that proved that God and good are everywhere, in every country and language. The way these people who I barely knew were friendly to me baffled me, and I hope I can show that kind of spirit in the future. I also got to know the people I had seen in the halls of the church on a deeper level than I ever would have before, and I am so grateful to have met and talked to every single one of them. I learned that sickness, power and water issues, bugs, heat, and so many other obstacles cannot bring down good work and happy people. Most importantly though, I learned that whether you believe in God or not, doing work for other people helps them to realize that there is good in the world and helps any person doing the work realize how they can affect people. Helping people can hold a mirror up to a persons face as strongly and quickly as hurting them, and that mirror can show people things that stick with them for the rest of their lives. If you're in a rut, just get out there and help someone. Their smile will get you going again. And on that note, thanks for reading.
Abby, Absolute Wannabe
Abby, Absolute Wannabe
Girl's rooms on top, yellow room we painted on bottom
The rooms we painted peach and the boys rooms on bottom, blue room on top
My friends and I preparing for work in our room
The pool and the area they dug around it. I avoided this project.