Dominican Republic Adventures

Standard

I’m spoiled.

If you aren’t constantly smiling around the children, something’s wrong.

Let your hair down (literally) and you’ll instantly have three little girls braiding it.

There’s no such thing as giving too much love.

We’ve been blessed with more than we can comprehend, and we’re still not grateful. It’s sad.

People are incredibly kind and tolerant of your Spanish mistakes.

IMG_2844

They will always answer when you ask for the 117th time, “Como se dice….?”

However, if it has been seven attempts and you still cannot pronounce “bracelet,” correctly, the little girl on your lap will throw her hands up in exasperation.

The joy is incredible.

The love for Jesus is incredible.

The contentment is incredible.

You’ll pick up Spanish far faster than you ever thought possible, but you’ll also soon discover the language barrier you feared is broken down with hugs, smiles, and the love of Christ.

The Caribbean Sea is gorgeous.

IMG_2305

The poverty is heartbreaking.

There isn’t enough nail polish in the world to spread on little girl’s fingers and toes.

People here are unbelievably generous. You leave with gifts. They give whatever they have.

It’s one thing to read Jesus say, “Sell what you have and give to the poor”; it’s another thing entirely to experience firsthand why He said it.

A small loaf of bread is $3.

Your arms are full. Another child comes running, arms outstretched so you try to set the two down so the three can sit on your lap, and they instantly panic, afraid you’re setting them down for good. And your heart will break.

There’s basically no speed limit in the Dominican Republic.

Traffic lights and one way streets are basically suggestions.

You’ll never be loved by another human being as much as you are loved by DR orphans.

IMG_2847

Gas is nearly $7 American a gallon.

The friendly bus driver who speaks little English will still have his fun by pointing near your foot and saying, “Ay! Tarantula!” and then laugh his head off when you jump up in a panic.

I need to pray more.

Don’t try to fix everything (American mindset.) Love them.

You can’t comprehend how huge a problem sex trafficking is until you see with your own two eyes.

The deep faith young orphan girls possess will put your own to shame.

Don’t take antibiotics for granted. You’ll realize how spoiled we are with American medicine when you suddenly spike a fever and are delirious. Thankfully, you have a healing God and amazing team who will cover you in prayer.

Also, don’t take electricity for granted. And clean water…Basically, everything we DO take for granted.

Americans are rude! (First observation back in the States).
You’ll still think in Spanish for the first few hours after you’ve landed in the States.

They need so much more support than we give (emotionally, financially, physically, AND spiritually.)

You won’t leave unchanged.

The faces of all of those babies will never leave you.

IMG_2501

Advertisements

Hope

Standard

Inspired by and dedicated to all victims of sex trafficking.

Esperanza used to be such a beautiful girl. She always wore a light pink dress with light pink ribbons, a sharp contrast against the dark hopelessness of the village. The Americans had brought it for her. Maybe someday they would take her away with them. Esperenza loved to tenderly care to a tiny kitten that had found its way into her hut, sick and nearly starved. She nursed it as best as her 5-year-old hands could, saving bits of her small piece of bread for the feline. When it grew stronger, she would rock it gently, humming. She so loved the rare moments her mother could do that for her. One day Esperenza carefully ripped a corner of her sheet to make a little makeshift dress for the kitten, who proudly strutted around the village sporting her new look. Esperanza, the tender-hearted.

Esperenza grew older. At the age of ten she was always running through the village, heedless of the rocks and sticks that cut into her bare feet. She always had a quick smile she would flash before she was off again, chasing a dream, a butterfly, sometimes even just her own whim. The boys challenged her to a race, tired of her constant running. She beat them….so they beat her. A bloody nose her trophy, Esperenza held it high in the air when she passed by them, walking slowly, and they clenched their fists. Oh, the humiliation of being bested by a girl. Once they could no longer see her, she took off running again. Old Mr. Carlos shook his fists together over his head in a celebratory manner when she flew by. No one could catch her. Esperenza, the wind chaser.

Esperenza grew older still. She didn’t run with the wind anymore. At 13, her steps were slowed by the weight of her soul. Her mother was sick and needed medicine they couldn’t afford. Esperenza moved out of the village to the city, to work selling necklaces to tourists…but then there was no more money to make necklaces, and certainly nothing to pay Esperenza. She couldn’t go home, so she began to beg for money on the street corners, sending whatever she received home. A man stopped her one day; was she hungry? Esperenza was. He offered her bread, and she eagerly took it, wolfing it down and wishing immediately for more. She grew confused when he demanded money for the food. Wasn’t it a gift? Oh, no, Esperenza; nothing is free. What was she to give him? She had no money. Esperenza, the innocent.

Esperenza grew up. She was in high demand because of her youth and beauty. Her tattered skirt hanging around her, Esperenza waited for the fifth man of the day, clutching her knees to her chest. She wanted to run again; she wanted someone to hold her, rocking her gently back and forth, wiping away her tears. And so, one day, she soared. He screamed her name; she never turned back. Chasing and fleeing simultaneously, she ran as though she could fly. Esperenza, the strong, graceful bird.

But even the most majestic birds get shot down.

Esperenza used to be such a beautiful girl.

A Learning Experience

Standard

Last summer I went out of my comfort zone—about 7500 miles out of my comfort zone, to be exact. I went to the Dominican Republic. It was my first time out of the country (Canada doesn’t count!) and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Armed and ready for several Instagram pictures of palm trees, I set out.

I had no idea how much it would change my life.

I ministered to love-starved orphans and formerly abused children now in foster care. I cried with women who had been victims of sex trafficking and other abuse. I talked in broken Spanish at different villages to a variety of people whose joy put me to shame. I held three crying babies at once and wished I had more arms. I close my eyes and it’s like I’m back there again; I hear the excited chattering that I can only partially understand because my Spanish is pathetic at best; I feel the desperate crowding as children fight to be one of the ones who receive a hug, or the one who gets to hold my hand and lead me through the village, proudly showing me the hut that is their home. I can feel the panicked arms tightening around my neck when it’s time for me to leave the orphanage. I see the dark eyes pleading for one more hug, one more caress, one more, “te amo, bonita.” And I open my wet eyes and realize just how much I miss them.

I absolutely love being in college. I’ve learned a lot in the four years I’ve been working towards my finishing my undergrad, but I don’t think learning happens strictly in a classroom listening to a lecture. (I’m a former homeschooler. It’s in our blood to feel that way.)

I like having experiences that teach me, and I like writing about those experiences. I like when I read a book that makes me think. I can’t stand fluff literature. I very much believe in constantly learning and growing, and I like when my literature, whether it’s what I’m reading or what I’m writing, helps me to do so. I’m always looking for life lessons in everything. (It can get pretty annoying of me, actually.) Still, my writing almost always has a significant meaning deeper than the surface level. The project I’m working on for my senior seminar class is no exception. I’m really excited about it. I’m writing about what I’ve learned from the ruthless teacher named Life and I’m looking forward to sharing it. I’m doing a lot of research and a lot of reading, but that’s not all that’s necessary to learn.

Learning doesn’t stop when you’re out of the classroom. Sometimes, in fact, that’s when it can begin.

Here’s to adventures!