I was so blessed to experience a short term mission to the Dominican Republic. It far exceeded my expectations. It all began with several plane rides; first to Houston, then to New Jersey, and then to our final destination, Santo Domingo!
We did so much on this trip; however, if I were to describe the trip’s purpose in two words, I would call it a “vision caster.” Many seeds and “visions” for work that needs to be done in the D.R. were planted in our hearts. At the same time, we made small impacts in the lives of hundreds of children and various communities in the Dominican Republic.
My main job during the trip was leading the toy ministry. I organized a toy drive here in Minnesota to receive toys to bring down. Then while I was in the Dominican, Carissa (another member on the team) and I sorted and lead the distribution of toys at all the sites, schools, churches, and orphanages that we visited.
Highlights from the trip:
- Serving in a Batey. A batey is a community of people who work at sugar-cane plant. These people were the poorest people we served. A young woman there was the director of a ministry for hundreds of the children in the community. She was sponsored by Compassion Ministries. When we visited we played with all the children and we taught the children a program similar to a VBS or Sunday school lesson.
- Another place we served at was a two-room Haitian school in the Dominican. I couldn’t believe how little this school had. When we came in to serve, we took the teacher’s place and taught all the children Spanish. We sang songs, we taught colors, and other Spanish vocabulary. The children predominantly spoke Creole, but it is important for them to learn Spanish because they live in a Spanish-speaking country.
- I discovered what high school is like for other seniors in the Dominican. We sat in on a class at Santiago Christian School. Their school was similar to ours because they had uniforms and small class sizes. The students were bright and many of them were multilingual.
- Host family(s)- Everyone says, “You do mission trips to serve, not to be served.” Well, I felt the opposite for this trip. My host family taught me what true hospitality looked like, and I felt so loved by them in the short time I was there. They would wake up early to make me yummy mangu (a classic Dominican breakfast), they did my laundry, they took us out for dessert, and they let me sleep in the bedroom with the A/C. The family consisted of a mom, dad, and three girls ages 10, 11, and 13. The parents only spoke spanish, and the girls spoke English well. I would constantly tell the girls, “Por favor, habla sólo en español.” The girls were so sweet and they stayed up late after we came home every night to hang out with Alandra and I. My second host family lived in Santiago and consisted of a mom and a college-aged girl. They were also wonderful, and the mom made delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice!
- Fun! We went white-water in Jarabacoa. This was a crazy adventure! I fell out of the raft several times while flying down small waterfalls and crashing into monstrous rocks. This was also an opportunity to see the beauty of the mountains and other scenery surrounding the river. Secondly, I was able to swim in the ocean! I have seen the ocean once, but I haven’t swum in it before. Who knew that ocean water was so salty?
This trip was definitely one of my favorite experiences during high school. I was able to become closer with my senior class and Hope Academy staff who came along. I was able to practice Spanish and see what life is like in another country. I was able to marvel at God’s creation, including the ocean and the cave of wonders. Most importantly, I was able to teach the love of God to multitudes of children!
*Note: pictures will be shared shortly.