I left half my heart in the Dominican Republic yesterday. I’m home from a 2-week mission trip down there, and I’ve never been less happy to be in my own bed. It’s funny- a year ago, I spent a week in the DR, and God did some amazing things in my life down there. I got baptized on our last night, and came home a truly changed person. So this year, while I was absolutely looking forward to the trip, I (stupidly) didn’t think I would change again. In my head I was just thinking, “well, what else is God actually going to do in me while I’m here?” How wrong I was…
Since I was Internet-less for my time down there, I couldn’t blog (a good thing, for sure). I’m going to split the trip into a couple separate blog posts to keep them shorter, so here are thoughts from week 1:
Looking back at my journal entries from the whole trip makes me giddy with excitement, and also makes me laugh at myself. My first entry from the Saturday plane to the DR, I talked about how I wasn’t really ready to leave Georgia yet. I wrote “I know I wouldn’t be heading to the DR for two weeks if it wasn’t fully orchestrated by God, so I need to remember that only great things are coming even though I’m leaving for 2 whole weeks.” Everything had started becoming fun here in Dacula, and I was sad to be leaving that life. Little did I know, the 2 weeks I spent serving the Lord topped last year’s week down there. I’m constantly reminded that God knows what’s good for me far better than I do.
Sunday night devotion included our pastor, Dustin, talking about holding things with an open hand. Something I held onto so tightly a year and a half ago was ripped out of my hands because I wasn’t obeying the Lord’s will for my life, and it’s incredible now for me to look at my life and be thankful daily that He did take that from me. If He hadn’t, I wouldn’t have ended up in the Dominican last summer, and my life would be so much different. However, it did hurt at the time. I love having a constant reminder to just let go of things and let God work. Again, He knows far better than we do.
Our first two days of mission work involved a group of about 10 Hebron team members joining a medical team from Pennsylvania. We saw about 390 patients total, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I ended up translating the Spanish for triage workers, and I was told many times that I was such a blessing to the group and my Spanish is wonderful; I definitely couldn’t take credit for it. Literally, it was all God working through me in that clinic – I truly could not have translated that much without Him.
This year I had the opportunity to go from house to house in a few of the villages sharing the gospel. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I truly enjoyed that aspect of the trip. It also gave me the opportunity to see the homes of the more poverty-stricken areas, and I was shocked. However, the people are the kindest and most hospitable people I’ve ever met. I have the clearest memory of a man inviting us into his “house” right after his daughter mopped the entire place – all of our shoes were caked in mud, but he insisted that we go in anyway. His daughter accepted Christ during our visit, and it was such a joy to be a part of that moment with her.
I have so much more to say, but I’m trying to avoid writing a novel of a blog post (though I haven’t quite succeeded). One thing I still need to mention though is the familial bond that happens on trips like this. I spent only 7 days with some of these people and became closer to them than I am to people I’ve known here for years. One girl in particular that I met, Mechay, my best friend Lori and I became really close to since we roomed with her. We went from not knowing her at all to laughing hysterically at midnight on the bathroom floor in our underwear…I wouldn’t trade moments like that for the world. God put some incredible new friends in my life the past 2 weeks, and I’m so thankful.