I’ve found in the past few days that I have a really hard time explaining why exactly the Dominican trip is such an incredible one. The only thing I can think to say is this: you’re hot, you sweat a lot, you don’t get enough sleep, the food’s not great, the bus rides are endless, you have to pee in the woods or other questionable places, and yet – you just don’t care. Everything is so perfect that you can completely ignore what might otherwise make you uncomfortable.
At least, that’s how it is for me. And I miss it. Every second, I wish I could be back down there. But I just need to remember that I am where I am for a reason. I have a lot to do this year, and clearly, college classes to attend and a degree to get. But back to more about the actual trip-
One of the first nights of week 2, our group went out to the beach for devotion. We divided into small groups and were supposed to share what God had begun doing in us (well, at least, I think that was the point). I ended up sharing about what led me to go on the trip last year and how it completely changed the way my summer had been going and ultimately, me. Afterward, one of the girls from my group approached me and told me how it was funny that I shared that story because she was currently dealing with a very similar situation. I was able to talk to her and pass along a few Bible verses that I really relied on last summer, which she later told me helped her a lot. I used to hate that part of my testimony, but I’ve lately come to realize that I’ve been able to share the love of Christ so simply through my story; and so, to God be the glory.
This year I was really challenged to step out of my comfort zone a lot more than I did last year. It’s not that I have a fear of public speaking, because I really don’t if I know what I’m saying. It’s just…a lot of times, I am not good with words. At all, really. For village ministry, we have this cube called the Evangecube – it’s hard to explain, but it’s a fold-out cube that has pictures to assist in sharing the gospel. We do it with groups at large, and then all of us also had our own cube that we would share daily with kids we befriended. It’s a great tool, but I never am the one to volunteer to do it at the front of the room. One day though, in the absolute most insane village we went to, our leader asked me to share the cube, but do it simply because we really just wanted to do some foundational stuff in this particular village. My reply was something along the lines of, “oh geez, I have no idea what to say!” but I stood up at the front and did it anyway (mostly because honestly, who’s going to say no to their leader?). However, it went a lot smoother than I anticipated, and it made me feel so much more at ease about sharing the cube in front of other groups. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be such a blessing.
Lori and I also led a few villages in songs, either teaching them or just doing them with the kids. I’ve come to realize that songs are such a great way to get the kids to focus while still enjoying themselves. We failed in a village or two, but for the most part, it ended up being so much fun. In one village we all did Father Abraham only in Spanish (“Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham…” I know everyone here knows that one), and it was absolutely the most fun. Going to the Dominican two years in a row now has really allowed me to see what works and what doesn’t – as well as how certain things work in one village, and then fail miserably in the next. God taught all of us to really be flexible with our plans the whole time.
I’ve been praying about how I’m going to spend next summer since June when I was in Peru, and I think I may have been handed my answer this morning. Now I just have to stay patient (ha!) and get things done in the States for the next 10 months before I take off again. I am truly SO looking forward to everything God has planned for the year; I can tell it’s going to be a brilliant one.