I’ve decided to write something every month for the next 11 to recap, process, talk about what happened a year ago this month while I was on the World Race. This might mean I blog every day for the whole month or just once. I don’t know. But here goes 🙂
The Dominican Republic.
What can I say but I loved this month. Only, I didn’t realize it until months afterwards.
Observation #1, I blogged 7 times in 3 weeks!
I know it was my first month and I was super excited and new to it all, and that over the months the excitement to blog waned and became harder and harder…but as I reread my blogs I realized how much I forgot that I loved being in Padre Las Casas.
One of the things we learned on the World Race is that your contact makes or breaks your month. It’s very, very true. When the people who you are with actually care about you being there and make every effort to include you and welcome you with open arms, it makes the biggest difference you can imagine.
The people were key this month. My team and I talked about it, and we all agreed that we wish the Dominican Republic could have happened in the middle of our Race. The reason is that while we succeeded in building good relationships with the people of Padre Las Casas while we were there, it was Month 1 and we had no idea what we were doing. If we could have gone there later on during the Race, we would have been more experienced and understood the incredible blessing and benefit of building and cultivating the beautiful relationships with the people there, in even greater ways than we did during month 1.
We were getting used to functioning as a team. Figuring out who each other was. Getting to know each other, struggling to mesh our very different styles and ways of doing things. Learning to trust each other and walk in the Lord together. In that respect, the Dominican Republic was a very up-and-down month for each of us, but such a GOOD time of growth.
We were also SO BLESSED by Mayi, our translator, who became like a 7th member of our team. It made leaving even harder, and probably made our transition into Haiti increasingly more difficult than it may have been initially, because we had to say goodbye to our new sister. Not having her with us for the next couple months was hard to get used to.
Even though we weren’t quite experienced yet with building relationships intentionally like we learned later on, we still succeeded in making what we hoped was a good impression on the kids, their parents, and our contact, Meco.
We taught English. We sang songs. We helped cook meals. We drank tons of intensely-sugary coffee.
We met Dora.
We got to know Javier. You can read his story on my teammate Amanda’s blog. She was able to sponsor him for a few months at Compassion until he made the decision to stop coming.
We got introduced to a little girl who we called “Monster,” because of her gravelly voice and boisterous personality. She was hilarious, an absolute joy, and we got such a kick out of her! 🙂
One of the things we LOVED to do with the kids was dance and sing “O le le.” This was a song we learned at training camp. It has absolutely NO meaning but everywhere we went, everyone loved it! My favorite part is that the made up words changed with every language we introduced it to…but the most hilarious interpretation of it was the kiddos from the DR singing “O le le tikki tonga” as “O le le CHIMICHANGA!” Yum, sounds delicious 🙂
If you have the time, take a moment to read or re-read my blogs from last September. I HAD SO MUCH FUN here. The laughter my team and Mayi shared together and with our incredible hosts was something we didn’t always have in the coming months.
It was a treasure.
The time we had, as a team, to pray and seek the Lord was precious and a necessity. We didn’t know it then but we were building a foundation that we would live off of for the next 10 months.
Here are the links to my 7 blogs from my month in the DR:
- Hola, Dominican Republic!
- Padre Las Casas!
- A beautiful confusion
- A snapshot of life so far
- The day we met Dora
- DR: Photo blog
- They made an Impact on me
Please also check out the blog Amanda wrote about the DR. It’s beautiful and it sums up our month so perfectly. It’s so fun to go back and read my blogs and teammates’ blogs from our Month 1.
What a crazy year we had ahead of us, and what a gift to be able to begin it in a place like Padre Las Casas, Dominican Republic. The people were the hugest blessings to us. I will never forget their sweet faces, they are imprinted on my heart forever!
Take a peek at the video below for some highlights of our month 1! 🙂