We are on the flight headed home. It is hard to believe that we have been gone for 30 days. So much has happened in the past four weeks and I don’t even know how to begin relating it all to you.
To begin with, I have been given a perspective of missions that I had yet to see prior to this month. Through this experience, I have come to understand the things that take place behind the scenes in missionaries’ lives. I have seen what it is like for a “gringo” to live in a Dominican neighborhood. I have had the opportunity to see what it is like to work in a culture that is entirely different than my own. While at times I have seen that life in a world unlike my own can be frustrating, I see that the rewards of serving the Lord as He leads far outweigh the bad.
While here, I taught English in a private Christian school. I had the opportunity to take on a high school classroom for two weeks. During that time I can say that I learned more than I taught. I learned about the Dominican culture and how different it is to American culture. I studied education at Judson and I feel like I am prepared to enter the classroom in America. But throughout this experience, I have discovered that I am not quite ready to enter the classroom teaching abroad. I am far from fluent in Spanish and at times it was difficult to instruct students in my broken dialogue. I picked up on several new words while teaching and impressed some of the students a couple of times when I rattled off something quickly in Spanish, but I spoke far from perfectly. I will say that if God calls me to serve full time abroad that I will work hard to develop a better understanding of the language of whatever country that I am called to teach in.
While at times I became frustrated in the school here, I was also extremely excited by things that took place in the classroom. Lauretta and I had the opportunity to share the gospel in a couple of our classes. We used salvation bracelets to share the effects of sin, the death of Christ, his resurrection and forgiveness for believers. The students in one particular classroom were specifically interested in what we had to share. Each student focused their full attention on us. It was a definite change in typical classroom behavior.
I pray that seeds were planted in that classroom...
While the time in the school was valuable, I enjoyed our time in villages the most. We had the time to just play with young people and to build relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I heard a smiling child laughing and saying, “Gringa, Gringa.” I loved playing baseball with the guys in Holos de los Puercos. Those guys out there have such a passion for the game. I hope that when the time is right and those young men hear the gospel that they will have an even greater passion for Christ.
I also loved the kids that I meet in Augas Negras. When we went there, kids met us at the car ready to play. There were a couple of the boys that I was especially attached to. I wish that those little ones had different lives. It is so hard to see a ten year old limping around barefoot because he had no shoes and had stepped on a nail. It was even harder to see a 9-year- old boy with his baby sister on his hip because his mom is a prostitute and can’t care for all eight of her children. Stories like this break my heart but I know that God has a plan for each of these young boys' lives. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” applies to all people not just to you and me and I was reminded of that several times during my time in the DR. God has a plan for these young people, I may not understand it but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have one. Remembering that fact made it easier to leave those little boys behind when we left the village for the last time.
Overall, I can say that I have been given a new perspective because of this trip and I know that it will affect the life that I lead in the U.S. and the path that I take. I praise the Lord for my time in the DR and I can’t wait to see where the Lord will lead me in the future.
Dios te Bendiga!