I Caught a Bug in the Dominican Republic
September 17, 2018
It often feels like the plans we have for ourselves don’t necessarily align with the plans God has for us, or at least that was my experience when it came to the Dominican Republic (DR) mission trip. Even though I didn’t have any interest in going to the DR, I earned the designation of “Trip Chaperone” after drawing the short straw (so to speak) when our daughter, Anna, signed us up for the 2015 intergenerational mission trip to the Dominican Republic without our knowledge. Despite all the practical reasons we had for not allowing Anna to go (timing, financial commitment, etc.), we agreed we couldn’t deny her the experience if she felt called to go. And although I’m not the type of person who enjoys hard physical labor and sleeping in a tent under a mosquito net, I decided to let God win this one and began to mentally prepare myself for the worst.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, the trip really wasn’t that bad. There were no tents or mosquito nets, and there was no hard physical labor (unless you count painting). Instead, we stayed in a hotel with a beautiful ocean side setting, air-conditioned rooms free of mosquitoes, and a full-service dining room which prepared all our meals. As for our mission work during the trip, our projects included providing VBS for the children in the community, donating and sorting tennis shoes for distribution, participating in a prayer walk through several neighborhoods, and painting the interior of the community health clinic. Our work experiences were supplemented with time to worship within the community and time for fellowship with the church-sponsored children and their families, but sometime during this mix is when it happened ... I got the bug.
The bug wasn’t malaria or an upset stomach from drinking the local water. Instead, it was an indescribable yearning or itch I must have contracted from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit must have moved through me sometime during the simple task of sorting shoes, singing VBS songs with the kids, or at some place along the path of our prayer walk. In each of these moments, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t speak Spanish or that the native Dominicans couldn’t speak English, because what I discovered is that God’s love is a universal language which is understood by our actions and not our words. The welcoming smiles, the warm hugs, and even the shared tears were how we communicated when words were not enough to express how we felt. Worshiping with, praying for, and providing hope to the impoverished community of Sousa created in me the desire to continue to cultivate the relationships I built while I was in the DR, and as it turns out the bug is contagious. Now, three years since my first trip to the Dominican, everyone in my family has had the opportunity to serve and share God’s love in the DR, and I keep getting the question, “when can we go back Mom?”
Learn about the next intergenerational trip to the Dominican Republic.