I never expected that a beautiful country such as the Dominican Republic could have such poor living conditions and lack basic infrastructures. I was completely culture shocked when I realized that not everyone in the world lives as Americans do and everyone is not as fortunate as I am.
My parents are Christian missionaries. They often travel in order to bring assistance to thousands of people, especially in New York City’s five boroughs, New Jersey, upstate New York, Connecticut, and Florida. I have been fortunate to be part of their family and ministry for many years. My father has made trips to Ecuador and Cuba, and my family and I have been able to be part of journeys to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. My worldwide view of other poor foreign countries has changed since my trip to the Dominican Repupblic in July of 2005.
I soon realized that God was opening my eyes to another perspective about the world I live in. I witnessed deep deprivation, on one hand, and great fortitude, on the other. I can’t quite reconcile the fact that although we live in the twenty-first century, a time of surplus and globalization, such poverty exists, not only in the rest of the globe, but in our own backyards. The mission group and I had several places to go to and limited time to accomplish our goals for the day. We visited an orphanage outside of the country’s capital, Santo Domingo. Bumpy roads filled with pot-holes made our drive even more difficult. I couldn’t believe that cars, buses, and trucks of all sizes could manage to drive.
The children were waiting for our arrival. They looked nothing like we had expected them to. I was expecting the children to have some other clothing that they could wear. Mnay of these young girls were tall dark-skinned innocent children living in such horrific conditions and the young girls had just finished their last meal of the month, a small bowl of rice left from the day before. The owners had no more food to give the children when we got there. This broke my heart. God allowed us to feed these children, and give them clothes, sandals, toiletries, and more importantly a smile. God set this day for us to make a miracle for these young souls. Although we spoke mostly English, we had to speak Spanish and they were very receptive to us.
The orphanage was a wreck. The facilities were unsanitary and dangerous. There was no running water, only buckets of rain water or from a nearby well, mostly polluted. Stained mattresses and bare bunk-beds were where the children slept at night. I actually tasted the sadness and loneliness they faced after being abandoned. The restrooms were dug-out holes in the ground. The children’s clothing had holes; girls’ undergarments were torn, and underware was made from platic bags, the kind a person would buy from a local supermarket. We had just enough underware, socks, sandals, shirts, toys, and food for everyone that was there, including the workers.
Their joy and happiness melted our hearts because although they have nothing, they are like each of us, deserving of a joyful complacent life. These children taught me that they are willing to do whatever it takes to survive with the basic things we as human being consume inour lives. They taught me that they have a heart as big as the world for everything around them; they have very little basic needs but they are appreciative for what they have and for what God has done in their lives, although their world around them may be falling to the ground in such poverty. These kids taught me to become more appreciative with what God has given me.
I never thought I would be part of a ministry that cares so much for others in the world. As a young youth, I have learned a lot from this trip. Although I have been to other exciting places around the world, I will never forget my first missionary trip to the Dominican Republic. If we could help our fellow human beings, this world would be a better place; after all, in each is the possibility to affect social change.
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