I decided to go on a Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) on a whim. What began as a capricious decision, however, became the most life-altering experience I’ve ever had.
The first day of my expedition was unequivocably the worst. To start the day off, my travel companions and I arose promptly at 4:30 am. From there, we caught a flight that went all the way from Orlando, Florida to Miami, Floirda. As I hate flying, this 37 minute flight was extremely vexing. “Why don’t we just drive?” I remember asking myself. While my question was never answered, I found many other annoyances to occupy my thoughts. After our layover flight finally took off, (after an hour long delay), we landed in Santo Dominigo. One five hour bus ride later, we arrived in Barahona. I went straight to bed, glad that the day was over.
The next day went by in a fog, as I was completely enervated from the long day of traveling. However, that night, I took my first real look off the enormous balcony which was my and six other guys’ room; what I saw took my breath away. From the balcony, I viewed the buzzing streets of the city of Barahona, and directly behind that, the rolling waves of the Carribean. I just stood there, taking in the majesty of the foreign country. That night, I also noticed for the first time the permenant sea breeze which transcended through all of Barahona. Most nights, when everyone else hung out in the courtyard of the mission house, I would stand on the balcony, breathing in the cool, salty breeze, hoping that with every breath the Dominican Republic would permeate through my veins and never leave me.
The rest of my trip was spent sering the physical needs of the people of the Dominican, evangelizing to them, and playing with the children. One instance that I remember in particular was a conversation I had with a ten-year old boy named Luis. He was the only child in his village with hazel eyes, and he took a liking to me. I had taken 4 years of Spanish, and my father is a Spanish teacher, so I was able to have a substantial conversation with him. We discussed school, America, trees, video games, Jackie Chan and baseball. When I left, he told me I was “good” and that he would miss me. I still miss him.
One thing that took me by surprise about the Dominican Republic was the friendships that I made. I didn’t really expect to get too close to anyone in the two weeks we were together. Instead, I made several friends, many of whom I still talk to, and one who I consider my best friend. Brian was a leader in our group, and you couldn’t find two people who were more different. Brian is quiet, reserved, and speaks with almost no emotion. I’m vociferous, completely extroverted, and always talk as if I’m on stage. Despite these differences, though, we became like brothers. Brian helped me with problems I didn’t think would ever go away, and I (unexpectedly), did the same for him. Although I doubted that he liked me at first, Brian was and is the big brother I never had.
Thought I could never truly capture the aesthetics and emotions I encountered in the Dominican Republic, I can open a window into my soul, unveiling the passion I have for the place and my journey there.
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