The summer of my sophomore year I embarked on a new travel experience. I took a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. My school, Mount Paran Christian School, always encourages students to participate in at least one of the mission opportunities that are offered during their four years in high school. With my trip, I was sponsored partly by my school but also by an organization named the 963 effect.
None of my friends were going on the trip so I needed to branch out to people whom I did not know very well. The whole objective of this trip was to go to the villages and minister to the people by playing with the kids, talking to the families, preach the gospel, and giving away food supplies. The trip was eight days long and was in the core of summertime.
On the long bus ride from the airport to the hotel we were staying at, I could see the poverty that we would have to be dealing with. There were not pretty neighborhoods and nicely paved roads with stores conveniently placed on the side of the road. The houses were concrete shacks and instead of a nice driveway with a green lawn, there was dirt. The kids playing outside were half dressed and were soiled with dirt and whatever else they were playing in. This was a real eye opener for me.
My group went to about eight villages. We would pull up in a big bus and kids old and young would run out to see what was in store. We usually played some type of sport with the kids like baseball (which especially popular there). For the younger kids we had face paint and balloons and other fun toys. It was funny how receptive they were even with the language barrier. Most of us do not speak Spanish fluently so we would have to act out in some way what we were trying to portray. The adults and kids all had incredible stories, but most were incredibly sad. After spending quality time with the people we would act out a skit illustrating Christian love. We also sang songs about God’s love and Abraham. After that, one of the leaders of the group would share the gospel with the people. Sometimes at the end we would also give away simple food products such as rice, beans, cooking oil, etc. It was amazing how these parents would cry with joy for just seven dollars worth of food. They now knew they would be able to make it another day without being hungry. They were extremely grateful for that.
One day we also made a trip to an orphanage for special needs. I saw kids from six months old to seventeen being cared for. They were so excited when we came; some were aggressive with us while giving us hugs. While we were there we played with the kids and learned about their individually unique lives. They were so happy having us, many cried when we left.
This trip was completely life changing for me. I learned that I am truly blessed by God. I know that sometimes I would complain about not having certain things that other people have like the newest car or electronic, but a lot of the families that we visited did not even have the necessities like electricity or plumbing or even food. Something has truly changed within me and I am more thankful now for everything than any time before. I loved going on this trip and I plan on more in the future.
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