I have been told my entire life that it is important to find something you are passionate about. Fortunately, for me, I was able to figure out that passion at the age of 8. That marks my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic and the beginning of my love for community service.
Within the first thirty minutes of being in the village of Cielo a little girl sat on my lap, from that moment I was hooked. I convinced my parents every summer after that it was necessary for us to go on this mission trip.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
When I was fourteen my parents said we did not have the money to go to Santo Domingo, to which I replied, "I am sorry you won't be going down there this summer, I'll be sure to tell everyone you say hi!" I ended up raising the money I needed to be able go on the trip. Once I reached the age of sixteen I was old enough to serve on summer staff, which I have now done for two summers. I have also gone for a week in January the last two years as well. As you can tell, it is impossible for me to stay away. There is something so great about creating lasting relationships and serving others in the process. These trips have made it possible for me to become friends with Americans on work trips, Dominican families in the village of Cielo, lepers out casted from the community, and the translators. I cherish each one of these relationships with my whole heart because they are strong and built on the love of God, passion and genuinely wanting the best for each other. It still shocks me how lucky I am to be able to serve others while learning so much at the same time.
Just a few weeks ago I came home from the DR, having spent a month there. People ask me about how my trip was and words can not express the amazing things I saw, experienced, and learned int that time. Since I have been home I have been in what we like to call "Dominican Depression." The hardest part about going on these mission trips is coming home back to such a materialistic and greedy world. No matter how hard you try to make people understand how great your experience was and what your priorities now are, you simply can not. This is not anyone's fault, people just can't relate until they live and breathe it. This makes me want to get as many people to go there as possible! I have been successful a few times in getting others to come and be a part of the fun. As you can tell, I love everything about the Dominican and am counting the days till I hop on JetBlue flight 1718 to get back down there, 168 days to be exact!
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