Dominican Republic: The honeymoon I never had! Stage 7… bringing it home!

Here I am Lord! Lead me!

Day 7: Saturday, March 26, 2011

I hoped to see a sunrise on the water. That was not to be. I didn’t even see an egg, sunny side up. Today is the last day and it is bitter-sweet. For breakfast today will be cheese and ham sandwiches. Yesterday was ham and cheese. Thanks Erin for clearing that up.

Vicki helped the sun to rise upon us though, with her message on servanthood. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” Mark 10:43 She helped us to consider and answer what we learned from this trip about God’s calling on our lives as a servant and to define our next steps for our ministry as child ambassadors.  We are to remember that Christ chose us and has called us to a life of servanthood. To be a servant we must take our light and take pride in His work and  humbly do his bidding, as we put others first and sacrifice. Serving means to humbly give of our money or our gift of encouragement. We serve by going out and speaking to others about what we’ve experienced, by telling people about the work Jesus is doing in us and through us. She reminded us that we must share this story with other Child Ambassadors to bring them along. We must not bury our light. We need to remember the faces of the children, the moms and dads, the abuelitas and the staff.  Everyday we need to give to these children and be praying for their hearts, praying for Kingdom living for every child and obey our calling.

It’s casual day, beginning with a walking tour, shopping and later the beach.  Our friend and translator Erin has gone on strike because she’s been translating non stop for days. She never got a break. She helped in the day and then she’d help us through meals and then I’m sure she was still helping us in her dreams. So we gave her the day off and I volunteered to take over.  I know only enough Spanish to get me into trouble. I thought I understood more than I actually did apparently, as evidenced by the little tidbit of info that I learned yesterday.

Our first day on the bus, we were talking about Spanish and listening to tapes or taking Spanish classes. Jere accidentally calls Rosetta Stone, Loretta Stone and we had great fun with this throughout the trip. It seems that only Erin and Claudia were Rosetta worthy and the rest of us were definitely from the Loretta Stone school of Spanish!  Well, from the very first visit with kids when I’d see a beautiful girl, I would say, que linda, how beautiful.  Or if we saw a handsome boy, I would say he was muy guapo, he is very handsome. I got a few looks from the moms and I thought it was merely my accent so I just kept on jumping and didn’t give it much of a second thought. Yesterday during lunch, our friend Kristy, who is working with her hubby in the DR for the Peace Corps, joined us and we were discussing how her Spanish was coming along. She explained how it was improving, but is still confused by some words that mean one thing at home but something totally different in the DR.  She said, “take guapo for example. At home it means handsome, but here it means angry”.  Flashes of insulted mothers returned to mind as I realized that for a week, I had been telling people that their little boys “were very angry”.  This would have been
good to know upfront. In light of this, I felt very qualified to give completely false information about the city we were seeing. I also feel I was doing my part as a servant.

In addition to me, we had the world’s fastest talking tour guide and what I got out of it is that just about every building in the seaport area is really old with some dating back to the 1500’s.  This is the place that Christopher Columbus was buried until 1992. Then he went somewhere else, but there is disagreement as to where that is.  There is so much history here and the architecture is stunning.  We visited a chapel that is the oldest building in North America. We visited their national building and that is where their great freedom fighters are buried.  The main shopping corridor is called Calle el Condo. Trujillo was a fierce and unscrupulous dictator and tyrant that oppressed the people for a very long time. He was proud and vain and even changed the name of certain places to his own for a while. When he was killed in the 1960’s they had a big party and now people take it upon themselves to step on his name if it is imprinted on anything within reach. My birthday, September 24 is a national holiday in the DR! Thank you.  And, I learned that Haiti, means big mountain. The Dominican people are a blend of the native Indian, the Spanish, and the African people who were brought to the island as slaves. The DR was a major stopping place in the slave trade market because of its location in relation to the US and other countries. They are having a huge celebration this year to celebrate their 500th birthday (1511-2011).  Today it is a stopping place for some cruise ships and still is a major hub in shipping channels.  Ok. The tour is over, now lets jump and shop.

There were lots of great artists with works painted on canvas. Maryellen was in charge of bartering. We enjoyed our leisure time and purchased a few gifts to take home to our families and friends.

We grabbed some lunch and some of us headed to the beach and others chose to stay behind and do whatever they did. There was an air show happening right over the harbor outside of our hotel and apparently it was amazing.  We had to drive about 45 minutes to get to the beach. I don’t know what it was called or where it was located and my attention to detail is slipping by the second.  I vaguely remember something about guacamole beach and free range flamingos but I can’t be sure.

The beach was stunningly beautiful. The water at a distance was various shades of blue. My favorite! Up close, the water was clear and in some areas you could see lots of life underneath it. We relaxed and enjoyed the water and resting on the beach and photographing the tropical scenery that will forever mark the near end of our journey.

Dinner that night included great food and  Lori, Maryellen & Jere presenting some gifts to our faithful servants Claudia, Erin, Johno and Dionicio the bus driver. Everyone is a little
melancholy.

I would be the first one out in the morning as we all would fly almost mirror images of our trips upon arrival.  I would have to get up about 4 and be ready to go. I would leave alone. The last set of instructions were given and we had a some sweet goodbyes. And of course I cried at the thought of leaving these people who had become my family and very good friends in a mere 7 days.

Numbers 33 Journal entry: We stayed in Santo Domingo for one last night.

Day 8: Sunday, March 27, 2011

I’m up early and am ready to go. While packing my bag I heard something hit the floor with a plink! but couldn’t identify the source. I didn’t give it a second thought and hurried down 3 flights of stairs with my big bags. Sweet Lori must have drawn the short straw and had to get up to make sure I got off okay. My driver never showed up! A cab was waiting for some other guests so we make an executive decision to see if I can hitch a ride. A
very kind man says it will be no problem and he pays for my cab ride to the airport. As we were pulling away from the hotel, my driver showed up.

On the way to the airport the man in the back seat asks me about my visit. I tell him why I was there and ask if he is familiar with World Vision. Small world that it is, he is a child sponsor! He lives in Costa Rica! He tells me what great work World Vision does and how grateful he is for them and the sovereignty of God shines through as I marvel at His hand in all things.

We say our goodbyes and I get through the airport checkpoints etc., I forget my painting on the other side of the scanner where I had sat to take my shoes off. They reluctantly get it for me thanks to the help of what appeared to be a German tourist who spoke really good Spanish. Thank you Jesus. After reclaiming my prized possession, I notice that my very
sentimental ring, that I NEVER take off, is missing the pearl. Hence, the plink in my room this morning. I am heartbroken. My dad gave this ring to my mom 52 years ago. But, I decide that the thief will not steal my joy so I just want to get home as quietly as possible.

I fly into Miami where there has been some type of explosion and things are being rerouted and I find the gate to sit for a minute as I wait for my plane. I look for my pearl and turn on my phone and try to catch up on a few things with my family. Wrapped up in my details, I miss my flight. I was sitting at the wrong gate. I’m rerouted on the next plane which is my last chance to make a Dallas to El Paso  connection today.  I say so long to the plane taxiing down the runway with what I imagine to be my luggage on board.

The rest of my flights were uneventful and I arrived back in El Paso a few hours later than originally planned, but almost home none the less. I go to check on my bags to see if they were in storage and the agent tells me that they had been on the same flight as me. Apparently they missed the plane as well. If I had arrived when I should have I would not have had my luggage!  God is good.

My jumping friend Lindy picks me up and we discuss the trip during the 40 mile drive back to my town.  I unpack my bag and what do I see in the bottom of my bag? My pearl. It
had fallen off of my ring, bounced onto the floor, and into my suitcase. God is really good.

I wont see my kids until the following day, but I go to sleep with peace and assurance that all that I have seen and done will make me a better mother, a better servant and a better human being.

I expect the next few months to be very hard. I already find myself rethinking how I spend money, what I do with my litter, how grateful I am for an airport bathroom where we could easily drink the water from the faucet. I’m rethinking my job and culture, my priorities and my disappointments. I’m looking around me and missing the warm and accepting smiles of strangers and resenting the political correctness of our culture that
hinders me in openly sharing with others my gratefulness for what Jesus Christ has done in my life. I am disgusted with waste. I am saddened by the unreasonable attention that is given to animals while children suffer.

I saw people with nothing who had everything and now I see people with everything who have nothing. Spiritual poverty is fatal.  I see myself with a greater love for my children. I see myself motivated to focus my energy and attention to changing my own community for the better. I see myself looking at teachers and healthcare workers and policemen and garbage men with a whole new respect. I love the freedom of our country and the blessings that have been bestowed on us for generations and I am committed to knowing about and participating in as much of that process as I need to in order that we might remain free.

I see myself ordering picture folders and spending more time looking into the eyes of the children, one by one and reading their information and praying for them with my whole heart because I know that they are real.

I know that I am more in love with Jesus Christ for who He is and what He has done and I see myself humble at His feet, ready to serve and ready to say, Here I am Lord! Send me!

Ask Yourself  This Question (AYTQ): What is the very best way for me to help?

Numbers 33 Journal entry: We camped in Las Cruces, NM for…

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