Friday, July 25, 2014

Dominican Republic Discipleship Trip 2014 - Day 2 in Santo Domingo (July 24)

Day 2 was tons of fun!

First getting up and chilling in the room for a bit with Katy, then we went out to the kitchen for breakfast. It was wonderful!

Mangu (not Mangos...and I will explain mangu on another post),
Scrambled eggs with veggies,

After eating I went over and talked with the other peeps that are staying in this house. Because we were going to the Villa Alta Gracia there were a few things we needed to do beforehand.

- Drink a large glass of water in the earliest part of the morning that you can.
- Eat very well.
- Just before we head out...go to the bathroom. Because there will be absolutely no options for that for the next 5-7 hours.

Then we headed out to meet up with everyone at the other house! Once there we started the first talk of the trip, basic information about why we are here and what we are doing. The other Jessica on the trip sat in front of me so I gave her a neck and shoulder massage. A bit later, one of the other girls said she was in line for a massage, and before a few hours went by, apparently most of the group is claiming a spot in line. So, someone ends up in the floor in front of me, or siting in the seat ahead of me in the bus, is hoping for a massage.

Sandwiches of (I think) turkey and ham, mayonnaise, and cheese.

The entire Grove family is here on the trip, and so there are a LOT of names that start with the letter J. Thus putting our initials on water bottles doesn't work. The Grove family has a system of J1, J2, J3, etc. It's kinda cute actually. Only one slight problem...J3 and JB look a LOT alike when written small on the top of a bottle cap and slightly worn away from wiggling in a backpack. Now the funny part. J3's name is Jessica. JB...that's me....Jessie Bear.

Once everyone had a name on a water bottle we pile in bus and start heading to Villa Alta Gracia. The talks on the drive...hmm...I'll just keep you guessing on that one. Hehe...
No, but actually for a bus packed with 14 "kids" ages 25-9 you'd think we'd be more goofy, but rather talks are about the culture, what games are best for observing the culture, what are the moral issues with the culture, etc. Babes made the two best observations about the DR culture of the day.

1) Why do they paint all their trashcans?
2) Why are the houses bright on the outside, but dark on the inside?

Well done Babes...keep asking "why?", keep looking for the root of this issue...

Now the actual drive was quite an adventurous occasion. We go in two cars, all the "kids" in one bus and the parents in the other. Our (us kids) bus driver lost the other car in the crazy DR traffic, and we didn't see them for about an hour. We were only a little bit concerned, and only learned later that night, that the other car had ended up networking a small handful of calls in order to get directions, their adventures also included a cell phone running out of minutes.

When we arrived at the Villa, and went into the church building, all the people were clapping, they clapped long enough for a single file line of all 19 of us to walk in through the door and find seats on the floor in the corner of the front of the church. As we walked into the church I noticed the children first. 80-100 children were seated on the floor packed into this small single room building. When I sat down and looked out, I noted that all the girls were on one side and all the boys were on the other.

Our coming to the Villa was to bring a Bible story to the children, and to see the progress of the buildings. For the story, Mrs. Raimundo taught about Elijah and the widowed woman and her son, the story of God providing for our needs. (I Kings 17:8-24)

My God is a Providential God, He provides everything we need. Sometimes that means doing some really neat things. Mr. Raimundo found a girl selling food, and bought all her food. That gave her the free time to come listen to the Bible also gave the kids a snack...and provided her family with a little bit of money. God provides. Always.

For some pictures with the kids and our team, we all scattered into the group of kids sitting on the floor and sat with them. I ended up with one lil girl snuggling in my lap,  two girls with their fingers interlocked with mine, and another girl had fun when I leaned over close to get a picture with her! Bar none....snuggles are the best!

After the Bible story, singing a couple songs, and snack, the kids took us for a short walk around some parts of their shack village. We ran out of time and needed to get back to our apartment, so the walk was cut short.

The drive back was one of the most fun drives ever. We played some clapping games, took way too many pictures of each other, talked about culture, and about our families.

Finally regrouping at the apartment...we realized that we did not have time for the 19 of us to all shower and dress up for going out. So, we ended up going out to diner in t-shirts and jeans. Cramming 19 people into 2 vehicles is an adventure in itself! In the Ford explorer I was in, we had 2 in front, 4 in the middle, and 2 in the luggage area in the back. It was very fun! We went to a nice place to eat. Mr. Raimundo ordered for us all. (I will detail this later if possible.)

Ricardo lives close to a fun ice cream parlor. It was a much looked forward to event for those of us who came last year. Ricardo and Mr. Raimundo decided to go, and about 1/4 of the peeps at the whole table knew we were going but before we told the group, we got the idea of making it a secret!

We told everyone that there was a change in plans and that we would not be having a study. A few didn't really think anything of it, Jenn and Joshua seemed genuinely surprised and asked what was going on. But Mr. Raimundo didn't say. So we all got up, went to the public bathroom (this is a big no no in 99% of cases...but in the DR 1% is really big!)

When we pulled into Valentinos Jenn and Joshua knew what it was, and so did Knepps. It was a lot of fun seeing the delight on the faces of the Grove family and James and Timothy. Apparently, no matter where you go, ice cream is always a hit!

Just like in the car trips, plane rides, and hanging out at the houses...conversation never dies off and is always stirring. Jenn, Katy, myself, and Jessica stood together eating our ice cream and talking about our favorite books of the Bible and why they are our favorites. Another conversation I had was with Evelyn (Ricardo's darling wife), we talked about homeschool and how things work for homeschoolers in the United States.

After all the ice cream, fellowship, and just a general great time together, we had to head back to the apartment. We all got there, then got back into our two groups and split up to go home for the night.

Finally, after almost exactly a year, I was back in the black police Suburban with Ricardo. It was so much fun. Knepps and I were kinda emotional about it actually. I think she was more so than I because she's kept up a closer relationship with them through the year than I have. But it was very touching to me to be back, to sing songs in that Suburban again, and joke with Ricardo once again!

Amid all our songs and talking we ended up lost.

So, Ricardo called but no one answered, I think he called 3 people before getting someone. But finally we got to our house, and went almost exactly straight to bed. I say almost...because I diverted that trek to take a shower. A much awaited first shower in the DR.

My shower... *happy sigh*
I was coated in two days of sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, and dirt from Virginia, Florida, Santo Domingo, and Villa Alta Gracia. This shower was very wonderful. <3
Half way through my shower, I remembered...DO NOT DRINK THE WATER. For the second half of the shower I could not remember if I had drank any...but getting lost in thought, I realized that some got in my mouth. I spent the rest of the shower spitting out any liquid in my mouth.

I went to bed shivering cold and woke up with a bit of a sore throat. I am not yet convinced that I am sick, but...I now have to keep a close eye on things.

**epic fail**

On the positive side, I do not think I will be getting nearly as sick as last year! So, I am very happy. I can't wait for the studies to start.

Please pray for:
- We are supposed to paint at the church, pray that we are helpful and willing workers,
- That we are all gracious and loving when time schedules get thrown out the windows...all the time,
- That we continue to grow in fellowship and are bonded ever firmer in love for one another because of Christ,
- That I and all the team does not get sick at all on this trip!

In Summary:
I love Mangu...I missed it!
Drink lots of water, but don't go to the bathroom except at home, church, or specific very nice restaurants.
The 9 yr old has the best observations.
I love snuggling kids. <3
God provides!!
If you take a picture of James, he puts his hands around his face and has a silly grin. (oh dear...what are we going to do with him??)
If you want a massage...get in line.
Ice cream is yummy.
Getting lost in a foreign country is fun...with the right people.
Showers are good (please take lots of them).
Drinking shower water...**epic fail**

I Kings 17:24

"And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”"

Jessie Bear

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