Saturday, July 22

Today we started off at the same wake up time of 7:30 with music from Stacy’s phone but I personally woke up with the music of the local Dominicans. The house started off quiet as it usually does during breakfast and Devos.

Swiftly after, we proceeded to clean the host home! We cleaned everything and sorted all our donations out that are going to Kids Alive – clothing, bug spray, toiletries, Advil etc.

We then packed all of us along with all our luggage into the “gwa-gwa” and the Miller’s car to head to our resort. It was mainly a day off with free time, good food and fancy drinks.

As we are coming to the very last hours of our trip I have chosen to reflect on my own personal time here. During this trip I’ve personally experienced some huge realizations in multiple different aspects of my life.

I’ve come to terms with my anxiety. I’ve noticed that even as an extrovert I do need at least ten minutes a day to myself and that God is literally so amazing and can answer prayers overnight. This trip has taught me so much about myself, about the world, and about the most important people in my life.

The person who taught me that was an 8 year old little Haitian-Dominican boy named Wilson. I got to visit his home where he had at least five siblings alongside him and his parents which made me so thankful for my family and our home. He made me realize happiness isn’t in physical things but more in what or who can truly make you smile. But most of all, he made me realize unconditional love isn’t through long time connections it’s through your willingness and the love of Jesus Christ. Wilson was one of the best things that has ever happened to me because he truly loved me even though all I could say to him was hello, goodbye and a few other phrases. I will never forget him or this experience for making me understand myself fully and how God works in wonderful and mysterious ways.

Written by Anja Vander Hijde

Note from Stacy: Please pray for travel mercies as we go through customs and changing planes in New York. Can’t wait to see you all!

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Friday, July 21

By now you have probably heard all about what our daily routine has been. Full days of working at the school and playing with the kids when they have been there. But today was our final day of working at the school. As we looked at the school as we drove away, seeing our progress, it was a bitter sweet moment for all of us. Though we had a brief goodbye with the kids on Wednesday, we had to say goodbye to many of the staff that we had come to know. Even with the language barrier between us, there was definitely a lot of respect for each of them for the work that they do every day, and the impact that they had on each of the kids lives in the school. They are the ones that have made the biggest change in these kids lives. We have heard several stories of the ways that they have changed the course of certain kids lives. Kids that have now grown up and are helpers at the school, or are part of the few kids that have made it all the way through high school, to college. They are the reason for the success that these kids have had in their lives. They have eliminated so much hate and racism between these two countries that share a border (Dominican Republic and Haiti). Though we have been here for such a short amount of time, it has been really cool to hear about and witness the change happening in this community. We have had super awesome hosts through these last few weeks. They have truly been a blessing to us as we adapted to this culture. They have shown us the beauty of our his country through the hardships.

As we look ahead to the resort and our trip home, There is a sense of excitement that arises in our group. But as we leave tomorrow, there will definitely be sadness throughout our group. We have such an awesome group to help us get through that though. Everyone’s support through this trip has been incredible. We each feed off each other’s energy and that has enabled us to accomplish as much as we did. We got to a point where they were making up new jobs for us to do because we had finished what they had originally planned for us to do.

One of the many bright spots for us these past weeks has been the incredible authentic Dominican food that has been prepared for us every night after our long days of work and occasionally for lunch during the day. I love food and will eat basically anything put in front of me. But after eating the food that we have eaten here, I don’t know how I am going to go back to American food after this.

I am definitely going to miss it here. But I am also looking forward to coming home. The memories that we have all made here will stick with us for the rest of our live. I have loved coming on this trip again. Though it was a different location in the DR, it was just as good or better this time around.

Written by Brian McMonigle

 

¡Hola mi amigos! Speaking for all of us, I cannot believe how our time here has flown by. How could I have just spent 16 days in the Dominican Republic and now this huge journey is coming to a close? I feel as though I have prepped for this trip for months, and now we’re just about to get back on a plane and head home… it’s crazy how some of the best moments in our lives seem to go by the fastest.

Last night we prayed about how we wanted to stay strong for the last day and finish all the work so that they would have to look for jobs to occupy us. Thanks to the strength and motivation from God and each other, we were able to do above and beyond what was expected. We finished extra jobs, and still had time to play basketball at the end with some of the high school students who help out at the school, and the maintenance guy’s 9-year-old nephew Braihan.

With some final goodbyes and a backwards glance we had to say our last goodbye to the village of Caraballo and the beautiful school we’d spent our days at. It’s always hard to say goodbye, even if you’ve only been in a place for a short amount of time. The connection I’ve been able to make with some of the people here, and just the place in general has been incredible. I’m already feeling the touch of sadness for not being able to drive down the bumpy road dodging cows and motorcycles as we head to the school while admiring the amazing landscape surrounding us again. I’m going to miss hearing the stories we’ve been told throughout the time we’ve been here because they have each taught me so much about appreciating what I have, pursuing a path in the name of Christ, and putting all my trust in God. That’s a scary thing to imagine and talk about… but it’s definitely an even more terrifying thing to actually do. One thing I’ve noticed when talking to all of the missionaries serving here, and the people in the village, is that when we ask about their futures, they tell us their hopes, but they also always say that they can’t be sure what will happen, because God will lead them to what they should be doing. They have put their trust in God, and they attribute everything to him. Coming from a place and a school where there’s such a large emphasis on knowing what you want to do in life and planning it out steps ahead, makes their answers really trivial for me. Being here has shown me that I don’t need to have everything figured out yet. I have an abundance of opportunities set out right out in front of me, and no matter where I end up I know I’ll have God to support me and rely on.

Going on this trip I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew was that I was excited and anxious to go. Experiencing the joy of the kids we played with, and hearing all the hardships and struggles they had to deal with really helped me grow in my faith and question the reasoning of Christ. I’ve felt stretched and overwhelmed, excited and joyful, and an overall appreciation for this amazingly chaotic world we live in. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to come here, although I’m sad I won’t get to see the people I connected with again. However, I’m planning on staying connected and involved with the Kids Alive mission in any way possible because they are doing some incredible work here.

The transition back into life in Seattle will definitely be hard, so please send your prayers our way as we head home. This is a bittersweet goodbye, but the time has come to leave the DR, and bring back all that we’ve learned and experienced. See you in a few days everyone!

Written by Braeden Swanson

 

Note from Stacy: Pray for fun at the resort, for safety and smart decisions. Also pray for our deep debrief tonight.

Thursday, June 20th

!Hola amigos in Seattle!  I’ve honestly been really excited to write this, but now that I actually have to I   have nothing to say.  I guess I can start with the cliché – Hi  mom!

I have absolutely loved this trip so far – the people, the beautiful landscape, the new culture.  I have seen and experienced so many moments that have glorified God – many that live written in my journal (you’ll be proud of me Megs!).

One that comes to mind was with a girl I had met on the playground.  Eliana is 8 years old ad I’ve had a blast running around while she’s shrieking on my shoulders.  One of my troubles though, has been how protective she’s been of me.  Any other kid comes up and she them away, accompanying it with a quick string of Spanish that I never understand.  The other day however. I was mystified when she jumped off my back and pulled a little boy over.  He smiled at me, holding her hand as she guided him onto my back.  She said some Spanish and I was able to gather that the boy, Paul, was her brother.  While it made more sense that she allowed her brother on my back rather than some random kid, I was still confused.  At home, you don’t see many siblings sharing to the extent that they did.  Beyond, just those two, I m so impressed by how family-centered the Dominican culture is.  It’s impossible not to see God in the way they treat not only their family, but complete strangers.  They invited us into their homes, talked to us about their lives, answered our questions with complete honesty.

The people here have taught me so much – God is so present in their lives, and it makes it easier to see Him in mine.  I hope to bring some of that awareness back to Seattle.

Today, we painted more of the school – some classrooms and a wall in the lunchroom.  We’ve painted lines on the basketball court while the local scholarship high school students added “Vida para Ninos” (Kids Alive).  Its been amazing to know we are giving something to the people  here, though I think we all understand its us receiving God from them.

Written by Emma Foulk

Today we woke up at 7:30 like always and left at 9:00. We got to the school and we were going to start painting, but we had to wait for the keys to come. While we were waiting, we started to prep the walls and the ceiling by scrapping the old paint off. We also had to move all the furniture out of the classroom, I moved a big bookshelf out of the way and a gecko started running across the floor!

Finally, the key came and we were able to the paint. We painted the five classrooms that are in the original building. We painted the interior walls the sunshine yellow color just like the exterior.

For lunch, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Oreos and Duettos. Today was weird because it was the first day without the kids. I really miss the friends I made within these two weeks. One of my friends, Princessa, gave me a bracelet before she left that I will cherish for a long time. Luckily, I got to see another one of my friends today, Pantalone, it made my day ten times better.

After we were done painting some of us started playing basketball with a little boy named Brian, who is the nephew of Samuel, the schools maintenance guy. After basketball, we went back to the house and there were large and in charge trucks going down the road leading to our house and it turns out that they had been redoing the roads and had laid asphalt down our street and we couldn’t drive down it. Luckily, there is a ledge we can walk along to get to our house.

We had the option of going to the store, which has really good chocolate croissants, but I stayed at the house and showered. For dinner, we had rice and beans, a pork stew, with salad and pineapple. I love the pineapple, I’m always the last one to eat it out of the serving bowl with the serving spoon.

Now we will have our daily debrief and sleep!

Written by Dea

Note from Stacy:  We have begun processing as a team this journey of “going home” – an overwhelming task!  At last night’s debrief we look at Paul’s goodbye to the church in Ephesus and drew wisdom about saying our goodbyes well.  Tonight Dustin and Emily will lead our debrief.  Pray for this time.  Pray for God’s leading.  Pray for our tender hearts.  We love and miss you all so much!

Wednesday, July 19th

Today was the last summer school day for the kids this means that today was the last day we could really interact and play with the kids. This morning when we woke up and were making breakfast and lunch, Abby found a massive 3in diameter spider in her bag. Sean took the bag outside and got the spider out of it. Then Riley valiantly crushed the spider with a dustpan. That was the highlight of the morning.

As I said earlier, today was the last day of summer school for the kids. We decided that it would be fun to organize games for all the kids to play. We split up in to three big groups. The first group would organize a game of basketball on the newly painted court. The second group would organize a game of soccer in the school field. Finally, the third group would set up an arts and crafts area in the cafeteria. It was really cool seeing the kids crowded around the front gate, eager to get in. However, when we let them in everything erupted in to chaos. The older kids set up the teams for soccer, so most of the younger kids weren’t allowed to play. This meant that most of us in the soccer group including me were looking out and playing with the soccer kids. Although this is not what we originally planned we still enjoyed playing with them.

My little buddy Yanklin found me and we went to go play. Yanklin is a fun loving and super energetic seven year old. I went on a house visit yesterday and found out that he is the third oldest of eight kids. I decided to sponsor him because I felt God created a connection between us and I would like to see him grow through Kids Alive. Yanklin and some of the other little kids took me to the fence and we all looked for coconuts and other fruit.

Eventually, they called everybody inside so that we could sing. We all danced to their favorite song “Jesus is my superhero” and some of us went up front to sing “10,000 reasons” in English. When we were done singing, Jose gave his testimony. It was very inspiring because of his ability to say it in Spanish and connect with the kids. Finally, we had to say goodbye to our kids. On the way out, the kids got 2 hot dogs, chips, and a soda. It was sad to say goodbye to the kids after getting to know them for almost two weeks. When we get back to work, we finally finish painting the outside. Tomorrow, we will finish some touchups and begin painting the inside of the classrooms.

When we got back to the house, Dustin surprised us, saying that we get to go to the beach. The beach that we went to was called “Casa de Marina.” It’s located right next to “Sosua by the Beach,” which is where we will be staying on Saturday night.

When we returned home, we were treated to a feast of rice, beans, and beef. It was awesome like always! We also played with the little kids in the neighborhood. I can tell that God is working in them every time that we play together. It is so awesome to see people changing within the group, and with the people that we are interacting with.

 

Written By Grant Matthews

Note from Stacy: Wow. We had a wonderful group debrief last night. It was an emotional night, with open, honest sharing. The students affirmed by sharing where they have seen growth in themselves and each other. As leaders our hearts were overwhelmed. God is good!

Lives are being changed as God opens our hearts and teaches us. Be praying as we finish out our last two days of work at the school strong. The team is tired, but seems to have a renewed focus and desire to finish as we started. Begin praying for our transition home. This morning was our first devotion focusing on ending well. Over the next few days we will be challenged to see where God calls us to implement all that we have learned. We love and miss you all.

Tuesday, July 18

Hey everybody guess who……… haha yup you guessed it, its Jose. When we first got here I imagined myself working with kids, painting and being hot but looking at the bigger picture. After being here for a full week and getting to know the locals and meeting new people from the school and getting to see a new life and culture I realized something. God sent me for more than just to spread His light and to help with the language barrier but to learn that I have so much more to grow as a follower of Christ and who I am.

Going on this trip has been an extremely big blessing, I’ve learned a lot about ways to look for God in the things we or others are doing. Finding the deeper message behind the Word of God and truly giving my all and trusting in Him. I also got to learn the difference and importance God has on these people.

Today I met Alberto who is the director of the school we’re working at and he shared about a boy who out of random I grew a strong bond with here. While hearing the story I couldn’t help but think about myself because it was frightening how almost the same we are. It hit me in my heart. My question that lead to that story had made him emotional and then gotten me because I realized that my “Alberto” was the McMonigles and West Side for bringing me out of the darkness and my downward path and bringing me to God.

Overall, after being here I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been able to spread God’s love and light as well as having these people change me and my heart entirely and to better trust in the Lord and like my favorite worship song I think I could go on for 10,000 Reasons but this laptop doesn’t have that much battery life and I gotta get my rest to go back at it tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for me but until I’m back hope everyone back home is doing great I love you all.

Oh and I give my testimony tomorrow so send prayers and strength this way.

From you’re big guy………

Written by Jose R. Campos

Post number 2 for July 18

This morning was just like any other morning.  We woke up.  Made breakfast and lunch.  Did our devotions and got ready for the day.  When Dustin and Emily arrived we all got into the van.  But Jada, Anja, Natalie and I got to ride in the air conditioned car with Emily.

When we got to the school we split into four groups and got to work.  I worked with Stacy, Grant and Lauren on painting some of the concrete benches.  Next thing we knew the bell rang for recess which is my favorite time of the day.  Next thing I knew I was sitting with my two new friends Angela (8) and Luciana (6) standing behind me doing my hair, when the bell rings for lunch it is hard to pull them away, especially Angela.  After the kids have lunch, we walk them out to the gate, by this point I have lost track of my friends but on the way out I met some other kids, Angelo and Wilson.

Usually by this point we let them out and they walk home as we go back to work or have lunch.  But today Stacy, Jose, Grant, Michael and I got to go on our house visits.  The first house we went to was the twins house, Michael and Michelle.  Their mom was so proud of them and she felt so bad that she didn’t have anything to give us.  The second house we visited was of another set of twins, JC and John.  There were 8 kids in total.  Their mom is 27 and is a single mom.  The youngest was 7 months and her two oldest lived with her parents.  The last house we visited was Angela’s.  When we got there, the only one there was her brother.  As it turned out, Angela and her mom were out bathing.  Her mom came back shortly after we arrived.  Angela is the youngest of 6 and her parents took in their little cousin so he could go to the Kids Alive school in Caraballo because it had more opportunities for him.  I thought this was amazing and incredibly generous of her parents to take him in.

When we got back we gathered for lunch which halfway through we had to run outside to put away all the paint because it suddenly started raining.  After lunch we got to meet Antonio, a woman who works at the school, and hear her testimony.  Then we gathered and figured out games we were going to play and activities to do for all the kids tomorrow as it is their last day of summer school.

We ended up going home after that because it was too wet to paint.  A couple of hours after we got home, we went to Alberto’s house (the director of the Kids Alive school in Caraballo).  They fed us dinner, then we got to hear about Alberto’s story about how he got to be at the school and the stories of a couple of kids that are going to or have been at the school.

To finish off the day we got cake. It was a very long and fulfilling day.

Written by Grace McDonagh

 

Monday, July 17th

Today I woke up to  the sweet sound of Stacy’s country music.  Just like every other morning I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and went straight into devotions.  This morning was great because I also got to reread my letters I had received which can instantly put a smile on my face.  Although after a long morning of my head stuck in the Bible, it was time to leave for work, which entails everyone squeezing into a beat up white van with definitely not enough seats in it for everyone – but we make it work, even if it means having a quarter of your butt on a weird, awkward piece of metal.

The drive to the school was filled with laughter and singing as per usual, the best part about it, we are singing at the top of our lungs which is actually okay here so we do it  all of the time.  My favorite part of my journey  to the school is getting to watch the people go about their everyday life, while also getting to see the cutest stray puppies napping and trotting all around the streets.

Once we arrived at the school we watched the kids sprint over to the van pointing and shouting as we pulled into the driveway.  Each day I get attacked by the sweetest girl named Joanna who insists I give her a piggyback ride every time we meet up.  After we make it through the crowd of kids we begin our work for the day.

Today almost all of us painted either a vibrant neon green or creamsicle yellow on the outside walls of the school.  A lot of us today were pretty tired and burnt out but luckily we had all memorized the High School Musical playlist to belt out whenever we got bored.  Finally the school bell rang and the kids bolted out of class to find us and play for recess.  Most of the time the kids play tag on our backs or the girls pull out our hair ties and do a variety of hairstyles on us.  Today I got a super cute 80’s side ponytail by one of the cutest little girls.  Once we had sat down and helped the kids eat lunch, it was time to say some hard goodbyes to the kids as we dropped them off at the gate to go home.

For most of us it was  time  to go back to work.  Although today a few other girls and I got to go on home visits in the village.  It was unbelievable seeing how these children live with almost nothing but still managing to keep a smile on their face with a pure joy for life.  Not long after that, we had eaten lunch and went back to work for a few more hours until it was time to go back home.  On our way home we were surprised to find out we got to go to the beach today before dinner!

The ride to the beach was short and once we had pulled up all of us were jumping out of the van and running into the giant crystal blue waves.  None of us wanted to ever leave although unfortunately it was time for dinner so we all piled back into the coolest white van ever and headed back home where we settled down for the night.

Now it is time to prepare for another hard working day together.

Written by Jada Hyde

Note from Stacy: Vic and Leslie Trautwein [Co-field directors for Kids Alive in the DR] visited us last night, asking each of us for a highlight of the trip as well as a surprising thing. We enjoyed connecting with them and will see them again on Saturday. We do have several prayer requests. Keeping students on task has been a challenge the last two days-perhaps because we are tired. Please pray for energy, endurance, and perserverance even when we don’t feel like we have anything left to give. Pray for team unity and patience with one another. Continue praying for team health and safety.

Sunday, July 16

Today we went to the Spanish church. When we were there they had a good amount of scripture with the message. They had an English interpreter that was pretty amazing. The message was about how God made us and everything that we make. That he owns our bodies, our time and our possessions Also in the message they said we should give our souls to God.

After the church service we went back to the house and ate lunch. After lunch some people took naps and played cards. What I did was play cards for the 4 hours as we waited to go to the next place. Around 4 we got in to the van for the tour of puerta plata. We first stopped at a cable car we could not go on the car because it ended at 5 and there was a huge line. So instead of going on the ride we walked around and looked at the area. The second stop was the town center, we walked around for a little then we went into the church. We had a small little tour of the church and we got to see the amazing stained glass. The wood for their pew benches in the church were made of mahogany. Then we when it to the confession room, we had to be silent in there because there where a few people in there. The next place we went to was a public park with an old fortress that they used to use for a jail in the 1400’s . We also went on to the rocks because the park is connected to the park. Brian found some hermit crabs and named them, one was George and Edmund. We explored more of the park and we found an old alligator hole for the prison that they use to throw people in. But there are no more alligators in there now. When we were done with the water we walked down the waterside and we found teeter totters and we all jumped on them right a way. When we had to move on we found a cave, we found that the cave went for a while were we could not go because it was down a small hole.

After the park the van I was in pick up some people that the driver had a connection with. All of us went to one of our van drivers house that has a small restaurant in it that he owns The food that we had was called mofongo, it was made up of plantains, garlic, and pork rind. They served it with some vegetable broth to make it easier to break up. It was really good and filling.

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We walked outside of the house and there is a basketball court right out there. We got to see Jose play really hard as the people that were playing basketball before him. They played for a while and at the end Jose was drenched. The night ended with debrief where we talked about the day and where we encountered Christ.

That was our day,
Langston

Note from Stacy: The guest pastor was sharing that his church is involved in the right to life movement in the DR. The country is currently leaning toward making abortion legal. Please pray for this country!!