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.