A Piece in the Puzzle
When people ask me about my trip to the Dominican Republic, it’s hard to come up with a response that best fits the description I’d like to give. Most of the time I end up answering with “it was cool” or “it was super fun,” but these statements hardly cover all that I want to say.
Traveling to the DR was like traveling to another world. Not only did the people there speak another language, but they also lived in communities unlike anything we see here in the United States. I traveled to the DR last year with Summit too, so it was cool to go back and continue the relationships I built there. At first, I thought there would be a huge language barrier between me and those in the Dominican Republic, but that wasn’t the case at all. Our team was able to bond with the kids and adults there in a variety of ways—sports, handshakes, games, hugs, and some hard manual-labor. The children there show you a sort of unconditional love that you never really thought that you needed.
When going to another country on a mission trip, it is important to remember that God is already doing work there and you get a chance to play a piece in the puzzle that the organization (in this case, Children of the Nations) you’re working with is already doing. You also get to see what God is doing in those communities and be a part of that work. This experience made me feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.
The thing I probably enjoyed most about the trip (besides playing with the kids) would have to be working. When I went on the trip last year, I discovered a passion for serving others that I had never really noticed before. I was really surprised too because normally I’m lazy! But on the trip, I wanted to be the first one to work and kept working hard for as long as I could. This year we helped create a garden in the village of Altagracia. The experience was awesome and our team worked hard on that garden alongside some very patient Dominicans. It was pretty obvious from the start that they could’ve done some of the tasks they had us do by themselves, but they patiently waited and coached us along.
It’s very easy to go in to a trip like this thinking that you’re going just to work, but as I’ve learned there’s more to a mission trip that just working. You come out changed in a way. To get the full experience you must go in having a compassionate mindset and realize that even though these people are different, and though they may not have everything that we have, they’re still people. Personally, I was blown away by the joy they had amidst all the things they don’t have. Those in the communities we worked with may be materially poor, but by no means are they spiritually poor. That’s something that you don’t necessarily experience here in America because we don’t realize how much we take for granted (like hot showers, ice cream, three or more meals a day, etc.) I think that joy is something that we want and I hope to bring back with me because it’s such a cool thing to have and I wish that the people here could experience that too.
Each year, teams from Summit travel to Africa and the Dominican Republic to work alongside, encourage, and build relationships with some of our partner organizations. Visit our Serve Globally page for more information.