Sunday, March 11, 2012

Re-Defining College Spring Break- DR Mission Trip 2012

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It's been a while again—I'm extremely sorry! I've been beyond busy with school and work this semester and am just now getting a spare second to breathe. A life update: I just got back from a Spring Break Mission Trip in the Dominican Republic this past week. It was truly an incredible experience and I am so blessed to have made incredible new friendships while also helping out in a very deserving community.

I want to extend a special thanks to my friends and family for their generosity, support and prayer for my time in the Dominican Republic. It truly meant a lot to me and I appreciated having so much love and support in the midst of a challenging week! I was thinking of you all (even though I was without a phone or computer). A plus side... being away from all of the technology and life clutter really gave me a chance to slow down and focus on the most important things in life—family, friends, my faith and realizing how truly blessed and lucky I am. I didn't even bring a watch, half of the time I didn't even know what time it really was!

We stayed at 'Pico Escondido' all week long—a Young Life camp property in Jarabacoa (middle/inland of the Dominican Republic). It was such an incredible place to spend a week. The camp itself is set right in the middle of a mountain! Here is a little breakdown of what we did and accomplished each day:

Our group went to a Spanish speaking, outdoor church and sang worship songs and listened to a sermon in Spanish (with a translator for those who don't speak). We also got to interact with the Church community. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. I loved being able to communicate with the Dominican people to get to know them on a deeper level. After returning to the camp we hiked to a beautiful waterfall!

WORK days started bright and early at 6 am! We began the morning with coffee and hot cocoa and devotional/alone time. We worked a morning shift, ate lunch and took a short 'sun' break, and resumed work until dinner. I was in a painting group. We sanded cement walls, applied two coats of primer, and several coats of final color to a few new rooms and buildings at camp. We later discovered they will be used as an 'audiovisual room' and a new couples apartment for leaders. We also spent our nights together doing worship, visiting the town center for authentic fried chicken (straight from the street vendors) and playing Euchre. We loved hanging out with one another and even roasted Spanish S'Mores one night!

We took a 3 hour car ride to Puerto Plata (Northern Coast) and stayed at an all-inclusive resort for our last afternoon and evening. The bus took a little longer than expected, so we didn't get there until about 2 in the afternoon but we stayed on the beach for as long as we could. I took a dip in the ocean and a stroll on the beach :) We were thankful for a little time in paradise! While there, we were spoiled with several buffet meals and lots of yummy frozen drinks on the beach.

This trip forever changed the way I think about religion and Jesus Christ. To see the simplicity and poverty in which so many of these people lived, and yet they still worship the Lord with such emotion... it was so powerful. I have so much respect for their way of life, and I feel beyond blessed with everything I have and get to experience in the U.S. I was definitely tested and pushed all week—working for 4 straight days is not as easy as I assumed, but I also made a few incredible new friendships that I will carry with me for years.

"Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it."
Ezra 10:4



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