Relaxing and Reflecting

Today is our last day in the Domincan Republic. We’re spending the weekend at Ranchos dos Rios in Jarabacoa debriefing and reflecting on the past week.

The past week has been full of people, food, adventure, and God. We have seen how God is using Students International to show love to the people in Jarabacoa. He is doing big things!

Tuesday, Wedenesday, and Thursday we all went to our sites like normal. Each site is a different experience and we all have our own stories to tell. At our sites we all have the opportunity to experience the DR culture and lifestyle. The people in Jarabacoa are very laidback, very warm, and very hospitable. It seemed as though everyone was friends with everyone. Everyone’s door is always open and it’s perfectly fine for anyone to walk in without an invitation. They are always greeted and welcomed.
The people in Jarabacoa also live very simply. The sites where we worked were in parts of the city that are very impoverished. They don’t have much, but they have everything they need. They’re content, work hard, and don’t ask for more. They grow and cook all their own food (and it is delicious). They wash their dishes with only the small light of a few candles. The kids know how to play outside with each other. They play every sport imaginable, climb anything they can get a grip on, play all kinds of card games or dominoes, and some of them are incredible with a hacky sack. They have so much fun with each other and they’re so happy. Amy, one of our team leaders, asked the question, “What is poverty?” These people have everything they need. They aren’t seeking for something newer, better, or faster. They’re content with what they have. They have friends and family. They have fun with each other and help each other. Their hearts are full.
Is that poverty?

Our sites closed for Good Friday and we spent that day doing some short hikes and visiting a couple waterfalls. We left Students International Saturday morning and the rest of the weekend we get to spend relaxing by the pool and getting some sunburn.

It’s different celebrating Easter in the DR. They celebrate the whole week (Semana Santo, which means Holy Week). Some schools aren’t in session and many people are off work. It’s interesting though because for some people this is a holiday that is used for drinking and partying. For others, they truly celebrate Christ’s death and His resurrection. At the education site in Mata Gorda, we provided coloring pages for the kids. One of the pictures was an Easter egg. The kids had no idea why they were coloring an egg. Eggs, bunnies, and candy aren’t part of the Easter celebration here. They celebrate what Easter is really about- Christ, His death, and His resurrection.

We have had an incredible time in Jarabacoa. These updates have only been able to provide a taste of what we’ve experienced. Look for pictures on Facebook and ask us about our experience and what we learned. We’d love to talk about it.

Thank you for your prayers! We ask for continued prayers as we pack up and head to the airport at 4am.

Happy Easter! He is risen!

We’re Here!

Hola!

We arrived safely to the beautiful Jarabacoa Saturday evening and spent the night settling in our cabins and getting a full night of rest after a long day of travel. The staff at SI (Students International) are wonderful and deserve a big shout out. They’re so welcoming, hospitable, and really good cooks.

Sunday was a day to relax and prepare ourselves for a full week ahead. In the morning we went to a local church in Jarabacoa where we enjoyed worship and a sermon that was very applicable to our purpose of being here this week. The message was about loving people 100%. Often in our relationships, we give back what we think we’re receiving. But as Christians, we need to give all of ourselves. We need to pour ourselves out to those we love and those we don’t love. And we shouldn’t expect anything in return. Christ demonstrated this on the Cross. He gave Himself. ALL of Himself. He died for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice. And it was all because He loves us. This message was a reminder that we owe ourselves to Christ. He is so deserving of all of us- wholly surrendered and recklessly abandoned. It also was a reminder of our purpose of being in Jarabacoa. We came here to serve and love and pour oursleves out to these people- 100% of ourselves.

Our day started early-6:00am. Today (Monday) was our first day on the sites. We met with our site leaders and all headed in our different directions. Each site had a different experience, but overall we experienced a taste of the community and life in Jarabacoa. We’ve had plenty of opportunities to test our little knowledge of Spanish and try to best communicate with the people in the community. Most of our morning and afternoon is spent at our sites including siesta (noon-2). We head back to base around 3:00 and by the time we get back we’re pretty tired, but we don’t let that stop us! The rest of our evening is filled with fellowship and time with our team. Later this week we’ll experience more of the city.

Keep us in your prayers as we continue to pour ourselves out to the people in Jarabacoa and reflect Christ’s love. We ask for serving hearts, joyful spirits, good health, and lots of energy.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” -Colossians 2:2-4

The Adventure Begins!

We are only a few hours away from being on our way to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic! We are so ready and beyond excited to be used by God to love and serve the people in Jarabacoa. Team DR is meeting tonight at midnight to go over last minute details and to gather together one last time before we take off. We’re heading for the airport tonight at 2am along with two other Spring Break teams.

While in the Dominican Republic we will be partnering with Students International and staying on their base while doing various service projects in Jarabacoa. Each member of Team DR has been assigned to a site (physical therapy, health center, dentistry, education, special education, social work, men’s/women’s sports, micro-finance, and film/media). These sites are where we will be spending most of our time and doing various jobs and activities and helping in whatever way that we can.

We want to give you a HUGE thank you for all your financial and prayer support. It is so humbling to see how your precious gifts help us achieve our goal and continues to bless and equip us. We are so blessed by your love and support and we’re excited to have you be a part of this adventure with us! We ask that you continue to pray for our team throughout this journey (see the post below to find specific prayer requests).

Our team verse is 1 Corinthians 15:58 which says, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
We want to love and serve the people in Jarabacoa with hearts that beautifully reflect Christ. We want to bless them and bless the Lord. Our prayer is that we will stand firm in Christ, that we will serve humbly and generously, and that we will pour out the love that God has poured into us.
God is in charge of this journey. We are His disciples- recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God. We could not be more honored and ecstatic to go on this adventure where we will do the work of The Lord and watch Him work in our hearts and in the hearts of Jarabacoa. He is a big God and He will do big things.