Though it often feels like eternity before you arrive at your final destination it wasn't long before we were on the flight to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. On this flight I had some time to think about my upcoming week. Including some initial fears I had about my first mission trip abroad. There were six main concerns I had. The first of which, naturally, was food. As a genuine Southern Appalachian boy, I had to question whether I could survive a whole week without the southern fried goodness I was use to. In addition, rumor had it that in the Dominican Republic rice and beans was an every meal staple. Not too reassuring since I do not care for beans and only like rice when I hit the mood for it.
My second fear? Housing. After all, we were going to a developing country where we ourselves were going to be working on housing. In my mind I had constructed the worst possible scenario. One room shacks, mats to sleep on, open windows, outdoor toilets, etc. We were told before we left that would need bug-spray for night and to not expect a remotely warm shower. In addition, we were not allowed to drink the water due to bacteria that would turn our stomachs ‘inside out’. So, we even had to brush our teeth with bottled water.
The next fear I had was transportation. Our final location was going to be outside of Puerta Plata, which itself is a four hour drive from Santo Dominigo. Stories I heard from last year’s mission trip included a bumpy ride, with "bar-like" seats, and no air conditioning. I will tell you now, that we as Americans often take for granite the simple things in life.The next three fears all had to do with my relationship toward the people I would be helping. I worried that the language barrier would be too hard to overcome. I worried that their poverty would be so extreme that I would not know how to comprehend it. Finally, I questioned my ability to be helpful, whether it be leading devotions in the VBS we ran or the construction component of the housing.
Around 8 pm that night we found ourselves pulling into the community that we would call home for the next week. The street was paved, but houses that were half-built surrounded us on all sides as stray and beaten dogs hid from us in the bushes. We pulled up to the Bishop's house and found ourselves to a grand welcoming by the community, complete with a meal of course. And could you guess what they served us? Fried Chicken. At that moment, I fell in love with the Dominican Republic.
Come back tomorrow and hopefully I will have some pictures integrated into my story!