Four days of "drinking through the Dominican Republic fire hose" is leaving me wanting more & ready to be home all at the same time. The wanting more side of me is loving the culture, clearly loving the language, the people and the 12 different ministries here. It's a ridiculously beautiful country with people characterized by the dichotomy of hardship and joy.
Having spent a decent amount of time on the other side of Hispaniola has presented me with the reality that these people share an island and a climate but not much else. Truly. The stark contrast between here and Haiti and the evident distaste for the other country's culture and people is almost alarming. Then best way I can describe it is that the DR feels like Puerto Rico or places in South America while Haiti feels like the jungles of Africa.
These people have sub-par education systems, their unemployment rate is high and chance of upward mobility, low. Yet the darkness and spiritual oppression that are tangibly experienced in Haiti are not nearly as present here. There is a sense of joy in these people - with strong religious backgrounds (both Catholic and Protestant) and a high value on family and relationships, they seem to have more hope, more life, more joy. I can't help but attribute that to the presence of Christ and community in their lives.
I wrestle with the tension of not being ready to leave tomorrow because I am wanting to be with these people, pick the brains of those who run this ministry and see more of this crazy beautiful island. But I'm wanting to go home because ministry and missions aren't the same without my husband and I don't want to experience any more of this place without him. Our call to missions and to loving those without hope ans helping those without resources is a joint call and it's honestly hard to be here without him. I've been struck by what a travel buddy will do for your sense of belonging and your will to get up each morning and serve. Without Katy this trip, I'd have been one sad girl.
I am grateful for the 4 days of redemption this place and Students International have brought me through both their long term and short term missions philosophies and their staff. It is a joy to have new partners in ministry and I am incredibly confident that we'll be back :)