It’s my 5th day in the DR, and contrary to what the title of this post may connote, in my time here thus far I have not baked any betty crocker chocolate chip cookies, re-arranged any furniture, or made the kids’ lunches, or sewed any quilts. Nah, not that kind of home-making.
Rather, this almost-a-week (can’t believe it’s only been that long!) has been a time of finding my place here, of making it home. (of God making a home for me.)
When I first arrived, I was excited to be in the DR because, well, I love to travel, and as I’ve previously written, I knew that this was going to be a great opportunity to learn and serve. And I was not tremendously unnerved, because I am used to traveling and I tend to adjust quickly to new environments. But I was a bit unsettled. Inquieta is probably the best word I can think of for this situation. I did not feel HOME as quickly as I expected. In those first few days I was good, not great. I was pleased, not glowing.
This seems all fine and normal for the first few days in a new place, right? Well, yes and no, but a couple things kept me from more realistic expectations: 1) I had built this up a lot in my head; and 2) I have been spoiled by several of these sorts of quick adjustments that went off without a hitch, where we just clicked instantly, such as when I moved into Calvin for the first time and almost instantly found my friends who are now, 3 years later, going to be my housemates; or when I moved in to Harambee and we were all “camping” out on the porch the first night and laughing to the point of tears within a day.
So when I arrived and found out more about my summer and met these good and kind people that are my summer staff and the full-time staff at Pico, and things were just ok, I felt a little off. I was missing my friends and fam from home more than I usually do on trips. Now, as time has gone on, we have come to know each other and love each other better, and each day, I feel more and more fed by these relationships. But we are rather different people, and it was different for me to be in an environment where we did not have much common ground to begin with. (I think we take for granted the cultures of our own social circles and our places – our hometowns, colleges, states, etc – and those differences are maybe bigger than one might think!) So we’ve been building friendships from the ground up, and it’s been great. I really value the people around me. They have such beautiful kind hearts.
Perhaps what has been the greatest (or at least equally great) has been the arrival of the first work team. When they got in Monday night, oh man – things really took a turn for the awesome. They are a delightful group of 20 from the youth group of 1st Presbyterian in Colorado Springs (from Colorado AND reformed folks – well THAT feels like home haha). One of their leaders is even a Calvin grad! They’re fun and energetic and interesting and just so quick to open up and form relationships. I really value each of them and I’m so happy that I get almost another week yet to spend with them! God has blessed me immensely in giving me the chance to host them this week. My job consists of leading them (particularly in terms of guiding them through their schedule and activities and meals in town and stuff like that), encouraging them, planning details of their visit, processing their experience with them, and just building relationships and loving on them. God’s filled me with so much life and light in this. I forgot how life-giving for me that leadership and encouragement are and I’m so glad that I’ve been given me the opportunity to do this full-time. I love the chance to get to know these high schoolers and show them through my time and care and interest in them that they have value as children of God! It’s so great.
God has spoken a fresh word to me in this time of his love and of his light (we are people of the light!) and for this I am so grateful.
I could write much more and this is already getting to be bookish, so I ought quit now. (But an almost-week is a lot of life to communicate in one blog post!)
I’ll write more about the place itself and of the adventures we’re having soon. I can’t wait to share about the immense natural beauty of this place, the crazy awesome hikes to go swim in waterfalls, the fantastic Dominican staff and other new friends, the merengue lessons (!), and the local food.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. They are certainly felt and very much appreciated. God is good, and I am so blessed to know that I have such wonderful people back home that love me and that I love so very much, too!
¡Hasta luego! ¡Cuídense!