I woke up at 10am. Never done that one before, but it probably has something to do with going to bed at 2am. I understand late sleepers now.
Anyway, this morning we had a late start of which I took the advantage to settle into the kitchen. My aunt, uncle, and our host pastor had done some preliminary shopping for us, so breakfast awaited the team, it was duly eaten, and then we dug into our first study 1 Peter. I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching and discussion and insight gleaned from eight heads sitting around the Bible and thinking. Yeah, I have a lot to learn on this trip. And, if I blog about it, it will be getting its own set of posts. This is just narrative.
After the study came lunch, which is the main meal around here. My aunt cooked us real Dominican food ~ arroz con habichuelas, bistec encebelloado, pastelón, arepitas de yuca, batata frita, aguacate, y una ensalada verde (rice and beans, steak and onions, a plantain casserole, a special preparation of yuca, fried Dominican sweet potato, avocado, and a green salad). And I was able to eat the steak, which was a nice surprise.
Then we headed out with our friends from the city to go to Villa Alta-Gracia, the village where we will be working for the rest of the week. What can I say? A rumble-tumble collection of shacks, children and dogs and cats running around, smiles, a few motorcycles, some gems of brightly painted living quarters, lots of tight braids, and an assortment of pigs, chickens, and goats popping up at random intervals. Fruit trees of all sorts, cocoa bean drying out in the sun, and red, red earth. Fathers, mothers, less husbands and wives, and lots of babies on the way. That’s what Villa kind of looks like. We greeted our friend, Santo, who has a few children and a gardening and pig business. He is a man whose business area is located directly across from the church. He smiles a lot, works hard, and you can tell he is happy. His daughter is sweet and walks around the village with us, sometimes holding one of our hands and sometimes climbing on her dad’s back. His son is smaller and a little cute munchkin, either being cradled in his mum’s arms or playing in the yard. We definitely got to see some pretty genius toys out there. Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say. And Santo was joyous, and giving, and content, and that was what struck me the most of this first visit.
Just as we pulled out of the village in our air-conditioned vehicle, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman began to play on our driver’s iPod. We have so much and they have comparatively so little, but we all have 10,000 reasons for our heart to find. God has done so much for us and given so much for us, and that is something worth singing about. So we did. We sang at the top of our lungs all the way back, ending with Celtic Woman’s version of “Amazing Grace” (so, yes, our driver and I definitely share music tastes). It. was. perfect. I hope that for the rest of the week, we as Christians can give some of what He gave for us and share some of that grace which He poured on us, knowing full well that all Christians, even in poor places like Villa, have, through those gifts and that grace, the same amazing power to bless others in return. Yes, we do have 10,000 reasons.