And we are doing it again. Going to the Dominican Republic with a bunch of crazies for two weeks full of introductions, recognitions, growth, and random service projects. Really, there is a lot of random.
For me, the DR Trip 2014 started long before we landed here last night (this morning). It began with the planning meetings and the emails and the early flights to Dulles for an early round of fellowship and getting to know near strangers whom we love because they love Christ, too.
But there is something nice about airports and departures and arrivals. We are really here at long last. Again.
The day began with people sauntering out of bed. I use the word ‘sauntering’ sparingly because I do not really care for how it sounds (it needs somebody with one of those artiste moustaches, no?), but this morning people really were sauntering out of their beds, moustache or no. Josh cooked breakfast for a crowd and people ate at their own good time, then sat around chatting and pulling some last minute things together before the rest of the team arrived to our house around eleven o’clock. Dad and Timothy, one of our teammates, travelled around Northern Virginia and Maryland doing yet another batch of errands. People from past DR trips relived old memories and beckoned the new faces into the fun. And there was something about sheets and notebooks and missing checks. I submitted my final exam, packed the infamous green cooler, and managed to squeeze in most of my course’s last discussion session before popping off to the airport.
Our airport experience was singularly boring compared to last year’s trip, but considering last year’s trip included being stranded in a parked airplane for four hours and bright blue shirts flashing by to catch a connecting flight, I think boring was a welcome surprise.
And, honestly, it was beautiful. We had two first-time flyers who experienced the exhilaration of taking off and the excitement of landing, the glory of seeing things from above, and flying face to face with a rainbow. That rainbow was majestic, as if it were saying, “Peace, be still.” As the sky darkened and we neared Santo Domingo, the island lights glittered like jewels across a black ocean, and we were regaled with a different kind of majestic.
Oh. I forgot Miami. Between the rainbows and the glitter, there was fish. Fish on my plate at the delicious Cuban restaurant in which we ate and then fish on the walls past which we walked. Yeah, seriously, there are walls of dead and colourful and arranged fish lining Section D in Miami Airport. And they are lovely, really.
But enough of that. We are here now. We were picked up from the Dominican Airport by Tomas Toribio and Bronco Chen(m). Tomas, you may recall, is a student and fellow missionary pastor with Daddy. He cooks breakfast to classical music. Bronco Chen(m), whose real name is something like Alex Almonte (but nobody really knows), was the driver for the team Dad took to Haiti and he attends one of the churches we know here. His name is hilarious. You might think, “Okay, Bronco’s weird, but, hey, he has a chauffeuring business, so Bronco kind of makes sense. Who knows about the Chen(m).”
But it’s better. Bronco Chem is the name of a medicine here for Bronchitis, and somehow the name stuck to an unwitting Alex Almonte (or something like that). He ran with it and stuck on his business truck. So the name of the business and the name of the driver are one and the same. Thank you, Dominicans, and thank you, Bronchitis.
Bronco and Tomas drove us to one of our homes, we unloaded our 19 suitcases plus carry-ons, and spent much time discussing who should sleep where and if a cold tile floor sounds more appealing than a soft warm bed.
Sleep won out in the end, and half of the team went Pastor Hector’s house while we stayed in our apartment. Group One, who stayed at Pastor Hector’s house, included Emily and Andrew Knepper, Jessie Blomgren, Katy Leamons, Timothy Rogers, James Caldwell, and Emily Leich ~ everybody without parents. Housing just worked out that way. Group Two was made up of everyone else, namely, the Groves and the Raimundos. It was hot out, but the city seemed to sleep that night and eventually everyone drifted off to a wee bit of rest before morning light really began.
Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb…you know. Now the team is breakfasted and back together in one room (and it’s only noon!) and we are going to have our first study session/information seminar before heading off to Villa Alta Gracia to host an impromptu VBS. But more on that in the next post.
Thanks for praying!