It is Thursday the 7th of August and I am 10,334 miles above sea level with only 28% battery life left on my pretty banged up laptop.
July flew to somewhere and August for some reason appeared, ready and able to fly by even more quickly than July. The pilot has just announced our decent to Miami Airport and the sunset evening lights up one side of the plane in rose and gold while down the aisle and through the window I see the sea awash in moving greys and rather Byronic blues. It could not be more perfect. Perfect to describe how our whole team is feeling: on one hand happy and blest by our time in the Dominican Republic with each other, and on the other hand sad to need to say goodbye but peaceful in the memories we can now all share. God is awesome, no matter which colour one feels.
The trip has, in fact, been very colourful. So colourful that my noble goal to blog every day fell by the wayside. But I think enjoying more time to be with my teammates and journal to myself was well worth the lack of blogging. In an attempt to catch up, I will offer all you my faithful readers and pray-ers an overview of what followed my previous blog post, and what all happened to bring us up to now, on an airplane quickly swirling down towards the United States and all it holds for us.
Goodness, that takes me all the way back to Thursday in Jarabacoa, which feels so very long ago. That morning I believe we had mangú with queso frito again, followed by morning studies, a lunch of leftovers (a mess of moro tossed with picadillo, a quick Dominican fry-up of ground beef with, yes, blissfully bright vegetables), followed by another walk that involved climbing up a very slippery and sheer hill only to discover something on the sliding hill-top caused a delightful little rash all over one’s body. That was fun, and steep, and hard. Our team still could not believe the number of beautiful flowers and fruits dotting the paths down which we trod, and we all grew in the gratitude of simply being there.
Throughout the day, I had been simmering the beans which Joanna and Janelle had so faithfully sprouted over the past three days. The maids, of course, were shocked at three American girls’ treatment of their native dish, but they enjoyed the differences and were quite curious about how to make things more digestible. One of the maids had recently undergone a colonoscopy for severe intestinal issues, so hopefully she was able to pick up a few tips and practices from us. The best part of being in the kitchen with both maids was to see their willingness to help accompanied by their eagerness to learn, and their complete surprise at how simply we did things. But they liked the pork and bean soup we had for dinner, so hopefully the surprise produced positive results.
Right before dinner, however, the lights went out. Now, the electricity turns off every day in the Dominican Republic, but most houses have generators or inverters to compensate for this occurrence. Well. Our inverter decided to have issues. No lights. Whatsoever.
Yet what seemed to be a problem at the beginning, God turned into a blessing by the end. Does He not always? If only we would trust that more. At least Dominicans smartly use gas stoves instead of electric ones, so at least our dinner was cooked through when we ate it. At least the men in our group were helpful and kind and loving and gentlemanly, so we girls always had one of them to hold flashlights by our side as we chopped vegetables and prepared delicious avocados. At least some of us had “randomly” decided to pack early and shower late so that many of us were ready to go in the morning, regardless of our electrical condition. At least this forced us to have no manmade lighting as God’s own lightning struck the charcoal sky throughout the evening. At least God gave us memories to sing and sing songs without lyrics after dinner. At least God gave us brains, and some boys with brains, to figure out what really was going on with our inverter so that we were able to turn in for the night with the knowledge that, yes, we had electricity again! Thanks, Andrew. ;)
Trusting in God always works.
Friday morning dawned too soon, and our hot chocolate oatmeal was gone too quickly, and our packing was done too efficiently, and our games were lost and won too easily. It was time to leave Jarabacoa, and it was time for one of our group, Jose, to leave for good. Leave not just us, but his homeland and friends and life to move to North Carolina. We bade many, many farewells until his dad finally ushered him out the door and our ride finally arrived.
Leaving Jarabacoa was hard for many, because the place was so beautiful and restful and what was to come remained in the scary realm of the unknown.
But remember about trusting God?
He had good things waiting. Despite our tiredness and unfulfilled hunger, the ride to Santiago was peaceful and fun and full of sleep for some. We stopped on the way in La Vega, the Christian seminary of which my grandfather was one of the founders, and where my father was born. It is always such fun to see him slide right back into his old life with his old friends full of their old stories together. The seminary is now a Christian camp, but the mango tree my grandfather planted is still there, still giving us mangoes whenever we go back to visit. My family lived there for a summer when I was a little girl, so even I experienced some nostalgia walking around the lots where I used to make mud puddles and the buildings that always smelled so good of Dominican food. They still do. It was also great to hear of a place and of a people that actually valued Christian discipleship and the sufficiency of Scripture, while teach pastors soon-to-be how to plant churches as well as how to plant plantains.
But we were hungry and on a schedule that day, and needed to make it to the hills surrounding Santiago in time for dinner ~ and lunch had yet to be eaten. We stopped in the hub of the city for some quick sandwiches at about four in the afternoon, then drove through the city to pick up eight mattresses that were piled on top of our SUV, and at last trekked up the mountain to La Tinajita, the place where our next hosts were awaiting us with supper and…well, I will talk about that in the next post.