At the end of May we took a college team with Latte Losers to the Dominican Republic. Keeley S. from Western Kentucky University was kind enough to share her experience with us.
As we arrived in the Dominican the first night, the humid air stuck to our skin and we saw the long awaited white bus. On the way to the mission house we were debriefed on housekeeping items. The phrase “It’s the Dominican way” was used often that first night, but didn’t have meaning other than- You can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet; The power might go out; There will be coffee at every meal; People might invite you into their homes as you walk by.
Through the locals and the children I was able to see much more. By the end of the week, “the Dominican way” was something different to me. The “Dominican way” is love.
The Dominican locals were the most hospitable people that I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with. Whether we were walking down the street, learning about the culture, being served a meal, or having our useless English words translated into Spanish, the locals served us in love. The servant hearts that I encountered this week in the Dominican were beautiful. Saying goodbye to the translators brought one of the most surprising feelings that I had during the trip. I had grown attached to them. Their smiles, their love for the children and for the Lord, and their protectiveness over us was so overwhelming. Whether it was making sure that we were drinking water or walking us across the street or giving us some clarity from a struggling conversation- everything they did was out of love.
Hospitality was the specialty in the Dominican, indeed. Every morning we received a homemade Dominican meal- where mashed potatoes for breakfast is acceptable and juice is far from concentrate. The sweet women who cooked for us spoke not a lick of English, but their actions spoke louder than their Spanish mumblings we could so often hear emerging from the kitchen. They served us with a smile and made sure that the mission house was home for the week.
Hospitality from total strangers wasn’t uncommon either. As we would walk through the slums like a band of misfits- the locals would smile and wave with a welcoming “Hola!”
We were able to interact with hundreds of children while in country. I think that seeing and feeling God’s love is so simple when it comes to children. When we would enter a school or orphanage the children would smile and immediately approach us, yelling “Hola” from across the room. All we would do was start a small conversation with our broken Spanish phrases and it wouldn’t be long before we loved them. Their impromptu hugs and big smiles reflect the love of God. We didn’t deserve to be loved by these children, but instead we were overwhelmed by their willingness to love us, and in turn we couldn’t help but to love them wholeheartedly. It was so natural, and it was clearly as God intended it to be.
All of the love that I experienced in the Dominican would never be possible unless God first loved us. 1 John 4:19 was the verse that we used all week during vacation bible school. Throughout the week it had so much more meaning. I was able to see love in a way that I hadn’t before and feel God’s love in a way that was life changing. God’s love knows no bounds. The same God that loves me, my family, and my friends, loves every person on this earth with the same unmoving, unbelievable, earth shattering love. This love was so evident while I was away from the US.
I feel blessed to have gotten to see more of the world and more of God’s great love through His beautiful people. The Dominican people that I interacted with walk in love. “It’s the Dominican way.”