Julia S. from Ball State University travelled with us to the Dominican Republic. Below is just a sliver of what she’s taking away from the trip. Thanks for sharing Julia!
I recently spent a week on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic. Ever since I went on my first mission trip to Nicaragua in the spring of 2014, I have felt God calling me to go on another trip. Even though I was only there for seven days, the Dominican Republic felt like home. The joy and love in the atmosphere of that country is almost tangible despite the extreme poverty and dangers of living there. God has taught me many things from this experience. He showed me glimpses of His heavenly kingdom, taught me that love is a universal language, used my God given gifts for His glory and inspired me to continue making a difference in the world.
My favorite part of the trip came on a Sunday morning, the last day. We went to church at one of VisionTrust’s Transitional Homes. The heat of the early morning was intense. We arrived to the church on Dominican time (which means we get there when we get there…my kind of time!). The Dominican kids that we saw from the Transitional Homes the day before were all there dressed in their Sunday best and seated in plastic lawn chairs listening to the pastor speak. The pastor kept repeating passionately how good God is forever! He would say, “Dios es bueno!” He went on to explain how God is good in all circumstances and that He has led us all here this morning and has given us this morning. While the pastor was speaking, I was looking around at the faces of the young Dominican kids surrounding me. They were the faces of orphans, of kids with HIV and AIDS, of kids that have experienced great pain and suffering…of kids that no one wanted. Yet, despite their circumstances, they are still rejoicing in the Lord and declaring that He is good.
After the pastor spoke, we sang worship songs played on an old CD player. The first few songs I didn’t know because they were in Spanish, but it was eye opening for me to see how much the kids got out of the worship songs and the service. They were putting their hands in the air and probably getting more out of it than I normally would at my home church even though we have all the fancy equipment, projectors and instruments. Their service was simplistic and bare.
The last song we sang was a song I was familiar with called, “Hosanna,” and it really resonated with me. The lyrics to the song go, “Break my heart for what breaks yours, Everything I am for your Kingdom’s cause, As I walk from earth into eternity, Hosanna in the highest!” If I had one song to describe my trip it would be this one. It really hit me while I was singing these lyrics out loud. Not only was I an emotional mess, but I also realized that the lyrics are really applicable to what God had done on this trip for me. My heart had broken for the kids in the Dominican, the children who God’s heart breaks for. It was so beautiful to see the Dominicans singing in Spanish while myself and the rest of my team sang in English. In that moment, I got a glimpse of God’s kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven.
One of the most impactful things I learned on this trip was that I don’t have to stop making a difference in the world now that I am back in the US and not in a developing country. I love this verse that says, “Once our eyes our opened, we cannot pretend that we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act.” Proverbs 24:12. My team leader taught me that while life eventually goes back to normal, you don’t have to.
Through this trip, I have experienced love like none other from the people of this country. God has brought to my attention what breaks my own heart and chances are that is where He wants me to continue to serve in the future. God will guide my footsteps if I am willing to move my feet. I so love this quote, “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
A part of my heart will always be in the Dominican Republic and hopefully someday I can go back again.
PS- Want to see photos from this trip? Search the hashtag #keepitontheDR on Instagram!