Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dominican Trip - Our Trip Home (plus 30 random pictures)

Monday morning, I had everything pretty much packed, so I left my stuff in the room until it was closer to time to leave, and went down for one last morning on the beach.  The Oldest Princess soon joined me, and we walked on the beach finding hermit crabs and watching the waves crash against the shore.  We found a bigger hermit crab in a really cool shell, and decided to hang on to it so the Young Prince could see it.  We walked back to the lobby to wait for the others.





C came down, and so it was just the Oldest Princess, C and I sitting there, when the picture taking man from the afternoon before came and sat directly across from us us again.  I told the girls that we needed to go and get our things, so we got up and left.  I did not want to sit there with that guy staring at us again. We went to our room stayed for a few minutes, and then took our luggage to the lobby. The lobby was then filled with people from our team, and the stranger was no where to be seen.

We had a group meeting.  E got teary eyed, because she has such a tender heart for missions/ministry. Mrs. B reminded the kids how much it takes, and how many years had been poured into the ministry that we saw and worked with this week.  Grammy was ready to sign Mrs. B up and take her on the road to share her speech with others.

Some of us, with some of our luggage

The bus arrived and we loaded the luggage and ourselves one last time before heading to the airport. The trip to the airport was uneventful.  We made it there and tried to sign in using the little computer stations for that purpose.  We even had airline people helping us, and it turned out to be a disaster. Finally, we just moved over to the counter and checked in the old fashioned way.  I was waiting with E while she checked in her bag so that she would not be alone, and her bag was on the dot the exact weight that it could be, without being charged anything extra for being over the weight limit.  On the dot.  The exact weight.  It was crazy.

With all of our bags packed, we then filled out some paperwork and it was time to go through the dreaded security.  We all made it through without any trouble this time.  Our boarding gate was right next to a little food deli, and some of the kids bought something to eat, as we would not be eating anything substantial until we arrived in Atlanta.

The flight was smooth.  We were a little more spread out this time.  We had individual televisions, so we could choose our own movies.  I dozed/watched Cinderella, and then dozed/watched Annie.  I had taken motion sickness medicine, and was already exhausted, so I could barely keep my eyes open.

We made it safely to Atlanta and then faced customs.  On the 15 minute hike to customs, we found out that my Prince and the Youngest Princess had come to pick us up, and we would not have to ride the van back to the school.  I was very glad, because I really wanted to see them as soon as I possibly could.  Knowing they were there, made going through customs seem that much longer.  But we finally made it through and we were all together again.  We took a couple of group pictures, and then headed to the car, and the team headed to the shuttle that would take them to the hotel where the van was parked.

Atlanta at last

We got a little out of the busy Atlanta area and then stopped to eat, because we were starving.  Then got on the road to head home.  One of my sweet friends at home called to tell me there was a major backup on the interstate, that we might want to keep tabs on it, and may need to go a different route. Later we heard that traffic was flowing again, so we didn't worry about it.  But, when we got to just before our exit, traffic was backed up.  There had been a different accident. It took us about 45 minutes to get to an exit that we could have walked to in less than 10 minutes.  We finally made it home at about 11:30 that night.

It was absolutely wonderful to be home.  And now that I have been home for a while, given the chance, I would head back to the DR in a heartbeat.  I love seeing updates on social media from my friends there.  I love that one young man messaged us and told us that he accepted Christ as his Savior.  I love that they share prayer requests with us.  They feel like family now.  Who knew that we could pack so much ministry, love and friendship into 7 short days.  But it is possible.  I know, because I have experienced it.

Thank you for sticking with me through my long rambling blogs about our trip.  I hope it helped you to see a little of what a short term mission trip is like, if you have never been on one before.  I hope that it helped you to feel like in some ways, you were there too.  I hope that you have a bigger heart for the Dominican people now, like I do.  I hope that you might also have a burden to do something to help me build a baseball field for their baseball ministry.  And speaking of that...I told you that I have already had someone donate some money.  I have also had someone contact me about doing a fundraiser.  I am beyond excited!  God is already moving!  I'll tell you more about it as the details all come together!

Until then, I will leave you with a few random pictures...

Those are the legs of the Young Prince sticking out from under that pile of Dominican children.

 The ninja pose

 Putting on temporary tattoos

 A view of the back of our first mode of public transportation

 It is very common to see clothes hanging any and everywhere to dry

 Some of the kids at the bon fire

A broom


 Playing like they were going to push N off the bridge

 The children at the Bible club

 One of the many interesting things seen on a motor scooter

 They invited them into their home and allowed them to hold their baby.  

 One more of the cattle drive down the mountain, so you can see how up close and personal we were
with it, and this was before we drove right through the middle of it.

 This guy definitely wins the prize for the most creative motor scooter.

 A typical street store.  Almost everyone is selling something in order to make extra income.

 Our kids being silly

 A dentist's office

 Shopping at Jumbo

 One of the chapels at the Palms Christian school

 A great picture of the rocky coast 

 Saying goodbye to our friends in Constanza

 See the bottom left of this picture?  Sadly this is a common site.

 Construction work

 Bananas or plantains, I'm not sure which

 It is also common to see crude types of transportation along side of modern types of transportation

 Mrs. M taking a break from planning, and organizing to have a little fun

 Ball on the street in front of Pastor M's home

 The way your pizza would arrive in the Dominican

 A girl watching our Bible club from her rooftop

Notice the lack of personal space...

We had a great time, and we definitely left part of our corazónes in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dominican Trip - Crabs, Church, and A Creepy Man

Sunday morning, when I got down to the lobby, Mrs. S, S, and E were already down there. They were ready early and had decided that they would walk down to the beach to take some pictures.  They weren't gone long, and when they came back, they were talking about seeing little hermit crabs all over the beach.  The young prince had really wanted to see a hermit crab a few days before, and I wanted him to be able to see one as well.  When the Oldest Princess came down, we walked down to the beach to take some pictures and see the crabs.  The crabs were everywhere, and some of them were teeny tiny.  The smallest I have ever seen.  We picked up a couple and held on to them to show to the Young prince when he came down.  He was down shortly, and loved the crabs, so we went back down to the beach to take a few more pictures and let him see all of the crabs.  I was wishing that the Youngest Princess was there so she could see them too.  I know she would have loved them!

 Pictures on the beach

 Playing with the hermit crabs

 Some of them were teeny tiny!




The bus came to pick us up and take us to church.  When we got there, the worship team was practicing, so we sat and listened to them for a few minutes.  Then our kids practiced the song they were going to sing that night.  Our friend that we had met a few days before, who had lived in the DR before but had moved due to health reasons, came to church.  We were all happy to know that he had kept his word, and had come.  I am praying for R, that God will move in his life, and that he will get connected with the church there.

Our kids practicing their song

I was excited to learn that they have little radios, that you can plug your ear buds into, and hear a translation of the service.  The kids, Mrs. B, and Mrs. S all went to children's church after the music service, but Grammy and I stayed in the church service.  And at first I thought my little radio did not work.  All I could get was Spanish Music.  Then Mr. S came over and told us that C had not started translating yet.  When he started, my little radio worked, and I was very glad.  Pastor G preached a sermon about how our main focus should be on God, not on our opposition.  It was a nice reminder that God is always in control, even during the times when it looks or feels like He is not in control.

After church, we stood around and enjoyed a little fellowship with one another.  I was able to connect with M, a friend of a very good friend of mine.  It truly is a small world.  I was also able to check with Mrs. J about how things were when they got home the night before, after all the rain.  She said that the curtains had saved the day, and blocked most of the water, and the children's beds had not gotten wet.  Praise the Lord!  I am thankful that no prayer is too insignificant to pray.  That God cares about us in big and small ways.  I also talked briefly to Pastor G about the baseball field, and what it would take to actually build one.

We ate a delicious lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies.  Okay, I will admit that I said, "No, gracias." to the steamed veggies, but they were on the menu, so I couldn't leave them out.

After lunch, Aunt A called her favorite moto concho guy, and he came and gave everyone that wanted one a ride.  I even got in on the excitement and took a turn with the Young Prince.  I have to admit last year when I found out that the Oldest Princess had ridden, I was a little upset.  But it is a lot less scary when you are actually there yourself.





On the way back to the hotel, the Oldest Princess was able to see the Coke billboard that C had been talking about for a few days.  C said that it didn't make her want a Coke at all.  It was a little odd, I must admit.

Back at the hotel, everyone went their own way.  I sat in the lobby and posted some pictures from the morning.  Then the Young Prince and I went back out to the beach to look for more crabs.  We didn't have to look far, because they were everywhere.  N climbed yet another palm tree and came down with two coconuts.

Several of us including D and M's daughter, M, who had come to the hotel with us for the afternoon decided to go to our room and play cards.  Before we could play, we had to clean off the table.  I thought it was funny that every time we picked up something off the table and asked "Whose is this?" C would say, "It's mine."  Seriously, with the exception of one or two things that belonged to the Oldest Princess.

I wish I could say we had a nice, sweet, friendly afternoon of playing Dutch Blitz, but if you have ever played Dutch Blitz, especially with us, you know that the words nice, sweet, and friendly are not the words we use to describe such happenings.  It wasn't long before the Oldest Princess and C were having "sibling rivalry spats".  I think they had just been together too much!  Then S called me "The Mother."  Then the Oldest Princess and S got into it...but it was all in friendly fun, I guess...as friendly and fun as a game of Dutch Blitz can be.  I loved every second of it.  M just listened and laughed at all of us.

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready to go back to church.  Mrs. M, the Oldest Princess, the Young Prince and I were some of the first ones to the lobby.  We were sitting there talking, and not really paying much attention to what was going on with the other people around us, when a man sitting directly across from us took a picture.  I looked up at him because the flash caught my attention.  He had taken a picture of us!  We were all kind of stunned.  It was very uncomfortable. And even after brazenly taking our picture - with his flash on! - the man continued to sit there and stare at us!  It was very strange!  I had never been so happy to see the bus arrive as I was that afternoon.  Once we got on the bus, the Young Prince said that after the man took a picture of us, he had, in return, taken a picture of the man.  I would not have thought to do that, but I was glad he had. It meant we had a picture of the man if anything should happen and we should need it.

The church service started with a prayer time.  We broke into small groups depending on where we were sitting.  The Young Prince and I prayed with B, M and our other new friend M (who was only 13 but spoke, Portuguese, Spanish, and English).  Then once again, we listened to C interpret the message by Pastor G.  This time it was on How to Trust in God.  And who among us could not benefit in learning to trust God more?

After church, it was time to say goodbye, because we would be leaving in the morning.  It is not easy to say goodbye to people you have fallen in love with in just a few short days, especially not knowing if or when you will be able to see them again.  But we are thankful that there is the wonder of social media, that can help us to stay connected.

We loaded the bus and headed to The Con Con.  It is a pizza restaurant not far from our hotel.  Pastor G and Aunt A met us there.  We had a great time of fellowship while we ate some wonderful pizza. We talked about deep, important subjects like - if there happened to be a fire, would Pastor G save his new puppy or Aunt A first?  It was determined that Aunt A could help herself...so the puppy won. Again, it was all in teasing fun.  I was also able to talk in a little more detail with Pastor G about building a baseball field, and what all it would take.  I am still working on a plan, and I am still asking you to pray about what part you can play in helping to make it happen.  I have already had some money donated, after my blog about it on Saturday, so God is already moving!  Stay tuned...!

 The Oldest Princess and S walking into The Con Con

 Uncle G and Aunt A with the kids

 Aunt A and her mini me

All of the family that were there...missing Poppy, my Prince, and the Youngest Princess.
S once again taking a picture of me like I like it :-)...in the shadows.

We took a few pictures while we had the opportunity.  And then it was time to head back to the hotel.
Heading to our room we had another gecko experience.  I was just glad that we only saw them in the hallway, and not in our rooms.

We did our best to pack up what we could, in preparation for our trip home the next day.   I killed a strange bug that was on the lampshade.  I did it with lightening quick reflexes and Ninja smoothness. I meant that bug was not getting away, because I did not want to go to bed knowing he was in the room with us.  I was ready to get back home where my Prince could take care of things like broken toilets and bugs!

And tomorrow would be that day!