As previously mentioned, the mission trip I returned from this week was the best. The main focus of our mission is this guardaria (preschool/kindergarten/daycare). Over the past thirty years, it has done so much for the community. Over 100 kids of Las Matas de Farfan, DR and surrounding villages (that are in walking distance) who are sponsored by padrinos in my church in Florida are able to come to this establishment for elementary level education, formation, and most importantly, two square meals a day. These kids typically do not have a meal at home, since the parents know they are being fed at school.
These children are so full of love. They typically will refer to the sponsors as their padrinos or madrinas (Godparents), but for some reason, they have begun to call me “tía” (aunt) which is what they call their teachers. (Maybe this is God’s way of telling me that I am being called to teach in this school, but who knows?)
Being the youngest missionary in the group (by twenty years), I was the one who was able to play with them the most during their recess. This made this trip especially fun because no matter what I did, the kids wanted to play with me! If I took out a book, I had an audience of fifty. If I sat down on the floor, I had ten girls trying to do my hair and ten more fighting to sit on my lap or have me braid their hair. In previous trips, I was only able to bond with small amounts of kids since there were so many missionaries for them to play with, but it was nice to be able to form stronger connections with more kids.
People ask me all the time what we do on our mission trips. As I mentioned, this establishment is a huge part, but most of the funding/monetary transaction is taken care of back in Florida. The biggest part of what we do on the trips is a clothing/shoes distribution for these kids. (I forgot to take a lot of pictures of that this year, but you can check out a little bit more in this post.) Each missionary brings two 40-pound duffle bags full of donated shoes, clothes, and vitamins. We typically bring mostly kids clothes, but if we ship extra boxes, we will bring more adult clothes to distribute in other places. It is so nice to see people in the community wearing clothes with names of local (South Florida) clubs, schools, sports teams, and organizations because it means that what we have brought has circulated through the community and has been put to good use.
I am so blessed to be able to work with these kids. They have brought so much joy to my life and they inspire me every day to be a good role model and to continue to advocate for people of their community. Hopefully one day, many of these kids will look back and see how blessed they were to be a part of this organization, as well, and will be inspired to help others and to give back where they can.
If you are interested in becoming a padrino or madrina, please feel free to contact me because the more funding we have, the more kids we can take in! (Also, all sponsors are able to go on the mission trips if they so choose!)