For the Love of Others

img_2691Each missionary brings two 40-pound duffle bags full of clothes, shoes and vitamins for the children and families that the guardaria helps out. We take left over clothes to people in surrounding communities who are in great need! If you’d like, you can donate clothes from our Amazon Wish List.img_2695This is the sort of bus that we take from the capital to Las Matas de Farfan. The ride is about four or five hours.img_2709On our way to Las Matas, we stopped to visit Sor Pilar. More on her later!img_2716img_2717img_2707img_2714img_6511img_6383The boy in this picture, Gabriel, has been in the Guardaria since he was very little (he is 8 now) and we will be giving him a scholarship to go to Santa Lucia, a local private middle school. He is absolutely brilliant and very eager to learn.img_6304img_2747img_2751 The growing tree of padrinosimg_2756img_6231img_2806img_2808img_2810img_6612img_2805img_6596Rebuilding this church is one of our next projects. The previous pictures are of the view from the church that is situated at the top of a hill.img_2812img_6800Always trying to get a decent selfie in the back of a pick up truck…and always failing. I cut out 2 of the 8 people in this one. One day we will get it!img_2764img_2821One of my favorite part of the mission is going out into the countryside and bringing clothes for the people in the villages. They are always so welcoming and usually decorate their chapels or whatever gathering place they have! These people are so amazing.Hogar Infantil La Milagrosa | Las Matas De Farfan, RDimg_6810The primary mode of transportation in Las Matas de Farfan.img_2813Somebody (I am not entirely sure who) funded a green energy initiative in the countryside. They build this reservoir and a system of aqueducts to generate hydroelectric energy  and have installed solar panels on the homes that are far from  more populated/developed towns.img_6549We celebrated my mom’s birthday in true Dominican fashion with lots of bananas and Presidente! img_2783Picking up your kids from school works a little differently in Las Matas than where I am from. Carline is mostly motorcycles/street bikes.img_2785Some families that greeted us in a new chapel that we are funding. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!img_2789      Of course, I always gravitate towards the babies. Jocelyn was only one month old and is the sweetest little thing. Her mom is on the left.

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Every plane ride that I take from Santo Domingo to Fort Lauderdale is full of reflection. I evaluate what we’ve done and think about what we can do better the next time. I think about how our group can make more positive impacts on the lives of those who are desperate for something more.

It has been almost a week since I have gotten back and I haven’t really organized my thoughts so I am just going to share the mess that has been on my mind.

I am going to cut to the chase: poverty sucks, but something I have noticed is that people who are living in absolute poverty don’t wallow in self-pity. They make do with what they have.

Not knowing where your next meal is coming from is not ideal. Doing some questionable things to ensure that your kids get fed is also not really ideal. Nobody wants to be poor, but when you’re trapped in such a vicious cycle and you’re paying a debt that you did not incur, you haven’t got much choice.

People try to argue that the poverty in the United States is comparable to that in third world countries, but it really is not. There is definitely lots of relative poverty in the United States. I know that our system is far from perfect and people do truly struggle, but it is far from the same.

Until you witness a 12 year old being forced to sell her body, you may not understand. Maybe the room full of thirty crying infants whose parents had to give them up because otherwise the child would starve would do it for you.

There is a lot of criticism for those who do mission work, and in some cases the points are very valid. I’ve read a lot about the “White Savior Complex” (which I will talk more about in a future post) but there seems to be something that the critics are missing.

All the time, I hear things like “you must feel so good” or “your work must be so fulfilling.” I don’t know how to answer these things because I don’t know the answer myself.

There are definitely times when I feel really good. When I watch a child or teen grow and accomplish something over the years, I feel good. When some sort of school or establishment is built in the community that will help the people prosper and bring opportunities, I feel good.

But most of the time, “good” is not a word that I would use to describe how I feel. I feel inspired, discouraged, excited, frustrated, desperate, loved, hopeful, upset and a plethora of other emotions on either end of the spectrum. I just feel…a lot.

It’s a passion for helping others. I accept compliments about doing mission work so awkwardly because I don’t feel like I am doing something extraordinary. Helping other people is a very human thing to do and I don’t think I should be praised for that.

I have been so public about the mission work because I feel like I need to share the stories of the people I have encountered. I want to inspire other people who are my age to help people whether it be tutoring a struggling classmate, volunteering at a local homeless shelter or moving to Uganda. There are a lot of people in this world who just need help and there are a lot of people who have the resources to help but simply are unaware of the good that they could do.

Once I move to the Dominican Republic, I intend on doing a lot more blogging about the community and such. I will be spending about five months teaching and doing whatever they need me to do there.

I am very excited because this time I left the DR as a visitor and I will be returning as a (temporary) resident!!

I would like to thank those of you who donated to our clothing drive for this trip. We greatly appreciate your help because we could not have pulled this off without you!

A change in the structure of our stateside component of the mission left us scrambling for clothes and shoes to bring to the kids. Unfortunately, were unable to give shoes to about a quarter of our girl students and more than half of our boy students.

In order to avoid this in July, we have decided to start collecting donations already. If you’d like to donate, you can purchase items from our Amazon wish list (the items will be sent directly to me to be shipped or taken in luggage in July).

If you would like to get involved by sponsoring a child in the Guardaria or would like to make a donation in another form, please do not hesitate to contact me!

I want to end on a much happier note. Remember that cute little nun from the pictures in the beginning? Sor Pilar is 95 years old. She is originally from Spain but has been living in the DR for several decades. About 25 years ago, her order sent her back to Spain for retirement but after a short period, she was eager to get back to “her country,” the Dominican Republic.

For over 20 more years, Sor Pilar served the people of Las Matas de Farfan. The Guardaria was her initiative. She wanted to create a place that the children of the poorest people in the area could go to while both parents worked.I am not sure how many parents actually worked since there is a shortage of jobs in this town but the school/daycare provided a healthy environment for the children to grow up in.

About two years ago, Sor Pilar’s poor health took her to the capital, five hours away from the little town that she so loved. At 95 years old, she is doing as well as ever. Her ailments were taken care over but she needs to be close to a better equipped hospital in case of an emergency. I have no doubt that this woman will be a saint one day.

Want to learn more about the mission?

If you want to learn more about the mission work that I have been involved in or mission work in general, feel free to check out some of my other related posts!

As always, I love to hear what you all think! Drop a comment below with any thoughts or reflections.

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