I can’t believe it’s already our last full day in the Dominican. The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of fun and laughter and several hard goodbyes. After breakfast on Sunday we met one last time with our campers and co-counselors. This time of goodbyes was easily the hardest closing day I’ve had. We then headed to our national staff’s church and got to see where they worship the Lord each week. It was surprising how similar their service was to the ones we all attend back home!
Our team then went to an authentic Dominican restaurant to have time spent together as a staff and reflect on the past week. After our second trip through the buffet, we all got to spice it up with a little bit of merengue, salsa, and bachata.
Our group then drove over to the Old City and explored the first streets of the Americas. We also got to join in the festivities of King’s Day as the sun set – which included more music and dancing. We then went to a national team members home and enjoyed a night of laughter, conversation and an authentic Dominican meal: Papa John’s pizza.
The next morning we enjoyed a couple rounds of Beamer Ball before hopping in the bus to start the day’s adventure. The team separated into two cars and headed to Mucha Agua. After an hour of driving, our bus began to go up the winding roads of the mountain. Things were running smoothly until the bus tried to get over one of the last hills. It started getting slower and slower until finally the bus just gave up and quit on us. We then transferred cars and took two trips to finish the rest of the way. But wowza was the view amazing from the valley of these mountains. Once the whole team got there we walked for about thirty minutes through a valley between mountains that seemed to meet the sky, covered in lush green trees. We then took a dip in a crystal clear watering hole with large rocks to jump into the deep water. It was the most picturesque scene I’ve ever seen.
With the time we spent walking, it gave me time to just reflect on all the Lord has been teaching me. Through this experience I’ve learned a lot about expectations. Coming into the Dominican I had several thoughts on how the week would go but the Lord just came in and proved He is so much greater than any box that I try to put Him in. I came in thinking that there would be this huge language barrier that kept us all separated. But in reality, God can not be contained by such a small limitation. Language differences actually brought us closer together. Because conversations could be more difficult, we were all pushed to show and receive love in different ways. Some of the campers that did not speak a bit of English, were the ones that loved us the most. For everyone at this camp, our actions had to speak up when we could not. I also expected that the best way to do camp was the way Pine Cove does camp. We have a tight structure that keeps the day very organized so we can fit in as much fun and activity as possible for the kids. So, I expected camp here in the Dominican to be run with a similar structure. But we quickly came to realize that the Pine Cove way of camp isn’t the only way for kids to experience fun and spiritual growth. Between each scheduled activity we would have time to just wait and be with the kids. The lack of a tight schedule left holes for relationships to form. This has completely changed my perspective on waiting. In our fast paced, impatient culture, we’ve come to think of waiting as an inefficient use of time. But waiting doesn’t always mean something is wrong. In fact, some of the biggest highlights from this trip came from this time with the campers.
Courtney “Zorb” Jackson