This week has really been a week of firsts. First day of classes (4 hours of Spanish and 2 hours of Bible Tuesdays through Fridays), first time eating blood sausage and octopus, first time riding the public bus, first time at a Spanish-speaking church, first time reciting all the books of the Bible by memory, first time visiting some SCORE ministries.
It was also the first time I saw a child with a pot belly so round and body so sick because he was malnourished. It was the first time I saw a child without any clothes on, because he was either too hot or didn’t have enough clothes to wear. I didn’t become emotional at the time, because I didn’t want to hurt. I didn’t want to feel for these people, because then I knew that I would have to do something, something that would require sacrifice.
A lot of Americans think that doing something may include providing both food and clothing, or providing materially in some way. Something I’ve heard the missionaries here say over and over again is that providing food or handouts actually harms the community instead of helping it. It creates a dependency to the point that whenever they see an American, they think they’re going to receive something. Missionaries here have found clever ways to use American handouts. For example, at “Josiah’s House,” a ministry that takes boys off of the streets or off of bad family conditions, they’ve taken all of the handouts to make a store. Whenever the boys behave well, they receive fake coins. Depending on how many coins they want to spend, they can buy different things at the store. It gives a use for the handouts, helps the boys learn how to share, save, behave, and saves money for the missionaries. I pray that I’ll also be able to find inventive ways to make a lasting impact while I’m here, ones that will help and not hurt.
I don’t know if I’ll go into that village again where I saw the pot bellies and naked children, heard a child sing to us, and talked with some people who live there. God may be leading me to work close by at a school called Emanuel House, but I am not positive yet. All I know is that throughout this 9 month experience, my heart cannot become hardened to the poverty in this country. I cannot become hardened to the apparent voodoo and the people who do not know Christ. Emotions are good, because emotion sparks action. Let me feel, let me be in tune with Him, let me say “yes” when he asks me to do something.
3 Random Facts about the Dominican Culture:
1. When a Dominican wants to get your attention, they’ll hiss at you.
2. Dominicans will drop the –s at the end of a word. (For example, instead of saying “cómo estás” or how are you, they will say “cómo está?”)
3. It is not normal to smile in pictures.
1. Right now, we currently do not have a grammatical Spanish teacher. Ever since last year’s teacher resigned, SCORE has been interviewing numerous people for the position and they just had another interview yesterday. Right now, one of our missionaries is taking the place as a fill-in but SCORE is looking for a native Dominican qualified enough to get us to a grammatically correct conversational level by the end of the year. Please pray that God provides such a person in His own timing, in a way that only He can get the glory from it.
2. Please pray for our whole GAP group, as we are looking at the numerous ministry opportunities, that everyone would hear God’s voice on where He would like us to serve this year.
3. Please be praying for my emotional level and my walk with Christ. The past couple of days have been tough for me emotionally, wondering why I am here and what my purpose is. Please be praying that I hear God’s voice throughout this trip.