Just Keeps Getting Better!
Trip Start Apr 28, 2014
41Trip End May 13, 2014
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It's very hard to believe that we've only been in the
Dominican for 6 days. We have seen, done, learned, and grown so much in this
short time, and I am so thankful for all of it! Our host organization, TEARS
(True Evangelism Always Requires Sacrifice), is amazing. Their
friendliness to us, humility, passion for what they do, and love for Jesus are
so inspiring, and are exemplary traits of what a development organization
should be like. They have done SO much for the nearby barrio (poor
neighborhood) of Maria Auxilliadora in the 20 years that they have been here,
and it is so encouraging and interesting to see their projects and their
failures and many trials to get to where they are today, recognizing that this is
how development works - there are ups, downs, failures, successes, and a need
for flexibility, change, and an open mind. By seeing their work, observing
other projects, and seeing many different locations of the Dominican and varied
aspects of its culture, all of the development theories and practices that we
learned about in class have truly come to life.
Walking through the barrio on our first day here made the
issues and struggles we've learned about visible and real. Here we also saw
TEARS’ school and water filtration system, two development practices we’ve
studied and that TEARS has implemented so well. Our second day brought us to
the city of Santiago, where we saw two more schools, one of which was in a
barrio there and had implemented education just as we learned was the best way
to do it - so encouraging! Then, we
toured the city which brought more context and insight into the Dominican
culture and way of life – having these insights is, I believe, so important in development
work in order to better understand the world around us. On Friday we toured two
factories in the free zone nearby (see previous blog). These tours were a very
rare occurrence and it was fascinating to see how these factories are run, and
to learn about and discuss how they impact the development of the Dominican
people working in them or living nearby. On Friday we also had the chance to
split into small groups and meet with individuals who live in Maria
Auxilliadora, learning about their stories and how they run their businesses.
This is a mix of the practices of Appreciative Inquiry and Asset Mapping which
we’ve learned about, and it was so humbling and such an honor to just listen to
these people and understand more about their lives, as well as encourage them in
all their gifts and talents. Yesterday we visited the capital, again
understanding more of the culture and history of this country. Today, after a
typical, wonderful Dominican church service full of joy and passion, we went to
a beautiful waterfall and saw more of the landscape and people of this
fascinating country, both events again offering us more insight into the
culture and the complexity of the Dominican Republic’s story.
Development, I’ve learned, is about seeing opportunity and
potential instead of despair, assets instead of needs, talents instead of
things to be fixed, and hope instead of sorrow. It is an absolute blessing to
be here in the Dominican experiencing and seeing all these things with this new
perspective, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity God has blessed us with, and
for TEARS’ incredible willingness to help us have it.
One final point – our team has been so blessed in unity and
shared passion for what we’re doing. God has placed each of us here for a
reason and I’m so thankful for the way we’ve bonded and worked together so far!
Thank you so much for reading our blogs and following along on this trip as we
learn and grow, and share it all with you!