Republica Dominicana

Words can't really begin to describe the past week of my life... Thankfully I have brought home hundreds of photographs that help speak for me where my words fail. I spent the week in the Dominican Republic- a spanish speaking island in the Caribbean that neighbors Haiti. I traveled with a team of 23 college students from UCLA, UC Berkeley, Davis, and St. Mary's with the non-profit here for kids. There was instant team synergy and a bond that only God could create- I came home with 23 new best friends! We stayed in the middle of the jungle in Monte Plata with only 3 hours of electricity each night, no wifi, cold showers, a bumpy dirt road, dirty water, infinite amount of bugs and spiders, no laundry, and only one small mirror. Everyone was forced out of their comfort zones and plunged into a new and exciting lifestyle that was much more "thin" than the American one that is "thick" with media, stuff, and excess. The first day we attended a local church and drove to a waterfall in the afternoon. My teammate Andrea Ward arrived from NCAA swimming championships that day- it was so encouraging to have here with me during the week. During the week we split up into 2 groups in the morning, one would stay at the camp and work on service projects and the other would go to the Kids Alive school to teach P.E. class and play with the kids. In the afternoon 20-40 kids from the school would hop on a tiny bus and drive to the camp where we we would play sports, do crafts (my favorite!), and talk about the Bible. The joy these kids have is amazing. Many of them have unstable, abusive, and impoverished lives at home. Despite this they are filled with God's love and peace. I was amazed how the language barrier was no issue and kids would just come right up to me and hug me and play with my hair. They called me "Esperanza"- hope in spanish. On friday we went to the Casa Monte plata- an orphanage and home where about 25 kids are able to have a stable and nurturing home. Our team painted the basketball court and had a goodbye pizza party with the kids. The whole week I had so much peace in my heart... God showed me through the smiles and joy of these kids that "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. "(James 1:12) I was able to use my art major to the fullest extent by painting a mural at the camp and taking pictures of all the kids for their sponsorship program- which is a remarkable way for YOU to get involved by financially supporting a student so they can attend the Kids Alive school and encourage them by writing letters. Thank you for making this trip possible! Enjoy the beauty of God in the kids smiles and the work he is doing in the Dominican Republic.

santa domingo- the first church in the Americas where Colomus landed.