Disclaimer:  The Original travel journal entry is written in italics. Addenda and clarified thoughts are written in regular print.

Today is our last day in the Dominican Republic. We were able to sleep in a little bit but then we are going to the children’s church service at the satellite location. I’m told the service will be long and hot. After that we’re going to one of the lunch lady’s home for lunch, then back to the hotel for a bit, then off to the adult church service, which I’m told will be long and hot. And I don’t feel well.

Delia, Fiona and Nikki left for home early in the morning. Nikki has family in Miami and it worked out that she was able to get to Miami a day early to attend her grandfather’s service and burial. She would be meeting us in Miami for the final leg home tomorrow. I’m so happy it worked out for her so she could attend the services. I know how much she loves her grandfather. Fiona left early to attend Camp and Delia traveled with her so she wouldn’t be alone.

The first children’s service was nice. It was actually at the school, not the satellite location. I don’t know why I thought it was at the satellite location – unless I subconsciously wanted to return to it. Kids ranging from 2-12 participated in songs then divided into groups for Bible study in various locations of the school. Amy, Aurelie and I went to the gazebo and watch a group of 8-12 yr olds practice their demonstration. We even participated, much to the delight of the children and their teacher. Aurelie left and Anna came and she was able to translate for us.

The children meet in smaller groups to practice their demonstration

We went back to the church and almost every group presented their lesson/demonstration. The lesson was about how Jesus is the model to live – if we follow Jesus’ example, people will see God in you. It was very interesting and fun.

There was a nice sized gathering of children for the Children’s Service

After Church we went to one of the lunch lady’s home (Tata’s home). I was quite impressed with her house. It was much bigger and more modern than Danel’s. She served us a stew of pork and chicken, plantains and yucca. Served over rice. There was also fresh guacamole. It was probably the best meal we’ve had. There’s something about a home cooked meal and being a guest in a person’s who, a week ago was a strong but is now a friend.

After lunch we walked to Danel’s house as it was only a block away. It was great to see him and his family again. He is so happy with our work and when we said goodbye, he said he loved me.

No sign of the kitten. I hope he’s OK.

I can’t believe I forgot to write about this in my travel journal: before lunch at Tata’s house, we gave the children shoes that were donated by another parish. The shoes are called Shoes that Grow as they are adjustable as a child grows. They were a huge hit with the children.

Amy and Anna hand out Shoes that Grow to excited children.
Anna, Amy and Jr help the older children with their new shoes.

Back at the hotel, I took a power nap and was woken up by Michael Jackson claiming that the kid was not his son. The hotel sells wristbands to the neighborhood for $4. From 11am-8pm they can use the pool and facilities (basketball court and bar). It’s a nice arrangement and a popular one with the neighborhood!

We arrived back to the school at 5pm for adult Church and have enjoyed praise songs. They have a projector with the words of the song displayed and I find it interesting that most of the songs also have a dance incorporated with it.

Song lasted for 35 minutes and now Jr’s father is on stage. His sister (Jr’s not his father’s) is acting as translator again.

We are not having a sermon (yet). Instead, people who attended a seminar last week (?Sunday) are sharing their experiences. 6.10p – Jr’s dad is doing a sermon about the importance of imitating Jesus so people can see Him in us. It seems to be the theme of the week and tied in well with the children’s service.

Now it is time for the offertory (I meant offering). He said God loves a joyful giver. I gave my 500 pesos. It seemed appropriate because comparatively I have so much more than these people, even though by America’s standards, I don’t.

6.30p another sing along but first hugs from everyone than a Happy birthday song to several members – actually it must be announcement time because there was a slide advertising Drama Night, which seems to be a play on Good Vs Evil.

We were asked to come onstage, where the congregation prayed for us. Several people came up and placed their hands on us in prayer. It was very moving.

6.50pm. It ends.

As we left, I was feeling bittersweet. It had been a long, hot and exhausting week but in that time God redefined community and family to me. These people are so grateful and so generous with their love and food and community that I really feel like a changed person. I’m so glad I came.

After we said our goodbyes we headed to Jr’s house for dinner. He bought 12 pounds of meat and grilled kabobs for us with chicken and pork. It was delicious. There was also boiled potatoes and peppers and onions. The best thing, though, was seeing the stars! All week they had been hiding but tonight they came out blazing and shining.

God is so good.