A Country of Love and Hope

A Country of Love and Hope

What it was like on my mission trip to the Dominican Republic during Trump's backlash of 3rd world countries
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For my first ever J-Term at my college I was given the opportunity to go to Haiti and the Dominican Republic for a mission trip. This trip was open to all film and animation majors. As a animator I thought this would not only be a good cultural experience but a chance to use my gifts to do God's work.So on January 4th I left for the airport ready for an amazing adventure, just not the one I expected.

Our connecting flight was in JFK in New York. But because of all the crazy winter storms going on up there we couldn't get on a plane to go. Eventually we got a connecting flight in Miami instead. But by the time that happened a week had almost passed by. Even then we only got to the DR in three separate groups. So because of that we did not get to go to Haiti but instead got one week in the DR. I was a little bummed because of that however because I was apart of the last group to go to the DR something amazing happened to me.

I have an older brother who has three sons. Almost two years ago he moved to West Palm Florida and I hadn't seen any of them since. But because I was delayed in Miami for two days he drove all the way up to see me and I got to spend 40 minutes with my nephews. Even though that time was short I couldn't have been happier. After seeing their faces I knew my time in the DR would be well spent and that this trip would be great.

After finally arriving in the DR I was thrilled. We stayed at Crosswinds-Caribbean Mountain Academy. This place is a boarding school for troubled teens. It's a safe haven where they can heal, grow spiritual, and eventually get their high school diploma. Our job was to make promotional videos for them in order to get more students to come. So on my first day there I woke up, ate a delicious breakfast, and got to animate on a laptop while sitting on the balcony enjoying this gorgeous view.

My time in the DR was the most amazing experience I have ever had. I got to meet students who shared their personal stories with me. Not to mention staff who explained why they felt so called to be there. Not only did I feel like I was finally healing from my dad's recent heart attack but I felt like I was actually making a difference and doing God's work.

But then halfway during our trip we found out about the nasty comment President Donald Trump made about 3rd world countries like Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I was shocked, appalled, but mostly I was angry. We had several different opportunities where we got to meet so many amazing people in the Dominican Republic. Everyone I met was very friendly and generous. Even if they spoke little or no English you could just tell their sincerity by the looks on their faces. The people in the Dominican Republic may not have much but they are caring and so very giving. I hope that in the future our President will try to be more cautious with his words and actually take a good look before he decides to judge.

Finally after a week we had to leave the most gorgeous place I had ever been. As sad it was to go I knew we had done our best to try and make a difference there. I felt like my time there couldn't have been more well spent. The biggest lesson I learned in while I was there is this. You may be struggling right now but someone else is always hurting worse than you. God takes your pain and uses you to give hope to others. Not only are you healed in the process but so if someone else. I hope to go back someday and make even a bigger impact. All in all my trip to the Dominican Republic made me realize just how much love and hope exists there.


Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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