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.