How to survive in the Dominican Republic as a “gringo:” communicate with one’s actions to prevent hitting the language barrier, buy a battery-powered fan because A/C is a rare luxury, learn how to make a ham and cheese sandwich fit for a native Dominican. One of our missionaries learned that a perfect, Dominican-style ham and cheese consists of two pieces of white bread slathered with even amounts of “Catchup” (the Dominican way of spelling “Ketchup”) and Mayonnaise, two pieces of ham, and two pieces of cheddar cheese. After packing an abundance of these sandwiches for lunch, our group set out for our first day of Vacation Bible School in Cuesta Arena. The big picture for the week is based off of Colossians 3:14; so, we began discussing the result of sin with children as a basis. The whole lesson taught them that God will forgive their sins, but they will never be able to repair the tangible relationships broken with those they hurt, not reverse their sin once it is committed. To further exemplify this, we took “un huevos” (an egg) that was raw and separated it into three parts: the shell, the yoke, and the whites. Then, we had a volunteer try and put it back together again; but it could not be returned to its uncracked form. The egg symbolized beneficial morals, the separation was sin, and trying to put the egg back together again symbolized “Humpty Dumpty” (In actuality, it symbolized how God will forgive one’s sins, but the bad choices cannot be reversed). The children were more engaged in the lesson than we anticipated, even with their excitement for playtime. Many of us agreed it was a struggle to take a short water break due to the swarm of kids that would plea for one more inning of baseball or one more round of jumping rope. By lunchtime, we were all ready for a long nap. However, the next town, where we would teach our lesson, awaited our arrival. They formed “un circolo” with us to play “uno, uno, dos” (our version of “duck, duck, goose” because we forgot the Spanish words for duck and goose). As worn out as we were after slipping on the tiled floor trying to chase kids around the circle, we were reluctant to leave. The culture is different in the Dominican because the children run up to you and hug and kiss on you. In America, however, we are taught “stranger danger,” and avoid those whom we do not know. Another difference was the youth group we attended that night. Teaching us hand movements to their songs, the youth put on a performance for us during their service that was full of life. It made us look forward to the Sunday Service held the next morning.
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