June 24, 2013- Anna

Hola amigos y familia! It’s another beautiful day in the Dominican Republic. Not surprising. When we first arrived here last Tuesday I was awestruck by the natural beauty everywhere. When I look at the environment in the Dominican Republic I see God’s true creation. No editing, no maintenance. Just His pure beautiful creation. It’s crazy how different things are in a third world country. Besides the environment, another difference I noticed was that there’s no air conditioning and it’ extremely hot here! I’ve never appreciated air conditioning and fans so much. Haha. But it has definitely opened my eyes to how privileged we are in the United States. However, the weird thing is that the people in the Dominican Republic seem happier than the people in the United States. The way the people here have fun, love, and give is a whole other level compared to the United States. It’s just so simple. They don’t complicate anything, when in our minds we think they should because they have so much less than we do. But in reality, all we truly need is love. This trip has been emotional for me for several reasons: long days, no sleep, hard word, being away from my parents for two weeks with no communication, and my anxiety disorder. All of these have overwhelmed me on this trip and given me plenty of reason to be stressed but the minute we step off the bus and the kids come running up to us hugging and kissing us, all of my worries go away. This is a prime example of the power that love has and when I see these kids and the way they love, I get a glimpse of God and the way He loves us.

I feel incredibly blessed to be on this trip. It has opened my eyes to so much, including my anxiety. Before I came here, I was having major panic attacks everyday to the point of incapacity. I would feel like I couldn’t breathe, I would start shaking, and I would hyperventilate too. On the car ride to the airport I started to cry because I was so scared of having a panic attack in the Dominican Republic considering I have never been out of the country before, I’m not going to be in a place that I know, and I don’t have constant communication to my parents to comfort me. During both take offs to the Dominican Republic I had major panic attacks so I expected nothing less when we actually arrived. But the second we arrived, I felt at peace. And ever since I haven’t been anxious at all. It feels like God’s gift to me for trusting Him on this trip that I was so hesitant to go on. It has never felt so good to not be anxious and I have the 13 people on my team to thank for that and of course God as well.

Last but not least, this trip has made me realize the love I have for my parents. Before this trip and throughout my 18 years of life, my parents and I have argued a lot and never really had a connection. Throughout this trip I have realized how much I love my parents and especially how privileged I am to even have them because many of the people I have met in the Dominican Republic no longer have parents. One of my favorite parts of this trip is when I Facetimed my parents the other day and my mom and I both started crying and kissing the camera.

This trip has been such a blessing and has absolutely changed my life! And we’re only half way through it.

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