What an experience! The people have been very welcoming to the Americans and very appreciative of our efforts in Cuesta Arena digging footers, carrying blocks/water, or making concrete. The children come every day to watch, play with us, and even sometimes help with the construction. It is amazing how much you miss all of the power tools, bobcats, and modern conveniences we are used to. Everything we have done has been with buckets, shovels, pick-axe, and a machete (all of which are not always in the best condition). The craftsmanship and precision of the Dominicans is wondrous to watch. Everything has to be just right and all they are using to ensure it is correct is a string and a level.
Yesterday while waiting for more materials, we took a walk around the town. It must have been wash day as clothes were hung out everywhere on the barbed wire fences. That has been one of the most remarkable things I have seen. Barbed wire has been everywhere on fences, on top of walls and around people’s homes. We even had to tear down a barbed wire fence and clear trees the first day at the work site. We have eaten lunch there every day. Usually peanut butter/jelly or ham/cheese sandwich, a small bag of chips, and lots of water.
The heat and humidity has been high but the saving grace has been very nice breezes. After working in Cuesta Arena, we have been driving each day to Los Cocos for VBS. There we are in a small outdoor shop area with anywhere between 50-150 kids each day. They are very excited and affectionate and the men have been putting them up on their shoulders or swinging them around and they seem to love it. The teachers of VBS are very excited to be with the kids. We played volleyball with them and the community twice this week, which were all intense games! Yesterday was our last day of VBS and they gave each of us a small gift of appreciation. We were all so touched!
My favorite part of our trip so far has been our church experience. There was so much love shown for us and each other there and I could definitely feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Pastor Sairy was passionate in her presentation of the message and was kind enough to have an interpreter there for us who was equally as passionate. All in all the service was about two hours long but did not seem like it at all. The praise music was fantastic and they/we sang more songs than we usually do at Round Hill. There was so much excitement there. The people brought their offering to the alter, which was also moving. Communion was especially meaningful to me as everyone went to the alter to receive their bread/juice and we all partook of the elements at the same time. I could really feel God’s presence with us during that experience. I have felt him often this week through the experiences and mainly the people.
Today we walked through Cuesta Arena asking if anyone needed medical care. There were many cases of the Chikungunya virus from the mosquitos. Unfortunately other than offering Acetominophen for the virus, there was not much we could do. There were several cases of some type of fungal/dermatitis/eczema in the children’s heads, which we bought medicine for.
I have never experienced a more friendly and appreciative group of people than those we have served this week. Their lives are hard but they are happy and appreciative of the smallest things. I am blessed to have been a part of this experience.