This post is long, but I hope it’s worth it to you to read it. 🙂 I have learned more things than I can count the last couple of days here. However, a couple of them stuck out in particular. So many people in the Dominican are more friendly and more generous than I ever have been.
I was talking to a man, Freddy, yesterday and he asked me what I thought of the people here. I told him that I love being able to look around and see just a ton of smiling faces. He said that it’s something they take pride in; that even when times get tough and work gets more difficult, they still smile. What stands out more to me, however, is how everyone here is family. When we drive to Cuesta Arena, all of the people wave to you. When we go to the store, the people and other customers ask you how you are-and then wait for a response. And when we go to church or a service, everyone greets you with a hug and a kiss. It’s so different from the states. I’ve gone to Publix many-a-times when I ask someone how they are and they just walk away without answering because they don’t expect me to listen. And I’ve gone to the park and waved to a family who looked around like I shouldn’t be waving since I didn’t know them. Those boundaries don’t exist here. You have many brothers, sisters, and friends.
As far as generosity goes, it’s hard to describe without being able to show you. But Sarah made a great point when she said, “You have to be really careful with what you say you like something.” For instance, there is a beautiful little girl, Orileidy, who lives in Cuesta Arena. She has been extremely ill, in and out of the hospital, and has lost a ton of weight. She can barely walk and sits in a chair to watch the other kids play since she cannot. I decided to sit with her for a while to just “be,” together. Since I know only a handful of phrases in Spanish, I decided to point to her bracelets and say, “Me gusta.” She looked at me with a little grin and said, “Quieres uno,” which (for my fellow Spanish dummies) means, “Do you want one?” My heart melted. I’m telling you people, it’s hard to be humbled like that. God has shown me time and time again, that I’m not really giving, unless I’m doing it with my whole heart. I don’t think I truly got the meaning of sacrifice until that moment.
Finally, this morning, we got to do the thing I’ve been most looking forward to; we went to the orphanage for children with disabilities. I can’t even describe the emotions that went through my head. I saw beautiful children, hurting children, and happy children. I fell in love with this place. Perhaps the coolest moment for me so far was watching a boy crawling towards us. He all of the sudden stood up, gave me a hug and wanted me to carry him. What an amazing feeling. Jocelyn and I gave many kisses to the kids in the beds and listened to them laugh as Pastora held a toddler, and Sarah played with a baby. A part of me was breaking for these kids, knowing that most won’t be able to walk or crawl or even be taken out of there beds. And more of me hurt just realizing that these kids will never get the medical attention they so desperately need and that we take for granted in the states. These kids are packed in like animals, and discarded by their families because of their special needs. But a part of me was also happy for them, because they are content just being loved. I realized this morning for the millionth time, that a smile is contagious. A hug can make a friend. And a kiss can mean the world to a child who wants nothing more.
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