Two Tiaras and a Sword

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dominican Mission Trip - Getting There is Half the Battle

It was a miracle really. It truly was.  Just a couple of hours before that, the kitchen table was piled high, and that was just the stuff we were taking down there to use for the ministry, not any of our personal belongings. But like I said, it was a miracle. We managed to make it all fit.

All of this has to go where?

 I finished school on Friday. I had Saturday to get everything done and us ready to go. The washing machine was on duty until the very last minute. Sunday morning the Oldest Princess and I were scheduled to teach Children's Church. Sunday afternoon was filled with church activities, last minute packing, praying we hadn't forgotten anything, quick goodbyes and then we were off. The bus was packed with people, and Mrs. B did a marvelous job driving and pulling the trailer filled with all of our luggage. We managed to stop and eat, make one last Wal-Mart run (where N jumped rope throughout the store, almost hit a lady, and walked out with merchandise BEFORE I had finished paying for it), and get to the hotel, with only one little U-Turn to speak of. I was not there, but I hear that parking at the hotel made up for the smoothness of the rest of the trip.

On the road!

 We all managed to get a little sleep, and be at breakfast ready to go at 6:30 Monday morning, wearing our matching t-shirts. Well, after it took an act of congress to wake up the only two boys on our trip (one being the Young Prince - we packed the hairspray in his suitcase). Our matching shirts said AMOR, with the shape of the Dominican for the O. Most people we saw did not get it. We did a lot of 'splainin' about those shirts. And, some of the Dominican shapes were falling off. N got tired of his and just pulled it off completely, so his shirt said AM R. I felt the need to shake hands with The Young Prince's shirt every time we were together, because the little piece of his that was sticking out looked like a tiny hand.
Monday morning, on the bus to the airport.

 At the airport, we faced the dreaded security. I always check and double check because I don't want to have anything that would cause them to single me out for any extra search. I have a son, and I know boys, so I made sure to ask the young prince if he had anything, like a pocket knife in his guitar case, because I didn't want him to have one, forget that it was in there and get in trouble for it. He was a little put out with me for asking. While we were standing in line, A and I were talking about how we hate having to take off our shoes and walk where everyone else has walked. And wouldn't you know, the lucky little thing got pre-approved and told she didn't have to take off her shoes! I was a little, no, a lot, jealous. So we go through our lines, with 13 of us, we were pretty spread out. I came out on the other side looking for my children. The Oldest Princess was with me, but when I looked back, The Young Prince was moving to another station where they would go through his bag. I immediately thought that it was probably the bag of cornmeal that his grandmother asked us to bring to her that was in his carry-on. But that turned out to not be a problem. Then they checked his wallet. And Unka, if you are reading this...I would say you probably should not purchase any more of those credit card knives...because out of the two that I know of, both of them have gotten the owners into trouble. The Young Prince had not thought about taking it out of his wallet, and they found it, so he had to throw it away. Then thankfully, they let him go through. We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare.

 Our flight was great. There was another group on the plane with us, and the stewardess asked about both trips and announced we were on the plane. At the end, she offered to take a group picture for us, and a couple of people from the other group photo bombed in. It made me smile when I looked at it later. We made sure that C had her paper she had to have for customs, because she left hers last time, and then she took off and left her jacket laying in her seat. So next time we will make sure she has her paper AND her jacket.
We landed safely!

 Unlike last year, all of the luggage made it there with us. Only a couple of suitcases were limping instead of rolling smoothly. Mrs. S drug a hole in hers trying to get it to the bus. We collected our luggage and found Grammy waiting for us with the pizza already ordered. We were very thankful for that. We ate, and headed out to our bus. We were excited to know that the bus had Wi-fi, so we could let our loved ones at home know that we had made it safely, and so that we could share the many pictures we had already taken.

Pizza in the Dominican

Our ride for the next few days.

 A bus load full of American girls (and two boys) does draw quite a bit of attention in the Dominican Republic. At one point in traffic, we were being ogled by a man in a truck next to us. Grammy got out of her seat and waved her arms and told him NO!!!! We told the girls just to turn away from and ignore any men acting like that. A few minutes later the Oldest Princess was looking out her window, when a man showed his interest. We laughed at her about the fact that she was not able to hide her emotions, because she said she knew her face registered shock/disgust before she turned. So the rest of the week, she worked on showing no emotion should it happen again.

 About halfway through the 3 hour bus ride up the mountain, we made a quick pit stop for snacks and a bathroom break. The bathroom experience was interesting: no seats, no locks on the doors, etc. I was waiting for the Oldest Princess to come out, when I heard someone throw up. Yuck!! Thankfully, it was not the Oldest Princess, but someone else. The rest of the trip up was beautiful. Very scenic. I could not get over how close to the road the little "houses" were and how there were young children playing very close to such a busy road. There were many little stands on the side of the road selling fruits and blankets and such.  Often they were run by young children.

This was just one of many roadside fruit stands.
Sorry for the picture quality.  It was through the 
window as we blazed past.

 People were everywhere. The streets, no matter the time day or night, were bustling with people. It is a beautiful country, and I am always saddened by the amount of garbage and trash piled everywhere and littering the streets. The people take pride in their personal appearance, and in their homes (even if it is a shack - it is very neat), but the streets and countryside are littered with all manner of trash. We had fun taking pictures of the mountains and valleys around us, but none of us as much as N. He scared me more than once hanging his head and his selfie stick out of the bus window taking pictures and videos. We also had at least 1, 042 (we finally stopped counting) near misses on the bus. People, motorcycles, cars, trucks, animals you name it...we almost hit it, and all of the aforementioned were honked at liberally. But thanks to some great driving and maneuvering by our bus driver, we finally made it to our destination in Constanza.

Buying Dominican candy.

Eating Dominican candy.

 The place where we stayed was very beautiful. Our villas were on the second level, and we had to walk up the hill to get there. So, we start heading that way. Mrs. B who was carrying her laptop and her camera as well as other things in her backpack, was behind me. I made it up the first incline and turned to see the second incline. Which looked like this...

 I stopped to wait for Mrs. B, and I wish you all could have been with me to see the look on her face when she turned the corner and looked up that second incline. But we made it. And we even had to climb it several more times from then until we left on Wednesday. We got to the top, checked out our home away from home, and unloaded our suitcases.

 Our room.

 Our kitchen area.

Then we took the bus to Pastor M's home for dinner. Dinner was chicken and beans and rice with salad, plantains, cucumbers and fresh pineapple. It was all very good.  Someone who shall remain nameless did not like her plantains. She happened to be sitting by C. All of a sudden, C says, "Get that off of my plate! I mean it! It is not mine! Get it off, now!" The nameless person had tried to slip her plantain onto C's plate. but she did NOT get away with it.

Our first Dominican dinner.

 After dinner we sat and visited for a while. The Young Prince and N showed us talents that we did not know they had by playing the cups for our entertainment. The moths were drawn to our light, and they provided entertainment as well, as the Young Prince and N tried to catch them. E got "dusted" by one on her shirt and in her hair. And there were several screams sprinkled in all with all of the moth trapping. Before we left, we had a sweet time of prayer with Pastor M and his family. 

 Our evening entertainment.  D and N playing the cups.

 Trying to catch the moth.

Pep talk from Mrs. M and prayer time with Pastor M.

Then it was back to the villas. C had not gotten her bracelet that served as our breakfast ticket, so she practiced how to ask for it all the way back. When we got there, she went to the desk, and gave it a try. After watching her struggle a little, I pointed to my bracelet and then to her empty wrist, and they gave her a bracelet. We made the trek up the hill to retire after a VERY long day. Grammy, C, the Oldest Princess, and I all shared a villa. I was the first one into the bed in our room, and I warned the Oldest Princess that it was like sleeping on soft wood. And it was. But, after such a long day, I think I could have slept on concrete. And soft wood was almost luxurious...

 To Be Continued (because we haven't even begun the ministry part yet)...

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