This time for breakfast, Grammy just ordered several main things, and had them bring it out so we could eat buffet style. There were scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, pancakes and fruit to choose from. Everything that I tried was very good.
This time, our bus was on time, and as soon as we finished eating, we loaded up and headed back to the school. We had planned a small carnival/festival of sorts for today, and all of the children, both young and old were told to come in the morning. We got to the school and immediately got to work. Some of us filled the bags that the kids had made the day before with a little candy, a glider and a propeller toy. Others were busy setting up the games. We had a bean bag toss, a game where they could throw a ball and knock over stacked cans, a ladder ball game, a baseball toss with a radar gun so they could see how fast they threw, temporary tattoos, a ping pong ball toss, and a photo booth.
Bean bag toss
A, modeling the mustache tattoo
All of the boys wanted baseball tattoos, because
"in the Dominican, Baseball is life."
Once again, notice that nice, smooth, concrete slab.
Soon the kids were there and ready to play. I was asked to help A with the temporary tattoos. All we had to work with was a bowl of water and a bag full of temporary tattoos. So we were trying to wet the tattoo in the bowl of water, and sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. At first everyone was playing games, and not interested in what we were doing. But after the first two or three kids came, word spread quickly, and we were in business. They were climbing over the top of each other trying to get to us and pick out the one that they wanted. Did I mention that Dominicans do not know of personal space? They were all over us. It was fun, and a little bit crazy. Then a group of older girls came over and picked out the ones they wanted. The mariposa (butterfly in Spanish) was very popular with the girls. We with our limited Spanish asked them where they wanted us to put their tattoos. Did they want it on their hand, their face, their arm? Most of them were happy with that. But not the young lady that came to me. No. She made it extremely clear that she meant she wanted it on her stomach/hip area. There was no changing her mind. Believe me. I tried. All the while, my sweet friend Mrs. S (who hit the ground laughing when the girl first showed me she wanted it on her hip) has recovered and is taking pictures of this comical situation. Something that my Prince says from time to time came to my mind. "And this I do for the Gospel's sake." So, I did it. Then I looked at her friend who was sitting next to me, and asked wearily if she wanted one. She motioned no, that she did not want one. Tattoos were not for her. I understand. They are not for me either. But the kids loved them, and we spent most of our time telling them we were sorry, but they could only have one.
The temporary tattoo station...
where memories were made...lol!
When we were pretty sure we were done with our job, we closed up shop. Grammy introduced to me to a man who had known my prince when he was a young boy in the Dominican. It was neat to meet him. I was able to show him a picture of our whole family, so he could see how my prince was now.
Way too soon, our time was up, and we had to start getting ready to leave. The kids were all taking pictures with their friends, and saying their goodbyes. We all gathered for a time of prayer, and then our kids, their kids, were crying and hugging and saying goodbye. It was sad not knowing if we will see them again. It is also amazing to me the bond that you can form in just a few short days with language barrier and all. I know it is God. I know that the bond we have in Him, brings us together in special ways. I have seen it. I have experienced it.
Pastor M - Praying for our team before we left.
My teacher friend
The young prince and some of his new buddies
Sweet new friends
The Oldest Princess and one of my favorite little Dominican girls
This young lady in the picture with C is the one
who stopped the bus to give Grammy and E the coffee.
You know, Satan will try to make you believe that blazing into a different country for a few days or even for a week is useless. That you can't make a difference in such a short time. But I know that is a complete lie. Mrs. M kept telling our kids that no matter what talent you have - wearing white gloves and doing a black light program, or running sound and setting up the black lights, or playing volleyball or basketball, or singing, or taking pictures, or setting up chairs - it takes all of us to make it work, and that the kids they ministered to would remember them, and their group, and that they cared enough to come and took the time to do something (anything) with them. Mrs. M grew up on the mission field. She remembers the groups that came and spent time with them, and knows the impact they made on her. So, to us it is a small sacrifice. A week of our time. Leaving our comfort zones. Being away from our families. Eating different foods. Using bottled water to brush our teeth. Not flushing the toilet paper. Not speaking the language fluently. To them, it is a huge act of love that they will remember for a lifetime. And maybe, just maybe, they will grow up and go on to do the same thing. Maybe they will share their time and talents and love with someone else. Maybe they will be inspired to minister to others no matter what their talent may be. And mission trips are not just for the people we go to minister to. They are absolutely life changing to those of us who go. It was a tough week for me. I felt out of place and awkward a lot of the time. I wanted to talk to people, and I could only smile, and wave. It was an overwhelming, humbling experience. God spoke to me through both people and circumstances. And as tough as it was at times, I would go again tomorrow, if God opened the door for me to do so. If you have never been on a mission trip, and God gives you the opportunity to do so, I pray that you will answer the call.
The atmosphere on the bus was pretty somber. We all knew we had more to do somewhere else, but we really didn't want to leave our friends in the mountains. Everyone was tired and emotional, so there was not a lot of talking going on. But then it happened...The bus slowed down and began honking. We look out to see that the road ahead of us was FULL of cattle! We found ourselves in the middle of a cattle drive down the mountain! It was totally unexpected and crazy! Richard, our driver, just pulled right up behind them and honked. Pretty soon we were no longer behind them, but right in the middle of them. I think it was safe to say that this was not Richard's first rodeo (no pun intended - but you have to admit it's funny). Cows were everywhere! And the kids thought it was great. Before we knew it, we were through them and continued on down the mountain. I have no idea how in the world we got through without hitting any of them, but we did. God knew it was just what we needed to lighten the mood. It worked. The kids were back to laughing and talking and carrying on.
The cattle drive
We stopped midway with strict instructions from Precious Piranha (Grammy), to ONLY go to the restroom. We were not to make any purchases. No time for all of that. So we all hurry in and hurry back out. No one wanted to be left. And we all load the bus and the bus drivers are no where to be seen. A few minutes later they come out eating ice cream. Grammy gave them a rough time for buying something after she had told us not to. It was funny. We really enjoyed our time with them. They were fun, and made the trip more interesting. And most importantly, they got us there and back safely. And trust me. That in itself was absolutely no small feat.
The plan for lunch was that one of our bus drivers named Wilson knew of a great place that made Empanadas, and we were going to get to try them. Okay. Not a problem. But we were running late. So, we were going to call and order ahead so that they would be ready when we got there. But, they could not find the number. So, we debated just eating our snacks, and waiting until dinner. But wait! The drivers found a way! They called a friend, and had him go and make the orders for us. When we got there, I was glad that we had ordered ahead.
Our Empanada restaurant
I was already not feeling good from the twisty ride down the mountain, and the sight of the place was not exactly what I would call...inviting. Then there was the dead pigeon in the middle of the road, and the jokes that it invited from a bus full of high school students. It was the perfect storm. But I was determined to be a sport and at least try an Empanada. While we were waiting for our order, the girls made some new friends.
Flirting with their new friends
When flirting got them nowhere, they just imitated their new friends instead.
We were supposed to drive through the historic district of town, but because of time, we had to skip that part of the trip. We did however make a fast and furious trip to the market so that everyone could purchase souvenirs. One of the ladies in the market remembered the Young Prince from our trip there about 7 years ago!
Grammy on the steps of the market - trying to get N in trouble.
Some of the girls at the market.
We arrived at our new hotel in Juan Dolio, and said goodbye to our mountain bus drivers. We got our room assignments and the wifi password for the lobby area, and we were all set. Our new bus driver brought our keys and quickly put our things in our rooms and headed to the church for dinner.
From the lobby
A picture with the help of N's selfie stick
Waiting for our key
C's daring balancing act...well almost daring balancing act that is.
At the church we were warmly greeted by Uncle G, and Aunt A joined us shortly thereafter. Dinner was delicious chicken, baked potatoes and salad.
Our delicious dinner
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Some of the kids went swimming. Some played volleyball. Some of us congregated in the lobby to try to connect with home. I still had not talked to my Prince or the Youngest Princess since we had left. I was pretty antsy to do so. It seemed the harder I tried the more it was not meant to be. We FINALLY connected on face time with The Youngest Princess and I was thrilled! But she was in a super silly mood (making faces more than talking) and I was exhausted and not in a silly mood at all. She said that they were still at church and my Prince was busy and could not get away to talk just then. So we told her goodbye, and went to our room to get some sleep.
One of the other rooms did not have sheets for their pull out bed, so T came and stayed with the Oldest Princess, C, and I for the night. Our pull out had sheets, but no blanket. I think they froze all night. I told them to adjust the thermostat. T said at one time she got up to do it, but couldn't see, so she just went back to bed.
I slept great that night. No dogs barking, no mosquitos buzzing, no roosters crowing. At least none that I heard anyway. I was so tired that I don't think anything short of a natural disaster would have kept me awake.
Tomorrow... a new school, a new set of "old friends", and new adventures...it just happens to be one of my favorites...See you then!
Oh, and a HUGE "THANK YOU" to Mrs. B and E for allowing me to use some of their photos...You two are awesome!