Dave Goodhue, Mike Moore, and Cole Haggard worked hard until around 12 a.m. Saturday morning to finish up the shelving in Ina's garage. Then it was time to be a tourist!
We had plans to go your some historic sites, visit a Dominican market, and spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach. We ended up having to just drive by the historic sites, but Ina's interns were very helpful and probably more knowledgable than tour guides! They showed us the port Columbus sailed into, the national palace (our White House equivalent), and some beautiful Spanish churches and ruins. The Dominican market is a huge building filled with different booths, like a flea market with different vendors. We all enjoyed getting to shop and barter prices. Many of the guys got knock-off sunglasses, some Dominican baseball hats, and various souvenirs. The women were mostly interested in the jewelry. They were attracted to a stone that is native to the Dominican, the pretty blue laramar, which is found deep underwater.
After shopping, we headed to the beach. We ordered pizza and enjoyed a great lunch on the water. Cody Massey was very excited because it was his first time seeing and being in an ocean. He was definitely given a day to remember, as he and 8 other people on our team were stung by jellyfish and sea urchins! Despite that, we had an incredible time. The people on the beach were very different than those we had previously encountered. We were used to the friendly atmosphere in the village. Here we encountered a lot of salesmen and vendors. They are relentless toward tourists, especially Americans, so we were a prime target. We were offered sunglasses, massages, bracelets, and various foods countless times. It was tiring having to constantly say no. But we maintained politeness, seeing this as a test of our patience and priorities and remembering that we are representing Christ at all times.
That evening, we met at Ina's for one last get-together. We had a cook-out with master grillers Dave Goodhue and Tyler Larson making some awesome hamburgers! We all enjoyed the fellowship and coziness of Ina's home. She told us her personal testimony of moving here and expanded on her vision for Cercadillo and where she feels God is leading her. As a group, we talked about the highlights of the week and different things that had touched us. Our team leader, Keith Ward, closed in prayer, and we returned to our compound. Our group then split into two--the sane ones who were going to rest that night, and the insane ones who had decided to pull an all-nighter (we were leaving at 3 a.m. the next morning).
This morning (Sunday), we all got to the Santo Domingo airport at 4 a.m. and boarded the airplane at 7 a.m.. Our flights have been doing smoothly, and we are happy to be headed home. It is great being back on American soil and hearing a familiar language! Those who pulled all-nighters are crashing hard, and we can't wait to be back in St. Louis!
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We went to the Dominican Republic with the intention of serving others, but we can all say they have taught us, humbled us, and challenged us to trust God in every direction and find joy in the small things. God used a small village named Cercadillo to exemplify his love. Please ask us when you see us personally how God worked in this trip, what we learned, and what this trip leaves us with! We would love to tell you more.
"Jesus said: I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes through the father except through me." -John 14:6