I started the trip by watching the movie “Selma” on the plane ride to the DR. And I wrote about how my heart broke for the African Americans in the US. Watching that movie was, unintentionally, a really good thing for me. It got me to think outside of myself while on my way to go work for other people. It got me to think about injustice. It got me to think about how “good” I really have it in life. And it more importantly, it got me to think about how “not good” others have it and how I need to be aware of that as well.
So fast-forward a week… No more Selma. Now it’s Barahona. My heart is now entirely with my Dominican friends and Dominican family. I literally entered the country with a broken heart. I left not with a broken heart, but an open heart. Open to not being so self-centered. Open to other people’s hardships. Open to giving more than receiving. Open to what my future in the DR looks like. Open to how my relationship with Victor impacts each day of my life, other than just a $32 bill each month. Open to what our relationship with Yafresi looks like as she heads off to college soon. Open to how to take care of the staff of this organization that is helping so many people.
i don’t have answers to all of those yet. But they’re there. Those questions are in me. As I have for years, I still have my Dominican Republic flag hung in my garage so I see it and think of my people often. And currently I have the rubber band bracets that Victor gave to me wrapped around the shifter in my car so I will think of him frequently.
But how do I live in two places? How I live with so much here, while they live with so little there? How do I learn from people that have far less than me yet are so much more content than I am? How do I become as resourceful as they are with what they have? My friends are slowly teaching me to be a better person. Giving of my time, money, and heart.
I’m often asked how often I go to the Dominican Republic. And as my relationships grow there, it gets harder and harder to stay away. I dread the thought of it taking another year to return. Though I have so many responsibilities here at home as well.
I remember my very first time I went to Barahona, DR with COTN. On the drive back to Santo Domingo, I specifically remember the feeling of “I’m not done here.” I didn’t know shape that thought would take. But up to this point, that shape has been beneficial to many people including my family.
Nathan is now very excited to go with me sometime. How amazing would that opportunity be? I don’t even think that he’d only be going for the Frutiy-Oh’s. I look forward to sharing it with him. I look forward to him thinking outside of himself as he gets older. I’m excited to bring him whenever that time comes.
I arrived back in the USA with an open heart. Open to change. Open to helping more. Open to life outside of my own. Open to my “extended” Dominican Family. They are my people. And I miss them already. And I wonder what what shape that will take tomorrow… and the next day… and the next…. I hope it changes the shape of me.