Seeing Familiar Faces
“Welcome to the Dominican” was said to the 28 students and 5 teachers as we got our bags and finally set foot into the world of unknown for many, and a familiar area for others. Being back in the Dominican felt great to myself and I could feel the excitement from many others who have never been before. The hot air and sun on our skin is way better than Canada right now!
As we got onto our bus we were greeted by Heather, Joy, and Andrew who would be leading us in this life-changing experience. As we were on our way to Sousa by the Sea (our hotel) we were told the basic rules and expectations for us as students. We also received our room keys along with whom we would be rooming with for the duration of our trip. Boy were we hungry when we arrived at our hotel, I have never seen so many kids drop their bags off so fast to enjoy some amazing food! Next was orientation where again we were given the basics and what to expect. Being my third year I thought I had everything hands down for sure.
This morning we woke up bright and early for a morning mass; it was amazing to see how strong these peoples’ faiths are. They have so little but look to their religion for absolutely everything. The priest stopped the mass to tell his community about the work that we would be doing, they prayed for us and thanked us greatly. Although we had a language barrier, the love they were giving us was incredible. One hug can make one thousand words.
The last highlight of today was going to the community of Arroyo Seco, to not only meet the fantastic Pastor Garcia but also to visit our future two families.
Pastor Garcia has always been inspiring to me, however today I realized that he is the person I want to be one day. He puts his community before himself and receives his happiness from them! Meeting the new families was amazing; the joy in their faces as they got to meet us all individually was incredible. You would have never realized that a house could make a family so happy that it brought them to tears. One family in particular stuck out to me; the Father broke down into tears when he told us a little about himself. It showed how thankful he was that God brought us down to save his and his families’ lives.
Afterwards we got to see our old families, Lisa and I are the only two that are present from the year that we built a house for a woman named Lucia. We were the first to go into her house to surprise her, one hug and a bunch of happy tears brought memories flooding back to us. Then we visited our family from last year and Alejandra could not stop crying. The seven “veterans” from last year were balling our eyes out because words could not describe the feeling of seeing her safe and happy in the home that we built for her.
I am so excited for the next five days with these amazing people and to learn so much more! Thank you to everyone that made this trip possible by donating or allowing it to happen. We are all looking forward to what is next on this amazing adventure.
-Sloan, LiveDifferent Builds Volunteer, Gonzaga 2015