Thinking of Garcia
Friendship is a gift. To some it is someone to keep us company, to some it is someone to help us through the rough times, and to some it is one of the pure delights and gifts of being human. We need friends. Since we started coming to Dominican Republic with Hero Holiday, I have become more acutely aware of how much I need my friends, and I have discovered how much I have to give them.Fours years ago, Vaden and I were driving down a road that seemed to go nowhere: it was washed out in places, had almost no traffic except for the odd motorbike or donkey, and it had houses lined along the side of it, full of people who shyly waved at us as we rumbled along. Somewhere along that place we found a man with a dream, and his name was Garcia.Garcia is a musician, a husband and father, a pastor, and a man with a vision bigger than what was in front of him. Each day he would travel from his own village, Maranatha, to serve another community called Arroyo Seco. He believed in those people and was determined to help them move forward in whatever way he could. His life has been one of compassion in action. Along the side of the road there was a small area, about 20 feet by 30 feet, covered by four posts and a tarpaulin. All around the area, many feet out, was a trench that had been dug at one time, but was now covered in by weeds, grass and life. Five years earlier, Garcia had inspired some men in the community to dream of what a school could look like in that place. Together, they dug the trench and hoped that someday they might see a school for their children.I remember standing beside Garcia that day, looking out over that small area and envisioning what could be: a school that could change the future of the hundred plus children in that community. The following summer, our Hero Holiday teams began to work with Garcia and the people in Arroyo Seco to accomplish this dream. The Arroyo Seco projects have been a labor of love that has filled our lives with laughter, warm memories, huge community parties, and tearful good-byes. In some way, it has changed us all.In the summer of 2008, we put the finishing touches on the school. As we drove away, I looked over my shoulder and saw a bunch of children waving good bye, with Garcia and his family in the middle of the crowd, smiling and shouting out their thanks. It felt good to be a part of something so incredible. Over the time that we worked in their community, over 700 Canadian teenagers and adults had witnessed the fulfillment of a dream, and it inspired us all.In late October of 2008, while many of us got together with friends and had Halloween parties back in Canada, Garcia, his family, and the thousands of people that live in Maranatha, his own village, fought for their lives and homes as they faced a flash flood. Many homes were covered under two to five feet of water and sewage, and many families lost every last earthly possession they had. Garcia and his family were no exception. Like so many of the world’s poor, they were now forced to rebuild their lives and start over-at the beginning. For a while, they had nowhere to sleep. But they were not forgotten.A Canadian missions agency offered Garcia and his family a new home in Arroyo Seco. They gave them a home close to the school and gave them more than they asked for. They are now high enough up a hill that they are safe from floods. But for Garcia, it is more than that; it is the reality of a dream. Now he is able to be closer to the people that he loves and he is able to be a stable part of a community he believes in.Having people like Garcia in my life has helped to deposit deep convictions in everything I do. I cannot give up. I cannot stop doing what I am passionate about. I cannot quit just because things seem difficult where I am at. Though Garcia has told us time and again how thankful he is for our help in all that we have done in their community, I have felt like it is I who needs to thank him. His passion for a community to have equality ignited all of our lives that were touched through the experience. That same passion rings in our ears as we embark on each new project and endeavor to help our global community.So, Garcia, when I see you again, I will tell you this in person. But, until then, I will put it in black and white: you are a great inspiration and friend, and your struggle is our struggle, your victory our victory. We are linked by a common goal and purpose that is deeper than culture, skin color and economics. We are in this together.This year, Hero Holiday is back in the Dominican Republic, accomplishing many projects such as this. Please consider helping us to continue to see dreams accomplished.