I remember the excitement I felt in this moment. After 7 months, a bunch of work to make it a possibility, a three hour drive from my house to Orlando, an hour drive to the airport from my brother's house, a four hour flight to Panama, a three hour flight to the Dominican, and a two and a half hour bus ride to the Sosua, I was finally H O M E!
I remember my first two steps out of the airport and the thought the came to mind when the sun hit my face and the air full of pollution hit my nose. "It feels good to be home." I know I must sound a bit crazy or maybe the humidity was getting to my head, but you won't understand until you experience it for yourself. There's just something about the country that makes you happy inside.
Although tired, we all got on to that dreadful bus with the biggest smiles, because we knew what the next week would hold. We knew we would get to see our extended family! And by extended family, I mean every single person in Redemption Village. Maybe not by blood, but they will ALWAYS be a part of the family.
As exhausted as we were, the only thing we could think about was seeing those beautiful faces again. We had waited so long and we didn't want to wait another minute! We decided to take a detour instead of going straight to the hotel, and we headed to the village. Maybe not the safest idea as it was night time, but we couldn't wait any longer!
The joy I felt walking into the village I grew up in, and seeing those beautiful faces is indescribable. Seeing each of us walk in and one after the other have a child run at full speed and embrace us, was like a scene from a movie! I walked in empty handed and after a minute I looked down and had 16 little hands wrapped around me.
It's truly a joy that leaves you without words. You have to see for yourself or else you won't truly be able to comprehend the extent they love on you.
I grew up on the mission field but yet it still catches me off guard. Here are some people living in some of the roughest circumstances and surroundings but yet they have SO MUCH love to give. Some of them show up and have not eaten for days but they show up with the biggest smile. I wish everyone in America could witness this at one point in their lives. It doesn't have to be the Dominican. There are so many other countries with people living in similar surroundings. I just wish you could experience it, even if it's only for a minute, the satisfaction, love, and pure joy, that radiates from this community.
Seeing my little friend, Wendy, and how much he has grown up brought me so many emotions. Just the thought of knowing that I had watched him grow up since he was a baby and that I was a part of his life was such a mind blowing thing for me. That him and his family would let a stranger become a friend so easily. I am so blessed.
The country isn't perfect. Just like any country it has its faults, but it has so much love to pour out. They welcome and embrace you with love, happiness and cafe. I hope that one day we can all be so welcoming and have joy that's as pure as what they display. A smile that is still on our faces no matter what the circumstances are. A happiness that is only capable because the Lord is shining through us!