The blogging is not going nearly as well as I had hoped. Our internet is pretty unreliable, but that’s okay. A few highlights:
We are seeing such incredible things on campus. As we step out in faith and share the gospel, we are finding many open and receptive hearts. Over thirty Dominicans have begun a relationship with Jesus in the past two weeks. We are also getting to continue to meet with these new believers and encourage them and ground them in their faith.
God is doing BIG THINGS in our hearts as well. Students are growing in prayer, in leadership and in loving others. We are really experiencing tiredness now, but I am encouraged by their desire to finish project strong.
The church we go to has invited us to sing in front of the congregation on Sunday. We are going to sing Montana (mon-tan-ya, the spanish word for mountain, not the state). And, we are dancing. I knew this would be a problematic area in working in the Latino culture. I have no rhythm or balance. And dancing is a huge part of this culture. I have a hard time clapping to the beat of most songs. Ay yi yi! Oh well, it’s only one song.
July 9, 2010
On every summer project, time is set aside at the beginning to do “Soul-to-Souls”. In a small group of people, you share your life story. You include everything you want and are encouraged to leave nothing out.
We do this with two goals in mind. One is that we want to quickly foster an environment of closeness and authenticity on project. The other is that there is something very powerful about bringing your story, your whole story, into the light. Things that seem dark and scary in our lives lose their power when shared with others. Maybe this is one of the beautiful mysteries of community.
Before this summer, I had done soul-to-souls twice. It is always a powerful thing to trust strangers with your story, with things you have never shared before, and to find them trustworthy. To realize that knowing everything, they love and accept you. And to learn through the stories of others that you are not the only one. Isolation is removed I stop believing that I am the only person on the planet who has struggled.
This experience was no different. In fact, as we went from person to person, the girls in my group often said things like, “I’m so glad you shared that… It made me realize I could be honest and share this… I’ve never told anyone before.” We feel some of the depth of God’s love and acceptance and grace through each other.
Our project is divided into several teams and part of my job is to coach a couple of them. The Meals Team is responsible for planning, shopping and cooking two or three dinners a week that we eat together.
I am so impressed with my girls: Maira, Sherrie & Estrella. They get things done and always cook us GREAT food. I am also learning from them. For example, this week we made enchiladas. Did you know that you are supposed to cook corn tortillas in oil so that they don’t break when you roll them? I didn’t.
July 8, 2010
During our first day on campus at the University of Santo Domingo, we went to pray. We are partnering with the Campus Crusade movement at UASD, which is called Vida Estudiantil (Student Life). Leyla and Prospero are the leaders of this movement. Leyla came to pick us up from our apartments and help us navigate the buses (“gua-guas”) to campus.
all squeezed together on a crazy little bus
We arrived at some benches around a tree where the Vida Estudiantil students were waiting. The awkwardness lasted about three minutes, as long as it took for my students and the Dominican students to realize they could understand each other’s spanish easily. If you saw them together now, you would think they were old friends.
Destino students meeting Dominicans
We spent some time sharing about who we are and how we got involved with Campus Crusade. Then we split into groups and spent time praying for this campus we would be trying to win for Christ.
Jenese sharing in spanish about her hopes for this summer
Also, the Dominican expression for “What’s up?” is “Que lo que”. You don’t give a high five or shake someone’s hand when you say this. Instead you make a fist, turn your fingers facing up and pound it. We are perfecting this greeting.
In front of the library during our prayer walk
It is about three a.m. on my first morning in the Dominican Republic. I’m exhausted, but I’m sleeping well under the ceiling fan. Suddenly, this screech slams into my consciousness. My mind is dragging itself into alertness, when I hear it again. A noise so rough and strange and horrid that I can’t even sound it out with letters on a page.
“Is that a rooster?” my roommate asks.
Yes. It is a rooster. And it sounds like it is sitting on our window sill.
Well, I think to myself, It will stop soon. They only crow at dawn. WRONG. Roosters begin crowing as early as two a.m. and they may not stop until noon.
We decided to name the rooster Rufio, after the character in the movie Hook. You know, the Peter Pan impersonator who can’t crow? Wishful thinking.
Yesterday morning, Rufio woke us up with a crow around 2:45 a.m. Immediately following his screech, was what I can only describe as a war yell. I was simultaneously terrified (because it sounded like a murderous maniac outside my room) and hopeful (because I had this image of a man in black yelling, leaping into the air with a machete and chopping off Rufio’s head).
Much to my disappointment, it was neither of those. It was only Yayo, one of the students here with us. His yell did quiet Rufio for an hour.