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Thirty-three of us left RDU yesterday, with a stop in Miami, on our way to Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Trinity parent Jason Bryan, who runs the travel group Avalon Journeys, organized the trip. This is the second alternative spring break trip to the DR. Three years ago a group went to Haiti, and four years ago our first trip was cancelled because of the earthquake. Last year there were a number of families with younger, elementary children. This year’s group is older: lots of Middle and Upper School students, with a smattering of parents along. And the Denton clan (minus Jenny’s husband, Nick).
N.B. We weren’t the noisiest group on the plane. There was a cohort of Young Life leaders from NC State flying with us to Miami, on their way to Nicaragua. When we took off, you would have thought they were powering the plane with their shouts and their flapping. I had just introduced myself to the couple in the seats next to me, so I felt compelled to inform them that those were not the students from Trinity I had just told them about.
We arrived in Santiago around 9:00, 10:00 DR time. We rode in two buses about an hour up the mountain to Pico Escondido, the Young Life camp that was founded here in the late 1990s. The camp was in full swing when we arrived—there were about a hundred Dominican middle school students in the basketball/gathering pavilion, here for a WYLdlife weekend. Our middle school students joined right in the knock-out games and the dancing. (Those DR kids can dance.) Graham Dale and Charlie Piehl jumped right into the mix and gave it their best shot.
This morning we walked maybe a half mile up the mountain to a beautifully situated Catholic Church. All in Spanish. The liturgy helped some—I was very moved, actually, to think that Catholics across the globe were chanting the same Psalm and reading the same Epistle and the same Gospel. The priest asked if someone from our group would like to read the Gospel in English, after it was read in Spanish, and the Headmaster got the job. I was honored and will always remember that chance to read God’s Word on this mountaintop. Luke 13:1-9. Even though I was lost during the sermon, I was able to reflect a bit on Jesus’ inexorable warning about repenting.
After lunch, we were organized into three groups for work around the camp. I had been warned not to bring too much of my American work ethic and passion for efficiency to this place, lest I frustrate myself and offend our hosts. The warning, today, was misplaced. The facility director of the camp, Alejandro, spoke to us after lunch. He explained the history of the camp and how it had been built, largely, through the efforts of many groups like ours, who would come and do their bit. He shared how it might be hard for us to work for two days and leave, with the work unfinished. But he beautifully wove that experience into a Gospel lesson about God’s work in our lives, which moves sometimes more slowly than we want but always in step with his purposes for us.
Our projects were 1) digging three to six foot holes for foundations for a fence/guardrail down the steep driveway; 2) digging the foundation for a kitchen expansion; and 3) tearing down an old tool shed and helping the masons add courses of blocks to the new, larger structure.
Here at the end of the day, just before dinner, we are tired but glad for
God’s good gifts and a day well spent.
Adios for now.