Written Today 🙂
On Thursday we went on our volunteer visits. Each trainee visited a current volunteer within his/her sector to get an idea of what it’s like to be an actual volunteer. My volunteer lived in Manabao, which in the mountains. It was coooooooooold! At night I to layer up with several blankets and I was still cold! Not something I’d expect from the DR in late March.
To get to Manabao we had to ride in a pick-up truck about half an hour from Jarabacoa. We arrived at the loading stop around 2:30, and ended up leaving at around 4:30pm. From there we went to an ICT class with youth. The next day we went to check out a water source at the top of a mountain. We walked the entire way. It’s been a while since I’ve done some heavy-duty mountain hiking…errr, make that, this was my first time doing some heavy-duty mountain hiking…so this was pretty strenuous for me. We walked up really steep inclines, the vast majority of which were not paved. Then we finally got to where there was no more road, but we kept walking. We walked through a lot of bush, and brush and sticks, places where there was no trail, but we finally reached the first part of the water system. Then we went deeper in and walked on the side of and up the mountains again (passing by chickens and cows and cow pies) until we came to where that water flowed from, a smaller opening, that held a ton of water. I didn’t think it was possible to go any further, but this of course was not the actual source of the water, so we went further. “Where is the trail?” I wondered. “Where are we actually going to walk?” But the local man that was guiding us to the water source was a beast, and I have no idea how he remembered just where to go (without a trail), but we finally reached the actually source of the community’s water: a water fall flowing into a pool of water that fed into the previous two water sources. From there we could see why some community members were getting sick (because of the sitting water collecting contaminants before actually flowing into their homes).
This mountain experience left me with three reflections: (1) Praise God that I did not fall to my untimely death off the side of one of those mountains (and I did slip a lot!). (2) This was the first time I was able to see the real, tangible impact of what Peace Corps does. Peace Corps was rectifying the water issues for this community. Clean, drinkable water is something we take for granted in the US, and something that I’m really appreciating during my stay here in the DR. The fact that the vast majority of us in the US have constant, reliable access to clean water that can be used for drinking, bathing, brushing teeth and cleaning is a blessing; this is something that many of the world’s populations can’t say. (3) In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said that if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed, we can tell the mountain to move and it would move. I don’t know if Jesus meant this as a literal mountain, or spoke figuratively to mean an obstacle, but after all but scaling that mountain, I appreciate even more what he was saying. If they did mountains like that in his day (lol), I’m sure this was good news to his disciples. It’s good news to me that my frail faith becomes much in the Master’s hands. My faith really only becomes tangible when paired with God’s grace. Praise God for helping my unbelief when my faith is but the size of a mustard seed. Thank you Jesus!
When we finally came back we attended a Haitian wedding celebration conducted in Creole. The rare thing about this was that Dominican and Haitian members of the community came out for this. While we were waiting for the betrothed to arrive, I took some photos of some Haitian kids. They had such bright smiles :). Each time I snapped a photo I would let them see it, and they were so excited to see themselves captured in time. They laughed and exclaimed in Creole.
Even though I didn’t understand all that was taking place, it was a really cool ceremony. They sang a lot, and prayed a lot. At one point they all prayed together out loud. Here’s a video of them singing:
The next day, we had lunch with my volunteer’s doña, and then went swimming in a river. It was soooooo cold!!! I didn’t last long in the water. I ended up getting a slight sinus infection what with all the environmental factors and all, so I’m kind of glad to be back in the concrete jungle.