Thanks for taking the time to keep up with my Dominican Republic series! If you missed my first post, you can find that here. I’m so excited to tell you more about my trip! The church in Santo Domingo, ICC, runs many different ventures. I’m amazed at how much they can do; being a relatively small church. But as Alfredo (our host) told us, the church isn’t afraid to take a step. Even if they don’t know how they’re going to achieve their goal or have no means to do so, they make the very important first move, taking a step in the right direction. ICC runs, besides the soup kitchen, a school and a gym (and probably other things I’ve forgotten). But as for those two things, both are open to anyone who wants to come. We took a tour of the gym, which in addition to all of the workout equipment and a gorgeous view, also offer various exercise classes and has an on-site pastor for anyone who wants to talk to him. The gym is the most affordable gym membership of any others in the city, and the church actually still makes a little bit of money running it. It’s a fantastic venture for them and is such a great outreach for the community, which of course is their entire purpose.
The school that the church runs is for 2 year olds all the way up to 3rd grade. It’s behind the church building, attached and opens onto the other side of the block. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s extremely colorful and I adore how unafraid the people in the Caribbean are of color. In my opinion, color stimulates the mind and is conducive to learning, which makes the use of color especially important in an elementary school. When we walked through, we got to stop by the classrooms and say hi to the kids, and they were so cute. We even went into a classroom where it was nap time, and some of them didn’t even wake up!! They were playing calm, sleepy music and it was the sweetest thing. The two women that run the school, one of them being the wife of the pastor of the church, were amazing to us and it felt like we had known them for years. They told us all about the school and the history behind it and how their faithfulness in God had led it to where it was. The story of how the school sustains itself and the impact it has on the community is incredible, and I was honored to help them, even in the small way we did. I see something so different in Ruth and Claudia, as well as the others that work there. They truly love it. They love waking up in the morning and coming in to serve the kids of the community, and most importantly, God. I strive for that one day. Not the exact profession or location, but to have a love for what I do. To wake up happy because I get to do what God created me to do. Because I get to do something I’m passionate about. I hope and pray that someday that will be my life. Anyway, we set to work painting the outside façade of the school; the part that faced the street. It was already really colorful, and we were mostly just refreshing the same colors that were already there. It was really fun though, it was on such a quaint street and the locals would sometimes just hang around and watch us for a while! People are so relaxed down there. Truly on island time. We also did a little bit of painting inside the building, but we couldn’t do much because it was a school day and some of the kids were allergic to the paint fumes. We got most of the painting done in one day, and it looked really good. Very bright and cheery.
I discovered something in the Dominican Republic. I’m obsessed with papaya and passionfruit. I don’t know if I’d ever had those fruits before, but if I had I didn’t remember how wonderful they are. We ate them at breakfast and sometimes dinner every day in Santo Domingo. We also went to the oldest sandwich shop in the country, and besides the sandwich I had being delicious, I had a papaya and passionfruit smoothie, and it was heavenly. So good I got another one before we left.
There were a couple cool places we got to see in Santo Domingo. The presidential palace and the oldest cathedral in all of the Americas, the Cathedral of Santa Maria le Menor. When we got out of the van to see the presidential palace in the evening after our sandwich shop dinner, we were warned to not be too loud and to not make any sudden moves. There was security all around the fence and they were watching us like hawks. I’m pretty positive they knew we were American tourists though, and they didn’t say anything as we took photos and marveled at the gorgeous palace. The cathedral we visited during the day, right before we left for the other city we’d be staying in, Bani. We walked around the colonial part of Santo Domingo and decided to go to the cathedral. The girls that were wearing shorts had to put on big pieces of fabric around their waste, because no bare legs allowed!! The cathedral was open to the air and absolutely breathtaking. The architect in me was dying. The ceilings were massive and tall, and along the edges of the sanctuary were little rooms with different purposes. It was so ornate and old and beautiful. I took a ton of photos, which I’d be happy to share with anyone interested.
We also went to the market and got souvenirs, and I got the traditional Larimar stone that’s only found on the island of Hispaniola. It was such an eye opening and amazing experience being in Santo Domingo. I learned so much just in the few days we were there. I learned about true joy, unconditional faith, and what love and need really looks like. My next post will take you to my time in Bani, and I can’t wait to share it with you.