It was strange not having Ben-ha-mean (Ben) at the table with us. I think we all could feel his absence. Even at devotions last night we missed his input. I think it kind of set our minds in motion, preparing us for the breaking up of the team and departure from the DR. I am so thankful that I was able to get a piece of Larimar stone to add to my bracelet. It is only found in the Dominican and is mined in Barahona. Emanuel, one of our drivers (Rambo's father) hand crafts the stones into jewelry, so it's very significant and unique to my trip here in the DR. Seeing it makes me feel like I am able to take more than just my memories of the DR back with me.
We all then went back to our rooms to pack up our things. My stomached slowly settled down and by the time we loaded into the van I felt better. We started off with a prayer and then we were off. On the way back to Santo Domingo we just happened to pass the other COTN van and stopped to wave good bye to the staff on board. This was especially good for Caitlin because she had bonded with Emanuel who was driving that van and she was glad to get in a farewell.
We joked during the drive, giving each other nicknames, and recounting our trip. When we got to Santo Domingo we walked through the Colonial Zone touring all the old buildings from when Columbus landed back in the late 1400s. It was nice just to meander through the market looking at art and snapping photos of the old buildings.
After that we checked in at our hotel and quickly donned our swimsuits. Even Vicky got in the water and enjoyed playing some water frisbee, catching it with her feet. We laughed so hard the whole time. Caitlin made the mistake of getting out too early and was promptly tossed back in, towel and all.
We had a nice dinner at the buffet in the hotel. I think it was somewhat awkward for us to be in such a nice place after the at-home feel of the Casa meal table. The servers carried our plates to the table for us and took the plates away. The food was quite delicious though. There was even mac and cheese for Holly.
Holly lead devotions tonight. We read the parable of the master who gave talents to three servents. We talked about re-entry into the states, what each of us were expecting, what we wanted to take away from this experience, and how to invest in what we have gained from this trip rather than burying it inside and not sharing it. A few of us have committed to implementing new things into our lives to build upon what we have been doing and others are contemplating what direction their life will go from here.
The fact that we didn't get into Haiti ended up being such a huge blessing. Sometimes you can't see the purpose or plan until you look back at how everything lead up to it. Each of the staff had something that was specifically utilizing their exact talents or desires on this trip.
Holly: Since her last trip to the DR, she had been wanting to work expressly with the DR staff to train them. We ended up doing a whole training session on Strengths Finder and leading with their strengths as well as training them on Displayed Thinking.
Travis: Anyone who knows him, knows that he loves to discuss Strengths Finder. Not only was he able to lead and facilitate the training session for the DR staff, but everyone on the team sought him out during the week to discuss their own strengths.
Amber: She has a desire to start an art
Vicky: Vicky stepped out of her comfort zone over and over on this trip and has become so much stronger and aware of the things she can do. After seeing the ILB program her visionary skills kicked in and she started thinking about a program for the girls. It just so happens that Malu on the DR staff has had a vision for a girls camp and Vicky worked in camping ministry before joining COTN.
Caitlin: Was able to improve her Spanish and gain a whole new family of Christian support that isn't just in the Flood community, but now stretches clear across the country and into the Caribbean ocean.
Derek: Well.... just tonight Derek might have discovered what his purpose on this trip was, but I don't want to jump the gun.
Angela: As for me, there was a lot of healing on this trip. Conversations that I needed to lift some emotional woundedness from my past, find some security and understanding, and bond with people. I also was able to use my artistic eye by doing photography with Derek.
Some people who read this might just call it coincidence, and that's ok with me. I prefer to think of it as "God's wink" as someone on our team put it. To put it frankly, we are a team greater than the sum of our parts and this trip would not have been the same had one of us not been here.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. -- Romans 12:4-5
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -- Proverbs 27:17