I leave on Tuesday for the Dominican Republic. I leave in 2 days for 6 weeks. I have been waiting, and praying, and thinking for this for a long time. It became a reality back around Christmas, but it has been a desire long before that. For me, the Dominican represents where my passion for missions was first ignited. I still remember the first village we went to.
I remember getting off the bus and looking in amazement at all the kids jumping up and down, screaming in spanish, pointing at the Gringos that came to play. Those kids were beautiful. Dark hair and skin, with big brown eyes, and smiles that carried all the joy and brightness of the sun. The girls had their hair divided in big braids tied off with big, brightly colored plastic hair bands completing the island attitude that these people exhume. We split into groups and were sent to find kids, instructed not to come back unless we all had at least two kids since we each had two hands. Coming back, the church started to fill up. Some of the older kids went closer to the front where the bongo drums were kept. They began to pat out a carribean rythm and lifted their voices in simple songs of praise for God. I sat in one of the wooden pews with a little girl in my lap, squeezed in between even more little girls, all with their hair fixed, some with shoes, some in dresses, most in whatever had been found, all dirty, and all excited. There had been a small squirmish in who got to sit in my lap. They all kept touching my skin, patting my hair, and rambling to me in a language that I couldn't understand. Their laughter and smiles were contagious. I have never seen or heard a sincerity that can match those of the children and parents in the church that day. It makes you realize that having nothing can never take away from the hope and the joy that can fill the soul.
And now I have the opportunity to be there for 6 weeks. I have the opportunity to really be in these people's lives and not just a fleeting shadow. It excites me and scares me at the same time. I know that God is going to show me amazing things, but I also know that with amazing things come hard lessons. And I know the lessons that I need to learn. I don't want to learn them, because they require so much of myself. There's things I know that I need to let go, that there are things I need to accept, and things that I need give up control on. There is no doubt that God will burden me with these lessons. Even here I can feel them and I can feel the importance and the difficulty that they encompass. But I don't wish that God would take them away. I know that there are things that I need to fix, and in order to be closer to God, I have to face them. No matter how much I am afraid to.
So here is my prayer, that I don't hold back and that God never takes His Hand away from my creation and my growth in becoming more like Him. I know I have chosen the more difficult of the two paths, but I have never been one to take the easy way out. And for everything, there must be a price. I know the price that has been paid for me, and for that price, I have found myself enslaved to the most beloved and kind Master who loves me enough to make me grow. It is in this Master that I place my chains. I bow before Him as He breaks them and declares me His. It is in this Power that I place my trip and I surrender myself to.