The eleven of us were selected to work at a Dominican parish of Our Lady of Hope (Spiritan Mission) running a day camp for children ages six through ten. Our first impression of the Dominican Republic was completely overwhelming. Until we met up with the Dominican teens, we were totally lost in the airport. Once they found us it was much more reassuring as they were very open and helpful. Many of us were nervous and reluctant to use our Spanish with the Dominican teens, but once we realized that they were just as apprehensive to use their English with us, everyone relaxed. The three hour bus ride from Santo Domingo to San Juan served as a great ice breaker and allowed everyone to get to know each other. After 14 hours of travel we were all very relieved to arrive at the parish, where we stayed for the first night.
Although everyone was a little disappointed to have to wake up for an 8am mass, it was actually very exciting to experience the way another culture celebrates religion. After mass we traveled an hour to swim in the lake and afterwards Padre Don took us to La Cueva de Saboduco where we had the opportunity to explore the only cave in San Juan and climb the mountain above it where we experienced a breathtaking view of the surrounding area.
Once we returned to the parish, we prepared for the weekly youth group meeting. This week’s meeting was much more relaxed and fun because the previous week had a more serious tone. After taking the first few minutes to acclimate to the energy and confusion created by sixty people screaming in Spanish, we were all able to take part in and enjoy the activities that the group leaders had planned for the evening. We were impressed by the way all the teens took part in the activities and how much fun they were able to have without their phones or computers and how they simply enjoyed each other’s company.
-Written by Antonio
-Written by Antonio