Love Always

On a Mission to Spread Love

I found out I would be moving to the Dominican Republic in February. It always seemed far away. I thought, ,”I’ll be leaving in 5 months” or “oh woah I can’t believe I’ll be leaving in 2 months.” As the time for my departure drew near, I started to think about all the ways my life in the next year would change. I wouldn’t be able to walk into the living room to talk to my mom. I wouldn’t be able to play with my niece and nephews. I wouldn’t be able to call a friend just for funzies. I realized that all of these thoughts were about things I would be missing out on. I then stopped to think about the things I would be able to do. (Because no one likes a negative Nancy)

I realized I was being given an opportunity to live in a beautiful country for a year. I was going to be able to practice my espaƱol (we all know I need that), maybe pick up some Bachata moves, and see some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Most importantly, I was going to be able to spread God’s love to people who the world seems to have forgotten about. That’s why I was going.

So fast forward to July 23, the day before I left for orientation in New York. I spent the day packing with my family, laughing at nonsense and just trying to soak it all in before I left. That’s when it started to become real. I was actually moving. We all went to dinner at Cheddars (it’s one of my faves. Their spinach dip is amazeballs) and had a good time. As we we said our goodbyes, it hit me that this would be the last family dinner I’d have in a while. There were tears to say the least.

The next morning my family and I took off for the airport. The car ride there was like any other. Monica and I were laughing at Veronika’s nonsense and my parents were laughing at all of us. I’ll spare you the sappy details about our goodbye, but I will say that saying goodbye was harder than I thought it would be.

I arrived in NY safe and sound and headed off to Jamaica which is in Queens, NY for my orientation. There I met other volunteers that were to embark on a similar journey. Some of them were going to El Salvador and others to Guyana. The orientation was nice but I felt as if I was in limbo. I had already said bye to family, but hadn’t quite gotten to my destination just yet. As July 28 got closer, I thought, “Oh crap. This is real. I’m actually going to be leaving the country in a couple of days.” That’s when a bit of the nerves got to me.

When the day finally arrived, I had mixed emotions. I was excited to finally get there and sad to leave my loved ones. Nevertheless, I got on the plane and set off for the DR.

The ride from the airport to where I’m now living is about an hour and a half. I got to sit in the back of the truck and admire the country the whole way home. I saw a beautiful beach unlike any I had ever seen. I heard bachata music playing everywhere. I saw dogs, cats, horses, goats, and even heard some 50 cent playing in a car. I also saw poverty. Kids walking around barefoot and hardly dressed. People begging for money and trying to sell you stuff at the street light. I saw trash all over the place. But out of everything, I saw a joy in people’s faces. The happiness and innocence that the children radiate is heartwarming. The women here are absolutely beautiful and the men are incredibly helpful. (And all of this was just on the car ride to my new house!)

The first day here was interesting. Though they speak Spanish, Dominican Spanish is somewhat different from what I’m used to. They speak it much faster and, in my opinion, with a cooler accent. Everyone I’ve met thus far has been very welcoming. Yes, there are things to get used to but that is part of the beauty of living in a culture different than your own. I’m excited to see how God will use me while I’m down here.

I know that my time here will be difficult. I by no means am trying to pretend that it’s always going to be rainbows and sunshine (even though it is really hot here). I know there will be times I wish I was back home. There may be times I will fail to see Jesus in everyone. Though I may fail, I will be reminded that His love never does. I will remember the words of Bl. Theresa of Calcutta:

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give it your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Love always,