Wednesday, August 6, 2014
When Life Gives you Lemons... The Airline Takes your Luggage....
On Saturday, August 2nd, we spent nearly the entire day traveling, starting with a 2 a.m. wake-call, meeting at 3 a.m., and getting to the Pittsburgh airport by 4 a.m. for check-in. Our flight departed at 6:20 a.m. and arrived in JFK around 8 a.m., followed by a 6 hour layover for our second flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. We arrived in Santo Domingo around 5:30 p.m. and discovered that our luggage did not transfer over to our second flight in JFK. In other words, we were without clothes and other necessities until the next flight arrived from JFK to the DR. Surprisingly, we all remained calm and positive. Following this dilemma, we were greeted and picked up at the airport by some of the Dominican teens. The bus ride from Santo Domingo to San Juan de la Maguana was about 3 hours. We arrived in San Juan around 11 p.m. We were exhausted, to say the least, and could not be more ecstatic to sleep.
On Sunday, August 3rd, was our first day in San Juan de la Maguana. Going into this trip, many of us were overwhelmed, intimidated, and very nervous. Nothing could ease our emotions any better than beginning our day with 8 a.m. mass with the community. As we walked into the church, you could feel the overwhelming energy of happiness and love, as well as never ending smiles, and continuous hugs. Seeing their faces light up with joy was an indescribable feeling. It was amazing to see that even though we are thousands of miles from home with nothing in common with these people except for our faith, and come together to celebrate Christ. During the mass, it was great to see what a true family this community is. For example, during the communal peace, everyone took the time and went out of their way to walk around, hug, and talk with almost every individual in the room. Even during the Lord’s Prayer, the entire room united and held hands. It was an unbelievable experience.
As the rest of the day went on, we were still waiting for our luggage to arrive. In the mean time, lunch was prepared by two of the women who lived in the community. This was our first meal together. I underestimated the thoughtfulness and generosity within the community. I could not have imagined a more perfect first day in San Juan. This community welcomed us with open arms and unconditional love. Being here has not only opened my eyes to a whole new world but has changed my perspective on life. From being here for less than 24 hours, I’ve learned that all you need in life is faith and with that, anything is possible.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” –Philippians 4:13