This year’s trip to the Dominican Republic by Christ Church Christiana Hundred’s youth group was filled with lots of fun and enjoyment. We visited Jalonga, a town in the eastern Dominican Republic, to work and help renew the town’s community school and church. The day we arrived, everyone who was new to the trip was very curious about what Jalonga was going to look like. As we made our way to the hotel after eating a quick lunch at a lovely restaurant near the airport, we were soon to see the houses. They were small and pleasant. Some were bigger than others. We arrived at the hotel and were all greeted by a very nice groundskeeper who made us feel so welcomed. He also later joined us in a game of manhunt that was played on the hotel grounds.
On our first day of work we painted the outside of the church. Some of the local children joined in and helped us get the job done. Then we painted boards in bright colors to build a fence. Another group cut the boards to make them perfect sizes for the fence. Then we screwed them all to a railing to assemble the fence. Other groups were digging holes and putting together flower beds while some groups were scraping the old paint off a wall that needed a new coat of paint. We attended the local pre-kindergarten graduation ceremony at the school, as well as catered and served lunch to the parents and children who graduated or attended the service.
Usually, after work, we would go to a beach or a pool to cool off and grab some lunch. The beaches were especially fun because of the cool vendors that would walk up and down trying to sell you kites, sunglasses, inner tubes, etc. The pool that we would normally swim at had a great lunch and a super fun water slide that everyone enjoyed at least once. One hot day we drove about an hour and a half to another beach which had a restaurant right by the water. The beach offered a great view of sailboats and palm trees, which was a nice way to relax from our days of work, and the opportunity to work on our tans.
One thing I especially liked about this trip was that all the meals we ate were family style, together. It was usually one long table where everyone could talk to one another. After dinner we would play pool or just talk to one another until it was time for worship. We had little “family” groups that we would break off into and chat about different topics of the day. Each family group led worship one night so everyone could have a chance to read and pray.
One day of the week we went to a local orphanage and played volleyball and kickball with all of the kids. We also went to the town’s community baseball field where mostly everyone participated in a fun game of baseball. God was present in the happiness of the kids and everyone who pitched in on this trip.
One memorable experience I had was on the second to last night of our trip. I was playing pool with some friends and a really fun song started playing on the speaker. Everyone started singing and we all had a good time. There was nothing to complain about or worry about. Whenever the local kids would ask to help us and we agreed, their faces would light up with joy.
I found peace in seeing the hard work that my friends and I had done for the community. I also found peace in the very relaxing outdoor showers that the resort had. I learned many things from this trip, such as always trying to be a happy and positive person and that having a loving attitude will go a long way. I also made some best friends and have some great memories that I took home with me.