Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Dominican Thoughts" from Jonah Steele

Bienvenidos a la Republica Dominica! We had a safe landing in Miami, and the 8 hour layover was "heavenly." I can honestly say that airports are built to house Starbucks stores. Anyway, as we landed in Santiago, we could see a wonderful view of lights. We are close to the equator, so the sun comes up and down from 7 to 7. Being that close to the equator also means that the sun is bigger, like literally. Its the size of Colony Square Mall, but in the sky (Which is most likely photoshopped to be this blue.) Customs people can't smile, and TSA security guards are still scary. As soon as we landed, we could tell that the standard of living here isn't the same as what we are used to.

This morning, we went to church, which is next door, and sat (stood kind of) through a Spanish service. One of the coolest things about that was how some of the songs we sang were ones that we knew, but in Spanish. Isaias (el capitan) said in his sermon, "The church is a hospital for sick people, not a museum for saints." This mirrors North Terrace's goal of One More, and it was awesome to see the goals of two different churches across an ocean line up like that.

The thing that has struck me the most so far is how happy the people are. In our wonderful United States, we complain nonstop about things that do not have any real impact. Wifi, hot water, flushable toilets, and even not having the newest Apple device. The people here could complain about not having electricity, not having clean water, diseases, poverty, trash, rough roads, not having a house, not being able to send their kids to school, not being able to feed their families. But they smile. The contentedness that the Dominicans shows puts a lot of Americans to shame. The way we define "wealth" doesn't even apply here. The poorest among us have immeasurably more than the vast majority of this island. The people that we will see this week and the ones that we already have seen have an ability to take what they have and praise God for it. Isaias also preached about praising God in the high times and in the low times. The people here embody that. I think that as a group, we all have a lot to learn about what "wealth" looks like, in terms of our spiritual riches and our physical ones.

-J (of the Steele variety)

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