A couple months ago, on Mother’s Day, I wrote this post about mothers on the other side of the world who confront global giants like poverty and hunger and disease, every day.
A few days later, my husband and I traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit friends, just us…and our four kids. We made our way through New York City on a 24-hour layover, to Santiago, and finally, Monte Llano.
We lived a week of days there, amazed at beautiful mountains and perfect seas, captivated by welcoming strangers all around.
I didn’t want it to end, most of the moments we lived there. Only the ones where I was dripping sweat and realized why every other girl had their hair pinned up.
Our friends took us along to visit families they’d been getting to know, whose children attend the school where they work. We were invited into homes with dirt floors, chickens running around, cats to control the rats. Roofs were made of scrap metal and ripped sheets served as walls.
Of course, we thought about the way we live like kings and queens, in our beautiful homes with so much food we beg to make it stop, and the ability to purchase all sorts of amusements.
But it wasn’t their material poverty that made the biggest impression. It was their genuine happiness, in the midst of few choices, little food, and without all our possibilities.
It was the way they welcomed us in, two families with a grand total of nine children.
It was the community we witnessed, the kind of I-need-you-and-you-need-me we don’t often see here.
It was the little things ~ the abundance of playmates, tales of adventure on the island, toys made from twigs and imagination.
Walking around, thoughts swirled over taking up my cross to follow Jesus. Is this what it looks like to lose life in order to find it?
The transformation in our friends was evident. They gave up their life to move there, in a lot of ways, and it hurt. But by the time we arrived, they had a whole new life–there, but not dependent on that place. And they don’t want to trade it, ever, because they have lived that beautiful life. They want more.
This doesn’t happen only by leaving all your stuff behind and living abroad or working in a mission. It just happened that way for them.
I continue to revisit this beautiful place in pictures and memories. I wish I had words for the meaning and significance of the experience. But I can barely find words to summarize the trip, let alone the abundance of thoughts it sprouted.
For now, there is no resolve. I am left with what is: a book of photos, an amazing memory, a conversation started, much to learn, people to care for, and God above it all. For today, this is enough.
What about you? When and where has your spirit been moved by some distant place?