domingo, 27 de noviembre de 2016

A Different Camp from a Different Perspective

A couple of weeks ago, I was so blessed to be visited by one of my very best friends. It was fantastic and uplifting to have her with me for five days. She got to see what my everyday life here is like, we were able to catch up, and we had a lot of laughs. (If you don't believe me about the heat in the school, ask Kayla.) Getting to spend time with her was exactly what I needed, and I'm so grateful that she was able to come and be a part of my new life for a few days.
That same weekend, one of the women in the Deaf church got baptized along with many other people from the church that planted the Deaf church. Many of the people from the Deaf church came to be a part of this wonderful event where probably 30 people of all ages made a public affirmation of faith. It is so amazing to see more and more of the Deaf community accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Oh, and I also did this! I learned how to drive a motorcycle! I'm not very good at it yet, so I still need to practice, but I made it around the block. The faces of the people watching a white woman go by driving a motorcycle were priceless.

A few days after Kayla left, a group of Americans came to do a camp with the students at the school. They attended the Deaf church on Sunday, had activities for all of the students Monday, Tuesday, and half of Wednesday, and then took the older students to a camp Wednesday through Saturday. They brought a few people with them who could sign, but I became the "official" interpreter. Normally when this group comes, the Americans speak in English, an interpreter then translates it into Spanish, and then one of the teachers interprets it into sign. My presence meant that one of those steps could be eliminated. I have zero interpreting experience, so the idea of this made me very nervous. But God gave me everything I needed to be able to do it. And I have no doubt that it was through Him, because I never could have done it on my own. I interpreted the Bible lessons and stayed with the sports rotation to interpret for the Americans in charge of that station. Some of the Americans held a workshop for the teachers all day Monday and Tuesday as well. It was a fun and special time for all of us.
The awesome team of Americans from Arizona

Chapel time
Wednesday afternoon, the group of Americans, a few of the teachers, 25 of the older students, and I left for a camp two hours north of Santo Domingo in Jarabacoa. It was absolutely gorgeous. Even though it didn't stop raining until the day we left, we had an incredible time. The air was nice and cool up on the mountain, which I LOVED! We had devotionals twice a day, played in the mud, swam in the pool, played basketball, volleyball, foosball, pool, and ping pong, rock climbed, swung on a giant swing (see picture to the left), ate s'mores, and had an amazing time laughing, sharing, and growing together. My arms might fall off and my mind feels like jelly from all of the interpreting (back and forth between English, sign language, and Spanish), but I am glad that God was able to use me to help teach His word and facilitate communication.
The giant swing! That's me in the middle.

Making s'mores

The thing about this camp that was very different for me personally was that it was the first time I was not a part of the group of Americans. I was a part of the Dominican team. I saw the camp from the perspective of someone who lives in this country and culture and who works with these students every day. I was able to answer questions about the students, the school, and the culture and offer some guidance to the American team in a way I never have been able to do before. I normally go through my days not really thinking about how much my life has changed, but sometimes things (such as this experience) really remind me that this is my home now and my life is so completely different than it used to be. That realization is at the same time exciting and terrifying.

I don't know what it is about these kids and young adults, but once you interact with them, you will never be the same. I have seen it over and over again with the team that does the camp in June, and now I have seen it with another group. They find their way into your heart and change your outlook, your priorities, and your walk with God. Their joy for life, generosity, kindness, eagerness to learn, faith, love, and amazing sense of humor make it impossible to just continue life as if you had never met them. This community is so unbelievably special. God has brought them all together to do something incredible for His glory. I have no doubt. Being a part of it all once a year was amazing. But being a part of it every single day is a joy and a blessing that I could never describe. I am so thankful.

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