Today was our first experience walking through one of the bateys. We poured two concrete floors for homes in the Algodon batey. As a warm up for our discussion this evening our youth were asked to describe their morning with one word. Some of their responses were: Sweaty, teamwork, hot, dedicated, successful, pigs, goats, children, hopeful, happy, enlightening, tiring, community, thankful, and blessed. Our first year Dominican Republic mission youth were particularly struck by the poverty in the batey. We had heard of the small, shanty-like huts that people called home, but what we saw gripped our hearts in ways that we will never forget. The experience – the smells, the sights, the feeling, the taste in the air – were deeply impacting. Our project was to mix concrete, move it into two of these homes and spread it (with the finishing help of local construction workers). Our water source was for mixing the concrete was a ways away from one of the two houses, so we made a chain. After shifting through mixing the concrete by hand with shovels, several put the mix into buckets. These were passed down person to person to the home. The bucket was empty and preliminarily spread. This proved to be tiring work, but all were able to help, which made for wonderful morning of working together and community building – among our youth and among locals. Many of us reflected on how the young local children jumped in to helping with this sweaty and challenging work.
The afternoon was spent with the I Love Baseball team and staff, as we again saw the beauty and love of Christ in our brothers and sisters from the Dominican Republic. The staff and team explored with us, swam and played with us. I am again captured by the selfless love we have found. The falls themselves were beautiful as we marveled at God’s creation. On our way back to Casa Bethesda this evening, we stopped briefly to walk along the shore of the ocean. Some of our youth were seeing it for the first time. We got to take a group picture before loading on to the bus. Our kids were exhausted with a full day of work and play.