Witnessing God’s Love in the People of Baní
By Kathryn Fasold, ’17
According to 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Over the Mardi Gras break, I had the honor and privilege to see God’s love in the people of Baní, a rural town about two hours outside of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
These people do not have much in the material sense, but their spiritual trust in God and the joy in their hearts was evident throughout the trip. In all honesty, this mission trip was the most challenging thing I have ever done. There was no air conditioning, the electricity fluctuated in and out throughout the day, and the language barrier made having a conversation extremely difficult; however, this trip was one of the most amazing experiences I have been a part of.
My favorite days were the ones that the group spent working with the first through fourth graders at Espírutu Santo School. The children did not care that I had no clue what they were trying to tell me, rather they just wanted me to join them in whatever game they were playing. Working with the high school students was much more intimidating for me since these kids were my age, yet they seemed much older. After dancing and singing together, it felt as though an invisible barrier had been broken.
This trip is not about how uncomfortable you are, but rather it is about love responding to love. The children whose lives we made an impact on will never understand the impact they made on our lives and on our hearts. Seeing the look of joy followed by laughter on every one of their faces is something I will never forget.
Many people automatically associate the Dominican Republic with vacationing and are not aware of the poverty that surrounds several of the tourist spots. I no longer take for granted the blessings I have. Simple things, such as sports equipment or sheets and towels, and the more complex issues of providing clean water, mean so much to the people of Baní. I was told during the trip that this experience never leaves you once you walk with the people, but it was not until after I got home that I understood this message.
Visit NOLA Family’s article “Giving Back Instead of Taking a Break” featuring Dominican students on their recent mission trip.