Tracey Norvelle’s continuing story:
We worked two days, and then had a play day, so we had four work days and two play days altogether. On one of our play days, the Mission rented motorcycles with Dominican drivers. We rode behind the driver and hung on. I was hanging off the back side taking pictures. We visited an old church constructed with materials from Christopher Columbus’s original church in 1492. We spent the whole morning there and at the Visitor Center. The Mission brought our lunches into Luperon, and then we went to an abandoned resort on the ocean and went swimming for several hours in the warm water. It was gorgeous.
We went back to the town square in Luperon, where the fountain doesn’t run and around it are the shops and homes. We shopped for souvenirs and bought banana milk shakes that were absolutely fabulous yummy ones. The bakery was within walking distance last year and we went nearly every day. Will and I missed that. This year we only went once because we needed to be driven there. We were thrilled with the bakery goods. It was mouthwatering and so cheap. They didn’t know much English but between our limited Spanish, their limited English, gestures, and lots of smiles, it worked. We went only to places the mission recommended for buying clothes or trinkets. I bought a necklace. Will bought coffee for his dad. Our money goes a long way.
One play day took us to the 27-tier waterfall. Most of the group climbed up 7 tiers of falls via ropes and ladders and slid down, flying into the pool at the bottom. I did this last time and didn’t see the need to do it again although it was fun. They all absolutely loved it and I took pictures.
One afternoon we put on a carnival for one of the villages. When the children came, they came in droves, some on their own, some with families. It was an extremely successful carnival. We brought tennis balls to be thrown through a plastic ring and this was very popular. One fellow in his 20s put all three balls through the ring. He was so happy; he lit up like a Christmas tree. Bean bags were thrown into buckets; beads were made into bracelets; and hot potatoes were part of a throwing game. Hop scotch and dart games were fun, too. The tennis balls I brought from home were left for the kids. We gave them parting gifts if they colored the pictures they were given. We gave prizes of stickers, plastic ear rings, fake frogs, and cheap trinkets that were just for fun. All ages participated from babies to young adults. They appreciated everything you did with them or gave them.
It stormed one night, the one night we had hoped to have one of the families for whom we were building, over for dinner. It is a beautiful place to be and they obviously know how to survive. One of our Lynchburg fathers who came with his daughter was amazed at all that he saw, especially the lack of tools and the extreme poverty.
A few mishaps always happen in a project like this. One boy had a high fever and went to the hospital. One girl had an ankle sliced by a piece of zinc that required ten stitches. I was under the weather for a day or so. Otherwise, everyone worked hard, stunk to high heaven at the end of the day, ate well, and slept sound. It was rewarding, eye opening, and altogether a great experience to make one feel grateful to come home to the good old U.S.A.
There were not as many little kids around as last time. Our youth loved hanging out with the little ones that were there – Will included. They come from big families so they loved the individual attention. Leaving was very emotional. Although we were happy and ready to go home to good food, bathrooms with running hot and cold water, nice beds, and air conditioning, it was sad to leave them. We wished we had been able to accomplish more.
Will added, “The Mission is doing a great job helping people, giving them a better life and making them happier. Our youth group was a good group. They got along well and everyone worked hard.”
I asked Will if he would be willing to do it a third time. “I would do it again. The Dominicans are kind and grateful for what they have and for getting a brand new home that doesn’t leak. It felt good to work hard for someone who doesn’t have life as easy as I do.” He said his favorite part was, “Making new relationships with people I went down with from the youth group.”
Thanks, Tracey and Will. I enjoyed your story. Maybe it will entice someone else to try a mission trip to somewhere either within our shores or beyond.
Since rarely does a project run without a glitch, on returning to the United States on June 21, their last flight segment was cancelled by United Airlines. (Again! Really!) Four vehicles were rented and the participants drove throughout the night (once again) from Washington D.C. to Lynchburg and home. Meanwhile, family waiting to pick them up in Greensboro, NC made their way back to Lynchburg.
Remember years ago United Airlines had a slogan, “United we fly.” Guess what? That ain’t likely to happen again! God Bless until next week.
Their Mission: “With our hearts and our hands, we will fill long-unmet needs of children and families in the villages of the Dominican Republic while providing a life-changing experience to those who serve with us. In doing so, we look to foster a relationship between the two cultures.”
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”