January 13, 2012

Home again...and everything else before that.

Burlington HANDS Team:

Buenas dias!

First off, huge apologies for not posting anytime earlier this week. The internet at the mission center decided to take a leave of absence, and thus so has this blog. But now all of us have made it home safe and sound and are back to reality, with hundreds of memories to keep us company.So here's what has all happened since we last talked!

Monday and Tuesday found us back at the jobsite finishing up the work there. The load of blocks we recieved on Friday was gone by about noon on Monday, so while Bert and Gil put the finishing touches on the completed brickwork, the rest of us finished cleaning up the courtyard and the school. The classrooms were all reorganized and wiped down, dirt piles were flattened, and the concrete materials were moved to the far side of the schoolyard. (This included many many MANY wheelbarrow loads of sand and gravel...it was quite an accomplishment to move the entire pile of sand!!) This continued until noon on Tuesday, when we officially completed all the work we needed to do here!

We had a few other fun things that happened this week...first off being dinner at Mery's on Monday night. She is the principle of La Esperanza and we got to know her quite well. We had a fun night singing, playing games, and laughing (a lot!) with Mery and some of the other staff of COCREF. Definitely a big highlight for a lot of us and an awesome opportunity to get to know the Domincans better!

A lot of our spare time this week was filled with visiting other schools in the area. Tuesday afternoon we visited two schools a bit to the north of Santo Domingo...both in bates, small towns that were associated with sugarcane plantations and have an incredibly high poverty rate. We toured the schools in Moharra and Fao, and finally got to see some kids in the classroom.(Something we have been looking forward to this whole trip!) Wednesday was similar, starting with a visit to the San Pablo and Nuevo Creation de Fe schools. Each school gave us a brief tour, as well as a list of projects that they would love to be completed. It seems that the need for new classrooms and renovations is ongoing everywhere in the DR. We made it back to La Esperanza to catch the end of morning classes, where we gave a short presentation of songs, a skit, and a short speech by Bill. It was fun to see the school we had worked on full of children! We visited one more school after lunch, and then headed back to the mission center.

Wednesday night we were treated by COCREF to a pizza dinner downtown by the waterfront! It was a beautiful evening and we were able to catch the sunset over the water as we walked along the front. It was also good to have some delicious pizza (probably our only meal besides breakfasts that didn't include rice!) and we topped it off with delicious ice cream cones! And in honour of it being our last night here, we ended the evening with multiple euchre games and stargazing up on the roof.

Finally, it was Thursday, our departure day. We didn't have to leave the mission center till after lunch, so we packed and relaxed for the morning, enjoying the last bit of Dominican sun that we could! Our flights back were uneventful, and we even had time to eat at a restaurant during our stopover in Atlanta. We landed in Buffalo by 11pm, and from there we headed home. Only Jon and Lauren had another long bus ride ahead to Ottawa, but they said it would be worth it! I think that, for all of us, this trip was worth it in every way, with huge experiences that have impacted all our hearts, our actions, and our faith. We were sad to leave, but everyone was also looking forward to hot showers and their own bed!

That's about all that really needs to be said...there are hundreds of more stories that could be told, but there isn't room for them all and this blog is too long already! We will always remember the people of the Dominican Republic and of La Esperanza, probably more for what they gave us than what we did for them. God has blessed us so richly, and we pray that the work in the DR will continue, and the children of the schools and their families will continue to grow in God's love and grace.

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Please keep them ongoing...for all the people constantly at work with COCREF in the DR, for the teams that continue to go down and provide funds for the work, and for the people here in Canada who work to make this all possible, and most of all, that God's work will continue to be done everywhere in his kingdom.

Glori a Dios.

--the team


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