The Impact of an Impact Trip
Hi! Sarah Mixdorf, Joshua 1: Nine Board Vice-Chair here to fill you in on my fifth trip to the Dominican Republic. Like each trip before, it was IMPACTFUL. I made this trip to assist in bringing Joshua 1:Nine children from beautiful Fondo Negro to Tierra Alta summer camp near the capitol. You might be thinking, that’s so ordinary. And how was it impactful? Well, let me set the record straight. Summer camp is extraordinary for children from Fondo Negro; possibly once in a lifetime.
After the children turned in their proper forms and received their wristbands, the adventure began. Side note: If you’re a child lover, you will appreciate my near panic during the wristband process. I wanted every child possible to experience the trip and between language barriers, parent – child communication and typical life chaos, I thought certain at least one little love wouldn’t have his or her proper forms. I am a mother of three boys and I rarely meet this expectation. Well, we did it! 150 kids and no hiccups. We traveled as a group by coach bus for three hours to Tierra Alta. Some of our children had never left Fondo Negro. For them, the bus ride alone was an adventure! They saw parts of their island they might never see again.
When we arrived at camp, they were provided sleeping accommodations; a bed and bathroom with shower and toilet. Running water!? That seems like no big deal for those of us from the US but if running water isn’t available in your community it is a real gift. For those of you yet to visit Fondo Negro, let me assure you, the children were in awe of their surroundings. To them summer camp was extraordinary. During our visit, the children mostly played and again it was extraordinary. The baseball fields have grass or turf! The dugouts keep you cool! There are major league baseball facilities in sight that provide life motivations that can’t necessarily be taught through word and story. The food was delicious and plentiful and they were assured three meals a day. The children dressed for dinner like they were attending an American prom. DR fashion is fancy but some were thinking once in a lifetime. We worshiped, of course, and guess what – extraordinary; hundreds of children in prayer and song. It was beautiful.
One evening during worship a child gave me a gift. Five trips in and it still takes my breath away when a child gives me a gift in the DR. They have so little. This gift was four bracelets. Well, rubber bands but I’m sticking with bracelets. Here is the best part: When he put the bracelets on my wrist, the one that holds my newest tattoo “James” (My father passed away two years ago. He is James.) I thought, I should switch wrists because I don’t want to hide “James”. And then it hit me. The reminder that amidst the toughest journeys: me losing dad; this little guy who is not sure when his next meal might come, is happy – stop searching; gratitude – wake up, check. It’s a blurry mess sometimes but it all comes together perfectly if you choose to let that happen for yourself. So I’m keeping the bracelets where they belong.
Finally and in keeping with the theme of extraordinary, I must mention the butterflies (yes, off topic but worth the mention). It was literally raining butterflies our entire trip. Perfect, little, yellow butterflies. At one point, I turned to my fellow travelers and said, “Who needs a butterfly exhibit in a zoo, when this happens?”. I sent a video of the butterflies to my twelve year old, Jacob. His response was, “That’s so cool.” This level of cool was a first for me and yet another reason, trip #6 won’t be far off. Thank you Joshua 1:Nine for another pile of happy, a heap of gratitude and a dash of cool.
Hours were spent just hanging out together at camp. It was not unusual for a “rap-off” to break out often throughout those times together. (shown here) Kids are kids everywhere!