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cadet blogs

Just Be

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
 Carol Yin Who: 12 cadets, Chaplain Kleppe, Professor Waid
What: Mission trip
When: Spring Break 2011
Where: Banica, Billiguin: Dominican Republic
Why: Out of love

Situated in the mountains on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic lies the hidden beauties of Banica and Billiguin. Not only did we bless these towns with our works, but they also blessed us by showing us to just be.

Day One

After landing in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, the plane was filled with applause because we safely landed. This was already testament to one of the lessons I learned this break: it’s the little things in life that matter. The instant we stepped outside the airport, I could feel my body soak up the humidity; sweat already beading on my forehead. And thus began our five-hour bus ride to Banica, our home base for two nights before we proceeded to the mountains.

Day Two

Waking up to a beautiful sunrise, I could only embrace the beauty of the countryside and all it had to offer. We had only been in the D.R. for less than a day and already I was overwhelmed with how beautiful the country was! Before a week’s worth of work, the group decided to have a day of fun so off we went to a local water hole where we jumped off rocks and splashed around with the local boys. Later, we trekked up a hill to the cave of St. Francis. This is a special place for the locals because this is where they believe St. Francis started his work. The sights were breathtaking!

Day Three

After a very bumpy two-hour truck ride in the mountains and arriving to the first chapel, we split up into groups, one to gather cement for another chapel and another group to paint the chapel. Every painted chapel in the area has the same color scheme: blue (azul claro) exterior, white (blanco) interior, cream trimming, and brown windows. The blue color really sticks out in the town so everyone who spots a blue building knows that it is the local chapel, a place for people to gather and have a sense of hope. After a morning and afternoon of hard work, the local women provided us with a late lunch of rice, beans, and sardines. Though this may seem like a meager meal, the food was delicious!

Days Four Through Six

We split into groups again and started painting the second, third, and fourth chapels. Because the villages are fairly spread apart, we started everyday at sunrise to travel the bumpy dirt roads to the next village. No matter what chapel we were working at, the locals provided the best hospitality I have ever encountered. One afternoon, a local family invited the group to their home for lunch. I still cannot comprehend the hospitality and love they showed us. A simple meal of rice, beans, and sardines never gets old! With so little, they offered the best they could provide including coffee, a chair to sit on, or even a helping hand. The kids were especially fun to play with and they even offered to help us paint. Though everyday consisted of the same work, the experiences were different. On the last day, for example, the truck got stuck going up the mountain because the tires started to lose traction. Talk about scary! With teamwork and ingenious ideas, we tied a rope to the front of the truck and pulled it up the mountain. The whole time, I kept thinking that the rope was going to break because how could a small rope pull up such a large truck?! Well thank God, everything turned out well and we got the truck up the mountain!

Day Seven

Reflection. People constantly reminded us of how generous we were to give up our spring break to help those in need; however, I beg to differ. Yes, I could say I “gave up” my spring break, but in reality, I don’t feel like I gave up anything at all because I had everything I needed for an unforgettable spring break: good memories. Spending a week with the bare minimum with a good group of cadets was more than I could ask for. I expected to go on this mission trip to help those in need but the locals also taught me more than I anticipated. They taught me that one doesn’t need much to be happy and live peacefully. Language barriers can be overcome through love, smiles, and little things like playing tag or a nice handshake. Even though the locals and I are from very different backgrounds, we are all humans. But the most important lesson I learned on this trip was that love has no language.

Thanks for reading!

More about Carol.