(Image) R: Resident, E: Employee. From left to right back row: Gavin Sauder (E. since Nov. 2015), Kristy Deibert (E. since 2007), Marvin Harnish (E. since 2009), Marian Harnish E. since 2009), Amy Gallagher (E. since 2011). Left to right front row: Vivian Hertzler (R. since 1998), Ginger Miles (E. since 2008), Velma Hershey (R. since July 2015), Kelly Sweigart (E. since 2006), Lois Kirkpatrick (R. since 2012), Sharon Brooks (R. since 2011).
Written by Trish Lauer
It’s four o’clock on a cold January morning. A group of ten bustles around, loading their things and themselves into a transportation van that’s waiting to take them to Harrisburg Airport. Shortly, they won’t be in freezing winter weather, but in warm Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
This trip is one of pleasure, but of a different kind – these ten will be going to provide encouragement to children who are at a CURE hospital to receive treatment for various conditions and serve as a form of support for their families, as well as organize a Vacation Bible School for local kids.
When they arrive, the 87 degrees they’re greeted by is a vast difference from chilly Lancaster County. The sun shines, the water twinkles and the group is on their way. Immediately, they’re struck by the kindness of everyone they meet.
It’s this kindness that is a recurring thread throughout the whole trip. In spite of difficult situations, they meet so many who maintain a positive outlook and a bright disposition, finding strength in their faith. Those that are a part of the journey for the group are touching their lives as much as the group hopes they are doing for the patients and their families.
While visiting with the children, the group cheers them up with stuffed animals, bubbles and toys – a gesture that means so much to kids who are frightened of the unknown ahead of them. Such a big experience at such a young age can be overwhelming, and everyone is more than happy to do what they can to calm their day and put a smile on their faces.
More smiles surround them at a local village’s new church plant, a church everyone was able to attend earlier that morning. Skits are performed, songs are sung, and crafts are made, each activity bringing joy to everyone, the group included. The fun costumes are a big hit, eliciting giggles from the kids who are clearly having a blast.
Before leaving Santo Domingo, everyone has the opportunity to soak in more of the local culture, exploring a beautiful cave, snorkeling in the clear blue water and enjoying a ride on a banana boat. They arrive home safely, and when asked if they would go back and do it again, without hesitation, they all say “yes”. Each experience provided by their Dominican “family” created memories to last a lifetime, but it’s their time spent with all of the lovely people of Santo Domingo that means the most.
Dominican Republic Mission Trip Highlights from Garden Spot Village on Vimeo.