St. Paul’s youth journey to Dominican Republic deeply affecting

group shot pasluz 3rd gradeAfter nearly two years of discernment and planning, four St. Paul’s high school youth (all seniors) and three leaders boarded a plane on February 12 to embark on pilgrimage to Dominican Republic. There they volunteered with Outreach 360 in Montecristi near the northwest Haitian border. Youth included Ally Collins, Cedric Hipkins, Markis Larrivee and Joanna Brown. Leaders were Myrna Koonce, Hugh Savage and Macauley Lord. The group returned on February 21, changed and moved. Their experience was, by turns, challenging, absorbing, confusing, rewarding and joyful. Here are some highlights:

  • Awakening to dozens of roosters crowing and many motor scooters (“motos”) heading to school or work
  • Standing in front of groups of schoolchildren and chanting, “Wa-wa-wa-what’s the weather, what’s– what’s the weather?”
  • Watching our planning ideas take shape as children of all ages eagerly volunteered to engage in activities designed to help them speak English
  • Playing chasing and ball games with children during recess at tiny Pasluz Escuela
  • Playing “Papa Caliente” (hot potato) with the fifth and sixth graders at an even smaller school in Laguna Verde
  • Holding our own prayer service each morning on the rooftop of our Outreach 360 building in Barrio Salomon Jorge, Montecristi
  • Singing, drumming and dancing merengue with our new friends from Berkley High School in Michigan
  • Answering Spanish/Dominican trivia questions before eating rice, beans, meat, plantain and tropical fruits for lunch and dinner
  • Hiking up El Morro, the local mountain, to watch the sunrise
  • Giving and receiving friendly “holas” everywhere we walked in the town
  • Buying fresh juices from the local “juice lady”
  • Touring the salt flats where salt is harvested solely by hand
  • Visiting the crowded twice-weekly market in Dajabon, where Haitians cross the border to trade with Dominicans

The youth and their parents and leaders worked hard to raise funds for this trip by offering several events, food and services to their fellow parishioners. In thanksgiving, the youth will offer reflections at an upcoming all-parish worship service, and a Dominican dinner for the parish, cooked by the journeyers. We are so grateful to have such an active and inquiring group of teens among us, and we wish them the best as they leave for college next year.

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