Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Written by student, Ally Davies
I have spent months preparing in school for our annual Dominican Republic missions trip whether it was in Spanish class learning how to conjugate verbs or reading scriptures in Mr. Gaines class. I felt like I had learned everything I needed to know for the trip.
The week was amazing and I made special bonds through piggy back rides and smiles. I was humbled by this experience and it really opened my eyes and made me feel like I had been blind my whole life. How did I not see everything I had to be grateful for? How did I not realize how much God has blessed me in my life? How did I ever throw away that plate of food that wasn’t finished? These questions encircled me, surrounded me, engulfed me in a way that cannot be explained. The biggest question of all though was how to say goodbye. How to leave these kids and this group of people who have shown me so much love in one week than I have in a lifetime. We were all sad knowing that later the next morning we would be on a plane crossing the Atlantic Ocean back to California. It’s amazing how connected you can get to a group of people in just a week.
Everything seemed exceptionally beautiful our last day from the sunrise to the ocean breeze. That last day was also special because I got to be baptized along with two other students in my class, Nick Turoci and Kamden Robinson. My Bible teacher, Mr. Gaines, officiated the baptism and allowed the students being baptized to say why they wanted to be baptized. I was never baptized as a kid even though I have been going to a Christian school my whole life and believed in Christ since as long as I could remember. I always wanted to be baptized but I think I’ve only really realized what it means now. As I was dunked under the water I felt relief and I felt purity. As I came back up everything felt different. I felt a true happiness washing over me and the weight of my burdens had been lifted. It’s weird how being dunked under water can change your outlook on life. I made a commitment to follow Jesus through my life by being baptized and I hope to keep this commitment by doing more mission trips like this and by sharing the truth of God with others. As the day continued our 8th grade family had some fun soaking up the sun on the beach and riding on crazy banana boat rides.
Later we left on the buses for the Manny Mota foundation for the final time. When we pulled up we saw the kids running up to the windows putting their hands and faces on the glass. I had made a special bond with a little boy at the foundation and I was determined to find him so I could say goodbye and give him a couple gifts. Sure enough guess who was standing right outside the bus with a giant smile plastered across their face. Mi amigo. I gave him my hat and a bracelet I had bought earlier that day. He just wanted to play so that is what we did. We ran, we danced, we laughed and when it was time to part we cried. I had barely known this kid for two days yet here I was bawling my eyes out on the sidewalk hugging mi amigo for the last time. I miss him along with many others who I met in the village struck by poverty in the worst possible way. Their homes being flooded by hurricanes, sleeping on dirt floors, eating one measly meal of rice and a piece of chicken a day. How can these people prevail through all of this you may ask? Well the answer is Jesus. Through Him all things are possible and through Him and Him only are these people given the strength to carry on through these harsh conditions. I may not be present in the Dominican Republic right now but I am given hope because I know that Jesus’s presence will forever be at the Manny Mota foundation and in the people who live there. Manny Mota graciously welcomed us into his home on the last day and allowed us to look at his memorabilia from working with many baseball teams, most prominently the LA Dodgers. With the help of future DR teams from our school The Manny Mota foundation can continue to bless the people in the Dominican Republic and show the hope Jesus brings into our lives.