Thursday, October 9, 2008


This post is about women who have changed me.  But to tell it adequately I need to introduce you to a man who introduced us.  Rafa was one of the first people I met when I moved to the Dominican Republic.  He was a 'volunteer' leader for Young Life.  I had NEVER seen someone with so much passion & dedication - as a volunteer.  Rafa is amazing.  His story in a nutshell is:  He was living in Santo Domingo attending university, was invited to Young Life, heard about God, began a personal relationship with Jesus, and was so fired up about other young people experiencing what he did that he moved back to his home town - Barranca - to begin Young Life.  Yes, he was a 'volunteer'.  So got a factory job, would work that job until there was a camp, and if he couldn't get work off to go to the camp he would quit his job.  After camp he would find another job, until there was another camp.  Talk about dedication.

Rafa, Charo, Tracy & Arturo
Well, after I had been in the country for just a few months, there was a camp planned.  I am not sure how I was recruited (if you heard my Spanish you would understand why), but I accompanied Rafa to Barranca to speak with parents about an upcoming camp.  I was to be the female leader, and Rafa thought it would be good for their parents to meet me. gulp.
I take public transportation into Barranca, experience a miracle by finding Rafa's house, and we set off to walk around the neighborhood & talk with parents.
Within a few minutes after we set off, the electricity went out.  This is an everyday occurrence.  No one knows when or for how long, but the electricity goes off.  So I followed as closely to Rafa as I could down a dark & muddy path to Hilda's house.  When we arrived, I stood there and smiled.  Rafa talked about the camp, I smiled, they asked a few questions, I smiled, Rafa pointed to me, I smiled, her family stared at me, I smiled, and we left.  I am surprised they didn't think I was a robot since all I did was stand there, smile, and occasionally shake my head in affirmation. Yes, I'm pretty sure I looked as idiotic as I felt.  
After that camp (which is a WHOLE-nother story).  I slowly began to build relationships with some of the girls from Barranca.  I lived about 1 hour away - public transportation. 
I eventually began to go to Barranca once a week to attend their Young Life club, sleep over, and lead a Bible study with 5 young ladies.  I didn't realize at the moment that I was forming not only life-long friendships, but a life changing experience for me.  Many of these girls lived in homes like this.
 And I lived off of this street in Santiago.
I later moved into a 'nicer' neighborhood.  So the obviously different living arrangements were staggering.  I usually stayed with Any & Anita.  What a great sense of humor God has that I stayed with identical twins, and later had my own!!  When I first met Any & Anita I could barely tell them apart.  Now I couldn't imagine mistaking one for the other.  They lived in a 2 bedroom house with their family - of 5.  When I came to visit, they girls willingly shared a single bed so that I could sleep by myself.  
-It was in their house that I used a chamber pot for the first time.  
-It was in their house that I first slept under a mosquito net.  
-It was in their house that I first saw a tarantula crawling on the wall in the night.  
-It was in their house that I first said a prayer of blessing over a meal & realized what that meant.
-It was in their house that we talked about Jesus, our love for Him, His love for us, how we could live that daily, and how we could help each other live that daily.
-It was in their house that their mother cooked meals for me, and gave out of her poverty.
-It was in their house that God was with us - in our discussion & in our hearts.
-It was in their house that my life was changed for eternity.
-It was in their house that I became sisters with Dominicans.
I am tearing up thinking about those days, and I'm not even a crier.  Those 'girls' grew into amazing women of God, and I am so privileged to have them as my friends.  It is humbling to think how God allows me to be a part of such holy things.  How He entrusts me with divine duties.  Not because I am so good or knowledgeable.  But because He loves me, and knew that I would be changed and transformed more to His glory by obediently following Him.  
Charo, Tracy, Anita (on left)
Hilda, Julia, Any (on right)

I feel that way with you girls.  It amazes me that God would entrust you 5 precious girls to your Papi and me.  We don't deserve it, and I can assure you I don't know what I am doing most of the time, but God gave His children (you girls) to us.  It is an awesome/humbling privilege.