In 4 days I move out of my house and leave the family that has become my own.
In 9 days I leave the country I have come to love.
I waited for 3 months to experience what they call "culture shock" when I would become fed up with the cultural normalities because they differed from my own and wish above all else to be back in the "normalities" of America. When I would sit in my room and cry because I missed my friends and family so much. When I would lash out against this unfamiliar place. But the days passed, and I simply fell more in love with the people, the land, and especially the language of the Dominican Republic. Now, as I realize how close that time is to ending, it's a strange mixture of emotions.
Simply because I KNOW I'm leaving, I'm ready to go. It's as if a part of me has to give up the desire to stay - this while trying to continue putting my whole heart into this last week of my work.
But what's affecting me most, is that these three months of living in another culture - being a part of the community, not simply site-seeing - has awakened even more my passion for missions and ministry. A long time ago God placed a dream in my heart to do international ministry and I've had that desire. But now I feel even more like I understand WHAT it is that I desire.
As I walk the dirt road to my work site, I am able to greet the women on both sides as they call me by name, and say hello to the kids who are not in school yet. As I stood in a field during a church service last weekend, I wanted to cry because I didn't have enough arms to hug the three children with their arms around my waist, asking for the love they don't get at home. I visited a woman at her house this morning to see how she was, and walked to the next "campo" to see some of the teenage girls I work with at my site. I'm a part of this community and it's a part of my life. That's what I want - to bridge that gap between our cultures. To be able to sit with my Dominican brothers and laugh about the "coldness" of Americans and the "superstitions" of Dominicans.
I still have much to learn about the culture here, and much to learn of the language, but God-willing I will have a chance in the near future to continue building on this foundation!