By Thomas Gregory
Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do. Today, we loaded the yellow school bus and drove up into the mountains of La Altagracia province (adjacent to La Romana province) for the last time. We were finished with the construction work in Hata de Mana, but we had one more round to make to deliver supplies to the area schools.
With Shannon Melton leading our pack, we stopped at the first school and delivered note pads, markers, crayons, and other craft items. We stayed for a few minutes to play with them during their morning recess, tossing the tennis ball, jumping rope, and playing Frisbee with the kids. It was the perfect start to a beautiful morning in the mountains.
Before visiting the next two schools, we stopped at the house of our friends Yosi and Elenita to say goodbye. After a fifteen-minute visit, we left the small house, with Elenita crying and saying she wanted to come with us. If any of us had had our way, we would have taken her with us back to Greenwood. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye, but it was something we knew we would have to do from the moment we met them less than a week ago.
We returned to Casa Pastoral for lunch and then the entire group loaded up on the big yellow school bus for the beach, which was the perfect ending to a wonderful trip. At sunset, our group gathered in a circle on the beach and had worship, where I had the high privilege of serving communion to my Christian brothers and sisters.
As a deacon at First Presbyterian, the opportunity to participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is one that I do not take lightly. Tonight’s communion service was one for the record books. The scenery was magnificently beautiful, I was serving to friends new and old, and it was at the tail end of a week of hands-on service to our Lord and to the people of the Dominican Republic. It was a magic moment, a Dominican moment.
Tonight, as I sit here in the dining room of Casa Pastoral, writing the last blog post for our trip, I can honestly say that this trip has been nothing short of transformative. I feel that our group has truly made a difference in this place. One can see the evidence of our work in Batey Hata de Mana, in Barrio Juan P. Duarte, in the various bateys visited by the dental and medical workers, and in the schools where God’s word was read and celebrated with the kids of the Dominican Republic.