Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Dominican Republic {Day 3}

Sunday morning we get ourselves out of bed at the same time, dress for church, and eat a nice breakfast before sitting in a pew for a good portion of the morning. Few of us knew exactly what to expect. We were told that church was largely an all day thing; at least a couple of solid hours in the morning and a couple of solid hours at night. So, with a joyful heart, we went to church, a little anxious about the heat and our own inabilities to sit still for extended periods of time {or maybe that was just me}. Either way, we got ourselves to church, and were pleasantly surprised to be in the company of so many incredible people, a pleasant climate, and a message that was tailored to fit us, personally.
The service was mostly spoken in Creole and Spanish, but Pastor Tanis seemed to speak right to us {as he probably did} when he spoke, in English, about the lack of joy that any riches can give you. He certainly seemed to speak right to me when he spoke of all those who take their own lives because they just can't find happiness. He said that our possessions can make us quite miserable, and how true that is. And it seems right that a man who has lived most of his life with less than the average American should be the one to deliver such a message.We were introduced to the congregation with pride, and we felt honored to be recognized in such a way. We shared with them several verses of Amazing Grace before finishing the service.
Immediately after the pastor closed us in prayer, we were swarmed by people, pressing their way out of the crammed make-shift chapel, thrusting their hands toward us and saying "Dios te bendiga", and we responded "mm, God Bless." We are, after all, rather ignorant Americans. They gave us grace, though, praise God. I was pulled outside by the hand of a little girl and led down a slide--just once, and then she ran off, to where, I'm not sure. We gathered around the basketball hoop for a time of fellowship with Pastor Tanis and several of the teenage boys that we had become somewhat familiar with.

Left to Right: Pastor Tanis, Joanna, Chuck, Laura

Fernando and Kristen

The boys looking for the ball

We filled most of our afternoon with them. We wandered around and played games all afternoon--a bit of basketball, a bit of baseball, a bit of "futbol americano"--tossing the ball around, and learning names. Trying to catch Zach's crazy pitches. Then, after a life story, a lunch, a quick dinner, and another life story, we headed back to the church for the evening service, which was very similar to the first. 

Again, I believe we shared verses. We were graced by the appearance of a beautiful women's choir and pastor Tanis  mercifully spoke a bit of english to us. We finished up with a praise chorus, and then hung around with a group of teenagers, who were listening to the greatest Christian rap I've ever laid ears on. And somehow, this simple fellowship of listening to music turned into the greatest spontaneous dance party -- very likely to ever have happened. I can't express with words the joy that I was given that evening, as I just through myself out there. What an amazing day we had, that sunday. My feet were filthy and my hair was a mess, but it had been a long time since I had felt that free.

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