Ten years ago, at the end of my summer internship in Caraballo with Kids Alive, I said, "No, I don't think I'll ever come back." Out loud. To the man who is now kind of my boss.
"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand." - Proverbs 19:21
Looking back, I laugh! I had thoroughly enjoyed my summer internship, but I was about to enter my junior year as a music major. I planned to go into graduate studies in music before launching my career as a professional vocal coach and collaborative pianist. The internship had just been an easy way to get some international experience without sacrificing a semester of college.
Just two years after uttering those fateful words, I moved back to the DR to live and serve until God sends me somewhere else.
A lot happens in ten years! I have learned a lot more Spanish and a little Haitian Creole. I have learned a lot about Caraballo and its rich yet complex history, shadowed by damage done by well-meaning white people. I have learned a lot about the Dominican and Haitian people, but mostly have learned that they are individual and unique and defy broad-sweeping cultural labels. I have learned a lot about white privilege, the undeserved benefits of being born in the US, and the undeserved discrimination of being a woman in a culture full of machismo.
Over the past ten years, I became a teacher, a worship leader, a motorcycle driver, a translator, a wife, and most recently, a mother. I became a surrogate daughter and sister to people I work with and a surrogate parental figure to many of my students. My experience of God has been blown open, and my experience of His Church has been expanded. My definition of poverty has been ripped apart and reworked almost daily, as have my ideas on development, aid, and trauma.
If you are interested in more - more stories, more explanations of any of the above - feel free to reach out to me via email.
One of the beautiful things about sticking around for ten years is seeing growth in both the ministry itself and the children we serve. So here are a few #throwbackthursday photos of the school ten years ago and today! The last two sets of photos are my favorites. In the first set, Cherina (in the circle) was still a student at our school in 2007. Now she is attending university and is a teacher at the school! The second set features Carlitos, who was in my 2nd grade class in 2007. Now (blue shirt on the right) he works at the school and attends high school at night through a Kids Alive scholarship. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to play a small part in the work that God is doing in Caraballo, and I am so thankful that I came back!