News & Articles

← Return to Articles

2016 Dominican Republic Teacher Mission Trip - Day 3

07.16.16 | General, Missions

    Today was our second day of training with the teachers at Colegio Bautista de la Gracia. We all saw a difference in our workshops today. Day one was a success, but as a teacher, you’re just more effective when you know more about those you are teaching. The same is true when you are leading a workshop, and today, we knew much more than we knew yesterday. Today when these teachers walked through the doors, we knew their faces, what they taught, and who was experienced and who was new. We knew who was most likely to raise their hand and volunteer and who was more likely to hold back and process internally. We know now, at the end of day two, that the teachers at this school care about their students and are passionate about the subjects they teach. They want to grow in their teaching abilities, but in many, many ways, they are already excellent teachers. As each of our groups opened up to us today with comments and questions, we learned more about specific challenges they face and found common ground at almost every turn. Even though we teach in different contexts, kids are kids, and lesson plans are lesson plans…and helicopter parents are helicopter parents {smile}.

    Today’s teaching ended at 1:00 p.m. We made it across the street without losing our lives (that’s a topic for another post) and were rewarded with a huge lunch of fried chicken, fried rice, fried plantains and…wait for it…salad! After about an hour’s time to rest, we piled into a bus and headed for a nearby orphanage (the same orphanage that our UBC family group worked with earlier this month).

    I knew going into this trip that this orphanage was short-staffed, but I was not prepared for what I saw. They have a new building, playgrounds, and a soccer field. The rooms inside the building, though, are bare, furnished with only bunk beds or cribs. Some of the downstairs rooms are freshly painted, but the upstairs rooms are nothing but gray cinderblock. We spent our time (just two hours) with the babies and toddlers. When we arrived, the youngest ones were in their cribs for their naps. We were told we could get them up, so we did: we picked up children who were wet with sweat or urine, hugged them to us, and took them into the washroom at the end of the hallway where two women washed and changed them. Two women. For ten babies. They handed off a clean baby to one of us and started changing the next one.

    I spent time with one little girl who looked like she was about 3 months old based on her size but was actually more like 6 months. I held her for a while—her little chest felt like a motorboat, and she had a croupy cough. But then someone told me she had just learned to crawl, so I took her into the one room that had a mat on the floor and we had some tummy time. She wasn’t sure how she felt about being on her belly, but as soon as I laid down and put my face on the floor next to her, she smiled and laughed and started to push up with her arms and work her little legs under her. I wonder how much tummy time she gets in a day—probably not as much as she needs.

    Later, I went outside where most of our group was playing with the kids on the playground. Remember the two women who had just bathed and changed 10 babies? They were out on the playground too. One was sitting, leaning against the wall of the building, a few kids next to her on either side. She looked utterly exhausted. Aside from administrators working in the office, there were only two women supervising something like 30 kids, all four years old and under.

    Can you imagine? You and one of your friends. Thirty kids under the age of four. It was hard to leave because these kids are so hungry for love and affection. Even the biggest 4-year olds want you to pick them up and not put them down. They want you to watch them, to follow them around the playground, to push them on the swing. They are starved for attention. It was so hard to leave.

    But it was also easy to leave—a relief. How could I take it for much longer?

    Tomorrow, we go back. We will spend two more hours with these precious children—children whose lives would be unspeakably worse if they were not being cared for in this place, but children who we don’t really know how to help. Please pray for us. We need Jesus. His love is strong enough.