Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Reflections on the DR

I never really have gotten all of my thoughts together on the DR experience after taking Perspectives...so I thought I would do that here now.
In 1994, I led a team of students on a 3 week long missions trip to the Dominican Republic. I had one coleader and five high school students. Our task was to work with kids in an orphanage in the mountain town of Jarabacoa in central DR. While we were there, I got really sick (see previous post). It was a great experience, it was my first time in the third world, yet, I think there were so many things that could have made it even better.
- We were not immersed in the culture.
We lived in the 'compound' of ANIJA. (From the website, the place has really changed in the last 11 years) Instead of really living in the culture, we segregated ourselves by living with our own team, in isolation from people we were ministering to.
At the time, there was one other staff member who lived there too and she would go out to the nightclubs every night when we were there. At a minimum, we should have gone with her. A big regret.
- Culture shock paralyzed our team.
I can remember our first two days there. Being surprised at the idea of not being able to flush toilet paper, having the electricity shut down for about an hour every day at any time, having to be very careful about drinking the water (and I still got sick). The culture shock got to us. I specifically found myself incredibly tired and disengaged for at least the first two days. It was not an ideal start. From those two days, we created the precedent, for the next three weeks, that evenings were just spent lounging around our compound, instead of being in the town, trying to meet people, build some relationships, learn the culture.
- We didn't focus on setting the national leadership up for anything.
Our team didn't have any kind of focus on sustaining ministry or leadership from the community that lived there. Short sighted, yes. But of course, that was in 1993, I was young, etc. Still, having that kind of focus could have made a difference in how intentional we were on the trip.
So... after 11 years of introspection... Still, it was a valuable trip in the experience, seeing how we are blessed to bless others, seeing what its like to live in another part of the world where no one has phones, toilets are different and they speak a different language.

No comments:

Post a Comment