This morning we woke up to a delicious traditional Dominican breakfast of mashed plantains, fried salami, papaya, watermelon, and bananas. As we ate we discovered that the fried salami was actually very similar to grilled sausage back home. After breakfast we started the trek back to New Jerusalem for church. It stuck out to us as we drove through the streets that they were quiet and the regular traffic and horn honking was non exisitent. Most of the stores and shops were also closed.
When we arrived at the church we realized that it was going to be a very different service than we were used to. The church was a small brick building with an assortment of chairs arranged inside and was empty except for a few children. We found our seats and as we waited for the service to begin we enjoyed a cool breeze blowing through the glass-less windows. Over the next half hour people started trickling in and eventually Pastor Eddison started the Spanish service. Pastor Eddison invited us all to stand and we were expected to go around and shake hands with everyone.
After we got back to our seat the service continued with some hyms. The church had a keyboard but no one knew how to play it so they were delighted that Coralee knew how to play! She was so loved by the people that she was expected to play for every hymn… they said they wanted to keep her. The community wanted to hear what the singing in our church in Canada sounded like so we sang Seek Ye First and Psalter 187 infront of the church for them. Once the singing was finished Pastor Eddison read Nehemiah 4 and preached from chaper 1. Carlos helped us out by translating some of the service.
The pastor preached about how when Nehemiah was buiding the wall he struggled and his enemies mocked him, but through his faith given by God he was able to complete it in a short time. He taught that we also need to put our trust in God even though the power of the Devil can seem so strong. By the end of the service more people had joined and the church was now packed with many energetic children and curious community members.
After the service we all picked up our chairs and walked up the small hill to the preschool. Part of our groups project was to provide a meal for the community after church. We all enjoyed a meal cooked by some local ladies. The meal consisted of rice, beans, chicken, pasta salad, plantain salad, fried plantains, advocados, and vegetables. It was neat to be a part of the communitity and we felt very included and catered to.
We then headed back to the guesthouse where we all enjoyed our traditional Sunday afternoon nap. Once everyone was well rested we took a long walk to the Colonial Zone of the city. What should have been a 25 minute walk took about an hour and a half… thanks to our experienced guides Julia and Stacey. They were both quite convinced they were right but also agreed that neither had any idea where they were going. We finally made it thanks to Coralee’s google maps and walked around the beautiful old buildings. We even saw Christopher Columbus’s first house in the Dominican Republic. On our way through the city we walked past many shops and statutes. Natalie was quite shocked when what she thought was a statue was a real person who jumped out at her and her shrieks could be heard echoing through the streets.
We finally made it back to the guest house where we enjoyed a meal of chicken alfredo cooked by the guys. We took our plates up to the roof patio to eat in the cool-ish breeze. As we finished, Will shared some of her experiences of her life leading up to and living in Haiti. We were humbled by hearing about her experiences but also excited to learn and laugh together.
We are looking forward to getting a good nights rest before heading back to work tomorrow!
Hasta la proxima,
Coralee and Stacey