Hola! Things have been great here in the Dominican Republic! Yesterday was a fun-filled day full of ice cream, teaching, adorable children and SUN!! Finally the sun came out to brigthen our day even more! In the morning we did some planning for our lessons that would come later in the day and took a walk into town to get a ice cream at a local shop. The ice cream was delicious and a great snack on a hot, sunny day! In the afternoon we taught the children here at the orphange some more English, which all went well even though the kids were a little crazy- they still learned a lot. We did not have a planned activity at night with the kids but of course still had tons of fun hanging out and playing with them. We layed on the basketball court with the kids and star gazed (while getting attacked and stepped on by some cute ones!). The sky was so clear and the stars were so bright. – it was awesome. Then we did our group reflection to finish out the day and off to bed.
And then today, Friday, we woke up to another beautiful, sunny day. We woke up a little earlier today and had breakfast, french toast yum, at 7:30. At 8, we got on buses to take a trip to Jaibon and visit the other orphange that Orphange Outreach is involved with here in the Domincan Republic. The bus ride was about an hour and fifteen minutes long. We arrived at the orphange, and started teaching right away. In our groups, we went into three different classrooms; two first grade classes and one seventh grade class. The classes were very excited to have us there since they don’t get many English lessons. It was also interesting that the school on the orphange property was for children who lived at the orphanage as well as children who lived in the surronding town. After teaching, came some fun and games at recess followed by a tour of the orphanage. It was a great morning and really cool to see the other orphanage!
Then we headed back toMonte Cristi for a delicious, authentic lunch at a restaurant in town. There was a large buffet prepared for us with empanadas, rice, beans, stewed eggplant, chicken, meatballs and goat. Our plates were piled high and our stomachs were very full. Following lunch we headed to the gift shop in town. Many of us bought souvenirs and gifts to bring back home to our family friends. Then it was off to the playa- which is the beach! We got to the beach and some of us hiked a trail up a small mountain. The hike was fun and the view from the top was beautiful. We could see the ocean, an interesting island and in a far off distance the mountains of Haiti. We then all swam and played in the waves along the sandy shore. Well actually, there wasn’t much sand but a lot, a lot of rocks. We left the beach to get back to the orphanage in time for Shabbat.
After our showers, getting clean and getting into nicer clothes, something other than our Orphanage Outreach t-shirts, we made our way to the rooftop to start our Shabbat. We started with the lighting of the candles, and did a small group reflection and a meditation exercise. Then we had a really nice dinner set up for us where our Shabbat continued. We said prayers for the kiddush and “challah” (a plain white roll took its place). Then it was time to eat! For dinner we had rice (a staple in Dominican cuisine) and a stew/soup.
Following our Shabbat service and dinner, we had a reflection with all of the volunteers here this week where we shared some special moments we had – “AHA” moments where we realized something about why we were here or learned something new. After the large group reflection, we reflected some more with just our group. This was one of our longest (over 3 hours!) and most personal reflections of the week. It was very nice to see people let their guards down, share personal stories and open up to the goup. Its great how in just a week, the fifteen of us have become so close.