We began the day knowing that this was the penultimate day of our trip and the last day of missionary work. Jordan King, one of the two youngest members of the team was assigned to wake us up but I did not hear when he did. I believe I was in a deep sleep having only gone to bed 3 hours before. I was totally exhausted. My life-saving grace was the alarm clock on my blackberry which was set to alarm at 5:40 a.m. Even that I did not hear until 5 minutes later. Some may wonder why I went to bed so late but I was in a meeting very late that night and then I was blogging so that you could enjoy what we are doing.
Nevertheless, it was off to San Juan Bautista Episcopal Church, Bonao, after breakfast for the Eucharist, the last for this missionary trip. The readings were Acts 14:8-28, read by Dr. Pat Rowe King, the Psalm 33:12-22, read by Tom Ungleich, while Father Vicente read the Gospel from Matthew 28:16-20. I presided at the Eucharist, led extempore intercessory prayers, and preached a homily as I had done the previous mornings.
The Medical Team went to their fifth place for the week to treat 46 children. They had originally planned to spend half a day, but were not able to return to the apartment until 4:00 p.m. The clinic was held in a community center and the various stations of health care were divided into a wide open space.
I remained with the VBS Team for the Party they were organizing for 60 children who attended. It was a fun morning for the children, playing a number of games and receiving gifts. I also gave each child a blessing before they went home. The VBS staff – Maryella, Jordan, Matthew, Ron (who did not have any painting assignments today) and me concluded our work by 12:00 noon and decided to take the afternoon to shop. We proceeded the shopping by visiting the Medical Team at the clinic. On our way we passed by the Bonao Museum and Cultural Center. The it was off to shopping. We visited a few stores and supermarkets and bought a few items. There was only a small souvenir selection from which to choose.
After returning from shopping, we attended a dinner party at Fr. Vicente and Nancy’s invitation. The party, which was held at their home, was an opportunity for us to have a light moment and to let our hair down, those who have hair. We had a fantastic evening with delicious food, wonderful company, and beautiful Spanish music to which we danced the night away. It was also an opportunity to exchange gifts. Father Vicente and his wife gave each member of the team a gift. I received a nice plaque while the other members received a souvenir mug. Other gifts were given by our friends of San Juan Bautista Church and a picture was presented to me on behalf of all the missionaries. We also gave cards and gifts to all persons who made our mission trip and blessing that it was. We also presented Father Vicente with a gift for the church and another gift for him and his family.
Please let me to make two observations about road and traffic in the Dominican Republic and particularly in the town of Bonao. The first is that I did not realize until today that in the heart of Bonao there are very few stop (“Pare”) signs and stop lights. The way in which the streets are built there is a dip or gutter where the north-south and the east-west streets meet. The dip or gutter causes the driver to have to slow down considerably or to stop, if not one’s car can be damaged severely. Another observation about traffic is that although Dominicans drive on the right side of the street, drivers would turn left or go straight through red stop lights. It’s amazing! It’s the norm although I they are not to do so. Just shows how different all countries are. In addition, in spite of the way most people ride or drive in Bonao, I did not see an accident during our visit. I found that pretty incredible based on how the people drive.
Well, tomorrow will be a sad day for many persons, but as the saying goes “all good things must come to an end.” It will be back to the real world and our daily lifestyle when we reach the United States.