I am sure many of you are wondering what is happening with us in the Dominican Republic – Have we arrived safely? Are things going well? Are we doing well? The answers to these questions are “Yes!” although, a few of us are a bit under the weather. But we are doing well for the most part.
We had an early start yesterday arriving at the church by 6:00 a.m. Ian Blackman amiably took me to the church so that Judith and our children could enjoy their full quota of slumber. Veronica Francis, set the tone for our send-off and mission with a beautiful, inspiring prayer, while Archdeacon Bryan Hobbs, former rector of the parish, and other friends, wished us “bon voyage.”
Among the passengers on our flight were three other mission groups. I had the good fortune of sitting in the first row of the cabin section, which caused the rest of our team to heckle me for sitting in a “seat of honor.” Yes, the leg room was fantastic and I had one other passenger sitting next to me instead of two. It was also the row of the emergency exit, and I could see and smell the first class, but could not taste the first class. It is like you were almost first class but not quite there…(laugh out loud). Nevertheless, led by our Team Leader, Karen Eddy, we arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, at 12:20 p.m. EST, after an hour and 45 minute flight from Miami. Karen Carroll, Diocesan Mission Coordinator, met us at the airport.
Santo Domingo and Bonao have made a number of positive changes since last year. There is a construction boom taking place while at the same time there is still the underprivileged aspects of the country. One noteworthy aspect is the joy that exudes from the people although they experience a simple life. This topic formed part of our discussion tonight during our meeting. While on our two-hour journey to Bonao from the airport, I enjoyed chatting with Malcolm Briggs, one of our missionaries, who is a member of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Little Havana, Miami. Malcolm has previously been on our mission trips.
On arrival in Bonao, we were taken first to the Iglesias de San Juan Bautista. The church’s new chorus group was rehearsing for their Sunday morning service. This group is a new addition to the church since our visit last year. The members previously sang at the nearby museum but befriended Father Vicente. They eventually joined the church where some of them were baptized and confirmed. What was interesting, for me, was the number of young men in the group. They were as many men as there were women. Furthermore, it was amazing to see these young people enjoying rehearsal on a Saturday evening…and they sang phenomenally. We also met Father Vicente Pena and his wife, Nancy, at the church.
Next, it was on to the Golden Premium Hotel, the hotel at which we were originally to stay last year. After a nice dinner, prepared by the church, and our briefing as to the next day’s proceedings, I led the group in Compline, and then it was off to bed, after a tiring day.