Monday, July 22, 2013

My Dominican family

I need some DR in my day today so I want to share the most exciting thing to come from my trip. 

One of the biggest surprises about The DR was how much I fell in love with the people.  I expected to find a beautiful country and I did.  I expected to meet some people who were friendly and I did.  But across the board I fell in love with the spirit of the people who live there as well.  I was watching a video a client sent me today about a Puerto Rican man who is doing significant work in The DR with disabled people and advancing their support services - including expanding a Special Olympics type program in a big way in Santo Domingo.  As I watched the people interact I couldn't help but smile and think it was EXACTLY what I would expect to see from Dominican people.  They are always in motion, always smiling, always joyous and pretty loud.

I guess that's why I ended up completely blowing my one commitment out of the water while I was down there.  I knew when I went to The DR that there would be the possibility of meeting and sponsoring kids in the program but I made the decision I wouldn't sponsor any kids.  As I've told others and maybe even said on here, I decided my time and the money I spent to make the trip down there was going to be sufficient.

Well, God did different things in my heart.  I ended up deciding to sponsor three boys in the ILB program who I met and created relationships with.  Then, when I got home God nudged at me some more and I became convinced that I needed to sponsor my "here batta batta" girl from Los Robles.  So my Dominican family consists of three boys and a girl.

That's about right.

The first boy I decided to sponsor was Andry.  Andry just found me on Facebook and his message was so sweet.  He said he has been looking all over for me and was so happy to finally have found me.  I told him recently that I'll be back to visit again in October and his excitement was very evident in the message.  He made the picture of us his profile picture and for those of you who are my friends on Facebook you know there were numerous comments from his friends.  To answer the question from many of you - no, I have no idea what any of it meant. haha

Each of "my kids" had a moment for me.  Andry's was during the baseball game on Wednesday.  He was sitting on his motorcycle with his nephew whom he was taking care of that day because his brother in law had been in a bad motorcycle accident and I said my head was on fire (in Spanish - yup, one phrase I do know in Spanish is on fire) because I was an idiot and didn't take any hats down there with me.  My scalp was the only part of my body that got burned while I was there.  Without a second of hesitation, Andry took his hat off and put it on my head.  It seems like such a little gesture but to me it said more about who Andry is than any grand gesture would have.  He was willing to give me clothing off of his own back to make me more comfortable, without thinking about his own comfort.  I adore Andry.  He's seventeen and wants to be a lawyer if he doesn't make it in baseball - a fact I learned after I decided to sponsor him.  I can't wait to support him as he continues to grow up.  He is going to be a good man.

Andry, Carlos and "Shaq," Andry's nephew.  Andry is the one with no hat on - because it's on my head.
The second boy I decided to sponsor was Dionny.  Dionny, I've come to find out, is not actually old enough for ILB so while I still consider him one of my boys, I can't actually sponsor him yet.  Once he is thirteen years old though I'll be waiting. 

Dionny was just starting to get to know the boys and was always kind of on the outskirts of the ruckus.  When the guys and I were talking at the end of the baseball game and I told them I wanted to take some pictures he ran in from the side and jumped into the pictures, including getting in front with me and pushing his face against mine so hard I could hardly keep my head in the picture.  I knew I would sponsor him when that happened. 

He also earned the unfortunate nickname of "Shmooshface".

The third boy I decided to sponsor was Carlos.  During the time I was hanging out with the boys during the baseball game I could tell he was being teased in a typical good natured boy way but I couldn't tell what the boys were teasing him about.  I finally called Francis over and asked him to interpret for me.  Francis informed me that they were teasing Carlos because of his big lips.  Of course I was going to stand up for Carlos at that point so I told Francis to tell the boys for me that in America women would find that extremely attractive.  I might have used the phrase extremely sexy but I have no idea how Francis interpreted that.  The boys burst out in loud laughter and Carlos got very shy, ducking his head and blushing in a way that only a dark face can blush but from that moment on Carlos was always close by my side. 

That night at the dinner with the boys at Casa Bethesda, Carlos found me and remembered my name.  In English, I could tell he worked on since the game, he asked me if I remembered him.  Thankfully, God put his name at the forefront of my mind and I was able to call him by name and tell him of course I remembered him.  Carlos is a good kid but I can tell he has insecurities that stem from something I don't know about.  Maybe it's just being a 16 year old boy, but unlike the other boys on the team who clearly have strong self esteems Carlos is a bit different.  He gets angry when he doesn't perform the way he wants to.  He hangs tightly to some of the "cooler" kids.  My heart beats for Carlos.  I worry about him more than any of my other kiddos.  I've prayed for him every day since being back, sometimes on multiple occasions.  He's the one I really want to hug for a long time when I go back in October.

Dinner at Casa Bethesda.  Carlos is on the left.
Last, but definitely not least, is Nicol.  Nicol is the girl I told you a bit about in my Glove Story post.  I had such a great time with her the first day we played baseball in Los Robles but when I heard her little voice holler "here batta batta, swing batta" the second day I was there I realized that the time spent with her meant something to her.  I don't know why it took coming home and for me to hear God prompting me to sponsor her but it did.  Sponsoring Nicol was the final piece I needed in my family.  I love my guys but I needed an eight year old girl too.  Nicol wants to be in the military when she grows up.  I plan to bring her some baseball equipment when I go next because I know she wants to play with the boys.  She's like me.  We fit each other.

Those are my kids.  My Dominican Family.  My heart.

October is without a doubt going to be a fun family reunion.

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