One of the most amazing blessings for us this year has been meeting and working alongside extraordinarily generous people. We have continually been inspired by their acts of grace and goodness. Because our daughter, Julia, became ill, we missed taking out the volunteers for a nice dinner. When I offered Julia Veloz, Youth Director of Young Life, the extra funds from the dinner and a donation specifically for her, she immediately announced that with these funds, she would rent the van again and take the disabled teens out for an ice cream excursion. This instinctive response to address other people’s needs and desires before their own has been a recurring theme of the leaders we have served with this year.
Our family felt unprepared for the task of painting this home. This year, we made ourselves open and available to the needs of the organizations we visit. As a result, our family is not always aware of what is expected of us day to day on our volunteer trips.
One of the lessons of this year has been that we all rally together as a family for whatever task or circumstance presents itself, and we've been able to handle everything with good cheer. The irony didn't escape me that while we were here in the Dominican Republic painting this home, we had workmen painting rooms in our home in the US.
In one afternoon, we surprisingly made quite an impact- not only in the decor but in the spirit of giving (paint supplies and our time and effort). The family was so moved by our small gesture.
When we visited Mireny's home, we were shocked by their stark living conditions. Their house was around 300sq feet and was missing doors so wouldn't protect them from the elements. Rooms were divided by cardboard and they didn't have a bathroom or running water.
We realized everything we gave as presents would be an indulgence for them- dishware, clothes, makeup, watches, school supplies, jewelry, photo albums. Mireny was most excited about her gift of a small mirror. Mireny excitedly showed us her room. Our teen, Julia was saddened to see that Mireny's room had only enough space for a small bed. There was no furniture, and only mud floors and a small pole holding a few items of clothing. In Julia's eyes, geography and luck seemed to be the only reason for their disparate life circumstances.