We hit the ground running today--literally! But that didn't happen until the sun went down...more on that later! While Diane, Brooke, Mark, Jay and I enjoyed our usual delicious breakfast that Macho and Isabel had ready for us when we woke up, Greg went over our busy itinerary for the next 5 days. First stop this morning was Tia Tatiana to see what was going on at the school. It was great to see one of the houses next to the school getting a nice new coat of paint. The building we hope to purchase to expand the school is at the end of this street. We learned that ever since June, Saturdays at the school are enrichment days with basketball tournaments, guitar and piano lessons, embroidery classes, as well as English and computer classes. The school was packed with kids from the neighborhood safely off the streets, all there by choice having a great time.
Next we boarded the new Vision Trust bus that is a real game changer for getting from place to place. Truly luxurious and somehow. our driver manages to weave through Santo Domingo traffic as easily as if he's driving a car... but this baby is 4x the size! Our next destination was the Remar Orphanage where Jay talked to Saulo who designed and built phase 1 of the sports field. They discussed what's needed to create a proper Little League- scale baseball field to supplement the soccer field and basketball area that was completed when we were here in April.
Our final stop for the day was at the mouth of the river across from the Colonial Zone where the Remar Orphanage was the beneficiary of funds raised by a local 5K sponsored by the GiLDAN T-shirt company. Over 800 people were registered for this 5K "glow" run that started at sunset. The kids from the orphanage got the first start out of the gate and...we think...they all made it back to the finish line. Since we weren't in charge of rounding up 60 orphans, we were able to leave that job to the capable supervisors while we hopped back on the air conditioned bus at the end of the run and headed back to the mission house where we dined on pizza and happily called it a night.
Take aways from today:
- Nick's presence is felt on every trip we make here. There is so much joy.
- We are so blessed to have this core group of people that have joined us on every trip- Greg Wilborn and Mark Haney are the computer guys and lead the way with the plans on every trip. Diane, Greg's wife will be doing teacher training for Tia Tatiana and the Remar School faculty. It's what she does for a living in the states. Brooke, Mark's step-daughter is back with us for her third trip. She's an amazingly talented artist who designed the new logo for Tia Tatiana School and she's leading art workshops for the students over the next few days. We so miss Anne who's been with us on all our past trips but due to her work travel she couldn't swing the dates of this trip.
- It's incredible to see how Tia Tatiana school continues to reach out to the community and be such an important resource for the children in this desperately underserved neighborhood.
- The possibility of expanding the sports field for the children who live at the Remar Orphanage is indeed a reality--one that we hope to see completed by March 2017.
- Other organizations in Santo Domingo also provide support for the Remar Orphanage as we saw with the organizers of the impressive GILDAN 5K glow run this evening.
- Delton is a great example of how Remar provides a future for the children it cares for. Delton, is about 20 years-old. He served as our translator today and also coached the kids' basketball game at Tia Tatiana. He's studying business and German at the university, he lives in his own apartment, he wants to learn other languages. He's committed to his faith and shares it openly with us and the children. Delton arrived at the orphanage when he was 5. He said he remembers that his mom didn't want to take care of him and he didn't understand why he couldn't live with her anymore. Now he provides support, encouragement and empathy to the other young boys who live at Remar.