If we as a team could sum up today’s ministry in two words, those words would be: relational connection. In the morning we began by playing baseball with the local kids (roughly ages 10-13) and had amazing interaction with them the whole time. There was one kid- Eddy- who kept mocking my (Marv’s) Spanish, which if I’m honest…it needs brushed up; and he and I connected right away after the game. Michael was able to share his testimony with the kids after the game as well and I believe his story meant a good deal to them.
After this, four of our team- Marv, Shaq, Shannon R. and Andrew all went to a High School to hand out flyers promoting the café in town where the students could practice their English for free with us Americans. That may not sound super exciting, but to them it is an amazing chance to learn English in a way that is not normally open to them. Michael and Shannon M. stayed in the café to work and to help students practice their English. Michael, being a rock star Barista began to train their employees on proper uses for the machines as well as how to make certain drinks. Shannon M. spent the entire time with one young man teaching him English and I will now pass the baton to her to share her experience.
Hello, there, reader! Wow, this is actually the first time I have ever written a blog post (or at least part of one) before! And at that, I’m writing to you from sunny/rainy/very rainy Santiago! I’m very grateful for the privilege to share a little snippet of what my day looked like today with you. To be honest, it has been really hard for me since I arrived here on day one to fully discern exactly why God had been calling me here. I just finished up my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh and I returned to the United States from touring parts of Eastern Europe with my college choir exactly a week ago. And to top it off, I made the decision to push my limits and comfort zone by exiting the country for the second time in a month. The past several weeks have been rigorous. But God is revealing himself in some very prominent ways. And he presented himself today when Frankely walked through the front door of the Connection Cafe.
Our team was given two options for what we would be doing to serve this afternoon: either going out to spread the word about the cafe, or actually working inside of it in some way. I had a desire to be in a smaller setting today, so I decided to be in the lower-key setting of the cafe today. I had absolutely ZERO clue what that would mean… would I learn to make coffee? Clean the kitchen? Twiddle my thumbs? Unsure of what my job even looked like, I stayed back while four members of my team exited the cafe. A few minutes before my team departed, a boy who looked to be in his late teens strolled into cafe in a white shirt and a bag on his shoulder. He conversed with women who worked at the cafe for a minute or two before she turned to me invited me to have a seat with him and just talk with him so that he might be able to practice his English. I became excited and a little apprehensive at the same time. But then was my opportunity to let go and let God take away my fear about what the next hours would entail.
I began to ask him about where he came from that day, who he lived with, and some activities that he enjoys doing. Then he was able to ask me some questions about grammar and verbs, which turned out to be kind of silly, actually. See, in Dominican dialect, their pronunciation of Bs and Vs both sound sort of similar. So the word “veinte” or “twenty” sounds like BEHN-TEH. They are not used to the V sound or B sound entirely. So as I learned to teach him the word “verb” in English, it came out about 7 different ways, from berbs to verrs to vervs and everywhere in between. But instead of getting riled up and frustrated in any way (as I am probably the least patient person that I know), The Lord met me there. And instead of grumbling, I had an unbelievable amount of compassion. Frankely kept telling me how desperately he wanted to learn English, a language I take for granted every day. I had nothing but encouragement to offer him, and I was even able to explain to him (in Spanish!) how hard it had been for me to learn the language myself, and how even now I have a long way to go. But we could both provide each other guidance and assistance. In fact, he provided me something more.
It has been my very greatest desire to pursue teaching as my career when I leave Pitt, and education in the urban setting at that. But being with the children playing baseball this morning, to seeing the fervor and excitement that Frankely had in learning English today (and his excitement to return tomorrow!) has revitalized my passion for learning more about Latin American culture. I’m falling in love with the people, the language, and their excitement for the simple joys in life that I have certainly lost sight of in recent weeks. God reveals himself and his teachings to us in incredible ways, and he has certainly used this country, and certainly Frankely, to capture my heart. And this is only day three! My theme for the week is expectancy, and I know that my team and I can surely expect wonderful things as we experience the Lord and his perfect plan for us here in the DR.- Shannon McCaully
Until tomorrow folks! This is the DR team signing off!