What I'm Doing

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Dominican Republic Trip

If you've been following my blog, you'll have noticed a couple things. First of all, I've been updating at an abnormal frequency the past week. Secondly, all these posts include photos of a trip to the Dominican Republic. So, here's a bit of an explanation:

Why I Was In the D.R.
I was in the Dominican Republic for the Kosmos conference. Kosmos is, as the promotional materials say, "a missions conference on the mission field." It was put on by my church in conjunction with SCORE International, a missions organization that has a facility (including a hotel and clinic) in Juan Dolio, a town near Santo Domingo. The idea for the conference is that each day will begin and end with preaching, speakers, etc., and, in the middle of the day, everyone goes out to "the field" to work with missionaries in surrounding villages. While evangelism is certainly an important part of the activities of this conference, the main thrust is exposing young people to missions, hoping to inspire (i.e., God would call) some to missions in some capacity.

Oh, and, while some of the groups stayed at the SCORE hotel, the conference itself was held at the "Costa Caribe Coral by Hilton" resort, where most of the people (including us) stayed (except, on the first and last nights my group stayed in the SCORE hotel).

I went on this trip because our former college pastor, who is now working in the missions department of the church and who I have lunch with every Tuesday, encouraged me to go, along with some other people from my church. I had wanted to do something worthwhile with my vacation time (not that lounging on the beach in Hawaii isn't worthwhile, but I don't think I'd be doing that, anyway), and this was right here. Being the kind of guy I am, I figured, "What the heck?" and decided to go. Oh, of course, this was after praying for direction and not receiving an answer. That never seems to work, anyway...

What I Did In the D.R.
The first few days of the trip, my church's group served as staff for the conference. We were split into two teams, one smaller group that went to the airport to meet incoming groups and get them onto the buses back to the hotels, and the rest to get the groups registered at the hotel and orientated for the conference. The first day, I was on the group that stayed at the hotel, and ended up watching the luggage. The second day, I went to the airport and ended up watching the luggage truck. The third day, I watched luggage at the hotel again.

The conference started Monday night. Once the conference started, my group was no longer staff, but just normal attendees. The schedule was very packed, and there wasn't much time for anything but listening to speakers, eating at appropriate times, and going to "ministry time". Oh, and sleep at night. That lack of time was the most common complaint, and one which will be fixed for the next Kosmos conference (this was the very first one).

The conference schedule basically consisted of 4 speakers in the morning, lunch, "ministry time" (when we go out to work with the missionaries), dinner, and a speaker in the evening. The conference ran until Friday evening. On Tuesday and Thursday, my group visited some villages around the area. On Wednesday, we visited some apartment buildings.

On Saturday, most of my group flew home. However, some of us (including me), had to wait until Sunday. So, Saturday, we checked out of the resort and moved back to the SCORE hotel. We then took the morning and went to Catalina Island, which is supposed to be, basically, some nice, resort island or something. I'll give that experience its own section. Afterward, we just enjoyed the evening at the SCORE hotel. Sunday, we had a church service with some others at the hotel, then went to the airport, did the normal airport thing, got on a plane (I picked up some duty-free coffee beans at the airport), and then went through all the crap one must go through to get into the USA.

Catalina Island
Our excursion to Catalina Island was very interesting, and I think it deserves its own section. We traveled about an hour or so to La Romana to get on a boat that would ferry us out to the island. Our bus was supposed to return at 5pm to pick us up, I believe.

We went out on the boat, and, as we approached an undeveloped part of the island, the boat stopped so people could snorkel. Then, we made our way around to the beach. As we approached the docks, we got pelted with rain so heavy, you could hardly see. After a few minutes, the rain let up, and we got to chill out for a bit. I believe there was a bit of rain off-and-on throughout the time we were on the island, and the sky was ominously gray the whole time. We had lunch, hung out for a bit, but before we actually got to get into the water, they announced the boats were getting ready to head out.

So, we had to leave early (I suppose this was due to the ominous clouds). As we pulled out, the heavy storms hit again, and didn't let up even when we got back to La Romana. Since we were back early, we stood huddled under some trees for an hour trying not to get any wetter than we already were (well, the wetter we were, the colder we were) while we waited for our transportation. It was really a good time, with a group of good-humored people. As Johnny (the aforementioned former college pastor, who was there with his wife and two of his sons) said, "At least it wasn't sunny and boring."

On the way back, the streets of La Romana were flooded. Most people seemed to just be standing around inside the shops, a few wading through the streets. On the bus, we were getting cold, so we opened some windows. A few minutes later, a number of young adults, teens, etc. started swarming the bus begging for money. The bus driver finally told us to close the windows, which we kept closed the rest of the ride. Once we got out of the flooded area, we came upon an intersection where traffic was being rerouted around a block because there was a car on fire. This car was really burning. I hope no one was hurt.

We eventually made it back to the SCORE hotel, and dried off. It was definately an experience.

I was going to post some thoughts I had over the past week, but I've run out of time for now. I guess I can do that in a later post. For now, it's bedtime.


Anonymous said...

u prayed and didn't get any direction?! . . . well obviously you're not praying right. i saw this great new book on prayer at the family christian bookstore recently that is about 10 easy steps to a great prayer life and . . .

sorry, i know i sound terribly cynical but i speak for empathy about praying and no direction in spite of seeing tons of books on prayer at the bookstore and reading some to no avail.

on a serious note ;) , i can't wait to hear u're reflections on the trip. i'm sure they'll be thought-provoking and worth while. see u sunday (that's still assuming u're gonna hit up the baptist gig again.)

-u know who

CoderForChrist said...

Well, about the praying, I, some time ago, began to think that, maybe, we've gotten the whole "hearing from God" thing wrong. I've been encouraged in this view by both the Internet Monk and John Piper. I posted some thoughts on this some time ago back when I was on Xanga. Maybe I should revisit that topic here in the near future.

Hopefully, I'll get time to post my thoughts from the trip this evening. I've been finding more stuff since I got back I want to post, too (for instance, an illustration of missional thinking from the TV series, "Firefly").