This morning we all met for breakfast, then headed down to the beach for baptisms!
Emily decided to get dunked after a year of discussions with [REUNION] staff and lots of prayer. She was baptized as a child, by her own choice but sprinkled, not immersed. Church opinions vary greatly on baptism, but Emily concluded it was an act of obedience to do it exactly as Jesus did (right down to the open water).
Izzy's story was inspiring. She decided to follow Christ in elementary school. Once she hit middle school, she saw how her baptized friends around her were falling away from their faith. She didn't want to be baptized, only to "mess up." But she learned to rely on God as she faced the gossip and backstabbing that too often accompanies groups of teen girls (which I totally get). On the trip, she decided she was ready to get baptized (by her dad!). She's only a senior in high school. I know we all have our own journeys, but I wish that when I was her age, I "got it" as much as she does.
We also prayed for Phil and his family with their upcoming transition to a new church, for Jess and Torre as they move to New Zealand for a year, and for Josh and Joylyn, who got engaged a couple nights ago. (I think I forgot to write about that. They met on the trip last year. Josh proposed on the roof, and we all found out the next morning at breakfast when Danielle noticed the ring!)
Note: Luis caught a crab on the beach while we were filtering down for the baptisms.
We spent the rest of the morning on the beach. Ian convinced me to jump off the rocks with him. It seems so much higher looking down than it does looking up.
Brett, triathlete i.e. fish, gave Dilson several rides, and we convinced Yeison to jump off the rocks (with Brett spotting). I learned last night from Jenn that lots of people here don't know how to swim. There are accidents, because people don't know how to swim, and then parents want to keep their kids away from the water and they never learn to swim, which perpetuates the problem. Surprising to me, since it's an island.
After lunch, we relaxed on lounge chairs and in the mini pools for a couple hours, then headed to the public beach for a little shopping. It's the sort of place where you haggle prices, but G.O. has a relationship with one of the shop owners, Juanita, who gives teams a no-haggling-needed price. We picked up a sarong for me (a yellow one that says "Republica Dominicana" to go with my beloved purple sarong from the Philippines) and some cigars in a cool wooden box for Ian (with strict instructions to SHARE them with other guys in the "I like to smoke sometimes to feel manly" category).
We also joined the group headed to Patrick's, the fancy pants jewelry store. Which just means they sell pieces handcrafted in the DR, instead of cheap souvenirs possibly made in China. Ian bought me a pair of larimar (a blue stone only found in the DR) earrings that we picked together. I can't wait to wear them!
After shopping, and sharing some fries and pina coladas (in pineapples!) with Gerald and Mel, our team hopped back into the van. The 2 hour trip back involved Hunger Games discussions and an ice cream pit stop.
When we got back, a few people on the team arranged for us to have a candlelit dinner on the roof to celebrate Brent's birthday (the company and the cake was excellent). We also realized how burnt Ian is: he looks like a lobster. ouch.
After dinner, Jenn played a video slide show from our week.
And then we had to say goodbye to the Vargas family. It wasn't as hard as I thought, because I know we can look forward to Skype, and we're praying for them as they're praying for us. More than ever, I see the new testament missionary+supporting churches relationship. And we've already been using the phrase "next year..."