Anna+Ian in the DR: home again

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Yesterday morning we had breakfast, finished packing, and said goodbye to the kids. Thanks to an early afternoon flight, we had a decent chunk of time to hang out with them before their nutrition clinic. Michelle definitely stuck closer and gave lots of hugs (Maria came later when we were already on the bus, so I could only wave to her).

anna + michelle final goodbye

The kids all had fun taking last day photos for us. And right before we loaded onto the bus, they all gathered into a group to tell us gracias. With Yannie as the spokesgirl, they said a lot of nice things (Jenn translated). What I remember the most is "We are sad you are leaving, but happy because we know you will be back."

gathering for a group photo

I'm definitely leaving a little piece of my heart in the DR.

panorama from the roof

We said more goodbyes at the airport, and Jenn prayed for us right before we headed into the terminal.

Where security took my batteries. I didn't understand, because TSA doesn't take them away. Apparently the DR's TSA equivalent thinks loose batteries are dangerous (but they're fine if they're in something, like our fans or flashlights). And of course, instead of trashing them they put my batteries aside. At least they won't be wasted, but had I known, they would have gone either in our checked bag, or donated to Jenn/G.O.

My resulting grumpiness contributed to Ian and I's heated discussion over his purchase of a $6 can of Pringles. Dave would not be happy. I wasn't.

We whiled away our wait with UNO until I heard my name over the loudspeaker, rattled off with a couple other people from our team and a few I didn't recognize. We headed over to the gate and learned our checked bags were randomly selected for inspection, and we had to be present. The gate attendant escorted us downstairs right next to security, where our bags were piled on a cart. If I spoke decent Spanish, I would have asked for my batteries back so I could put them in my checked bag.

Mine was first. I had to sign papers (in Spanish, no idea what they said) while someone looked through all my stuff. The security officer paid special attention to the multiple bags of coffee, sniffing each one. He laughingly said I must like coffee (I think that's what he said). I told him my husband does, plus some are gifts. Funny to think of the contrast between the ease of our entry (with controlled medical supplies) and hassle of our exit (with souvenirs and batteries).

We finally got on the plane. I love non-stop flights. We watched Thor without sound, then again sharing Emily's headphones (thanks Emily!).

We arrived at Logan, made our way through customs, and then it was time for our last round of goodbyes: Jess and Torre, headed to New Zealand for a year, and Brent (Phil's dad) and Tom (Brent's friend), headed back to Illinois.

And then we were home. It's strange how the trip seamlessly connected in our life. It wasn't jarring to go there, or to come back. Like going to visit family. And really, that's what we did.

Today I've had so many chances to talk with coworkers about the trip, the Vargas family, and [REUNION]. I'm so thankful it's opened a door and given me a new sense of boldness and purpose. On the trip I knew construction wasn't my strong suit. Other people discovered how God had woven their gifts and talents into their experiences on the trip: Danielle meeting several deaf kids and using her AIDS work experience to help out with the sex ed class, and Naomi, the elementary school teacher, building relationships with the kids. And now I've had my own "aha!" moment — I can use my gifts and passions to share our stories. I can't wait.

puerto plata