Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sea Glass, Mules, and Techno Music

Day 4: Puerto Plata. Early this morning, the students headed out to Fortaleza San Felipe, a historic fort that dates back to the mid-1500s. Grassy lawns surrounded the edifice constructed of stone and coral, and we all had the chance to sightsee and learn about the fort on a guided tour. We also had the chance to take photographs at the picturesque site. Following our exploration of the fort, we enjoyed lunch under the Dominican sun. The beachside location allowed for exploration along the shore, where some students found blue and green shards of washed-up sea glass.
After our visit to the fort, we traveled to a nearby market where we had the opportunity to take part in a significant aspect of the Dominican consumer's lifestyle: bargaining. Some of the neat purchases included paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, nearly all handmade. Will got the deal of the day, buying a $160 dollar shark sculpture for only $10 after some tactful bargaining! Not only that, but a random man asked us if we were interested in purchasing a mule. A mule?
We returned home for an early dinner before boarding the bus again for church. Contrary to American culture, services are traditionally held on Sunday night rather than Sunday morning. In addition to the sermon, which was translated by our awesome chaperone Mike, our musical group had the opportunity to play music, and Jessica shared her testimony with the congregation as well. Following the two-hour service, we had the chance to interact with the younger members of the church. Some of them spoke as much as English as most of us speak Spanish, but they were such a pleasure to get to know. We even had the chance to play music and sing with them; it was so much fun. Music truly is a universal language! It was uplifiting to interact with the body of Christ across the sea, and I'm sure it was just as encouraging to them.

At last, we are back at the mission house, and we are a bit tired to say the least. Evidently, a resort is holding some sort of concert or party across the cove, but the music is loud enough to be heard from here. Despite the perpetual ambiance music, one upside to the local celebration was a firewords show that we had the chance to enjoy. However, as the night grows older, we are beginning to prepare for bed. Tomorrow will bring us to Santiago, the second largest city in the Dominican Republic. The hour-and-a-half bus ride will take us to our next ministry destinations, which include a school, children's hospital, and the homes of local residents.

We continue to thank you for your comments! We have been printing them out and posting them in the hallway for all of the students to read. Ben, we miss you and hope you're feeling better! Also, Nick's knee is still a bit weak, but he has gained a lot more mobility and we continue to pray for a full recovery soon. All of us send our love to our family and friends back home, and as the stars shine brightly over Puerto Plata (and as the techno music from down the street continues to pulsate), we wish you a good night from the class of 2009.

Posted by: Steven Gallo