The day started with breakfast at 8:00 and the team of 10 Erieites, 2 Texans, and 4 Dominicans headed out to Perla's school, Ovejitas del Rey, in Cancino Adentro. As we stepped off the bus, we noticed balloons and a large welcome sign. Those of us who had been here before were greeted with open arms by both the children and the teachers. And once introductions were made, the new people were similarly welcomed. Perla was dressed in the blue ServErie shirt she had worn to say goodbye one year before.
The morning session consisted of 35 children ages 3-6. The team initially assumed a posture of learning as we observed the teachers and students interact, but quickly jumped in helping with drawing, coloring, and eventually singing. A classic singing battle erupted between the boys and girls singing " Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah" "Praise ye the Lord". Before too long, the first session was over and it was time for lunch.
At 2:00, the second group of children arrived and the team jumped into action. These children were split into groups of 12 and 8 and were older (ages 7-14). The lesson for the day was the creation story and the children were genuinely excited to learn how God created everything in its time and that it "was good". They were also introduced to the memory verse for the week, "Den gracias al Senor, porque El es bueno; su fiel armor permanence para simple. "Salmon 107:1 (translated Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever. Psalms 107:1). The craft consisted of the decorating of a "creation booklet" which had pictures and stickers representing each of the 7 days. Meanwhile, the patio was filled with an exuberant "clothes-pin" snatching game of tag followed by a competitive round of ball tossing. And while the lessons were educational and the games entertaining, their main function was merely to provide a framework on which to build relationships. The multiple one to one connections frequency consist of a brief glance or a quick smile or maybe a shared laugh. The children made little attempt to hide their feelings and their transparent joy was infectious. The sun was warm and the day was long, but the energy of the kids kept the team engaged until the day was complete. As we rode away in the bus, I couldn't help but acknowledge the privilege it is to be a part of what God is doing here in the Dominican Republic. Thank you for your continued prayers and support as our journey has only just begun. Hasta manana.
- JT Salmon