Like many others who have been on the QU301 Dominican Republic Mission trip would say there are absolutely no words to define our experiences, but I will try my best.
On my first day, Saturday, we walked into the Joe Hartman School gates, and a young boy with a small baby in his arms ran to our team leader Cindy Resate. I have never seen someone so excited to see another person in my entire life. It was very close to moving me to tears. But this was not the last magical moment I would encounter. These moments are named Rebecca, and Nelson.
Nelson is a 14 year old boy who lives 1 hour and 45 minutes walking distance from the Joe Hartman school. He is the oldest of 5 boys, with a father working in America and their mom a small business owner in the Dominican Republic. One day stuck out to me the most. On Thursday I learned that Nelson would not be able to make our last day of work because he has to help his mother at her cosmetic store. We were sitting under a small snack pavilion at the school with my sponsor child Rebecca, a 6 month old who lives within the compounds of Joe Hartman with her parents and 2 older siblings. As Nelson was translating Rebecca’s mom’s sentences for me he looked at me and said, “Tori do you know what happiness is?” I quickly replied, “No please tell me” thinking to myself how does this kid possibly have an answer to this question?
He said to me, “Easy come, easy go.” And while this was poetic, and beautiful to come out of a 14 year olds mouth, I quickly had to disagree.
With a sad feeling between the two of us I told Nelson that happiness is not “easy come, easy go” because while it was an easy decision to come on this trip, it was not easy to leave. I was paranoid with the Zika virus, the hours of delayed flights we waited for getting there, and just an overwhelmed feeling of travelling out of the country without my parents. But how I explained this further to him was by explaining the guilt, hurt, and overwhelming desire to help each and every single person that we encounter. We go into these bateyes, barrios, and cities that don’t have substantial running water, numerous power outages, no money, and little medical help. We want to stay. I wanted to stay.
I told him that this decision to come was not easy, and the decision to leave was even harder. We love to visit the kids, and play, do our hard work and leave, but for me its more than the work I can put into these projects for a week. Nelson and I exchanged Facebook information, and I gave him a few American dollars to use at the internet café. I want to continue the legacy of happiness, hope, and love that was shown to me during this amazing trip.