Track and field takes "leap of faith" in Dominican Republic
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Track and field takes

Sophomore distance runner Lana Sydenstricker sends an update on the track and field team's experiences during day three of the team's mission trip to the Dominican Republic. 

It might be scary, but jump anyway.

Today was such a great, surprising day. We started out by walking a few feet down the road to the Manna Children’s Home. We took a short tour through the three small buildings that made up this small organization. Two of them are where 13 children live with dorm parents. We spent about two hours playing with the children and learning about their lives. It was very cool to see where they sleep, what they do, and see their “dorm mom” cooking them rice and some kind of sauce that smelled very delicious. The one thing that really stuck out to me during this time at the Children’s Home is that I found the language barrier to be very hard. I could not really speak to the girls there so I just had to point to things and nod, or ask one of my teammates how to say something in Spanish. I guess I was not expecting it to be such a big thing, but language really makes a big difference when trying to form relationships with people.

Our next activity was volunteering at the Christian Outreach center in Rio San Juan where we painted, cleaned, and moved gravel to even out the walkway. This was a great time to see our team work together. We split up into groups and finished the work in a short amount of time. This work would have taken a long time if it was left to the missionaries living here because there aren’t many of them. I feel like we got it done so quickly and it was such a big help. I helped paint and found it to be a fun task to work on with my teammates.

The most surprising thing of the day was when we were taken to the beach. We walked down a path through the woods to a cliff where we would be cliff jumping. I have never jumped off of a cliff and I am terrified of the thought of falling. I convinced myself that no matter how scared I was, I was going to jump! It took quite a bit of time, but I sat near the edge and after a few attempts and cheering from everyone, I jumped off of the 20-foot cliff into the ocean. I must say it was a thrilling experience and I am so happy I did it, but I don’t think I will ever do that again. Sometimes you have to let yourself experience things, no matter how terrified you are.

Just like jumping off of a cliff, you have to take a leap of faith when you go to a new country. You will have so much fun serving, but it won’t be easy and you might not feel like you want to do it ever again. You will be pushed out of your comfort zone with spiders, military showers, cliff jumping or even language barriers, but you will see God in a new way. You could notice him in the precious little children you’re meeting, in the stars at night as you ride in a Daihatsu, or in your teammates as they shovel gravel and dirt.

What are you doing right now that requires you to jump and take a leap of faith?