Sophomore distance runner Lana Sydenstricker shares what she has learned as the final days of the track and field team's mission trip to the Dominican Republic approach.
Yesterday we had our final team devotional. We listened to Lucas Sagraves, a freshman on our team, share his experience in missions. It really opened my eyes to how we are making a difference here even though we don’t have much physical evidence. The relationships are more important than any thing we could give anyone. It was a great time listening to our teammates share about their experiences of the week and hearing about what was on their hearts. I was personally touched when our team leader, Jenny Randolph, compared the child that so easily fell asleep in her arms earlier in the week to us trusting in God. We should be able to just fall into God’s arms, so easily, and trust Him fully. We should be like that adorable little child, and just throw ourselves into God’s arms and instantly feel loved and cared for. I feel like most of the time I do not throw myself into God’s arms, instead I just want to do things on my own.
After an awesome night, we started off the day by eating breakfast and talking to the Manna Christian School students before they were about to take their math exam. It was so much fun to compare the students here to students back in the United States. They are exactly the same. They were cramming in information while eating breakfast and we told them good luck. Then we loaded up the Daihatsu to have a beach day with a couple of the missionaries’ families. We got to buy coconuts and fish made by the locals here. After enjoying the rough ocean waves, we went back to Manna and enjoyed a nice dinner of grilled hamburgers. Honestly, we were all hoping for chicken, rice and beans. We gathered as a group for the last time to listen to Laura Beth and the school leaders talk about their vision for Manna in the next few years. It was so neat to re-watch the video we saw before coming here; this time we knew the people in the video. It made this place seem so much more special to me. The vision they have and the things they are starting here are so important to making this country succeed. Laura Beth, Chad and Porfi have made the children here feel so special and loved and I really feel the need to help them out.
After our final discussions, we bought souvenirs at the camp, like coconut candy made my Carmen, one of the sweet cooks at Manna, Dominican Republic coffee, Christmas ornaments and mugs. All of the proceeds from these little items we bought are going to help the children involved in this organization. I was so happy to buy these things, but I was more excited to help out the people here.
I am finding joy being here because I feel like there are not any distractions like technology, materialism or constant messages telling me what I should do or who to be like. I am awakened by the poverty around me, but at the same time I am shocked by the people’s joy for the Lord. I hope to have that kind of hope and joy for the Lord when I get back to the states.