After a long but incredible smooth day of travel, we finally arrived at our base in Jarabacoa last night around 10pm (7pm for those of you in California). We went straight to bed when we arrived so that we could wake up bright and early, refreshed and ready for our first day at our ministry sites!

We all had a great time today, and it has been so fun to hear the team’s stories of people they have met and ways they are already seeing God move here. After dinner tonight, the SI staff put on “Culture Night” for us, where we learned some traditional dancing, tried yummy local snacks, and played some popular Dominican games! Overall, a fantastic first day. We are excited to see what God has in store for us this week! Thank you for your continued prayers.

Here are a few notes from our students at 4 of the ministry sites, and of course a few photos of our culture night:

MADI & EMMA E.
We are in the dentistry site and we help Vanessa (the dentist on staff with SI) give procedures to the Jarabacoa community. In our sites, we have both gotten to step in as Vanessa’s assistants by prepping trays before patients arrive, administering suction, and handing tools to Vanessa as needed. Also, during lunchtime we eat at the local baseball field and we have the opportunity to connect with the local kids by playing games such as duck-duck-goose (pato-pato-gonzo) or tag. We are very excited to see what God has in store for us this next week.
Adios!

GRACE & KATIE
We are at the women’s sports site. We are really looking forward to getting to know the girls in the community and bonding over volleyball! Today, we took the girls to the pool and hung out. The rest of the week we are helping with a dance camp, helping out with their volleyball practices, and having some fun!!!
-Brought to you by the best, Grace & Katie

ANDREW & ALYSSA
Today we went to our ministry site, a special education school called “Genesis” where we got to meet the kids (ages 12-20) who we will be working with all week. We played out at recess, read them stories in Spanish, and had a time of worship where they led us in one of their favorite songs! We also learned to cook a traditional Dominican snack. Yum!
-Andrew & Alyssa

GRANT & RILEY
We are serving at the micro-finance site this week. Sure, on the surface micro-finance sounds boring. There is nothing fancy or special about loaning people money and logging their financial status, but that is why it is such a beautiful thing: because micro-finance is much more than just micro-finance (talk about paradox). It is about so much more than the money. We get to partner with Students International as they give/loan this money to the Dominican people so they can avoid the corruption in local banks. But much more importantly, they loan money they can create community with the people of the Dominican Republic. The purpose of  micro-finance is to create community, fellowship, camaraderie, and hope among the people we minister to.
What we have learned today is how micro-finance is not about giving money and walking away, but about giving money and walking alongside our associates in their trials and triumphs. Sure, we manage and teach about finances, but it is not about creating a wealthy community; rather, it is rooted in the need for a loving, responsible, God-fearing community. For as we go into the communities, we don’t go to bring money, we go to walk alongside and relate to the people, giving them someone to look for when they need help. This is so much more important that financial status!
Signing off,
Grant & Riley