Village 106 sits snuggled under verdant mountains covered in sugar cane and mango trees about an hour and a half away from the MGM Compound in Hato Mayor, our base of operations.
On the first day, when the bus turned onto the dirt road in sight of the village proper, children spilled out into the open and quickly claimed their American friend for the week. The guys of our group didn’t have the same length of opportunity as our girls for relationship building with little kids, as their main contribution was laying brick and pouring cement to build a burn area for garbage which is endemic to the surrounding area.
The plan for our students was to present a VBS program, perform a wordless skit illustrating the life of Christ, and then use their budding relationships to build their village kid’s English vocabulary. I laughed out loud when Abigail’s kid said to me on cue and in perfect valley girl intonation, “Hey, girlfriend.” For the most part however, the students relied on gesture, pantomime, an interpreter if one was handy, or limited Spanish skills to communicate with their village kid. What did that look like? For the girls that meant hair braiding, painting nails, playing games and singing songs. For the guys it seemed that their little friends were their shadow, wanting to help in any way they could in the construction process.
It doesn’t take much to show someone that you genuinely care, because kindness and love transcend words. That’s what made leave taking so wrenching, because our students had given their whole hearts to building relationships with their village kids. Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I saw the cost of “being all there” written on our students’ faces, some with tears sliding down their cheeks the last day. They shared the love of Jesus without reservation and planted seeds of hope in the children they left behind.