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My Heart Has Never Been So Happy

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the QU301 Dominican Republic mission trip, but one spontaneous decision led to another and here I am today completely overwhelmed with emotions of post Dominican Republic withdrawal only two weeks after the trip. Going into the class I heard nothing but amazing things about this class. There was so much talk about some “out of body experience” that “you could only experience while you are in the Dominican Republic” that intrigued me. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when entering these people’s country. I knew it would be poverty stricken, but just how bad did these people have it? What were their living arrangements? How did they get food and fresh water? Where do they go when they need medical attention? These were only some of the many questions I had before going on the trip.

As July 1st quickly snuck up, I could not be more excited to be traveling with such an amazing group of people. I can not even explain in words the feelings I experienced the first day at a batey. Although some of the sights are tough on the heart, the happiness and expressions of gratitude that radiated off the people of the village could be felt as soon as I got off the bus. In the moment of simply bonding with the children and families of the bateyes, the pure feeling of graciousness and love for one another completely overrides the sadness and poverty of the village. The giant smiles on the faces of the families who greeted us the second we got off the bus was unreal. The genuine kindness and generosity of the families there made it seem as if I’ve known them my entire life. Being a nursing major, I was part of the medical team (the BEST team(: ) during my 10 day stay in the most beautiful country. Each day we set up clinics in different bateyes and gave medical attention to those in need. It was such a great feeling knowing that I was taking part in something so special, and at times even life changing for both the individuals that attended and myself. One of my favorite days at the medical clinic was definitely giving out “Bug Juice” which was an anti-parasitic drink and getting to play with the children of Batey Agua Catico after the juice was administered. I don’t think I have ever smiled so long or hard in my life! I swear my cheeks hurt at the end of the day.

Something that really struck me was when we set up another clinic three days later and heard someone yelling my name. The children from Batey Agua Catico had walked over to the batey where we set up the new clinic to come see us again!! (their batey was only a kilometer away) Some of them made us drawings that said “My heart is happy,” which made me never want to leave. Every picture they drew would go to one of us sitting there with them with “para ti!(for you!) ” written on the top of every page. My heart had never felt so warm in my entire life.

I can go on forever about how this experience has changed me in a way that no one will ever understand unless you were there to experience La Romana and it’s people. If you or anyone you know ever has the opportunity to go on a mission trip…DO IT!! I promise you you will not regret it. This was the most incredible trip by far.

~Daniela Castelli(:

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