In my previous post, He Knows before We Do, you can read how God opened the path for us to visit the Dominican Republic in May. Throughout our time there, I kept thinking about the incarnation, God the Son coming to the world in flesh, fully experiencing everything we do. He left the privilege of heaven and took on all of our reality in this fallen world. Out of his infinite love.
Our time in the DR was short, just eleven days, but we left with a more tangible understanding of the challenges and joys there. We could read about living conditions in the DR before we went, but now our kids know what it’s like to need purchased bottled water, even to brush teeth, to have to thoroughly dry our dishes after washing.
Even the locals need to purchase bottled water because of the level of contamination. Realistically, not all can afford it and, thus, can live with chronic sickness. Water-borne diseases are a leading cause of death in the DR and its close neighbor, Haiti, especially in small children.
Internationally, safe water is one of the greatest and most urgent needs in developing countries. Every day over 4,000 children are dying of water-related diseases such as cholera and typhoid that are easily preventable. Recently, I have learned about Compassion Water of Life, a way of providing safe water for a child and his/her family for a lifetime (over 1 million gallons). It costs only $79, a one-time fee, to provide one child with Compassion Water of Life.
That low cost actually surprised me. It is not only affordable for the donor, but it frees up a greater expense for those in need. For example, when we were in the DR, our family needed to buy (refill) a five gallon container of purified water every day. Each time we refilled the container, it cost just over $1. Thus, just three months of purified water for one family would require over $90, a lot more than most Dominicans can afford. For more information and to purchase Compassion Water of Life, please visit http://www.compassion.com/water-filters.htm. Also, you can watch a short video of a girl, whose life was saved at http://www.compassion.com/ donate/water-of-life-video.htm
Now our kids comprehend that DR toilets really can’t handle tissue paper and that you must deposit it in trash cans. They learned the hard way. Undeniably, it’s the same situation in East Asia where Thomas and I lived as in many countries, which we had told them.
Although Thomas and I thought that we had encountered crazy driving in other lands, the DR takes the cake. The kids and I were proud of Daddy learning to drive like a Dominican. He even drove once against traffic on the freeway! It happens there all the time, but for us it was eye-popping. Enthusiastically, our family started writing a poem about the driving because it was so striking—scary and hilarious at the same time. How we would love to make a children’s picture book about it to raise money for DR ministries, like Compassion.
Getting the illustrations to do it justice is the biggest hurdle. On the side of the road, you have vistas of gorgeous beaches and pick-up baseball games in dirt lots. Of course, there are pick-up games on the sandy beach, too. My kids joined one on our first Saturday and the Dominicans loved watching the loud and enthusiastic Avian. They called him “Rubio,” the blonde one.
Our trip to the DR brought many surprises, of which I’ll write more later. Perhaps the most silly came from my ten year old daughter, Kyrie Micaela. Who would have thought she’d fall in love with UHT milk?!