It is hard to believe that I have already spent three weeks here in the Dominican Republic. With each day, my love for the Dominican people and their beautiful country increases. Conversely, my ability to speak, think, and write in English continually wanes. Thus, please forgive both the quality and grammatical errors accompanied throughout this correspondence. I thank the Lord for this opportunity. Seeing how the Spirit works through both myself and Felix has been one of the most rewarding parts of this experience. The way our personalities complement each other truly is remarkable, and gives credence to the beautiful design that the Divine architect, commonly referred to as the Lord, possesses. Felix’s spirituality manifest itself through action and compels him to radically combat social injustice. Whereas, my spirituality manifest itself primarily through dialog and thought. The combinational result of these somewhat polarizing approaches has fostered quite a team, as well as a wonderful friendship.
Felix and I were blest with some wonderful news earlier this week; we received confirmation that two very generous servants of Christ have donated to our Catholic Worker Community. Unfortunately, neither Felix nor I are well versed in the technical and legal facets associated with transferring funds internationally. This truth, combined with the inefficient and complicated banking system here in the DR, increasingly tries the patience of Felix, whose fiery passion and genuine love toward the homeless community continues to amaze me. God bless him and please grant us patience. We are unable to begin the process of renting a Catholic Worker house until we receive the funds. Thus, while we wait and pray for the logistics to sort themselves out, Felix and I have been making and delivering sandwiches to the homeless 4 times a week. I sufficiently lack the writing talent to articulate the beautiful, as well as disturbing, emotions I felt during these interactions. Nevertheless, I will try.
We woke up at 5:30 this morning to deliver breakfast to several homeless people living under an extremely busy overpass in Santa Domingo. We have been coming to this particular site for the past two weeks due to its convenient location. Given that we do not have a car, we are forced to rely on the newly constructed Subway System to commute around the city and the stop titled “Los Tainos” is located directly across the street from the overpass. Prior to this morning, we have been coming to Los Tainos around 9:30 in the evening to pray, converse, and (most importantly) bring sandwiches to the homeless. Although this area is much more frightening at night, the loneliness and suffering that these individuals experience daily is far more apparent in the morning. Felix often pokes fun at the obvious irony of this busy landscape. On one side of the street lies the polished Metro Station, which represents technological and social progress. Yet, less than ten feet away from this engineering marvel, en elderly women and seven young to middle-aged men can be seen sleeping under the overpass. These individuals have no public voice. Society judges them, in some cases quite accurately, as drug addicts and failures, who’s current situation resulted from their own foolish actions. Unless the policy is aimed at removing these people from their city, the state, community, and even the Church, want nothing to do with them. Upon our arrival Felix and I say a quick prayer, and then cross the street.
The mountains of trash piled under the overpass are the first thing that caught my attention. Although I had experienced a terrible odor during our evening visits, seeing such a quantity of garbage was shocking to say the least. Shoes and shirts are a rare luxury among the homeless. Although a few of them were fortunate enough to have a piece of cardboard or a discarded garment to use as a pillow/bed, the majority slept straight on the concrete. At this hour, now 6:45a.m., only the elderly women, along with her family of stray dogs and cats, is awake. It should be noted that the night before, when Felix and I brought them dinner, we saw this poor lady, using a small bucket of dirty water and an even dirtier towel, bathing herself and I was nearly brought to tears after she so graciously said thank you for the small sandwich we brought her. After we distributed the sandwiches to them and prayed with those who wanted to, Felix and I spent roughly 30 minutes conversing with three of the gentlemen lying at the far end of the overpass. Despite having every reason to curse life and drown in self-despair, they were smiling and praising God. Seeing how thankful and nice they were to us for bringing them food (which was simply a small bologna sandwich btw) was beyond beautiful. I realize now that we are no different. God is with them and they are His children. They say the eyes are the gateway to the soul…well I looked into each one of their eyes as we departed and, without a doubt, I saw Christ.
Lord have mercy on my soul. I beg You to take my will, for it leads me to embrace the pleasures of the earth; take my tongue, for it leads me to sin; and take my heart, for without You my heart is broken and lost. Please take them all and use them according to your will.