I apologize once again for the exceedingly long duration between posts. Unfortunately, every new day brings me that much closer to the dreaded day when I will have to leave this wonderful country. Thus, the desire to spend every moment of my free time playing dominos with the locals, or watching “Caso Cerado” with Felix and his dad greatly outweigh the desire to sit in my room and write. However, I could not postpone this any longer, the beautiful blessings I have experienced since my last post deserve to be shared.
Roughly six months ago, Felix and I found a 12 year-old boy named Willy sleeping under a bush on the side of la calle Malecón. Willy had run away from his home and had been living alone on the streets when we found him. I played the violin for him, which he loved, and we tried in vain to convince him to come with us to a local homeless shelter for kids near the Colonial Zone. We began seeing him regularly during our route and Felix could not bear it anymore and finally said:
—Willy we will give you $1000 pesos ($25) if you come with us to the orphanage, and you don’t even have to stay…just please let us take you there.
He reluctantly agreed and we were able to take him to the house. However, many of the children that go to this place routinely end up back on the streets and seeing how Willy had already spent nearly two months living on the streets, I was skeptical that he would stay. I began praying for Willy daily. Unfortunately, we were informed a few weeks later that Willy had left the house.
Nearly six months later, Felix and I found a young Haitian boy sleeping on the side of the street. After giving him food and talking with him, he agreed to come with us to the same homeless shelter where we took Willy. When we arrived at the house we were greeted by none other than Willy, who started shouting, “Let these guys in, they are with me, they’re my friends!!” Upon seeing his smiling face I nearly started crying tears of pure joy (the director informed us that he had returned to the house after spending a month on the street). What makes this story even better is that, after we entered the house, we realized that Willy was in the middle of a Catechesis class! To this day, Felix and I laugh when we think back on such a beautiful day. To know that the same young boy who was stealing on the streets to survive was now learning Catechesis made us both realize that God (and not us) was in charge of this wonderful mission.
Also, after nearly two months of searching, we were able to find Anna, an older homeless lady. Not only did she remember us, but she greeted us with a beautiful smile and asked me how my grandpa was doing (I had told her back in November that I would be returning to the States to spend Christmas with my grandpa, who has cancer). This did make me cry and caused me to give her a big hug, a gesture which caused the locals to look at me like I was crazy.
I am very sad that I will be leaving this country so soon. I met with Esperanza on Easter Sunday and treated her to breakfast. While we were eating she asked me, “When will you be back?” I told her that I am not entirely sure, because I am returning to the states to work. But I told her that now, thanks to her and the other amazing homeless people I have met in the DR, I have a reason to pursue wealth. I informed her that my goal is to buy a house for the DR Catholic Worker! Upon hearing this, she looked me in the eyes and, while giving me one of her priceless smiles, she said:
—David, don’t worry about me, you need to save your money and start a family over there while you are still young. I will always be in your heart and you will always be in mine. And if I don’t see you again, I will be waiting for you in Heaven with Jesus.
This definitely made me cry. She is a very beautiful and special lady. All in all, this experience has been the most fruitful and humbling of my life. The people here have given me so much more than I gave them. I cannot stop praising and thanking God for such a multitude of blessings.
Lord God, Holy is your name! Thank you for all the blessings you have given me, above all your infinite love and mercy. Please help me love such blessings as you love me, and to share them with every soul I come across. I pray that you continue to bless the people here in the Dominican Republic, especially the homeless.