After a long and strenuous journey, which included several delays and a lost bag, I have arrived at the Dominican Republic. I slept for the better part of 17 hours Thursday and on Friday, Felix gave me a wonderful tour of Santa Domingo. It is very hot and even more humid here in the DR (Praise the Lord for sending me to Texas for college, it has prepared me, albeit slightly, for this occasion). Aside from a 30 minuet stop at the Cathedral to pray, a 45 minuet stop at a Colonial Chapel to celebrate mass, and a 20 minuet stop for iced coffee, we walked from 11:30 a.m. till 10:00 p.m. (to say I was tired and hungry would be an understatement). However, I cannot complain, the tour was more than joyous and Felix, who is unable to contain the passion and love of the Holy Spirit, is an absolute blessing and delight to be around. He is 33 years young, with a heart that is much too large for his body. He spent 5 years studying to become a Jesuit priest, until he felt called to start a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality here in Santa Domingo less than two years ago. The passion and conviction he exhibits for the Catholic Worker cause is contagious. If there is one problem with Felix it is that his desire to perfect the English language nearly rivals that of mine toward Spanish. I finally had to start responding to everything he said in English with, “Lo siento, no puedo entender, quizas trata hablarme en español.” We are working on it and I have no doubt that within 8 months, I will be fluent.
After the tour, Felix and I walked to a local tienda and shared El Presidente (the local beer of the DR). It was here where Felix confined in me two very interesting and slightly frightening stories. The first one centered around being robbed.
He began, “Every one of my American friends who have spent time here in the DR have been robbed…so do not travel with your phone, wallet, or computer…Just bring the small amount of cash you think you will need.”
I replied, “How long were your other friends here for?”
He said, “The longest was here for one year…and he got robbed twice.”
I laughed and said, “So I am most definitely going to be robbed?”
“Probably.” He laughed.
This story did not scare me as much as the next one, which centered on me being an answer to his prayers. He explained to me how he has been praying day and night for someone to come help him start a House of Hospitality here in the DR. He had emailed several of his Catholic Worker friends in New York and everyone responded by saying that the movement would not transfer to the Dominican Republic and it was a bad idea to try…that was nearly two years ago. He told me how he was praying for an older, experienced worker to come volunteer with him. When I emailed him several months ago asking to come volunteer he could not contain his joy. He laughed aloud and said, “Lord, you know what I need more than I do.” Then he told me how I was answer he did not know he was looking for…I nearly choked on my cerveza…
Lord, please protect me, both physically and spiritually, on this journey and help me do your will. Help me let go of all things that stand between me and you, and please help me remember that everything I call my own is simply a gift You have given me, help me love those gifts the way You love me and share them with the people of the DR. God bless Felix and the entire Catholic Worker movement.
p.s. I am writing this in a small, crowed, internet hub roughly 20 minuets away from our house. I am prespirering worse than an overwieght man in the Texas heat.