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Hello diary, I am Logan… This is my “travel diary” that I will be writing in for the next 3-4 days. I am going on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic!! We are at the airport right now, at our gate. I am so excited to visit all the villages and play with the kids but I am most excited to (hopefully) meet my sponsor brother!! My family sponsors a little 4 year old boy named Julians. We pay $30 a month and that money goes towards his education, clothes, food, stuff like that. My sister and step dad went on this same missions trip in January, and my sister has a friend that sends us pictures of Julians (he is so cute!!) We bought him a shirt and a hat and some toys to give to him when we meet him. Anyways… I think our plane is going to be delayed… I’ll update you later!!
We hear the announcement on the loudspeaker that our flight is going to be delayed. My mom, sister and Lexi are all sitting around me at our gate. Lexi is a girl my sister met on the missions trip in January.
“I’m hungry”, I groan to them.
We all get up and walk over to the food court. We get our food, eat, and walk back to the gate.
By the time we get back, it is time to board. In line to board, we are behind a sweet lady named Magda, and her husband. They are coming on the missions trip, too. She explains to us that she has been going on these missions trips for a while now, and also that she speaks fluent Spanish.
I’M SO TIRED!! It is now the next day and we just landed in Dominican Republic! Like I said before, I am sooo tired but it’s okay, I’ll just sleep on the bus ride to the hotel. Gotta go sleep!!
We get on the bus at about 6:15 on Friday morning. I sit in the seat next to my mom, put my headphones in, and start listening to music. I am so tired, I can barely keep my eyes open.
Before I know it, I’m woken up by my mom tapping on my shoulder.
“Logan! Wake up!” she whispers.
I open my eyes and we are parked outside of the hotel. The hotel isn't the nicest, but it's nice for the area it is in. We got our baggage, and went to our hotel room. My mom, sister and I are all sharing a room.
It is now about 8:00 in the morning, so we all go down to the buffet to eat breakfast. Of course, I am starving because I haven’t eaten since the night before. I stuff my face like a pig with my breakfast, and we go out to the bus to start our day at Catalina.
We are on the bus, on our way to Catalina. Catalina is a village in the Dominican Republic. This is where the Handfuls of Hope (the missions trip organization) office is. The school where all the kids go (including Julians) is also here. I hope we find him in the crowd of other kids while we are here!
We get off the bus and walk up three flights of stairs to the Handfuls of Hope office to eat lunch. Lunch is served as a buffet in a separate room. In the room, there are trays of white rice and chicken.
“This is some funky lookin’ chicken,” a lady next to us says.
I can't disagree, it was some pretty funny lookin’ chicken. I ate up all my rice and ate around the chicken. I was ready to start the day! We walked over to a muddy grass field behind the school, where a volleyball net was. A bunch of little kids from the Dominican Republic started approaching us in flocks like groups of birds. Some of the people who came on the missions trip start a volleyball game with the Dominican kids. It is as hot as an oven, so I stand on side of the net and watch.
The game is over, so we all walk back to the school where more and more kids were arriving for Vacation Bible School. The school is a few classrooms made of small, worn down buildings with no doors. My mom, sister and I were searching for Julians, but we couldn't find him.
Today was such a fun day! It is so amazing to see all these kids who have life so much harder than we do having so much fun with us. The only bad thing about today was that we couldn't find Julians. Tomorrow we are going to a village and then going back to the school… Hopefully we find him tomorrow! Fingers crossed!!
It is now Saturday, and we go Catalina again. We get to the office, and then gather the big duffle bags stuffed like a turkey. We fill them with toys for the kids, and the bag cooked food that we will hand out in the villages.
Four hours later, we get back to Catalina from the villages. My face is as red as a tomato because it is scorching hot outside. We walk over to the school, where all the kids are in their classrooms. We go classroom to classroom, peeking our heads through the door openings, looking for Julians. We don’t find him, and my face drops. You can see the disappointment on mine and my sisters faces. For the rest of the day, I was feeling mopey.
So, we didn’t find Julians today either. I am really, really hoping we find him tomorrow because it is our last full day in the DR, and our last day going to Catalina, where the school is. If we don’t find him tomorrow, we are all going to be really upset because we don’t know when we are going to come on another missions trip! :( Well, I have a long day ahead of me, so I’m gonna get some sleep. Bye!
It is our final full day in the Dominican Republic, and I am anxious to go to the school and look for Julians again. I am determined to find him today, I think to myself.
We get back from the villages, which means it is now time to look for Julians. We stumble as we walk to the school, because we are hot and tired. Like every other day, we walk classroom to classroom. We get to the final classroom on the left of the school buildings. My sister peeks her head inside the door, pulls away quickly, and covers her hand over her mouth. My mom and I look at each other, our faces lifting. We peek in, and see him sitting there. My mom turns away, and wipes her eyes. I start to tear up, myself.
The kids start walking one by one out of the classroom. When Julians sees us, he covers his big, round eyes with his hands.
“He must recognize us from the pictures I send to my friend from here,” My sister exclaims.
In the moment I saw him, I remember the first time I saw a picture of him on the list of kids that were available to sponsor.
We walk over to him, and see him standing with a woman and another boy, who looks a little older than him. We ask Magda to help us tell the woman with him that we are his sponsor family. Magda talks in what sounds like gibberish to the woman, and tells us that she is Julians aunt and the boy is his cousin. After Magda told Julians’ aunt that we are his sponsor family, a smile spread across her face. She looked so thankful for us, and that made me realize how much of a difference we made in both of their lives.
We sit down with Julians, and get him comfortable with us. His little body is propped up on my sister’s lap, and my mom and I sit across from them. My mom is still wiping tears from her eyes and I can’t help but smile. We take our pictures with him, and my sister pulls out her phone and shows him the snapchat filters. He starts laughing. In the moment, nothing can wipe the smile off my face.
My mom gives Julians the blue gift bag with all of his gifts. He pulls out the shirt and hat, and his aunt started to tear up. My mom, sister, and I hand him the other toys that were in the bag, and Julians looks like the happiest little boy I have ever seen.
After a while of sitting and playing with him, it is time to go back to the hotel. I feel as if I am the happiest person alive, but I am also really upset that we won’t be able to see him tomorrow.
Today was the best day ever. I have never felt so happy and so grateful in my life. We finally met Julians. I feel so grateful to be able to help him out so much, and to give him a better future. It just makes me feel so good when I think about how much we help him. Even though I am soooo happy, I am pretty upset that we have to leave tomorrow. I am just so glad that I got to spend part of the day with him.
We are on the plane, going back to Branchburg. I realize how grateful I am to have a constant supply of money, food and a house.