Wooden plank shacks and dusty roads.
roken down trucks driving over trash ridden streets.
Old dogs roam and sheets of rusted metal act as fences.
Most people would see little beauty in the streets of Monte Plata.
At first glance, Monte Plata seems to be nothing more than a jarring vision of the poverty and desperation that exists in this world.
This town is often avoided, forgotten, and abhorred.
But there is beauty in Monte Plata.
I have seen it.
I have heard it.
I have met it.
I have seen it in the smiling eyes of 189 children.
I have heard it in their giggles as they chase me around the park.
I have met it each morning as I walk into the school amongst a chorus of “Hannah!! Hannah!”
There is beauty in Monte Plata.
There is a future for Monte Plata.
And it lies in the potential of these children.
When I really take the time to look at the many sweet children I have met in the Dominican Republic, I feel like my heart is being broken into a thousand little pieces and each piece is being left with one of these children.
My heart breaks as I know that once I leave, their life will continue on.
I will go back to my queen sized bed, my loving family, my full pantry, and my American Eagle jeans. I will return to a fast paced city with even faster paced people who are often more concerned with the way we look than the condition of our souls.
Do we ever stop to think about the child starving just a plane ride away?
Two weeks from right now, I will be home.
Two weeks from now, I will be in my warm home surrounded by my sweet family and probably eating all of the food I’ve “missed so much.”
But my sweet friends here will continue on with their lives….just as I see them now.
Tonight, I write this from my little room in Monte Plata.
My little room is at the back of a small house on a dusty street in Monte Plata.
I can hear loud Bachata music all night long, roosters wake me up far too early, and I sometimes wake up to find a cockroach on my floor. (I attempted to throw a gym shoe at one, but the cockroach escaped unscathed.)
The heat in the little house is stifling and I begin sweating only moments after I get out of my cold shower.
My room has cobwebs and spiders in nearly every corner and I even taped sheets up over the windows so I don’t have to look at the bugs crawling around on the screen just inches from my pillow.
But I have grown to love my little room in Monte Plata.
Because there are 189 children who attend the school right outside my door, and they are in desperate need of love.
I was the person God sent to love them this week.
Nothing is going to stop me from loving them with everything I have.
These children may never know the loving touch of a father when they get home from school, or the kind words of a friend when their grandpa dies, or the gentle kiss of mother when they pinch their finger.
They may never experience a tangible picture of the immense love God has for each of their precious lives.
But I grew up with all of that and more.
So the least I can do is brave the bugs and the heat and the music and the roosters so I can love on these precious children.
God doesn’t call us to fix the problems of the world in a day.
But He does tell us to care for the least of these.
My heart will forever be broken because of my time in the Dominican Republic.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.