Today I said goodbye to the community that I have spent time with for the last 5 summers. This is the first time I couldn’t confidently tell them “I’ll see you next year!” I know I will return, but I’m not sure when. I said goodbye to Ashley, my sponsor girl, to each of the girls in my dance class, to Milagros, one of the most incredible women I have ever met, to my friends, to my family. 

Driving away, crying without shame, I thanked God for the amazing opportunities I’ve had to learn from, grow with, and love on these people. Of all of the amazing things God has blessed me with in my 20 years of life, sweet moments with the children in Cotui are the most precious to me. 

Our team has been reading from 1 John 4 this week. My pastor Mark reminded us that we don’t come here to the Dominican Republic because we are just so awesome and are good enough to sacrifice one week out of the year to travel to another country and bestow blessings upon less fortunate people. That’s not it at all. Because we know God, we know love. Because we know God’s love, we are able to show it to other people. In fact, we are obligated to show it to other people. If we didn’t know God, we wouldn’t know love. That sounds harsh, but it’s simply true. The love we show to others is simply an outpouring of the love God has shown to us.

Today was one of the best days I’ve ever had.  But I’m too sad and too tired to write about everything right now. I need to process everything first. My heart is full.