Friends (part two).
When we got to the Dominican Republic on Saturday, January 28, we got our bags and went to the parking lot where they had a cattle truck waiting for our bags, and a school bus for us to ride to the Meeting God in Missions facilities. I think Beth told me that the truck was one that we would likely be riding on that week. Remember, at this point I was still very much unhappy with this whole concept. So here I am in a country I don’t want to be in, waiting in a parking lot and loading my luggage in a truck that really don’t want to be riding in for an entire week, getting on a school bus that I don’t want to ride in to go to a place that I don’t want to have anything to do with.
The driver was a rather big guy that didn’t smile at all. We sat in about the second or third seat, and I had a real good view of him in the mirror above his head. It seemed like his eyes were at half-mast for most of the trip. At this point in our adventure, I am not impressed.
Later on, I learned his name is Victor, and he drove for us quite a bit through the week. He didn’t seem overly friendly, and as I loosened up, I just kind of figured he simply wasn’t real outgoing, and let it go at that. Maybe around Wednesday, I saw him smiling and laughing at something, and remember being a bit surprised.
While travelling, I made a couple of jokes with him as he was driving, usually on a difficult stretch of road. I asked Beth how to say “go faster” in Spanish, and would holler it out to him. He looked back in the mirror kind of surprised, I guess, that someone would be talking to him, and when I told him to “go faster,” his eyes got real wide, and he kind of smiled and shook his head. Well, well. I got to where I liked Victor quite a bit.
At the end of the week, Beth and I sorted our clothes, which to take home, and which to leave (we had decided before leaving home to donate what we could before we left). I’m a fairly big guy, and in talking with Brian, I realized that there aren’t very many Dominicans or Haitians that could possibly wear my clothes. It’d be more likely that a family could get a couple of my shirts and make a tent.
In any event, one of the guys I thought of was Victor. He’s a big guy, too. I had an Edinboro t-shirt, so I gave it to him at the end of the week. Makes a great photo.
Braulio was one of the drivers, and it seemed like he was one of the senior drivers there. He drove when Beth was in the D.R. a couple of years ago, and she really enjoyed riding the trucks with him at the wheel. He also is a big guy, easy-going, and has a good time with the people at MGM. Just a lot of fun.
Tito is the brother of Meirka, a Dominican woman who Beth connected with last time. Tito is really athletic and muscular; you should see him swing a ball bat. He was kind of the door guard, making sure that unauthorized people didn’t get in, and that the gates were locked/unlocked at the appropriate times. I had a chance to sit and talk (kind of) with him a couple of times, and really, really got to enjoy being around him.
I was honored to give a couple of shirts to Braulio. Tito got my suitcase.
I know that it could look like the “rich” American giving cast-offs to the “little people.” Yep, I am an American. Yep, by D.R. standards I’m probably wealthy. Yep, I gave from my surplus. But in my case, I was honored to give good stuff to people who I considered to be my friends before I decided to give them anything. I refuse to apologize for where I happened to be born, and I like to help my friends wherever I can. And thanks to God’s mercy and grace, I was able to serve for a short time in the Dominican Republic. I was surprised to become friends with a few of the Dominicans with which I came into contact, and I was pleased to give them items that they could find useful. And I am the richer for all that.