God said, "I will go with you. And I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14
I immediately fell in love with the Dominican Republic and its unique blend of Latin and Caribbean cultures. Beautiful beaches, lively music, warm hospitality, and God at the center of everything. A common farewell includes “si Dios quiere,” for example “if God wants it, I will see you in the morning.” I have always been comforted by this aspect of Dominican culture.
There are also aspects of the culture that have been a little more difficult to adjust to. Six months ago I was a graduate student taking a full course load, working part-time, and juggling an internship at the local hospital. Free time wasn’t something I was accustomed to, and when I did have free time it usually meant that I was neglecting to do something productive. I always feel the need to be busy, to be accomplishing something.
Caminante has been very intentional about gently phasing me into being a full member of the team. They frequently send me home early to rest or will encourage me to take a longer lunch break. When the team heads into Santo Domingo for workshops, they encourage me to take the day for myself. “To work from home?” I ask. “Work from home, go to the grocery, see the beach, rest, do what you need,” they answer. My team finally said to me, “Why do you always feel the need to be busy?” I didn’t have an answer. My colleagues at Caminante ensured me that in good time, I will be very busy and involved and to just enjoy this time of transition and rest.
Throughout the Bible, God encourages us to rest and even commands us to reserve the Sabbath as a day of rest. Perhaps this is just another way that Dominican culture places God at the center of everything. I am trying to learn how to rest, acknowledging the mindset instilled in me that self-worth is linked to productivity. If God wants it, rest will come, and the transition will be peaceful.
Kaitlin Thompson serves with Proyecto Caminante in the Dominican Republic. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, WOC, OGHS, and your special gifts.