I wasn’t expecting to cry.
I went on mission trips as a child – upper state New York twice, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania – but never out of the country. We drove into Mexico, sightseeing, when I was twelve, but other than that I had never left the U.S. at all. So this was my first-ever international mission trip (or any trip out of the country).
We had driven through an area that looked like something out of the movies. People were living in small shacks with barbed wire here and there. Roosters and dogs ran loose.
The rented pink bus stopped, and our team from One Vision International walked down a dirt path towards the children’s center where we were to spend the afternoon doing a Bible story, crafts and taking pictures for the kids who still needed sponsors; I took in every detail. A mother was bathing her twin girls in her back yard. They took turns standing in a large pan, because beneath it was clay dirt. She washed their hair and scooped water from a large barrel behind the house, pouring it over the tops of them as they squealed.
The girls were absolutely adorable, shyly grinning as we walked past. But I couldn’t help but think of the differences between that and shower time at my house – where the kids would complain if the hot water was going and their shower was lukewarm.
When we arrived at the children’s center, the kids were precious and happy to see us. The love they had for the One Vision missionaries was obvious. As we milled around, intermingling with the kids, one girl stood out to me. She was beautiful and stylish. She wore a white button up and a cute jean skirt and flats. Around her neck was a lanyard with scripture in Spanish. She reminded me of my daughter, Faith.
Trying to make conversation, I asked if I could look at her necklace. The lanyard had small laminated pages with the Bible verses. I tried reading them aloud – butchering beautiful Spanish words as I went. She giggled and read them to me the correct way. I loved the way God’s Word flowed out of her mouth. Although I didn’t understand the language, I could recognize bits and pieces of familiar verses, so I repeated them to her in English.
“For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son…”
“¿Cómo se llama?” I nervously put words together I hadn’t spoken in years, but remembered from a simple Spanish book I had as a child.
She pointed to herself and said, “Lady Diana.”
One of the One Vision team walked over and confirmed her name. “Yes. She told me. Her name is Lady Diana. I believe she is named after Princess Diana. I think she said her mom was a big fan.”
“Combien?” I asked her, thinking I was asking her ‘how many’ in Spanish. I wanted to know her age. But my default “other” language was French. So, instead, I asked her “how many” in French.
Emily, from One Vision, laughed at me and asked Lady Diana her age in Spanish this time.
“Diez,” she told me holding up both hands with ten fingers.
“Diez? Ten?” I asked. “My daughter is ten, too!” It was in that moment the floodgates opened, and I started bawling. I was in a foreign country, miles and miles away from my family, doing what God had called me to do, and I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at His goodness. Overwhelmed with ache for my family. Overwhelmed at how similar and how different this sweet girl was from my own daughter Faith.
“I just realized how much I miss Faith.” I told Emily, not completely able to put all my feelings into words. Emily chuckled and explained to Lady Diana why the crazy lady from the United States was bawling. Diana smiled and hugged me, stroking my hair.
I think I loved her instantly in that moment.
When I returned home and told Alan and the kids about her, Alan insisted we become her sponsor. And so we did.
So in a month from now, I will board a plane, with Alan and the rest of the One Vision team, to fly back to the Dominican Republic. I’ll bump down a dirt road in a bus (I hope it’s pink again.) and walk to a cinder block children’s center to be greeted in Spanish by the sweetest faces. And I’ll be scanning each one looked for a certain princess – the girl who stole my heart – Diana.
And I just might cry.
**One Vision asked me to return this year to help put on another women’s conference. Alan is going with me this time. We are raising the money for this mission trip by selling t-shirts again this year. You can purchase the gray shirt from last year, or Alan has designed a new blue shirt this year.
If you are able, I would love it if you would purchase a shirt or make a donation. If not, would you please pray for us? Pray for God to give me the words as I prepare to speak to these women at the conference. Pray for safe travels and for good health for the whole team. Also, if you can share this post or the link to the shirts, I would be so grateful. Thank you! Here are the pics of the shirts. Click HERE to go view them on the fundraising site.