By Maddie McCreery, Elisa Melville and Dan Romano
Once we got back from the resort Monday night, we waited for dinner by playing Mafia, a fun group game but always causes light-hearted feuding amongst our competitive group. Jean Carlos and Alguiris, two GO students and members of the baseball team on the complex, joined us for Mafia and dinner. After dinner, we hopped on the van and went to the supermarket we visited earlier in the week for more ice cream, then made our way to the Monument to the Peace of Trujillo. Jean Carlos and Alguiris explained its meaning to us: set on the highest point of Santiago, the monument was built originally as a dictator’s house, but when he was overthrown the people took it back as a way to symbolize peace for the Dominican Republic. Our Dominican friends pranked us by saying the statue at the top of the monument moved its arms every 15 minutes, causing us all to look up and watch for a while before they told us they were just kidding and the statue doesn’t move at all- this was a funny moment.
After the monument we headed back to home base, where the leaders shared their stories and we reflected as a group. Then, our leaders had a lovely surprise for us. Setting up chairs in front of the church’s stage, they announced the beginning of the first annual “Roosty Awards!” They pulled various trinkets out of a bag as awards with meanings connected to them: Eric got a little green bucket award because he filled everyone’s buckets this week and Paulo got the battery award because he was full of energy the whole trip, to name a few of the awards. We all whooped and cheered as everyone received their awards, and it was a blast to see our leaders’ creativity as we celebrated what gifts each of us brought to this trip.
After a good night’s rest, we woke up for our last day in the DR. After breakfast, we headed to the COVID testing center where we all got tested so we could travel back to the States safely. We spent the whole time at the center trying to guess Dan’s middle name – unsuccessfully. We then got to tour GO’s medical center in Santiago. They have many services there including a dentist, and allow patients to come in for a very low cost to receive quality medical care. We were able to see a beautiful view of Santiago from the roof of the center.
Eating lunch and heading off to the airport, we were feeling bittersweet about leaving but were ready for an easy trip back home after our chaos of arriving in the DR, but you will not believe our luck. We had a great start, saying goodbye to those from GO Ministries and making it through customs. Some of us even had a few extra minutes to grab a favorite Dominican treat, an empanada. Our first flight made it off the ground with only a little bit of turbulence and a few announcements from the pilot to “REMAIN IN YOUR SEATS, PLEASE.” Many of us took naps for the four hours, journaled about our adventures in the DR, or read new books. We even arrived 50 minutes early to Newark. Our luck quickly ran out once we could not reach our gate for over an hour and a half due to another airplane parking poorly… We were not able to deplane until well after 7pm; however, we were all hopeful and a little bit stressed about making our 8pm flight. Most of us were in the far back of the plane and we started sprinting through the airport in order to make it to customs and baggage claim in time to board our next flight. Unfortunately, our luck was completely diminished and our bags came too late. The airline was not able to hold the plane for us, and we were tasked with figuring out new flights and places to stay in good ‘ole Newark, NJ. But don’t worry, Jake’s coconut did make it through customs, so we knew we wouldn’t starve. Lindsey was a trooper as was the agent at United Airlines who got us rebooked and was able to get us a hotel for the night, so our next task was getting to the shuttle. We waited about another hour outside the airport for our shuttle, but we filled the time playing more games and getting to know each other better.
We made it to the hotel and thankfully pizza was there waiting for us. After a much needed dinner around 11:30pm in the lobby of the hotel, we made our way to our rooms for the night. The boys tried to watch Miracle, after hearing almost every line quoted from Jake of the course of the trip, but unfortunately there wasn’t a smart TV in the room so we weren’t able to connect to it. We woke for an 8:15am breakfast and got our bags ready so we could get on the shuttle to the airport. Thankfully we were able to get through checking our bags and security to make it to our gate on time. We were fortunate to not run into any more flight problems as we are currently writing this on the plane home to Grand Rapids. This has been an absolutely incredible trip and the positive attitudes from everyone throughout our traveling debacles has been amazing. This is an extraordinary group of people and our friendship through this trip will definitely last a lifetime. Thank you for following along our journey!