Once again, my missionary work takes me to Santo Domingo, this time for 3 weeks working with the Junta de Educacion (the Diocesan school board), participating in planning meetings for upcoming events and visiting schools whenever possible. It's the start of
el ano escolar in the Dominican Republic - they follow roughly the same academic schedule as many school districts in the USA. So, what better time for me to come here and join my colleagues as they launch programs and develop curriculum for their students.
My route here wasn't the smoothest, but all turned out fine in the end. My flight itinerary was "all around Robin Hood's barn" anyway - from Omaha Tuesday morning to the DR via Detroit and New York Kennedy. Somewhere during my Detroit lunch (a Greek pizza - a multicultural meal if I've ever eaten one) I got a text that there were storms over NYC and an Air Traffic "hold" of about an hour. Still, I was advised to fly and did.
I dashed across terminals and boarded; we rolled out to the runway; then we sat. And sat. And sat - long enough for me to watch an entire movie. And, long enough for the copilot to exceed his allotted time in the cockpit (he "timed out" as the Delta people told us). We returned to the gate and were told by an extremely harried young gate agent (believe me, folks, you don't ever want to get THAT harried) that we'd leave the next morning at 10:00am. Heck hath no fury (I'd say "Hell" but this is a family newsletter) like 200 Dominicans delayed; I said a brief prayer of thanksgiving that I was not a Delta employee. Some "keeping calm", quiet negotiating and waiting my turn (the 3 Cardinal rules when a flight is disrupted) got me an overnight hotel room despite airline policy to the contrary. My aventura de Nueva Yorkcould have been much worse.
Wednesday morning, I returned to the airport. Our flight was (you guessed it) late taking off, but I got here in good shape, cleared a much more vigilant Customs (passengers are no longer waved through automatically), met Charlie Nakash and have reported for duty. One other development to report for anyone anticipating a mission trip here: the Tourist Card has been discontinued; the government now collects a fee from the airline and no longer charges each visitor $10; you walk off the airplane and right to passport control.
I am now in the Diocesan Missions Office, renewing relationships with colleagues and writing this article and a blog post. This afternoon brings the first meeting with the Junta Presidenta Melvina Dinzey and Bishop Moisés Quezada. Planning meetings, strategy sessions, school visits, writing tasks and the "grand opening" of the school year on August 21st await me this trip. As always, I very much appreciate DDG support. Check-out my progress on my blog at the link below. My thanks and best wishes - Gracias y bendiciones.