Written by Alex Ramirez
“BAWKKK” my ears sting as I crack open my sleepy eyes. There are girls sitting up on their beds, others standing, some seem wide awake, and the rest are still half-asleep like me. The bright sun is shining in over the mountains through our two windows. Patches of pink, orange, and yellow sunlight lay across the beds. As I squint from the bright new day’s sky, my eardrums pierce again. “BAWKKK”!! This time I follow where the sound is coming from, my eyes settle upon a frantic rooster, a couple feet from my head. We make eye contact. No joke. Now some of my 19 roommates are also realizing this isn’t just a wake up call, its a confused visitor who has made its way into our room AND has the capability of pecking at us or pooping on our few possessions. As I taste my morning breath and become more aware of my bed head, the rooster hops onto my bed before I get a chance to sit up. It then moves on and begins to make its way around the room as a few of my friends have their try at rooster-wrangling’. We eventually get the loud and panicking rooster out the door, and begin another adventure filled day at Hope Mountain.
I rub my eyes, swing my bare feet out of bed and onto the white tile, and proceed to follow the rooster out the door. First stop is brushing my teeth and opening up my bible. I sit down on a porch chair. I realize that you cannot help but look up at the mountains in the morning and thank God. It is so obvious that the creation praises his name. That is what its made to do. As I sit in silence with God, the serenity takes my breath away. The sun shines, but there is still a crisp mountain breeze that carries God’s comfort and gives me goosebumps. The morning is good. It cannot help but be good because God is there.
As I hear my friend’s and I’s stomachs grumble, Margo brings out the coffee right on cue. We flock to the pot like animals, using way too much sugar and acting like we couldn’t live without the daily 8:15 bitter aroma wafting up our noses. Soon after our favorite chef walks out again with oatmeal, eggs, or some other masterpiece she has put together. We run upstairs to our deck. The deck where we have eaten, laughed, cried, prayed, and done a lot of life here in the DR. We sit together as family, pray for the food and the hands that made it, and feast. With bellies full, we begin our morning devotional, worship together and ask hard questions about the word. Then our sweet host, Vicki, makes her way upstairs, often says a wise word to us, and gives us our ministry assignments for the day.
With newfound strength and motivation for the day, my team marches downstairs to do ministry. In the hot Dominican sun, we grab our brooms and start sweeping the driveway. We sweep and scrub as pebbles fall down the pavement and dust fills the air. We work the morning away until it was lunch time.
The mornings are the beginning. The beginning of either a good day or a bad day. The mornings are the times where I get to choose to thank God first,I get to choose to invite him into brushing my teeth or eating with me. I get to set the tone for the day, wake up early (sometimes to my alarm, sometimes to a rooster), sit with the Lord, thank God for the food in front of me, look out on his creation with gratitude. Praise the Lord for mornings at Hope Mountain DR!
Just like most great parts of the day, the afternoon starts out with food. As morning ministry ends, the black wooden stairs produced a sound of a heard of elephants. Once again a group of hungry missionaries made their way to the deck for the beloved daily rice and beans meal. Lively conversations of morning ministry and afternoon anticipation arise as all the teams come back together once again. Our lunch turns into our afternoon break. Little by little people make their way back downstairs, and as I finally follow suit, I already see people below enjoying their siesta. As I look at one side of the pool, I see friends playing upbeat early 2000’s music as they begin their workout. On the other side I hear sweet country music playing as others lay out to soak up the sun. I head to my room, tiptoeing quietly to my bed as not to wake up the afternoon nappers, grab my book, and head back out to join my friend. I read my book, stick my feet in the pool to combat the heat, and occasionally check my shorts tan line as I rest my mind and body during siesta. Before I know it, we are gathered back on the porch to start the afternoon off in prayer before ministry.
At 2pm our group walks through the streets, handing out flyers to neighbors. We are inviting them to our talent show we are putting on at the end of the month. As clouds begin to cover the sky, we invite local children to meet us at the basketball courts to play. We pull out a jump rope, puppets, and many fun other toys. Wholesome laughter fills the air as we play for hours before getting rained out.
As we walk back to base, soaked, we contemplate what the next hour and a half will look like before dinner. We have a lot of time to spend with God, serve our community, as well as rest here. For many of us, the free time looks like showering, reading, or calling our parents. The day seems to wind down at base, while our neighbors play loud reggaeton, so the party never seems to end. As we eventually eat dinner at 6:30, we reflect on our day and fill our bellies with veggies, meat, and maybe even pasta. The sun sets, and for most of the teams the night looks like board games, team times, movies, and sometimes spontaneous late night pool parties.
The second half of the day is just as eventful as the first half. Every day of ministry looks different and every day has Jesus right smack in the middle of it. The little moments during the days here are so incredibly sweet. Hope Mountain provides a space to walk alongside the Lord, to leave with funny stories, and safely face the hard moments. Praise the Lord for nights at Hope Mountain DR!
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