My mission to the Dominican Republic

by Amanda Zamora on August 4, 2011

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity welcome guest blogger Amanda Zamora who reflects on a recent mission to the Dominican Republic. Last name sound familiar? Amanda, sister of Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora, is social media/engagement editor at The Washington Post.
Amanda Zamora reflects on a recent mission to the Dominican Republic on Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity’s Franciscanized World. Photo by Amanda Zamora

I recently went to the Dominican Republic with 17 other people on a trip organized by Commissioned by Christ, a small non-profit based in the Arlington diocese that runs short-term mission trips. Our goal was to help the priests running a mission in Banica, DR, which is the center of a “parish” that serves a network of campos (villages) in the border area. The priests aim to say mass in each of their campos at least once a month. Our goal was to paint or otherwise upgrade chapels in four mountain villages, the largest being Guayajayuco, where we spent the majority of our time. In our short time in the mountains near the Haiti border, we encountered Christ in more ways than I could have anticipated.

Uncertain start

We started our trip in Banica and nearby Pedro Santana — both poor towns, but relative metroplexes compared to the mountain villages. We discovered Sunday that the group just finishing their visit to Banica had been struck by a nasty stomach bug, so we avoided the mission compound, keeping busy with a visit to the Sunday market and a hike to the cave of St. Francis Assissi. Legend has it that he appeared in this hilltop cave, and now pilgrims hike to the top to shed their sins (and rocks that they have carried) with an act of contrition at the top. Returning from the hike, we joined a pickup game of baseball before heading to evening mass in in Pedro Santana. Afterward, the locals feted us with a welcome feast and an impromptu concert led by an old man and his tambón, assisted by washboard and accordion. Everyone danced, and the locals seemed surprised that this American could move.:)
At dinner, I noted our American instinct to cluster together as a big group and made a point to choose a seat at a table full of local children. I tried to honor a different American tradition in waiting until all had been served at my table to eat, but this ended up being a long time. The elder women were keen on ensuring all their visitors (and then, the other adults) were sated first. Finally, the children were served one by one, the youngest at the very last. They didn’t issue a single complaint or grumble, instead entertaining my halting Spanish happily (if not a bit cautiously). I decided that the children would be my guides for the remainder of the week.

For More of the Story

Working in la Lomas

Poorest of the poor

The logic of love

7 thoughts on “My mission to the Dominican Republic”

  1. St. Francis' Salutation of the Virtues includes these words: “Pure holy Simplicity destroys all the wisdom of this world.”  Amanda, you chronicled this perspective.  This way of seeing demands a necessary and proper disposition. Your openness is transparent. Thanks for your presence here on Franciscanized World.

  2. Ssharon says:

    Amanda, I certainly enjoyed your account of your trip to the Dominican Republic.  Thank you for going and contributing to God's Poor in many different ways.  Like you said it was a “life changing” journey–and I would add a hands-on and HEARTS-ON compassionate trip.  Just the other nite two students from our Central Catholic High School here in West Point, NE gave a video on their recent two week  visit to  Uganda, Africa.  They were guests of a Fr. Francis who comes to our parish here every other year.  He is hosted by our parish and stays about a month and has learned the language very well and has learned some of America.  He teaches at a Seminary School in Uganda and cares for his elderly mother and helps out his brother (injured in a car accident) & family.  This is just one way of our people here to learn “how the others live” and learn about different cultures which is so enriching but heart rendering at the same time.  I'm hoping that you can share your trip with students, church groups and organizations  and further the work of mission in the U.S.A. By the way, our Pastor, Fr. Gerry just met Fr. Francis at the Omaha airport yesterday so he will probably see him at Mass this A.M. Continue to live the Gospel, Amanda and God's special blessings be yours in abundance!

  3. Kay Klackner says:

    Thanks, Amanda, for your chronicle.  It brought back many memories I have of a mission trip to Honduras.  The experiences are hard to put into adequate words.

  4. Srosangela says:

    Amanda, Thanks for sharing your Missionary experience with us. I'm sure it was rewarding in many ways. We are happy to have Sister marie Kolbe living with us at Chiara Convent. She told us a little bit about your Missionary experience so I am happy to read more about it here. May God continue to bless you in your selfless service to others.

  5. How wonderful to have such a articulate guest blogger. I hope that we will hear more from you in the future. Seeing the mission trip through your eyes was a blessing.

  6. Smkolbe says:

    On the feast of St. Lawrence, it is a blessing to be reminded that the Church's treasure is the poorest of the poor.  Your account of your days in the Dominican Republic is inspiring . . . one can almost feel and hear new life growing in you!

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