Today has been a day to experience the cultural differences of life in the Dominican Republic. Brad’s project for the day was to work on getting paperwork and necessary items completed so that he can go with one of his team members to the United States Embassy in Santo Domingo to apply for a visa to travel to the United States.
It has been a very interesting process to be able to experience. Businesses in the Dominican Republic have no concept of efficiency. Therefore, everything takes forever. Today, we began by working through the visa application with Brad’s team member. This was the most ridiculous application that I have ever seen. The United States government has added a terror/safety threat section. This includes scores of “yes or no” questions, which ask things like:
- Have you ever actively participated in an act of genocide?
- Do you have leprosy?
- Do you manufacture bombs?
- Are you a spy for a terrorist organization?
The questions were humorous because what person who wanted to do such things would select “yes” on a question. A ‘yes” on any of these questions would be an immediate denial of the application for a visa to the United States.
We also went to a bank. It was amazing to me how long it took to get someone to help us at the bank. When we arrived, there was one person in front of us. It still took us 25 minutes to see a teller. The lack of efficiency in business is merely a reflection of a more relational culture. This is a cultural difference that can easily drive a time-driven American like me crazy.
I was planning on going to Santo Domingo tonight to further explore the colonial district tomorrow, but the rain and unforeseen weather due to Tropical Storm Emily is keeping me in Puerto Plata.
Staying in Puerto Plata while Brad goes to Santo Domingo is going to give me an opportunity to preach at the Cristo Transforma, the drug and alcohol rehab center here in Puerto Plata. Brad leads a weekly Bible study for the men in this program. It will be a great opportunity to share with them. We will be studying John 15 and looking at the fact that spiritual change comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in us as we are connected to the vine.
The trip is beginning to feel long. The more conversations that I have with students, friends, and family at home, the more I look forward to the opportunity to be serving back in my church and with my students. This trip has just been further confirmation to me that God has called me to student ministry. The ministry experiences that I have had in the Dominican Republic have been amazing! They are things that I will remember for the rest of my life, but I know where my heart remains. I look forward to being home soon.