Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The kindness and joy I experienced was truly contagious...

Below is a testimonial from Jack Theobald who visited NPH Dominican Republic on an NPH USA immersion trip with his sister, cousins, and Aunt!
In March 2018, I went on my first trip to the NPH house in the Republica Dominicana. It was a new experience for me, and it pushed me out of my comfort zone. The fact that I was going to live with over 200 strangers and that I didn't speak any Spanish worried me. I thought it was going to be hard to get settled in and feel welcome.

I was so wrong. I was the only boy in our group of 13 people, so I had an especially fun time playing with the boys here of all ages. It was a constant sports-fest, playing soccer for a couple hours everyday, basketball with some of the older boys, and throwing around a baseball. The young boys especially played with such joy that it brought a smile to my face. The kids there were so welcoming and nice to us, it caught me by surprise the first day. There is such a big difference between the culture in America and the Republica Dominicana. The people there are so much more open and kind with each other, and everything is so community based. It was nice to know that everyone cared for each other.

Even though I don’t speak Spanish, that didn’t stop the kids from coming up to me, grabbing my hand and motioning for me to come and play, or to just simply color with them or give them piggy backs. If I had to describe my experience with the boys, I would say it was like being used as a human jungle-gym. The boys there were filled with so much energy that they would climb on my back and ask me to lift them up on monkey bars or do push-ups with them on my back. Every night I would go back to the visitors' house exhausted but smiling with happiness.

Even while being sweaty and tired, being at NPH was an amazing and eye-opening experience for me. The kindness, happiness, and perseverance that I witnessed while spending time there was shocking to me. For example, I met Miguel, a 20-year-old who is in his year of service. He has been at NPH since he was 5, and during that time he taught himself how to play piano and guitar and to sing and write music. He has a beautiful voice that I was lucky enough to hear live. The fact that he taught himself these amazing skills through sheer determination was truly inspiring to me.

When I came to NPH, I thought that I was going to have to work hard trying to give to everyone here. However, the kindness and joy I experienced was truly contagious. I would like to thank everyone at NPH for welcoming me and my group with open arms, and hopefully, I will be back to visit soon.