“Alabare a mi Senor!” rang through the airport as Academy missionaries boarded the plane to La Victoria, Dominican Republic, for the mission’s thirteenth year of service. The twenty-seven missionaries, led by senior leaders Rachel Eilers, Darby Meade, Anna Castellano, and Olivia Jones, consisted of nineteen Academy girls, five AHN alumnae, and four adults, made the week-long trip to La Victoria successful.
Upon arriving in La Victoria, missionaries settled in to The Sanctuario De Shoenstatt, where they stayed for the duration of the trip. Each of the Hermanas or “sisters” of the convent eagerly welcomed the girls, who thanked the sisters at the end of the trip by preparing a meal and party for them.
During this long week, the DR missionaries accomplished more than they had anticipated. Not only did they distribute shoes to over ten schools, but they also painted two houses, brought ten families food and clothing, cooked and cleaned for the Hermanas, distributed shoes to the children of the Nutrition Center, and painted, scrubbed, and bleached the walls of the convent. The Hermanas help many of the struggling families in La Victoria through the Seeds of Hope program, asking two things in return: that each family promises 1) to work hard and 2) to raise their children with an emphasis on education and faith.
Having struggling Spanish speakers, the language barrier seemed difficult to overcome for the girls, but as the week progressed even the French students were able to hold a short conversation with the welcoming people of La Victoria, just another of their many accomplishments.
As the Academy missionaries boarded the plane for home, nothing but sadness enveloped their minds as the thought of waiting to return in a year was heartbreaking. However, the girls knew that the people of La Victoria had been deeply impacted by all of their hard work this week and that despite the short duration of time, they really did make a difference.