The Edify Dominican Republic team hosts a Family Experience every summer where several American families are invited to spend a week in La Romana on a Vacation with a Purpose. Within the week, they get to help run a day camp at a school that Edify works with in the community, with the afternoons and evenings being a vacation for them to enjoy with each other.
My favorite moment of every Family Experience is always the final adult discussion at the end of the week. At this point, people are comfortable with each other, guards have b een dropped, and everyone has been challenged to really think about their experiences throughout the trip. The discussion at this point usually turns to: “How have we seen God at work this week?”
The neat thing about this part of the conversation is that very rarely do you get the cliché answers that everyone expects. People really open up about what they saw, heard, felt, and struggled with. And once one person puts themselves out there, everyone else feels free to speak what’s truly on their hearts as well. Something about the entire group dynamic has changed; there is now a sense of trust and vulnerability among friends.
Whether this change occurs within the families or during the day at the schools, it is clear that it has had an intense effect on the individuals. There is a strong sense of community as well as a deeper sense of understanding of God’s heart that was not apparent at the beginning of the trip. In my opinion, the discussions are the most important part of the week because they are a time for people to express what they are really thinking and to challenge both themselves and others on some gray-shaded topics. There is a lot that goes on emotionally throughout the day, and the group discussions give people a chance to debate, discuss, and better understand what God is trying to show us.