My bestie in the DR is “bugging out and headed home.” That is going to be my only reference to “Top Gun” in this blog post.
Laura and her family are going to be transitioning back to the US as of tomorrow and I have lots of emotions about it. We’ve been in this gig together for about 5 years but we’ve held love for the DR together for more like 8 or 9. We married cousins within 6 weeks of each other and our babies are born exactly one week apart. We love El Cercado and consider the family up there “our family”. We love the Phillies and have enjoyed many a baseball and softball game in the US and in the DR. We are from the same church in the US with many of the same support crew. Laura taught me how to make really good mashed potatoes the way that her Grammy showed her. Also, her cakes are the best and once she made me a chocolate and peanut butter birthday cake with REAL HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER ICING. I’m pretty sure she had to buy real Crisco 3 hours away in Santo Domingo to pull that off but that’s just how Laura rolls. When I was learning Spanish and was nervous that I would mess up and say a bad word accidentally she helped me write down all the bad words so I would know what NOT to say. I found that paper not too long ago and my husband was absolutely HORRIFIED to see it. She held my hand on my wedding day while I was getting my hair done. She was with me when Monch had his motorcycle accident and she ran interference for me with all the family drama and kept me calm and said just the right things.
I’m impetuous and Laura is wise. I’m a yapper and she thinks before she speaks. She was the first to know that I was in love with Monchy and she stood up for me when things got a little rough with that. She has put the brakes on some dumb ideas that I have had and then encouraged me in the good ones and she built up our Student Sponsorship program and the Child Nutrition Program into what they are today, which means they are super functional, healthy and growing. She is the one who speaks up in our meetings after some of us (or ahem… me!) have jumped ahead of things and says maybe we should wait a minute or think about something from a different perspective and we all suddenly realize she’s completely right.
She is the best possible person in the world to talk to me about boundaries (I STRUGGLE WITH THIS!) and she lives what she believes. She also knows when to make exceptions in life.
She was the first person who knew that I was pregnant because I practically fell out of the bathroom unable to breathe and handed her the little pee-stick and she said “Congrats! You are a mom”.
She and I consider one of our greatest accomplishments here helping some friends achieve legal residency/citizenship and I don’t think anyone else could ever see that like we do. She’s driven 16 hours over borders to make stuff like that happen.
I could talk for hours about different adventures we have had. Since marriage and babies our times have been shorter but I bet I value them much more than I ever did before. We’ve driven rental cars fearlessly, swam in suspect rivers, headed down toward Barahona just to see the road, jumped on beds in nice hotels while wearing white terry cloth robes, drank beet juice in a hostel in the mountains of Ocoa just because I wanted to see that place, gone on vacation to Samana together and sweltered in a non-AC/no window hostel room, ran, jogged, and finally walked (that’s just life now folks!) miles around the track in San Juan, cried tears, screamed with frustration, sighed with exasperation and really really understand the nitty gritty of marrying outside of your home culture and then raising a baby outside of your passport country. We can raise our eyebrows at each other and know exactly what the other is thinking in the midst of meetings, family reunions, work or social gatherings. We can laugh at or mock things that I would never ever dream of mentioning to anyone else because it just wouldn’t translate. We like the same hymns in both Spanish and English and we aren’t afraid to eat “street meat”. When I use the word “manita” I am thinking about Laura more than anyone else ever.
I will miss her. Desperately.
I also recognize God’s timing in all things and I’m excited for her family’s future and also to follow up her amazing work in the Child Nutrition Program. Our lives has always been full of changes and I’m blessed that I will get to see her , Wellington and Owen when I visit PA. I have loved having our pregnancies and now our babies together and have treasured having Magdalena and Owen squeal and giggle and pull each other’s hair and fall all over each other and stick fingers in eyes and ears, etc.
Thanks Laura- for everything you have done in the DR, both for Solid Rock and for all the people here whom you have served selflessly and humbly and wisely, including me. You taught me what “Me haces falta” means and I feel it today.
Godspeed manita- Que Dios te llena con bendiciones y te protege siempre. Hasta luego. Te kiero PILAS.
My girl. And our kids. The legacy goes on. Love you Laurita. Siempre.