Our day began with 7:30 breakfast and a nice strong cup of Dominican coffee. Oddly enough the number of coffee drinkers in our group appears to have doubled at this point. Following breakfast we prayed Morning Prayer and went on our way for our second day of painting at San Pedro Minor Seminary. The remainder of our morning was spent sweating profusely in the warm rooms which we were painting. At noon we stopped our work to go pray our holy hour in the seminary chapel. The ceiling fans in the chapel proved to be a source of great consolation for all of us during our time of prayer.
Lunch followed back at NPH. Today we were eating lunch with the kids in the multi-purpose building next to the school. In my own experience I was able to entertain the children I sat with by means of telling them what their names sounded like in English. They found the English pronunciation of Samuel to be quite amusing.
After lunch the children went back to their classes and we seminarians, along with Fr. Kuharski, sought their opportunity for a chance to enjoy a couple hours on the sunny Dominican beach. After achieving physical exhaustion and mild sunburns we rode back to NPH again for a chance to rest and refresh before starting the evening’s events.
At 6:20pm we said Evening Prayer and piled into the van for mass with a small church community in the city of San Pedro. The cathedral in San Pedro divides their parishioners up into smaller church groups determined by their location within the city. These are mainly for the sake of having a faith community to take part in, as well as having a daily mass celebrated within their region monthly. On this particular day, Frs Becker and Kuharski were to celebrate mass for the community of San Esteban. Mass was a bit unorthodox as it was celebrated in one of the member’s small, single-door garage; where everyone was sitting and standing shoulder to shoulder. The back wall of the garage had a crucifix which was roughly a foot in height. The wall to our left had a picture of Our Lady of Altagracía. A small table between the priests and deacon Francisco, and the congregation was the altar. Provided the limited amount of space in the garage, there was a row of 8 chairs against either wall and single row of 8 chairs down the middle. Plus 6 or 7 more chairs grouped right outside the garage on the narrow street. Communion provided a bit of a conundrum. After mass the hostess passed around cookies that tastes like semi-bland vanilla wafers, and possibly the best orange juice in the world.
Shortly thereafter we drove back to NPH once more for the day; arriving around 8:30, and going straight into dinner. We were all quite excited for food due to all of our tiring adventures from the day. As we were scarfing down the last of our portions we were joined by an Irishman by the name of Kieran who gave us a bit of his own testimony. Kieran had worked at NPH in Haiti for 12 years, and then devoted his life to working at NPH in the Dominican Republic when it was started 16 years ago. He provided to us a beautiful witness of a life of service; sharing with us all the ways he had helped the children and employed the workers here.
Despite Kieran’s likable personality and talkativeness, our exhaustion soon got the best of us and we all readily headed off to our rooms. Everyone’s heads left buzzing with everything we had seen and experienced that day.