Tomorrow morning at 3:15 a.m., I will be on my way to the Dominican Republic, not to the beaches of Punta Cana, but to an industrial town in the south called Haina near the capital of Santo Domingo. I was there last year and am returning a second time to continue the work begun then. I am part of a mission team, organized by my church, but just one of many such teams traveling to the “DR” during the year to help local communities build churches, schools, medical clinics and water treatment facilities. Many of the teams were diverted earlier in the year to aid the Haiti earthquake relief. I will not be. I will be helping to build a church/school.
I do not write this blog as a pat on the back. My contribution is minimal in comparison to the leaders and organizers and to the Dominicans who labor to improve their communities year-round. To be quite frank, before each trip I’ve wondered whether I should be going, whether ten days away from my office and my family in the summer is too long a commitment. Yet, it is what I gained from the experience last year, an admiration for the work ethic and resourcefulness of the Dominicans I joined and a deeper appreciation for what I have here at home, that makes me feel the lesson is worth repeating.
There are so many opportunities for us to get out from behind the desk and experience other peoples’ realities and learn from their faith. One need not go to the DR, but only as far as Trenton or Philadelphia. It should be as much of a lawyer’s experience as the mandatory 12 hours of continuing legal education we must fulfill each year.