To a Future Gap Student,
I don’t know about you, but my countdown far preceded the 100-day mark in 2016 when I excitedly awaited the day I could jump on the plane at BWI headed for the airport in the Dominican, where I did not know at the time, but this would become the destination were I would experience some of the happiest hellos and the hardest good byes. This would be the place where strangers met and awkwardly hugged each other for the first time. The place where we would excitedly wait for roommates, friends, and Jaime to come back after Christmas break, and the place were tears would fall as we said good byes at the end of the year because of the bonds and friendships that God had given us.
Looking back now, I had no idea what I what I was in for. At the point you are at right now I had unexplainable excitement, accompanied by a lot I do not knows and I will see when I get theres. The funny thing was my level of my excitement when I really had now idea what to be excited for. I just saw this new adventure, with so many new things, but I had no idea the way God was so extraordinarily going to work in my life. And let me tell you, my year in the Dominican, was made into a year filled of beautiful friendships, an uncountable number of adventure and stories, and a time that God used to drastically grow me in the knowledge of him, give me a heart for the lost and the nations, and teach me through his word.
What this year was for me, as a bright eyed, eager young person, challenged, grew and matured me. And I praise God for the work he did in me. I walked into this year not even knowing how much I did not know about God and his word. Through this year God faithfully gave me more and more understanding of who he is, what his word says, and how I am to live in response to that. Passionate teachers of the word invested so much time into our lives as GAP students: teaching us how to properly study the Bible, working through biblical man and women hood, books of the bible, and different disciplines. I had never been taught, discipled, or consistently fed this knowledge before, and I ate it up. So fresh, new, and exciting to me! And not only was I being given this on a daily basis, but I was learning to feed myself the word too.
I was deeply challenged in these times as well. As God worked in my life to give me the ability see and understand, this began a hard chiseling process for me. Something God continues to do as he grows me more into the image of his son. And it is not always fun and what you want to be doing in certain moments. It is not without tears and alone time with God crying out that he would work and move and help create you to be the person he created you to be. It is not always comfortable. But this continuous process is worth it. Praise God for how he works in all things.
You will not be thrown into this process alone. The community and relationships that I mentioned above, for me, are the deepest relationships that I have. So grateful for how God placed that group of people in my life: other GAP students, leaders, teachers, missionaries, and of course my precious Dominican relationships. Love these people. Be intentional with these people. Care well for these people. Because this is the community and church body that God has given you. Be transparent and be accountable with these people. Pray. Cry. Laugh. Do silly things with these people. These are the dear relationships God gives us to grow up in the body of Christ together.
This does not come without work. It is absolutely important that you are intentional with these people. Especially with your fellow GAP students. These are the people you sleep, eat, go to class, do ministry, walk to the beach with, do everything with. Take time to learn to love them well. Please get to genuinely know them. These are relationships that God works so deeply through.
At the same time, you are in another exciting county! Take advantage of that! Do not be tempted to hide in your American bubble at the GAP house. Get to know and form relationships with the Dominicans. So what!? Yes, your Spanish is going to stink. There will be a lot of giggles and miscommunications at your expense. The process of learning Spanish is hard. I never anticipated that it would be this hard, but at the same time, it has been one of the most fun processes to be apart of. What a joy it is to be able to worship in another language, and to sit and have conversations with someone, who a year before remembers when you could only say hola and cómo estás in your gringo accent. These are some of the most precious times during the year. So when you are frustrated and discouraged, as I was a times, that you Spanish is not progressing as you wish despite your effort, let small mastered milestones in language be great victories.
So get out of the GAP house. Go down to the cancha, sit in the streets with the kids, sit on front porches, do life with the Dominicans. Some of my fondest memories are club de jovenes on Friday night, going to the beach with some of the girls from church, and popping in just to say hi as I wander around in San Jose. I encourage you with all I can to step out of comfort zones and do these things. It will make this next year that much more sweet. Your Spanish will thank you for it.
I want to be able to sum up everything perfect for you, but I cannot in this letter that is already pretty lengthy. I pray that you are intentional with this year you are about to embark on. So much learning, growing, and maturing can happen in it if you are present, take seriously, and are intentional with the time God has given you. God is faithful and can and will do a greater work in you for his glory than you can even imagine. I know he did in mine.
Praying for you,
Hi everyone! My name is Abbee Lowery. I was in the Dominican Republic GAP program in 2016-2017. I am about to begin a nursing program in the Fall. I’m super excited to see how the Lord leads me once I graduate from nursing school and potentially Bible school, as I feel called to missions on the international mission field. I love seeing the way God works in all things as I have been home since the Dominican. I cannot wait to be back this summer in San Jose.