People have different meanings of what happiness is like. Some people feel happy when they buy a new pair of shoes or get a new car. But how about finding happiness in a place where you don’t necessarily like. Would you be able to live in a place without power, internet, and water? Well, I got to experience some of it.
In case you haven’t visited a third world country before, there are some struggles that you don’t see in advertisements or even in reviews from people that have visited. But, since I live in a third world country I can explain from my perspective why happiness is not about the material things but about the relationships that we nurture with the time that God gives us. The Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful beaches and its beautiful people. That’s why I find interesting when they mention the “flaws” that the Dominican Republic has. I see them as
Electricity problems are what most people complain about when living in the DR. It’s definitely hard to get used to (if you ever do) but when we didn’t have electricity those moments were the most meaningful. One day, for example, My family and I will be sitting watching a movie. Just in the climax of the movie all of a sudden, the power will go off and everything is pitch black. I remember thinking “not again” and we’ll have to turn on little lamps and set them on the table. In the beginning, it was annoying since you can’t really do anything to fix the problem but then someone will crack a joke of the situation and everyone will laugh. Through moment like this, God helped me see a new concept of what happiness is about. My family and I will sit and talk for hours about our day while waiting for the power to come back. We’ll talk about things that in our busy daily schedules didn’t really gave us time to talk about.
These small pauses allowed us to nurture our relationships and grow as a family. Now, this kind of days without power happened quite often in our neighborhood and even more in poor communities such as EL Callejon. In this community, the power will go for days. While I volunteer there I never saw them complain. They were just happy. You will see people sitting on the streets talking to each other. Kids running around and climbing mango trees. Women making coffee and chatting. That’s what you will see, a community full of life in the midst of a situation where most of us will be freaking out. They just made the best out of it.
Water is also an issue if you live in the DR. You can’t drink the water from the tap and if you don’t have a tank you can go without water for days. When I mean without water for days, is having to wake up to a nasty-smelly bathroom because there’s no water to flush it, not been able to shower after you sweat all night because there was no power to turn the fan on. Anything that you could think of that will need water you wouldn’t be able to do. In El Callejon a couple of years back. My group was having lunch and I remember one of the students offered her water to this little girl. She looked at the student and said that she didn’t want that water because it made her tummy hurts. I couldn’t help but turn around and ask why. She explained to us that her family can’t afford to buy clean water gallons so they started drinking water from the tap and now if she drinks clean water it hurts her belly. I was shocked to hear that but I felt God was teaching me a lesson, He is in control of all of our needs no matter what they are.
Those two stories are just a few of the experiences you live in a third world country. And it wasn’t all fun and going to the beach every day, it was hard and challenging. I learned so much from living in the DR. I learned to be thankful for power and water. I learned to live literally letting God take control of each day. I learned through this special community what the true meaning of happiness is: to be grateful.