JOYful January- Lessons in Friendship

JOY is dedicated to creating sustainable relationships of service between colleges and deserving ministries in the Dominican Republic and other places where children face a cycle of poverty, abuse, and malnutrition. These partnerships encourage young people to invest in a lifetime of service through child sponsorship, hands-on service, and advocacy for incredible organizations who serving at-risk and orphaned youth. Our service trips are often a catalyst for young people to use their passions for purpose! 

Check out what January JOY students did in the Dominican Republic!

Miami University student Kenzy White traveled with us to the Dominican Republic in January. Read about her experience of learning what it looks like to live joyfully!

Love far surpasses any language barrier, any age gap - it knows no limits. Mateo taught me that we just need to be present, we just need to let others know that we are there, and that love will always be enough.

I went to the DR fully ready to see God at work, to be in awe of Him and the work that He is doing in the lives of the kids that JOY has worked with in the past. I honestly didn’t know quite what to expect, other than the fact that I would get to hang out with some pretty awesome kids and make new friends.

Prior to the trip, I had been praying for safety and for revival to happen in the DR, but little did I know that God was going to spread revival among the JOY team and myself.

Read our Spring JOY newsletter for updates, stories, and more!

On that first day going to the orphanage in Jarabacoa, my eyes were opened and my heart was broken. I was overwhelmed by the generosity, the kindness, taken aback by the amount of love that these strangers showed me. I had heard some of the kids' stories and I knew that they had been through things that were harder than I could ever imagine, but yet they were still smiling and laughing, full of joy and light. My heart was broken on that first day, but those kids quickly put it right back together with every piggyback ride and game of tag that we played, despite the pouring rain. They expressed true joy and showed me that no matter what, a smile can help you get through.

On the second day, God gave me a new friend that would forever change the way I experienced true joy. I was waiting with the team for the kids to come out and play a game of soccer with us, and one of the first kids to walk through the door was sweet little Mateo [name changed :)]. He had his hood pulled tightly around his face and didn’t look too happy to be walking through the rain. He came straight to me and put his hands up for me to pick him up, and that was it, he had stolen my heart with his big beautiful eyes and his cheesy little smile. I think I held him for two hours straight and it felt like my arms were going to fall off, but I didn’t care because this kid was the sweetest thing. He didn’t speak any English, and my Spanish is no bueno, so we didn’t talk much, but this just goes to show that love knows no bounds. Love far surpasses any language barrier, any age gap, it knows no limits. Mateo taught me that we just need to be present, we just need to let others know that we are there, and that love will always be enough.

See our impact, news updates, and exclusive stories in the JOY Newsletter

God used a two-year-old from another country to teach me what it means to be a loving friend, what it means to be joyful in uncomfortable situations, and most of all what it means to be selfless. I was reminded again and again on this trip that we are all in need of someone to be present for us, and that God is that never-ending presence, sometimes we just need a loving friend to help us remember that.

Do you want to #spreadjoynow? 

Join us on our upcoming trips in the Dominican Republic (March + May)

Read more stories like Kenzy's and get exclusive content in our Spring Newsletter!

Inside, you'll get up-to-date on all things JOY- our impact, student service experiences, and ways to #spreadjoynow.