Trusting the Process: Thoughts on a Family Trip to the Dominican Republic

Giving Back | August 17, 2017 | By James Stork

James Stork’s son helps fill a five gallon jug at a clean water site.

James Stork, Vice President of 1040.com, shares his thoughts on a recent trip with his family to see Healing Water International’s impact in the Dominican Republic.

My son is a typical 12-year-old boy—I think so, anyway. He’s into Minecraft, Dude Perfect, fidget spinners, ESPN, Stephen Curry, college football, and bossing his little sisters around. He wants to be a “YouTuber.” Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.

My wife Ginger and I thought it was the right time to introduce him to another culture.

We wanted to challenge his perspective to see that he is a part of something huge, and not just as a sports fan. Ginger and I know that we’re more than citizens of our hometown (Franklin, North Carolina). We’re global citizens, which means we have a connection with and responsibility to people around the world.

We wanted our son to experience and understand that firsthand, so we planned a trip to the Dominican Republic (DR) with Healing Waters International (HWI) to visit some of their water project sites and learn what clean water means to rural communities.

Small people, big purpose

The trip was filled with the simple-but-life-changing sort of experiences that remind you 1) how small you really are and 2) how meaningful of an impact you can make in spite of your smallness.

We traveled with Kayla, Director of Development and Marketing for HWI; Kayla’s nephew, who is around the same age as my son; and Megan, a new addition to the HWI team.

We grooved at a dance party at Almendro Daycare Center (and let me tell you, those little kids can get down), played baseball with boys from the Hoyo Oscuro community, and joined a pick-up game of basketball at a HWI project site in Consuelo.

Kids at the Almendro daycare center groove at a dance party.

We marveled at the historic grandeur that is the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo, did cannonballs into the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, and enjoyed the avocados, mangoes and chinola (aka passion fruit, which the boys pretty quickly became addicted to).

Best of all, we got to hang out with the HWI field staff, people who work day in and day out to make sure the clean water systems are functioning and benefiting the community. They were joined by the amazing pastors and community leaders living out their faith and serving on a daily basis.

We heard moving stories told by those who just recently gained access to clean water through HWI projects, and we had the privilege of meeting the child we sponsor through Compassion International.

It was inspiring to see how the people in these communities rally together with the HWI staff to make the area better together, no matter the personal sacrifice. You know—real, modern-day heroes.

HWI staff show James Stork’s son how the filtration system cleans water.

Behind the scenes

I’ve visited numerous project sites in the DR and Guatemala, so I’ve seen the work firsthand. As the VP of 1040.com, it’s important for me to have personal experience and a tangible understanding of the work being done by our friends at HWI. We are honored to support their efforts to end the global water crisis.

Each time I go, I’m struck by this takeaway: HWI is an amazing steward of its funds. They know how to make sure that small donations add up to meaningful impact. It doesn’t seem like much to donate $2 for every return filed on our site, does it?

But over the last two years, those $2-per-return donations have provided enough support to supply over 5 million gallons of clean water to those who desperately need it. That’s a year’s supply for over 20,000 people.

I think my son would say, “That’s big time,” and I’d have to agree. Now, my son is a stubborn kid (and I have no idea where he gets it). We didn’t expect this trip to result in an overnight transformation, but if we’ve learned anything from the long-term impact of HWI’s work, it’s that lasting results are worth trusting the process and waiting for.

By having this experience with our son, we started a process with him, and we hope the values gained will eventually take root in his soul and guide his heart.