Once upon a time, I used to be adventurous. But now, I'm a stay at home Mom that is so terrified of frogs that I poke at my son's fake frogs before picking them up. Oh, who am I kidding? I've always been deathly terrified of frogs. That's nothing new. And maybe the fact that I took loads of body spray on each mission trip I've ever been on further proves my unadventurous-ness.
But alas, I spent many of my teenage-yeared summers in foreign lands spreading the great news of Jesus. It was a sweet time of ministering to so many who had completely different lifestyles than me and to many who needed to hear the sweet name of Jesus.
Whilst in the Dominican Republic one summer, a group of young women and I reached out to the impoverished youth of the city. As a follow-up to the work of some brave missionaries who had gone before us, we spent time with boys that we affectionately called the "shoe-shine" boys. Many of these sweet little guys, to put it mildly, did not have the most ideal childhood. As they were sometimes the sole provider for their families, they would shine shoes in the town square of Hato Mayor. What little income they brought in, would be used to buy food for their large families. Part of our day consisted of interacting through baseball, a favored Dominican past time... and sometimes spoiling them rotten at any chance we could get. We would buy the kids treats here and there, and really just try to be friends with them.
And when we weren't hanging out with the shoe-shine boys, we were probably having lunch at our friend's house, AnaB! (You can't just say her first name. And you can't overemphasize it... it's AnaB!) AnaB was a good friend to us and her family fed us lunch each day we were in Hato Mayor. And one time.. they took us on a fun little outing. Well, it was fun for some people.
After a week of loving on some kids who could definitely use some extra attention, we were all so excited to re-coup and have an afternoon of fun! AnaB and her brother, Munchy, had invited us to ride horses out in the "country." Our group consisted of about 8 people; the girls I traveled with, AnaB, her brother, our Dominican translator, and another American missionary. There were only 2 horses. A few of my friends went first, returned and let the other American missionary and I have our turn.
Oh, how fun this would be! Riding through the Dominican countryside.. looking at all the mountains, trotting along on a pretty brown horse! So picturesque! Oh, look at that over there.. and that! How beautiful this land is! And it really was so enjoyable for the first 15 minutes. Until Satan entered the horse. (Okay. Not literally.)
As my friend and I were rounding the corner, we met up with AnaB's brother.. who had somehow found another horse to ride. We walk along a bit, and my horse starts to get a tad.. hmm, we'll say spirited. Being an unexperienced rider, I'm a wee nervous at this point.. but my "cool" is remaining intact, for now. Perhaps I should have not led my horse to believe I was okay with his sudden burst of energy, because before I know it.. that thing is racing off! Conjuring anything and everything I know about horseback riding, I pull with all my might on the reigns to get the blasted beast to stop.
It does not work.
I pull on his mane... Still. NOTHING.
And then I really lose any amount of restraint I have... and the screams start shooting from my mouth. High pitch. Shrill. Frantic. Maniacal... they are all there. Having one grand exiting party.
In between the maddening sounds that are produced by my frantic vocal chords, I hear no approaching galloping noises coming to my rescue. There is no one. I will surely be forced to either cling to this wretched thing or will be catapulted off of it. Goodbye my family, because this is how my life will end. At the ripe old age of 20, she died riding a horse in the Dominican.
Trees are coming at me with lightning speed, a branch here and a branch there.. it's really a miracle that my face is not slashed into hamburger sized pieces at this point. As anyone can tell you, I do not.. repeat.. DO NOT have cat-like reflexes. So, thank you dearest ADRENALINE for making me move out of the way of every low-lying branch between here and what will soon be my death, I am sure.
And before I know it, there is all this commotion coming from the field. Other screams are matching my own. Deeper, more controlled yelling and such. But still.. my cavalry is coming to the rescue! Next thing I know, my horse has stopped, and there is a small Dominican man 3 feet in front of me with a machete in the air. Who knew that a Dominican man running through a field with a machete the size of a Camry would ever look so chivalrous?
I still don't know how he managed to make the horse stop, as the horse was completely uninjured and fine. And I still am not really sure how I even got down from the horse. But, I do remember not having my shoes on. Who knows where they went in the midst of the chaos. I also remember running a low-grade fever the rest of the day. I guess all the excitement was more than my feeble-old-self could handle.
So. There you have it. This one time, I almost died in the Dominican Republic.