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HIGHLAND — A group of 19 members from First Presbyterian Church in Highland returned safely to the United States after their visit to the Dominican Republic in June.

The youth mission trip was led by the Rev. Dave Gibbs to the Park School and Care Center in Caraballo in the Dominican Republic. The group, composed of adults and teens, spent a week in the country building a wall for the school and visiting with the children.

They left on June 22, returning June 29.

"We had a very exciting time there. No one got ill and we were completely safe," Gibbs said. "The children we met were sweet and adorable."

The school, started by Kids Alive International, teaches 120 children through the sixth grade. Kids Alive International is a faith-based organization "dedicated to rescuing orphans and vulnerable children" and is based in Valparaiso. Gibbs said the organization "serves poor children and orphans around the world," providing education, food, clothing and medical care.

Their trip was not without issues, according to Gibbs. High temperatures were exasperated with no air conditioning and difficulties obtaining ice.

"We ran out of water a few times as the city well stopped pumping water to the homes," Gibbs said. "But those were minor hardships compared to the inspiring and unforgettable time we had."

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Emily covers Porter County news and features for The Times. A transplant from NW Ohio to NWI, Emily loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 2018 and believes all dogs are good dogs.