When a volunteer in mission team from South Dakota comes to visit us in the Dominican Republic to do medical care in impoverished areas of Santo Domingo we can expect to be surprised by what can happen. So many variables come together to do good. We can try to control what happens but we must be crazy to think that is possible. The beauty lies in the uncertainty and the seeming chaos we create that allows God to move in ways we can see and also in ways beyond us.
Many young mothers brought their children to the medical clinics we set up in two local churches. When these young mothers look at their children we can see God in them loving and seeing what only God and a mother can see. It is beautiful.
So many mothers responded to the doctor’s questions in the same way. They would say that their child has headaches and no appetite, it became a bit comical. The headaches and no appetite were just code words used so that the doctor would give them vitamins and pain killers. Pills that any mother would want around the house for their children and themselves because there is much pain and vitamins can provide what is lacking in their diets when they cannot afford nutritious food or any food at all.
Most of the people who come to these temporary clinics have very few resources or access to the substandard government hospitals and much less to expensive private clinics. Our limited medical clinic offers them two things that they need, someone to listen to their stories and to care about what these stories mean. Those of us who volunteer for this mission cannot know what it is like to be a Haitian mother with no legal documentation, or a Dominican grandmother who likely has a blood clot in her leg that requires an expensive test and treatment she cannot afford.
We do not know how to respond to a situation that is more than an matter of compassion but also requires justice. And justice can be a part of our mission if we have enough courage to face the high cost. If we do not, it will still come by another way.
But there is hope. We can believe that our ‘cold cup of water’ is not enough or we can believe that each act of goodness is multiplied thousands of times in ways that accumulate. When that happens justice will come and it will roll down like waters and the salvation so sorely needed will come. Jesus lives and that gives us hope and courage to go and listen and care. It will always be that way and what a privilege it is to participate, to follow Jesus.
So the churches and communities of Los Alcarrizos and Buenos Aires say thank you. The Dominican Evangelical Church says thank you to:
Julia, Meredith, Karen, Ruth, Ariana, Carrie, Teri, Reuben, Maria, Nelson, Kristin, the many people who prepared our food, Susan, Carissa, Louisa, Tony, Carmen, Ana, Reuben’s mother, Gordy, Erasme, Mario, Cancú, José Rafael, James, Dan, Serenity, and the supporting cast behind the scenes. Well done!