This is my second international mission trip. My second time to the Dominican, and I find it just as hard to put my experience into words this time as it was the last. So, I’ll just describe our day today.
Yesterday was a travel day. We arrived around 2 p.m. and had a two-hour drive from Santo Domingo to Santiago, which is the location of the new One Vision team apartment. After dinner at a restaurant close by, we all crashed. You see, our team had some issues just getting here.
First, there was a snowstorm in Knoxville, where half of our group lives. That half was not even able to make it out to meet us in Atlanta for our Thursday morning flight. So they had to re-book their tickets to fly in on Friday instead. Meanwhile, one of the five from Tennessee was sick enough she couldn’t travel. So that brought the Knoxville group down to four.
The four of us from Atlanta were also battling weather. On Wednesday when the Governor declared a state of emergency in many counties, the four of us decided it was best for us to get a hotel next to the airport. Alan and I got a room, but Joyce and Jack, the other couple, could not find one.
They decided to spend the night IN the airport instead. Around 10 p.m. as Alan and I were relaxing in our bed at the hotel watching television, Alan found a bedbug crawling right next to me on the bed! Needless to say, we dressed quickly and hightailed it out of there. We drove around for an hour in the freezing rain looking for another place. After calling more than twenty hotels near the airport, we finally found one. Long story short, it wasn’t much better than the bed bugs.
So, we obviously slept good our first night here. We were utterly exhausted! I just kept telling myself, “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in this world.” I knew we were under attack, and I was determined not to let satan win. (But I’ll be honest. In the hour drive through the freezing rain, I was ready to thrown in the white flag. But thankfully, I did not.)
Friday morning, we headed to the children’s center and were greeted with a show! It was the Dominican Independence Day and the kids had prepared a cute dance with batons and a drum beat. Afterwards, we walked to the center where I prepared to take pictures of the kids who needed sponsors. Alan and Jack took a group of kids into the field behind the center (which by the way is actually the home of a sweet Christian lady named Matilde. Can you imagine sharing your home with 150 of the community children? That’s exactly what she does!)
Many of the kids had made kites out of trash bags and sticks for Independence Day. I was shocked at how high those kites could fly! Alan and Jack let them fly the kites and directed them in some fun games. The little boys loved Alan and fought to hold his hand. Where ever he walked, there was a band of boys following. Joyce worked with some of the older girls. She talked about emotions and showed them how to go to God’s Word to help deal with those emotions.
While I was waiting on Claudia to interview a few parents, I mingled with the kids. Maria, one of our interpreters, introduced me to a little girl. “She’s sick,” she told me. “Well, kind of. She has diabetes.”
My eyes widened. “Me, too!” I told Maria.
“She has Type 1,” Maria told me.
“Me, too!” I got excited.
Maria continued, “She doesn’t want to take her medicine.”
Maria pulled the little girl aside with me and interpreted as I asked her questions about her diabetes and her insulin regimen. She told me she takes two shots a day. I asked her how often she tested her blood sugar, and she said she did it only when she went to the hospital ever so often. I shared with her that I tested ten times a day. And what I often consider a pain in the rear, suddenly became a blessing. Because I realized, I have great health insurance that affords me the ability to test ten times a day.
Maria helped me tell her that I have three children and a wonderful husband and life. “She is happy with her life,” Maria told her in Spanish.
I gave the girl a giant hug and told her to take care of herself. For the rest of the day, she continued to come to me and hug me.
After taking pictures, Claudia asked me to share with some of the women who were there with their kids because they wouldn’t be able to come to the conference. She told me there would be five. At first I thought she wanted me to tell them about the conference in hopes that they would come, but she wanted me to give them a condensed version! No notes. No Bible in hand. Just what God had put in my heart.
As I began to share with what turned out to be six women, a few more wandered up and what started as four, became six, then ten. Then a couple of men scooted in closer to listen to what I had to say. And noticing the adults had all congregating in one spot, some boys on bicycles rode over to hear.
I talked to them about prayer. Our conference is called A Woman of Prayer. I shared how God is available to all who call on Him. I gave them evidence of how God listens when we pray and how we can walk boldly into His throne room. I shared how God is powerful. I told my personal story of the doctors telling Alan they thought he had a tumor in his head, filling his sinus cavity and touching his brain. And I told of how God was faithful and pointed out that Alan was healthy and playing with their children as I spoke.
I told them to pray with purpose. That God listens when we pray. Then I gave the plan of salvation. I walked them through the steps in case anyone there had not accepted the gift of grace that Christ brings – all of this with the help of an interpreter.
After we left the center, we stopped by the home of a sweet boy who needs a sponsor but wasn’t able to come to the community center to have his photo taken. Claudia, the One Vision missionary, explained how he has partial paralysis of the brain. His name is Gregory. At the Lord’s prompting, I asked if I could pray for Gregory with the family. They pulled up his mosquito net so I could sit on his bed and touch him as I prayed.
And here is what I have to share about that moment and that prayer: first – I am a mom. And because I’m a mom, my heart broke for this family. They had a very meager home with holes in the roof. But their love for their son was so evident. And second, I am an emotional person. I tell you that to say, if I was working in my own power, I could. Not. Have. Prayed.
But God. God took over and the Holy Spirit certainly guided my words for this family. I was honored to be allowed to be a part of such a sweet moment. But you must know, I walked out the door swallowing back a sob.
Claudia and I returned to the bus, and we headed to lunch. My heart is full. I am overwhelmed at the ways God would allow me to be used today.
Please continue to pray for the team as we start the actual women’s conference tomorrow morning. Praise be to God! And if you would like to sponsor a child through One Vision International, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org