Our team of 104 medical professionals and non-medical volunteers arrived back late this past Saturday from a very successful trip in the Dominican Republic. In total, we treated over 3,800 patients, and saw over 80 people trust Christ as their Savior. (Check out the Medical Missions facebook page: Medical Missions Outreach, for more pics, or www.medical-outreach.com)
I have never travelled with such a large group (I tend to be the only white person around when I fly!) so that was a totally new dynamic. I made lots of new friends, but with that many people, there were still a few I hadn't met after the 10 days!
I worked in the outdoor dispensing pharmacy for all four of the clinic days. We had a great system worked out: when patients would repond to their names, they would be directed to window #1, or window #2 ...of the bus! There, in window #1, I worked, explaining medications, side effects, diet instructions, and a few jokes to each patient that came by. I lost all but my low voice by the second day - due to talking non-stop for 7 hours a day - but was able to use my lower voice to carry on. So, on Thursday evening, when I couldn't sing the songs for a small church service, I signed them instead. The leader noticed and quickly asked me to come up front and teach the rest of the congregation how to sign-along! Speaking of sign language, I learned that the Dominican Republic (DR) doesn't have it's own sign language, like most other countries, but simply uses American Sign Language (ASL) to teach Deaf children.
I actually got to meet two Deaf Dominicans at the clinic. But they were both adults, and since ASL is a relatively new concept in the DR, neither had been taught any language at all. So I mimed as best as I could, and tried to share the gospel with one woman, while my NIC study friend tried to share the gospel with the other. It was sad to learn there is hardly one Deaf ministry in the entire island.
I was excited to discover that my Spanish was easily understood by the Dominicans, even if I didn't catch a lot of their slang. Being able to speak to those I was ministering to added tremendously to the experience, and even enabled me to lead a Dominican to Christ in my free time. God is good.