A little while back I was listening to the radio when “Hotel California” by The Eagles came on. I’ve always thought it was a good song, but this time some of the lyrics especially caught my ear… “I heard the mission bell, and I was thinking to myself this could be Heaven or this could be Hell”.
I remember, before my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic (2013) thinking that I was either going to love it (Heaven) and want to go back every year, or hate it (Hell) but be glad I had the one-time experience. It was Heaven, I went back the following year, and I’m less than 3 weeks from going back again. Yep, I have most certainly heard the mission bell!
After a full year of collecting donations and creating a follow-up Breast Self-Exam teaching project, preparations for the 2015 trip are wrapping up. This year, in addition to seeing “patients”, passing out donated shoes and hygiene supplies and helping to supervise nursing and pharmacy students in the village medical clinics, I will be one of the nurses teaching women from 12 remote villages how to teach their neighbors about breast self-examinations.
We will be holding a half-day class, complete with notebooks and plastic breast models for the women to take back to their villages. A big part of the learning experience will be when the women create their own beaded necklaces. Each bead represents the size of breast lump, when found at different stages of growth. In addition, each lady will receive a kit containing all the materials to make 10 “keychains” with various bead sizes. The kits are meant to serve as a learning tool when they return to their villages to spread their knowledge.
My friends and neighbors were kind enough to join me for a Bead Painting Party, where we finished decorating about 120 of the 360 beads that are making the trip to the D.R.!
At the guesthouse (our home away from home while we’re staying in the San Juan area), one of the Solid Rock staff members gives a little devotional talk every day. The topics vary, but they usually have something to do with the impact we’re having on the people we encounter, how important our work is, how every little smile and hug is important to the people we meet, or how what we accomplish in one week is just part of the “bigger picture” of the work that is being done there, all year round.
Last year, or the year before (I don’t remember), one of the staff members talked about how none of us had made this trip by ourselves. The idea was to appreciate the fact that we had lots of support and help from the people back home, in order to be the person who got to have the experience we were having. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am able to make this year’s trip with the help of about a gazillion people.
Donations of suitcases, shoes, and hygiene supplies have come from friends, family, neighbors, church members, private school classes and fellow employees. My employer is donating some hours to help offset the vacation time that I’ll be using to take this trip. I’ve had cash donations to help with the cost of my plane fare, supplies, travel vaccines, children’s medications and equipment for Solid Rock’s new medical clinic.
When I hop on the plane, in about 20 days, I’ll be representing all of the wonderful people who have helped me make my third mission trip a reality. Thank you so much for your support, and keep your eyes open for daily updates starting very soon!