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Not All Who Wander Are Lost… Everything you ever wanted to know about my Dominican mission work

Preparing for Re-Entry

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Our trip leaders, Tina and Megan, dividing up some extra pesos

As is customary, Friday is the day we load up the bus and trailer to head back to Santo Domingo.  The day we spend in the capital city is vital to the process of re-acclimating ourselves to the modern world.  And… if we’re being honest, I’m pretty sure we were all ready for some air conditioning, a quiet night’s sleep (without roosters and dogs) and even some less-sketchy internet service.

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Our entire group, including a surgical team from Wilmington, NC

Before we started the 3+ hour drive to Santo Domingo, though, we drove just 2 miles from the guesthouse to have a tour of the new Solid Rock International medical clinic.  The clinic is being constructed entirely with donations, and is meant to serve people of the area no matter their ability to pay.  Many people walk across mountains and rivers to get to this area from Haiti, because they know they have a chance at decent health care.  This clinic will have an emergency department, labor and delivery, radiology, pharmacy, surgery, consultation rooms and other services not found anywhere in the area.

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A Dominican-made ladder in the new clinic. 

This large opening is the window looking into the nursery.

We hope that the clinic will be finished by the time we visit next year.  Maybe we can help with getting the equipment in place and in use!

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Showing off our trip t-shirts at the new clinic site.

 

In the Colonial Zone, we explored a little bit and tried to avoid the “tour guides” who tried to lead us toward certain shops by telling us that they were friends with Monchy (our bus driver) and HE said for us to go to the Chocolate Museum, or to this particular jewelry store!

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A beautiful view up a steep street in the Colonial Zone.

I really wanted to see the mansion that Christopher Columbus and his family lived in for many years… so I took a few other people and started walking in what I thought was the right direction.  Well after many hot and endless blocks, it became obvious that the house was not to be found.  Instead, we found a pretty church, took a couple pictures and headed for the nearest ice cream store.  Maybe next time!

Iglesias de las Mercedes, built in 1527. 

                          A painting of the Christopher Columbus house… we never did find it!

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Outside the Cathedral de Santo Domingo. 

First cathedral constructed in the Western Hemisphere.

After a 30 minute drive back through the city, we were back at the same hotel where we stayed just one week ago… but we all felt like we had become different people in the short time since then.  We had seen and done so much!  Our eyes and hearts had been opened, we cried tears of joy and pain and we came together as friends and as a team to love on, take care of and bond with the people of the Dominican Republic.

Many of us immediately went to the hotel spa to see about appointments for manicures.  Luckily, we were able to get the layers of dirt and calluses sloughed off our feet and we felt much more human right away.  A combo mani/pedi was only $20 US including a tip and they brought us ice water and coffee, too!  Ahhhhh…. Heaven!

IMG_5588 (2)dinosaur-spooky-horror-foot-monster-animal-62956653[1]Enjoying a little pampering at the hotel spa.       Actual photo of my feet before the pedicure!

We’re already starting to talk about plans for next year’s trip.  We would like to expand on our good work by doing some kind of project with feminine hygiene products and education, we want to continue the Hola, Hermanita project I did this year by providing group instruction in Breast Self-Examination techniques and we would like to include a surgical component with our team or combine with a surgical team from another area so we can work together to do the most good in the short time we spend in the country.

IMG_5095Hola Hermanita BSE teaching kit

We all picked up quite a few (rough) Spanish phrases this week.  Some of the most frequently used:

Estamos aqui? (Are we here yet?

Casi casi. (We are almost here)

Lo siento, mi Espanol es no Bueno (I’m sorry my Spanish is not good)

No mas _____ ( No more fill in the blank… stickers, bracelets, bubbles, toys, suitcases)

To wrap up this year’s trip blog posts, I’d like to share some thoughts from Taylor (one of our guesthouse hosts).  She told us that her Mom used to send her off to school every morning with these three thoughts:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Who do you belong to?
  3. What are you going to do with the gifts that you have been given?

Without getting too deep or spiritual, I think it’s safe to say that we have all learned some new and important answers to those questions this week.

Who am I?  Obviously – a wife, a step-mother, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a nurse, a co-worker, a neighbor, a church member and a friend.  But also … a Child of God.  A caring and sacrificing person.  An adventurer.  A student sponsor.   An animal lover.  A good person.

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The Camper Family – Siesta Key, FL  2016

 

Who do I belong to?  My original family ( I represent the hard work my parents put into raising us wherever I go and whenever I interact with people).  My family by marriage (my husband tells me how proud he is of the work that I do on these trips, and he proudly tells people about our little Yasiri , too).  And who knows, maybe some day one of the next generation of Campers might want to come on a trip with me?  I also belong to my communities… the ONU community, the Lima/Shawnee/RiverWalk community, my church community and the Dominican community.  I have made such good friends in the Dominican Republic.  I love working alongside Laura, Nicole, Dr. Sandy, Kari, Glennys, Elvis, Oto, Nef, Amaury and so many others.  I feel like I am with my second family when I spend a week with them.  Nicole asked me if I could please stay and work in the surgical clinic with her every week!  Wouldn’t that be interesting!  She has a tough job and she is AMAZING at it!  Dr. Sandy always makes me feel like such a rock-star by telling me how much he appreciates me making this trip to help his people.  He tells me God will bless me for this, but I already feel that God has blessed me with the ability to do this work and the honor of knowing people like him.

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In the operating room with Nicole Eby Rodriguez

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With Dr. Sandy Valdez – my very favorite Dominican doctor…                                                                                                                             actually my very favorite Dominican adult… period.

What am I going to do with the gifts that I have been given?  I feel fortunate that I have found the perfect way to share the gifts that I have been given.  I am going to continue working as a nurse, I am going to continue giving my parents whatever help and support they need, and helping my husband do the same with his Dad.  I am going to share my experiences with others so they can have a little glimpse into the world of the short-term mission worker and of the living conditions and needs of the poorest of the poor.  I am going to keep doing mission work in the Dominican Republic, with Solid Rock International, for as long as I can manage to do it.

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One final note:  When you appreciate something about someone… you MUST tell them.  Your thoughts mean nothing unless you share them, and they will be so touched and happy to know that you’re thinking something good.  Unspoken appreciation is worthless.  Spoken appreciation is invaluable.

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