Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reminders for prayers

Here it is April...and I've not blogged since Feb.  Life has sucked me back, but not my heart.  So many reminders around my, art, jewelry...and they all kindle an emotion.  But, none like an email some of us received yesterday about Sami.  Do you remember Sami, a brave little Dominican boy, Santa's son that we prayed for on Friday before we left.  Sami is fighting Leukemia and below is the email Jorge sent....He sent it to several people, most of which are the doctors here in the U.S.








Please pray for sweet Sami and his family.  I can't imgine what his mom is going through and how she just wants him 'fixed.'  I can't imagine her prayers to God...I can't bear to imagine what mine would be.  Knowing we always should pray for God's will...but also knowing you have to be specific and in this case to beg for sweet Sami's life.  God I pray for Sami and his family that someone can intervene and possibly get him to the U.S. so that there is more resources to help him.  Amen

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tough week!

“The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don't know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.”
James Arthur Baldwin

Ecclesiastes 5:3
"For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words."
Dreams...according to what I've read and one really knows why we have them.  The scripture above from Ecclesiastes may shed a little light...have you read it? Do you find it interesting that those who study dreams suggest that when your body slows down to rest, your mind continues to work. The Bible says that the multitude of business will cause dreams. This could be the multitude of physical and emotional business or it could be the multitude of mental business, but either way it appears that this is what causes us to dream. Though your body settles in rest, your mind can keep right on working and thinking.

Well, I agree with this totally...and my husband would too, by the way.  It's always an interesting couple of weeks after my trips to the Dominican.  I am up during the night, taking off my pajamas, putting on clothes...stacking things on the bed, talking to people.  Yep, all the while, I'm asleep.  Trust's happen so much now, it's not funny to Michael anymore.  he expects, wait...I know he has to dread it!!

So far this week there has been plenty of the above.  You go and go and go for 12 days and then you come home and are thrown back into OUR 'real' world...HEY...where did my peeps go?  There's still work to be done...patient's to pre-op, people waking up from anesthesia...there's still work to be done people...wake up!!

I'm exhausted...I feel like I'm literally working day AND NIGHT!  

I've had a horrible week...that's me being frank and honest.  It's hard to jump back into life as we have it.  Don't mistaken me...I'm blessed...I have a wonderful job, who allows me to be away from my job each year for this joy in my life...a family who allows me to follow my heart...but after seeing simplicity and 'island time' come back home and have deadlines, dress codes, time to go, time to leave, time for this...that, I want to scream.  Some of it, which I know IS NOT...seems so trivial this week.  Seems so un-important after where we've been and what we've seen.

But...understand...this is ME talking to ME...snap out of it!!  Remember what you friend said while in the's our and there!  I can't tell you how many times this week, I've had to remind myself of this.  God's mission field is everywhere Paula...not just in the Dominican Republic.  Snap out of it!  There's work to be done....right here at home.  There's people who are in need, who are hurting...who need prayers, who need love and attention...right here in my own back door. 

Colossians 3:23
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV)

Yes, this week has been hard...but I've got to allow my joy and actions shine God's light just like I did in the Dominican.  God's not done yet...and neither am I.  I have to act on my word...His word of what I believe.  I have to "walk the talk." 

God, I pray for your help...your help to 'bring me home' emotionally.  Not in such a way that I forget...but that I can continue Your work here by remembering the work there.  People are watching me...they watching to see if I show You here like I say I do there...I pray that I do.  I want to be your disciple...I know I don't have to be perfect, but I do have to be willing...and I am.  Amen

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Part of My Heart Stays Behind

"He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name."  Psalm 23:3

We all know who the "He" is in this passage....God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit...and through my darkest of days I know HE is always with me.  I shared a quote I think earlier in this day....basically saying that's where we find those valleys. 

I also find him in is my husband, Michael's birthday.  What a birthday home?!!!  Yeah...that's what he says.  He's elated to have me back and misses me so much.  I miss him too but it's different when he's here at home all alone with all my stuff around and our 'normal' life is missing something... me!  So he was eagerly awaiting me at the foot of the escalator last night. 

Knowing Jesus Christ is my strength...there's no doubt that He offers it and richly blesses me with it through Michael.  He's a solid foundation for me...holding me accountable, being my cheerleader from the sidelines, and or being the first to call me out...and yes, there are those times.  Those time when someone so grounded in his faith...offers his insights, his opinion, his interpretation...that helps me to see things in a different light. 

Oh trust me...there are those times that I don't either...those times when I'm so set in my opinion and frame of mind...bull headed, I believe would be an appropriate word here.  But, he loves me...both Michael and me just the same. 

Today....home from the Dominican....feels weird.  Still fresh enough to smell the smoke in the air in Barahona...suitcases are on the back porch and will be for several days 'airing' out.  There's a distinct smell every where you go...and there is no different.  Laundry is being done...a few souveniers pulled out....but I'm a bit teary today. 

I miss my roomy, Susan...yeah, she's right here in the same town basically with me....but we've been inseperable pretty much for the past 12 days and I miss her. 
I miss the sound of the ocean outside our room...
I miss looking up into the night sky and seeing more stars than I have ever seen in my life...because we're so far out...
I miss the, as you ride down the road in the open red truck...they'll wave as you wave...they're the same as me.
I miss the team...God's team that He so sweetly put together.  I smile as I think about the things we shared this week...each with their own gifts and talents...their niche'

I miss seeing God so simply.....oh, I know He's here....but as I have made it so abdundantly clear throughout my's not as simple sometimes.  I know...I make it that way.

I miss....a part of my heart that always stays behind. 

"I Know What It Is To Have Plenty" Philippians 4:12

"All of us love mountaintop experiences, but it is a trap to always be expecting and looking forward to those times of exhilaration. And if we are truly honest, we will admit we have learned greater lessons from the Lord while in the valleys  of life.  Of course, our understanding of what God was doing typically comes much later.  Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once wrote, 'Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.' 

When we compare the mountaintop to the valley, we realize that what sustains us- such as water, food, and fellowship - is found in the valley.  And, the people who so desperately need our testimony of faith live there!"


"Morning by Morning"  The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon & Jim  Reimann

I've read this twice today...and it rings with such truth.  It's when I'm at my lowest that I can see Him...feel Him, so why would we think that's now where He is....wanting us to lean, and rely on His wisdom, Grace, and Mercy.

I wonder if maybe that's why the people in these 3rd world countries are so close to Him...they don't have all the distractions but they still rely on and I to offer them and show them their mountaintop experiences.  Regardless of how different it may be from ours.  He's still just as powerful and "there" for them.  I want to talk to God someday and ask, I want to applaude Him in creating us in such ways...we can tolerate the valley's, while experiencing different levels of mountaintops yet still seeing Him.


At the End of the Escalator

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”Matthew 18:19-20

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
At some point beginning today's journey, or once we arrived in Miami...I had texted Gracie to see if she had already gone back to school at Wingate.  Her reply was "yep."  I'll have to say just for a second...I thought maybe she hadn't and would be there tonight when we arrived at Charlotte Douglas.  But, she kept on with some other conversation and I let the thought go...

Our flight was very late getting in, and I knew she had morning classes so it would have been crazy for her to be there.  I was hoping Tony, Susan's husband was going to be there for her though...and Michael told me when we were in Miami that Tony wasn't coming because he had to work tomorrow.  Flustered me a bit...she's been gone all this time and he couldn't you Bubba and apologize for being flustered...only to find out later that he gave up his seat to come pick up the girls for my Gracie.  I love you Tony...thank you!

As the Charlotte flight came down the escalator into baggage claim, what do I find but Michael standing there as I had anticipated...and also my Gracie.  Her big beautiful smile shining knowing she had pulled one over on her momma.  Pleasantly I might add! 

I know what you may be thinking...who does she hug first?  Well....knowing the other would understand, and I think knowing that he knew who I would hug first...I went to my Gracie.  She had been on my mind and my heart for so much of this trip.  From thinking about her while talking and sharing with Connie.  Thinking of how God is leading her into the ministry and feeling His Presence in her and my life.  Not being able to talk to her on Skype as we had planned and how we both struggled so much with that until we had to give that up to God to control...and He did.  To watching the youth skits at LaHoya's church and realizing what God is doing in her life.  I want her so much to experience this culture, and although she has through me and my pictures, stories over the years...I want her to carry it in her heart.  So, yeah...she was with me in a big way this year and I had to get to her and get/give a hug. 

Michael was given a hug from he was covered and then we switched...He understands this love I have for my girl.  He understands this bond that we share, our past, our struggles, and he comfortably understands his role in being our blessing from God that pulled our past pains from a bad marriage into a blessed family household that loves God, and worships Him together. 

I love you both, Michael and Gracie!  I've never asked 'permission' to go on the trip each year...I laugh as I type that.  I guess I'm not an 'ask permission' type person...but I do know your love for me well enough to know that you enable my desires and allow me to follow my heart, my dream, my for that I say 'thank you.'


Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fully Equipped for the Journey Home

Suitcases packed with some dirty clothes....some left behind.  Extra tolietries, snacks, or little extras given to Amy to keep.  What few souveniers I purchased are stowed away in the fresh coffee, a small painting from Betty's in Santo Domingo....passport and documents completed and ready to go through security/immigration/customs as we exit the country....heading home.

I'm a way, I'm dreading this day.  It's a day of anticipation of returning home to family and loved ones...but it's also a return to 'reality.'  We're all so blessed with our lives in the doubt.  But, I for one dread the return to the rat race...the demands of my life.  I only wish I had a few days to savor, if you will, and process the thoughts.  But, our lives await us and what blessed lives we have. 

I feel fully equipped to give it another shot at showing the "God in me" more than I did before I left.  I fall so short of that sometimes...I know...we all do.  But, upon returning you find yourself resenging the 'nothingness' in our lives...the mundane happenings that are non-productive in showing the love of Christ or helping others....
So, for awhile...I'll be on...aware, equipped.  I pray each year that I can hang on a little bit longer each year so as not to forget the armour for which we were suited with while in Barahona.  The simplicity, the unconditional caring and love....the eyes of Jesus.

Leaving the island of Hispanola

"Equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen"  Hebrew 13:21

I Saw Jesus Last Week

***I can't take credit for writing this, but did modify it a bit to suit you...all of you. 
Hopefully it covers you all.  God bless you for showing Jesus through all that you did!**********************************************************************

I Saw Jesus Last Week.
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt.
He was at the hospital making repairs;
He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute he looked a little like one of our team members.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by his smile.

I saw Jesus last Sunday.
He was reading scripture in church at LaHoya.
He didn't talk real loud or use long words,
But you could tell He believed what she said.
For just a minute, He looked like one of our team members.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by his loving voice.

I saw Jesus last week.
He was at the hospital providing surgery, and care to the sick.
They prayed together quietly before each case.For just a minute he looked like our surgical team.
But it was Jesus, I could tell by the compassion in his eyes.

I saw Jesus one day.
He was in a room preparing our lunches 
He then fixed us a special lunch to nourish us all.
For just a minute he looked like my friends.
But it was Jesus, I could feel the love from his heart

I saw Jesus last week.
He was praying on around a friend in need...
He then began to cry for those he prayed for and for a special little boy.
For just a minute he looked like our whole team coming together as one.
But it was Jesus, I could see the compassion poured out of his prayer, and the love offering that was given to her. 

I saw Jesus the other day.
He was at the bateys playing with the children.
He then put his arms around them, laughed, took pictures, and blew bubbles.
For just a minute he looked like our mission team members.
But it was Jesus, I could see the laughter & unconditional love in their eyes.

I saw Jesus last week.
He was on a red truck riding through this small town.
He waved a people on the street.
For just a minute he look like a loving people for the mission team.But it was Jesus,
I could see the love that was given in a gesture. 

I see Jesus everywhere,
Preparing beans & rice, counting pills/ prescribing to the sickUnloading and reloading boxes onto buses/trucks,Being friendly to a newcomer
And for just a minute I think he's someone I know
But it's always Jesus, I can tell by the way he serves.

May someone see Jesus in you today. Remember to encourage those you see living for Jesus!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

I've Learned I Will Never Be the Same Again

Before dinner in Santo Domingo Saturday night with our team, Connie, Olivia, Jorge, Amy, and the other COPA girls...I shared this as our last devotion. 
In the Dominican Republic I learned about excess…mine. 
I learned that I have more…than the whole island we stayed on. 
I learned they had more…than I could possibly ever understand. 
I learned simplicity…is a blessing. 
I learned that from where God is sitting…we all look the same. 
I learned that my skill level…does not matter as much as my desire level. 
I learned I cannot make an economic change in their lives…but they can in mine. 
I learned about love from people…who had only love to give. 
I learned why missionaries do…what missionaries do. 
I learned why beauty is as simple…as a child’s smile. 
I learned candy is just as sweet…in someone else’s mouth. 
I learned that even old men can learn from children…who do not speak the same language. 
I learned I needed my passport validated…with God’s entry stamp. 
I learned food to exist is so much better…than excess food to enjoy. 
I learned why God rested…on the seventh day. 
I learned how arrogant I must be…to think I gave them anything. 
I learned how little some people need…to get by. 
I learned that customs and culture…are part of God’s wisdom. 
I learned that a fellowship of believers feels the same…here and there. 
I learned sleeping in a one room shanty is different than sleeping in a five bedroom house…not worse – but different. 
I learned about sharing…from those who had so little to share. 
I learned how all beaches…are not the same. 
I learned that God so loved the world…that he gave.  
I learned the true meaning of the parable…of the widow’s mite. 
I learned God is fluent…in every language. 
I learned why I need reminding from time to time that I am such a small part…of a bigger picture and God is the painter. 
I learned that a shovel (hammer) does not care…who operates it. 
I learned that poor is not a definition…only an economic condition.  I learned why worship…has no specific time or place. 
I learned why I must never take for granted those things…I take for granted. 
I learned I will never be the same…or normal again.

Submitted by Bob Gourley, Rock Hill UMVIM team to Venezuela.
Adapted for Dominican trip by Paula Lambert 2005/2006/2007/2008,
 2009, 2010, 2011

Travel to Santo Domingo

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” –  Pat Conroy

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Psalm 37:3-6

Friday, January 28, 2011

Love, Prayer...and a Little EGR...A Wonderful Way to End the Last Day of Work

We began this morning‎ with a wonderful devotion from Sandy.  Sandy told us a little about the devotion last night...about how she had to change it a little bit.  The clinic had gone up the coast on Thursday, so once again it was late when they came home.  Too late for Santa to go back to Batey she stayed with Sandy and Terri.  This had to be difficult for Terri and Sandy because Santa couldn't speak English.  So, for a 2nd night, they were very hospitable to Santa, giving up one of their beds so Santa could sleep. 

You have to know that Sandy is probably one of the sweetest people I know.  She and her dad's relationship is inspiring and I've never witnessed a mutual respect between a parent and a child.  You can see their faith in Christ all through their relationship.  Sandy speaks so lovingly of her dad, her mom, and her husband Chris.  So, for her to do a devotion on have to know it's also as real.

EGR, she defined is 'Extra Grace Required."  Those people in all of our lives that are EGR people.  She admits to there is something about all of us that require a little extra grace on someone's behalf to overlook our bad habits, our quirks, our special annoyances. 

Oh sure you do!!  We all have them.  We just don't like to think about them.  But the way Sandy gave the devotion made you aware that it's also those things that make us EGR use may be different than yours...but when you think...oh my, how our sweet Jesus must chuckle at the EGR.   His patience with us...knowing how we are, creating us the way we are?  Yet, we sometimes make it so difficult to offer others that EGR.

Sandy confidently gave us an example Thursday night of EGR...and laughed as she told us how she knew God was having a wonderful time watching her grow from this experience.  I love God moments...but when you can visually picture Him throwing His head back and laughing at our 'learning' ...priceless. 

I love you Sandy.  I thank you for your honesty...for your willingness to be 'real' with 

It was a wonderful way to start our day and it was a "God thing" that Santa stayed Thursday night.  After the devotion, Mike presented Santa, with the help of Pastor Pedro translating...with the love offering from the LRC game.  She was deeply touched and afterwards we asked her to stand in the middle while we all prayed for Sami through her.  A fitting last devotional, prayer...a little EGR. 

We all need it.  I need it constantly. 


Our last work day was great.  We usually end up a little early so we can clean up, box up supplies and get back a little earlier for our celebration meal with our translators.  The clinic team usually is close to Batey 7, so they can take supplies by the Good Samaritan Clinic before heading they were at Batey 9.

Surgically and medically the week went uneventful compared to last year with the earthquake.  We were all grateful for that...but it was eventful in the fact that there were things that touched my heart that will make it as special as years past. 

The love suitcase that was full of so many people's contribution to this mission, both in material things and money that was sent.

A wonderful conversation with a friend who without realizing it...made me aware of who and what I am at home...and in the DR.  I should be the same.

A beautiful church service that made me realize what a gift I have in my own daughter, and how God is...and will use her in a powerful way.

A team of people...some old friends, some new friends.  I listened as one expressed how blessed they were to have been there.  How they had had a bad experience in church and how this had renewed their faith what is good...

A reminder of how selfish, materialistic, and greedy I am...and how people who make as much a day that I spend for lunch can teach me more about life and priorities than I can ever learn from the U.S...anywhere!

Then...there are 2 people that make me want to be a better person just by "watching them" do what they do.  I love you Jorge & Connie!  God surely smiles down as He blesses you.

Lastly....Sami.  You are a beautiful child and your bravery as you face chemotherapy monthly.  Your smile is contagious and your faith in God will move mountains.  Dios' La Bendiga Sami!!   I will share your story with everyone I know and I will always pray for you.

At weeks end...633 patients seen in the clinic, 1700 prescriptions filled...78 surgeries at the hospital.  But...36 people were refreshed in their faith...tired from the work, but hearts full of love as we journey towards home beginning tomorrow morning.  Sunrises here...we'll they are perfect every morning.  No matter how cloudy it may be....God really shows off with His paint brush when it's about 6:15 or so...the EGR He grants us every day...hoping, I'm sure that we'll pause long matter where we look up...notice the color, the beauty, His Grace, His Gift. 
As we journey home...God, I thank you for the extra Grace you grant me by blessing me with this trip.  We ask for travel mercies toward Santo Domingo, then home.  But, we pray also for all our Dominican friends that we leave behind.  May their health continue to be in Your Hands and through their lives and ours, we realize and see Your Grace and Mercy.

Amen "Amin"


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Left, Right, Center

Every year it seems we do something as a team to raise funds for a special cause...this year it's for Santa and her son, Sami. 

Below is information for Good Samaritan Clinic's December Newsletter:

Santa is a 41 year old resident of Batay 7 whobegan working in the clinic officially in 2003.  She has long been know in her community for her volunteer efforts to help those in need day and night. Her jobs in the clinic include coordinating patient care and dispensing medications. Those who have witnessed her work while on mission teams can attest to her loving and giving spirit as well as her abilities to make order out of chaos. God has definitely placed her there to fulfill His work through the Good Samariatan Clinic. 

This year has been especially challenging for Santa. Her 11 year old son Drenifer De La Cruz Cuevas “Sami” was diagnosed with chronic myelocytic leukemia in October of 2009.

This 6th grader has been receiving chemotherapy for one year. He actually attends school 3 weeks per month and travels to Santo Domingo for a 1 week stay in the hospital. He has been very intent on staying in Batey 7 with his family and friends and contuing as normal a life as possible. Dr. Jorge Volquez, the clinic doctor, says Sami maybe the most intelligent kid in the batey based on his grades and the way he thinks
and expresses himself. What follows is a letter from Sami to those of you who have helped with
his medical expenses during these difficult times.

Hope you are doing fine, and hope that you have a
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I want to
thank you all for every thing you have done for me.
I have nothing to give you back, but I can express
with my words how much I appreciate all the help
that has been given to me. Without God´s favor and
your help, I would have already been dead because
my mother had no resources to cover my
treatments. I hope that God blesses your health
and your economy. May God continue to touch
others through your helping hands. Hands that
helped me to keep the life that is in me. A life that I
so much need and want. Thank you all. SAMI

So, the team decided we'd play Left, Right, Center in to play was at least $20.00 love offering and we played with single pesos that would also go to Santa and Sami.  We had a wonderful outpouring of love and offering, had fun playing the game after dinner on Thursday and depending on the exchange rate...raised pretty close to $1000.00, which will be enough for 2 months of treatments in Santo Domingo. 

Praise God!!

If you gave me money prior to coming on this trip to use 'wherever it was needed' then it either went to help Sami or to the church in LaHoya.  Bethpage UMC...$120.00 of the money you sent was given for Sami & Santa.  Wende your donation went to Sami, Linda...your donation went to Sami.  Thank you for trusting us to judge where to give your monies.  God is so good!

It's our job!

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ,if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Phillippins 2: 1-5


Earlier in the week, I was having a conversation with a team member.  Someone I call friend, and value his history in missions.  I don't remember exactly how the conversation went there...but we were talking about how the week made us feel...I made the statement, of how it refreshed me...enriched me.  How it gave me perspective.  Then he made a statement that was probably the most profound of the week for me.  He said coming here (to the Dominican) was his job.  At caught me off guard and I even questioned him...but after we talked a bit more and went our seperate directions...It hit me...While this week does give me perspective, renews my faith in manhood, grounds me in the material world...what goes on here and what I am here to do with my gifts and indeed 'my job.' 

Matthew 28:16-20 The Great Commission

 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew tells us that Jesus gave the go.  He doesn't say to go to foreign land...he doesn't say to just stay in your own home town...he just says "Go."  "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name...."
It is my job..our job.  To go home and share our gifts and talents just as we do here.  I've talked this but still find myself being 'too tired' or 'too busy' or 'too...whatever.'  I am called to share the wave to strangers just as I do share the "hello" greeting just as I do here, so share a "God Bless You" just as I do here to people I don't even know.  It's so easy here to say "Hola'", "Dios La Bendinga" as you don't feel  you'll be ridiculed or denied.  But why shouldn't we be denied...Christ himself was...still is.
So, M.B...I understand your committment and how it's the and there.  How it's our job to use the gifts, talents, education that God has blessed us with to help everyone...everywhere.  I love you friend for the example you are to me...for introducing me to this team 8 years ago and allowing me to see God through their eyes.  I appreciate your spirituality and your love of our Savior and your willingness to share it with everyone.  You taught me the difference in being a warrior and a worker.
Yes...what was said to me in this conversation was probably the most profound thing I heard...that I will take home with me and will strive every day to do my job.    As the week is coming to a close. 
My body is tired, muscles aches, not sleeping well with my left arm going to sleep due to my back being out.  I miss my family but already dread leaving this place.  The smell of something burning all the time, the sound of the Carribean Ocean pounding the shores just feet from our hotel door...riding in the red truck every day, sweating profusely all the can't possibly drink 'enough' ever, so we're all a bit dehydrated or a lot dehydrated.  Yet...tomorrow...being Friday, we'll wake with compassion for these sweet children of God and for each other.  We're all in it together sharing in this week...making His "joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind."
Dream Ministries Team 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special People Doing God's Work

“When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter. Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs.” John 21:15

There are 36 team members on this years mission.  Most are medical and a handful or so are not....there have been years in the past when it's been the opposite.  But it does seem that it is changing.  It is a medical mission after all....but don't let that take your eyes off all the team.  Their feeding the lambs!!

Susan, my bestest...this is her 7th trip with this team.  She came the year after I did...there was a special something that touched her heart during my presentation at church.  She came, she loved, she was loved...she was hooked.  She found that she left a part of her heart in Barahona, and she took a big part of them home with her.  Susan is one of the ones on the team that is "non-medical" or so she says.  No, she doesn't have medical credentials at the end of her name but she has the heart to touch more hearts and shine the light of Christ than any medical person on this team.

Her first year, I laugh as I say she played...she cried, she had compassion, she prayed...she played.  I was so envious of her, with me now being 'seasoned' I had a job to do and at the time there weren't as many 'medical' I played through her. She loved on the children, she painted, she took pictures, she delivered goodies to the patients...she "fed the lambs."

As the years have gone on...Susan has counted pills in the pharmacy, she's been a triage person at clinic, she's encouraged and been a cheerleader for the entire team.  She's a top notch pre-op nurse at the hospital.  She's learned how to do vital signs, how to reach the charts and complete the pre-op paperwork...she created a sign to go at the end of each bed to write/erase the patients name so you know when you walk in the room what the patients surgery is...she's learned how to flush IV's.  Last year, she literally began 'feeding the lambs' as she started being responsible for the teams lunches both at the clinic and hospital.  She planned, did the shopping, and recruited someone on the clinic team to help.  She has that way about her...that way to get you to do something before you realize you're doing it.

When she made the statement to me earlier in the week that the team was becoming more 'medical' than 'non-medical'...I sensed her maybe feeling a little less needed or wanted.  I quickly replied to her that it doesn't matter if you're medical or non-medical.  We ALL find our niche' and if committed...we're a part of the team. 

1 Corinthians 12  One Body, Many Parts
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unrepresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Susan...she's the heart.  She shares this mission with my heart. She's always been so special to me, but this trip every year bonds us even closer.  We've shared tears, laughter, and prayer.  We've sweated together...heck, we've even slept together and spooned.  (her with me!!)  She belongs on this team and I won't let her think otherwise.  Kim shared with me that someone told her toward the end of the week that 'every team needs a Susan.'  That made me smile...because I knew it already, I was just happy others noticed it too. 

She's not into this for the recognition or the praise.  She would never want anyone to bring attention to it as she gives all the praise and glory for all that she has to her Jesus....our Jesus.  She's feeding the lambs.... are so needed by this team, but more than anything YOU are needed by God to go 'feed His lambs.'  No question.  I love you and so look forward to our trip every year...our memories, our laughter that we share throughout the year, the planning for the next...I thank God for you in my life...the wisdom you give, the accountability, the friendship and sisterhood.  Like so many other people on this are a vital member of God's plan every year...not to be diminished by a lack of medical training or credentials.  You and so many others have all you need by being willing to do whatever is needed. 

I cherish you and thank you for sharing my heart.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Most Joyful People Alive

Today's devotion was done by Doug...Dr. Doug Boyette.  He's a wonderful, kind man from Shelby who is a Cardiologist. 

John 13:34-35 "“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In Doug's talked how the church is the servant society.  Christians are called to be servants.  To be in Christ is to be in the ministry.  Once we turn our lives over to Christ, then people become our agenda.  Our calling is to care about people-helping them to know the Savior, growing in grace, and face life's challenges.  Our happiness is related to pouring ourselves out for people.  That means giving up our privacy, schedules, monies, time, talents, and make good judgements in relation to others.  The Lord puts people in our lives so that we can be to them what He has been to us. 

Today, Susan and I are going up the mountain with the clinic team.  Dr. Mike has told me it's a beautiful trip and he wants me to meet Darren, the missionary there.  He's from Columbia, S.C. and he just recently met him, himself.  The trip up was extremely slow starting...we had to make numerous stops around Barahona before FINALLY getting on our way around 10:15 or so...I think had we had this kind of delay and frequent stops in the states to leave for a trip, I would have been a basket case...but somehow today, I enjoyed it...tried to make the best of it by shooting some pictures and enjoyed the people on the clinic team...thinking about the people on the bus with me.

You see...these people, were the people who had become or are becoming the most joyful people alive...They are channeling the love of Christ to all those they meet.  Yes, it's still early and some are still finding their niche' on the trip...but they're all willing, able, and joyful.  All have already had a day of sharing in God's love...both to the people and from the people.  We can't care for others without some of the blessings spilling over onto us...My attitude always changes here.  I have said that it's easier to be 'the person Christ wants me to be here.'  It is...I don't have all the distractions, gadgets, electronics, my I'm just me being me...the best of me.  I'm a better person when I'm being a servant to others...unconditionally. 

Life drags me down at home sometimes...responsibilities, making decisions...but while I'm here..the hard realities of daily life are replaced by joyfulness.  Are we tired at the end of the day, you bet...but as tired as you are during the continue to move foreward...making a difference in the next life.  So often it's the little things we do for each other that matter the most...most often the little things is what makes someone else change...soften...come around.  If we can be a servant to others, it's easier for them to learn to be a servant themselves.  I can't say I would have the same attitude if I were here all the time...I've said before in this blog that "I'm not selfless enough" to do this...but my prayer is that each time, it makes a dent chipping away at my selfishness and materialistism.

Christ is calling us all to be servants, whether it's in your own home town or nearby state...or in a 3rd world country.   He calls us all to go serve.  Every year my goal seems to be to go home and never allow this experience take me back to the person I was...and at first that's not a problem.  My emotions stay so close to the service that I often have trouble adjusting to 'reality' of my life.  But...honestly within 3-4 months...LIFE as I know it, sucks me back in...back into a reality world, a materialistic world. 

Yet again, this year...I'll try yet look at more and more opportunities to serve in Christ's name...whether it be in my neighborhood, my job, my church, within my sorority, or my family and friends. 

Today was a beautiful day.  There was only a small number that attended the clinic as the population around the clinic site was only about 200 people.  There was a truck load that arrived that probably came from across the border.  The majority of the patients had neck pain, back pain, high blood pressure...The one thing that struck Doug and I the most was the neck and back pain issue.  We asked how much one of the field workers, who works different crops,  makes a day...and were astonished to learn 200 pesos?  That's only about $6-7 U.S....I couldn't help but react as Doug and I just looked at each other.  I became emotional being reminded again who greedy I I can spend that a day if I eat out for lunch...or Doug said that was 2 of his latte's...seriously!  Yet...they are joyful people.  I often think the happiest people here are the christians...the ones where when you say "Dios' La Bendiga"...they say "Amen."  It's the ones that when you smile at them...they'll smile back.  It's almost like you're looking at Christ at the same time. 

Am I one of the most joyful people alive...probably not. Most anybody that knows me, knows that I'm not a morning joyful in the morning...definitely not.  But, I do love smiling into the face of a Dominican woman, man, or child and saying "Buenos Dia" or "hola" and show them some kindness.  In the morning...that takes effort for me, and as each one smiles back with a Spanish greeting...I wake up to the morning with Christ.

The day was filled with kindness, it had to be...and a lot of patience and grace on our parts.  We had multiple stops in the morning...was on the road to the location at least 1 1/2 hours...maybe more.  Once we got to the dirt road that took us to the clinic, we had to unload all the meds off the bus..transfer to a truck where 1/2 the team also joined in.  The bus was able to make the trip up the mountan but it was very slow....again, a reminder that the pace of this journey is not up to walk away.  It also goes much smoother if you still objective and joyful.  I loved snapping pictures of the houses, the people sitting outside their homes.  The wild Poinsettas, Inpatience, Wandering Jew, and other plants & trees.  The mountainside of coffee...and a reminder of how big this world really is, if I can begin to even comprehend it?

On our way home our bus had a blow's a long story but we ended up coming down the mountain with 1 left rear tire blown out on a double axel bus....we went slowly, Praise God.  But, we laughed and reminded ourselves of the slow start this morning, the late start getting going wiht the clinic...and the flat blownout tire this evening.  How all of this would etch a memory of this day in our minds for this trip...and through it all we were the most joyful people alive and were blessed.