This year I went somewhere new. I had been trying to figure out if God was wanting to go back to the Dominican Republic on mission trip. I really struggled with where God wanted me to go. I had been going to the Dominican Republic every year since 2007. I really did not think that God was going to lead me to go somewhere else. I just had it in my head the Dominican was where God wanted me. He had me there so long. And I had built relationships with the people and felt attached to them and their culture. I had always felt at home when I was in the Dominican. It had become a part of me and who I am. So this past November I had just decided that I was to go back there. I had prayed. But had no clear answer. So I started to look at flights to go back there with the group I had usually gone with for the trip in March. But something started to happen as soon as I did that. Things just started not working out with the flights and I could not get the money needed to go. And my husband did not want me to go again. It seemed every door just started to close. So then I decided to go talk with my Priest at my church to get some guidance regarding me and my mission work. As I was talking with him he had suggested that I go to Ecuador with them in June. This was something new. I just did not think God was leading me to go somewhere else. My Priest started to tell me "I think you should come with us" Then he started to tell me all that they had been doing in Ecuador. Then he kept telling me I think you should go with us. He even talked with one of the doctors to make sure that I was on the team to go. I was kinda shocked at what was happening. God was trying to lead me somewhere else? I really could not get it through my head that God was trying to open a door here. So I went home and prayed about it. Normally God had always given me a scripture to go on my missions trips with but not this time. Nope nothing. Just a feeling that I needed to say yes and my Priest insisting that I go. So I did. And so I starting preparing to go to Ecuador. Every door just flew open. It was so easy. God just provided everything I needed to go on this trip.
I was actually excited about this trip now. Something new and different. I really did not know what to expect though. A few weeks had past and I was at church and was talking with one of the doctors that was going. He was telling me about the upcoming meeting for the trip. He told me it was going to be at his house and that they were having Rudy's barbecue. I found that interesting because we had just at at Rudy's barbecue the day before with friends. It is a place we never eat at we just happened to be invited to eat there. So I felt this was my confirmation. I know it may seem a little silly that God would confirm to me to go on a trip using Rudy's barbecue but that is just how God speaks to me. I know His voice. In John 10:27 it says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Sometimes God has a sense of humor. I was expecting a scripture to go to Ecuador with instead I get Rudy's barbecue!
A few weeks later we had first meeting. And I got to meet some of the people going with us. I had already known one of the doctors that was going because I once worked with him. I also met a very nice lady who was a retired school nurse. Her and I became instant friends. I am also a school nurse. So we had a lot in common. And I requested to room with her on the trip. Every one was so nice and welcomed me. It was great meeting.
Then in June it was time to go. I was excited and nervous. So on the way there we carpooled. But before we left we got a surprise call from the Bishop that he wanted to give us all a blessing before we left. So we stopped a the Cathedral before we left Corpus Christi. They said this was the first time that had ever happened. So that was quite awesome to receive a blessing from the Bishop. Then we
drove from Corpus Christi to Houston. It was storming on our way there. But the storms were on both sides of us but it did not storm over us. We just drove straight through. It was really unusual the way the storms were. It was almost as if God was telling us something. And looking back at some of the things we did experience there I can kinda see what it was God was telling us. It was like He was saying you are going to go through storms there but you won't get hurt by them. You will go straight though the storm.
When we arrived in Houston we stayed the night with our hosts. We all split up and stayed in different houses in their neighborhood. Everyone offered there houses up for us to spend the night. It was awesome to see people do that for us. Then the next morning we headed out. When we arrived at the airport we they started to assign us our luggage. We took tons of medical supplies there.
While we were doing all of that I was able to meet some more of the people going on the trip. And immediately I felt God start to speak to me at the airport. But those things He spoke I will keep in my heart. Just too personal to share. I just knew I was suppose to be there.
When we arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador we stayed the night in a nice hotel. I was very exhausted when we got there. Just wanted to go to bed. My roommate was so very nice. She was one of the nurse practitioners with us. So I did something that I probably should not have done in the hotel. I brushed my teeth with the water there. I knew better than to do that but I was very tired and just forgot. I had gotten sick in the Dominican Republic before because I did that same thing. And my roommate told me not to do that. I didn't the rest of the week but I still got sick towards the end of my trip. I was like really? Again? This can't be happening again. But I was more prepared this time. I had brought antibiotics with me and lots of other meds that I ended up using. Thank God I had them. I survived!
The next day we had breakfast and headed to San Pablo. We arrived at the resort that we would be staying at and it was very beautiful. Our rooms had hammocks outside and I was so happy because I love hammocks! I was in it every night almost. And I had wonderful roommates. Really enjoyed my time getting to know them.
When we arrived to the church I was just thinking how beautiful it was. The church is right on the ocean. In the times past when I went to the Dominican Republic I always had this feeling that I was suppose to be there. And the same here. I just had a feeling that this is where God wanted me. I just thought the ocean was beautiful. I stood outside for a while just taking pictures and taking it all in and wondering what God had in store for us. We then went to the church where we would be ministering to the community by giving them medical care. There were several doctors with us. They did eye and OB surgeries. There are operating rooms right in the church complex. The first day I just worked in the pharmacy counting pills. We had lots of drugs to count!
The surgeries had also started along with people being seen for general medicine, dentistry and pediatrics. I spent one day in triage just checking people in then the rest of the days I was able to go to some of the schools.
This I loved doing. Since I work at an elementary school as a nurse. I love to be with the little children. I went with a couple other people and we took school supplies and some other needed items. We went to four different schools. But the schools were only open for one day while we were there. They were closed the other days due to lack of funding. And that is a sad thing.
They were all out in remote areas. In the communities where these schools were it was just kinda desolate in a way. Just dirt roads, lots of concrete houses, very few trees and very hot!
On of the days we went on home visits. We went to three different houses. A small group of went with our Priest. We seen some very sick people. One lady had stomach cancer. She was only in her 40's and she was very, very thin and looked very sick. We gathered around her with her family and prayed for her. Her whole family was crying. It was so sad. This is the family in the first picture below.
And it was the same with the other two houses. Just very sick people. The last house we went to was at the back of a bar. It was very, very hot inside. There seemed to be no ventilation. I did not feel comfortable in this house. And It was so hot in there. So me and another lady stepped outside. It is just mind blogging to me that people have to live this way.
The second day that we were there we were told by the Minister of health that we could not do any more surgeries there. He did not want us there. So we had to stop all medical care. Then this minister of health set up tents right next to us and starting to give out free medical care. Just to prove his point. This is the first time I had experienced anything like this. In my trips to the Dominican Republic this never happened. So for a day and a half were kinda in limbo. But this delay also let us have a bit of down time. And we had little more time to get all the drugs counted and prepared. And also we got some time to build relationships with people in our group and that was really nice. During this time one morning we were able to go on a prayer walk on the beach. Just a group of us went and the one of the Priests that was with us. I absolutely loved that. We prayed the Rosary walking down the beach. It was just a beautiful morning to do that and just a God moment that I won't forget.
And after a the day and a half we finally got the approval to do the surgeries. There had been many phone calls and meetings during that day and a half to get this approval. And also a lot prayer. It was very stressful at points. But God was with us and we actually seen more patients this time than last year even with the delay. We seen around 3800 patients. So God made up for the time lost. These are all the people waiting to be seen below.
Every night we would go back to the resort and have dinner and fellowship. I loved this time. Just to sit, eat and get to know people. A couple of the nights at the resort people from the church gave us a party for their appreciation for us coming. It was so wonderful. Just fellowship, food and dancing! They also have wonderful soups there. They were so good except for the shrimp one. Not much of a shrimp person but the rest were amazing! We had soup everyday I think. But I am still in love with the food in the Dominican Republic and their coffee. But Ecuador has awesome soups.
And every morning we had mass outside by the pool. I loved this! I looked forward to every morning! It was so beautiful to have mass outside like that.
On the last day we had mass with all the school children. It was so awesome. I had so many emotions. And I just started to cry it was so beautiful to me. I was just in awe at what the Lord had done that whole week.
This was one of the best mission trips I have ever been on. God surprised me this time. Really surprised me. There was lots of other experiences that I had on this trip but those are to remain in my heart. They are not to share. God was so faithful to me on this trip. So I plan going back next year God willing. I also got to thinking that all my mission trips have been in cities on the ocean. My very first mission trip to Mezquital, Mexico was a fishing village on the ocean.Santo Domingo and San Pablo both are on the ocean also. And for whatever reason I thought to look up the meaning of the Virgin Mary's name. Where I found one of the meanings of her name is "The Star of the Sea" I thought that was very interesting. I did not know that was one of the meanings of her name. It blew me away! I feel that Mary has been with me all along. Guiding me and helping me. I remember the very first mission trip I went on. We stayed at a resort the last day. And the name for the resort was "All Roses hotel" and it just hit me on this mission trip that she has always been with me. Mary's presence was just there for me on this trip. And I feel God made this very clear to me. Just amazing to me.
I won't forget all I experienced on this trip. It was a life changing experience for me.