Well, United States, I’m back. And I am struggling. Between probable dehydration and just still wanting to be in the Dominican Republic, today has been a rough day. After some flight delays yesterday (has anyone ever been thankful for a delayed flight? Because yesterday I was), I returned home around 9 at night, and being in my own house again feels like the most foreign experience in the world. I couldn’t sleep last night (PSA: after spending 5 weeks in another country, it’s probably not wise to eat Zaxby’s as your first meal in America), and then today I have had a world of problems most likely centered around the fact that I didn’t drink any water yesterday or this morning. Whoops.
But anyway, I’m not here to talk about how much I don’t want to be home, although if you gave me the option, I’d be on an airplane back to the DR right now. I want to talk about being pushed, and how thankful I am to have been stretched this week and really the past five weeks to do more and serve more. For the past week, the group from Hebron teamed up with a medical group to do medical clinics in villages and towns we visited. Usually each year I am all about helping at the medical clinics, but for some reason this year I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. The question was answered for me on Monday when we were a few translators short, so I was needed to translate on the medical team. For some reason, it wasn’t really my top choice for what I wanted to do that day, but of course I agreed because that was where I was needed. Toward the end of the afternoon, half of our group was leaving while the other half stayed to finish up the clinic. I was asked to stay, and I had a moment where all I wanted to do was complain and say I’d rather leave. And in that split second, I remembered Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining,” and remembered what I was in the Dominican for in the first place…so I sat my butt back down and continued to translate until we were through with patients. Even through being exhausted, I needed to remember that the reason I was even in the DR in the first place was to serve.
One thing I did this week that I had never done before was work the evangelism station during medical clinics. After a patient finished seeing the doctor and getting their medicine, they’d come to one of the stations where a couple of us from the group would share the gospel and pray with the people. Two years ago (my first trip to the DR), I never would have volunteered to work it—even last year I probably wouldn’t have. But this year my prayer was to be stretched and used and do things out of my comfort zone, and I am so glad that I did. I learned that sharing is a lot easier than I expected, and isn’t that what we’re down there for anyway?
Another thing I’m so grateful for is how much I was pushed to speak Spanish by my friend Ronnie, who is fluent. At the beginning of this trip 5 weeks ago, he knew that I needed to practice my Spanish (I hadn’t spoken it since um, December). At first I was annoyed because I was so rusty that I wanted an excuse to not need to use Spanish, but he told our friend Joaquin one day “Don’t talk to her in English” so I didn’t really have a choice—and I ended up being so glad. Throughout the first week and the last week, he really pushed me to speak Spanish whenever possible, whether it was being considered a translator (a generous title, I have to say) or just having conversations with other translators in Spanish rather than resorting to English. Although in the beginning I was too nervous and didn’t want to do it, I ended up being so thankful for all those pushes and being forced to practice—after all, how else am I supposed to improve?
The Lord has done immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine this summer. For me to think that I almost didn’t end up on this trip just reminds me that God always knows better and His plan will always be better. If we are willing to submit to Him, there is no telling what kind of life change He can bring.