As we pulled in, there was already a crowd forming under the trees, hiding from the harsh Dominican sun. These people were a perfect micro-chasm of the demographics of the Dominican. Between the age and economic disparities as well as the disease processes—a miniature representation of the Dominican was waiting in the proverbial “waiting room” sweating profusely in the beaming morning sun. We had a diverse group of expecting mothers, new mothers, pediatric patients ranging from neonates to pre-teens, men who had momentarily escaped from work, and older, typical patients who present with multiple co-morbidities and numerous complaints. In that small group, there were disease processes ranging from “agripe” (the Dominican word for a “head cold.”) to a TB patient with a positive screening test for HIV. Out of the group of over 50 waiting outside in the sweltering, unforgiving Dominican humidity, only around 30 were seen, and then approximately 25 were turned away. It is tough to imagine the thoughts of these desperate people who we turned away, but as is the reality in this desperate, yet fiscally growing country, we simply cannot treat everyone in need. We do not have the time, ability, or funding to take over this monumental task. We have to accept that The Lord will provide, and that his plan, and his provisions are more than enough.
The sweaty (and probably smelly) waiting area was also a glimpse into the spiritual makeup of this dark country. As in the United States, the Dominican is a country that is growing increasingly secular. However, in the Dominican, this is also coupled with the explosion of cult, Satanic, and Voodoo practices. This group was no different. There were people who had at once been close to The Lord, but due to various circumstances have drifted away from his divine word. There are people who understand The Gospel, but just do not feel like it is “time.” There were people who wanted nothing to do with Christ. Still there were others who stood there and nodded along, giving no thought to the words that were being said to them. All in all, even though we are hundreds (thousands?) of miles from home, some things never change—people tend to rely on themselves more than the divine creator of the universe.
All in all, this first week in clinic has been great. We have treated many sick patients, and spread the eternal, almighty, amazing good news of the Gospel to every patient. Yes, we are here to treat their physical illnesses, but there spiritual illness takes precedence in every patient encounter. To conclude, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” We have nothing to fear. We must be bold. With God for us, then who can be against us? We thank you all for your continued prayers. We have one week to go, with 5 new villages to spread “The Good News.” We don’t know what will be waiting for our bus as we arrive, but through God, all things are possible.