Cochabamba, Bolivia

Cochabamba, Bolivia
Cochabamba, Bolivia

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another year coming to a close...

I woke up the other morning and heard the most beautiful song bird outside my bedroom window.  I just lay there for awhile and honestly marveled at how beautiful the music was coming out of such a small animal.  Later in the morning I was listening to the joyful laughter of children as they played stick ball in the street outside my house.  The parents and older siblings were nearby commenting on each hit and settling any discussions about whether someone was really out or not.  It didn't take me long to realize that these very simple things are real blessings in my life.  Beautiful music, children's laughter and the peace of knowing that things are going to be ok.  That's been happening a lot to me lately.  I've been recognizing how incredibly blessed I am by lots of simple joys in life.

For one, I live on this beautiful island where a cold day is a day less than 80 degrees!  And I am continually amazed by the color around me...greens in every shade, bright oranges and reds and yellows with the bluest of skies and oceans all around.  Who would have thought color could be a blessing?  I guess you realize it when it's not there.  I imagine all of the folks who have lost their sight or those who have failing vision would give a lot to see those amazing colors once again.  And what about the sounds?  Those who have lost their hearing and now live in a complete silence must long for the days when they could distinguish the different notes of a song or hear the rolling waves of an ocean.

A few years ago I preached a sermon at the Maranatha Baptist Church here in La Romana.  I had just lost my mother (8 years ago this month, actually) and I was trying to hold onto the things I knew to be true so that sadness and grief wouldn't overwhelm me.  I remember that I wanted people to cherish the things that they had in life, friends, health, jobs, a home, etc. because no one could predict when those things would disappear.  God has blessed each of our lives in amazing and wonderful ways that can become so commonplace that we tend to ignore the blessing until it's gone and then we realize we never thanked Him for it.

What do you need to be thankful for today?  A good friend?  A spouse?  A roof over your head?  Your health?  Do it now!  Tell the people in your life how much you love them.  Take a walk outside and marvel at the blessing of nature around you.  Call a loved one and enjoy the sound of their voice.  There's a saying here in the DR that goes something like, "I'll get to it tomorrow."  When someone says that, I always want to reply, "But tomorrow never comes..."  We have today.  Live it, love it and thank God for what you have!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Loud awakening

For most of us, who have grown up in the US, the Christmas season (aside from the shopping craziness) tends to be a peaceful, relaxing and usually joyful time.  I can remember quiet Christmas mornings where you try to hear Santa's footsteps through the night or try to sneak down a squeaky hallway to look at the tree and presents before your parents woke up.  All together, though, it was usually fairly quiet outside...especially if there was a recent snowfall and everyone was indoors.

Now, lets fast forward to the Dominican Republic... If you have lived in the DR, and probably some other Latin American countries, you recognize that Christmas is synonymous with chaos.  Chaos in the stores, chaos on the streets (more than normal!) and chaos with the celebrations.  Oftentimes in the evenings there will be loud street music until the wee hours of the morning, and for me, a night person, that's not so bad. I enjoy the festivities and watching people celebrate the season.  Well, most of the celebrations.  My neighborhood has apparently lost track of time and/or disregarded the "normal" festive hours that exist in the DR.  Our neighborhood festivities originate around 4am and usually end by 8am.  Yep, you heard it right...the party, music, singing and dancing all start outside my house at around 4am.  Now, it might be because the local corner store opens around that time for the early morning risers or it may be that all the clocks are broken in my neighborhood but my hypothesis is that they rest through the night to begin their day (night??) with joy.

So, this Christmas 2011, I thought I would share a piece of this "joy" with each of you.  As I was awakened for the second time somewhere after 6am (the first was around 4am) I decided to record a video so you could hear.  Let me say that I never left my house and all the recording is done from inside with windows and doors closed.  Enjoy!  Here's the link to the video:

Blessings, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Links to the 2012 team letter and important information

Hi everyone!

I wanted to make sure that if you are part of a team coming to the Dominican Republic or if you are considering a trip that you have all of the current information.  Below you will find links to important documents, including the costs for 2012 teams.

2012 Team Letter
Maranatha Expectations
Hospital and Mission History
Medical Referral Forms for Medical Teams
Hypertension Treatment Guidelines for Medical Teams
Website for the book, Where There Is No Doctor
Basic Medical Creole

Back in La Romana!!


Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement during the last six months of my time in the US taking a much needed rest.  In the last six months I have learned that if I don't take care of myself I won't be around to take care of all of the people I love and serve in the Dominican Republic.  It's something that I knew in my head but was obviously not living in my life.  I now have a renewed energy and health that I didn't have when I went to the states in May 2011. 

I returned to La Romana in the early morning hours of December 1, 2011 and have been taking things very slow, concentrating mostly on getting my house arranged the way I like it and practicing the things I learned in the US to keep me relaxed and refreshed.  I went to the hospital a few days ago to meet with friends and reconnect with colleagues and it felt great!  So many warm smiles and hugs that it really felt like coming home.  I was also able to work with Moises and talk to some potential new medical folks that may begin surgical clinics with us and even a couple considering long-term missions work with us!  Praise God for his provision!

For many of you, you may not have known that I moved into a new place just before I left for the States back in May.  I know am renting a home in a wonderful neighborhood closer to the hospital that has a really nice yard for the dogs.  Both Kobe and Sasha are in heaven with their new space and I'm so happy that I found a place for less rent than I was paying while still offering me a safe neighborhood and room for the dogs.  It really has been such a blessing to wake up to the birds singing and have a quiet neighborhood full of families and kids who have already adopted Kobe and Sasha...they watch for them when they get out of the yard and want to give them baths!!

So as we end 2011 and begin a new year, I want to encourage you to take some time with family and friends this season to love on them, care for them and let them know how much they mean to you.  We are all so blessed and often forget our blessings when we are stressed or under pressure so lets remember to thank God for all of the good we have in life, even when it's hard at times.  Even when we may not have the riches of the world we have the richness of friendship and a hope that never ceases.

Many blessings,