Dominican Republic: Flourishing in “The Different”


I know that every mission trip–even to the same place–is different.  But can I just say that EVERYTHING is different this time.  Different hotel.  Different food.  Different clinic locations.  Different patients.  Different translators (except our good old faithful friend Smith).  And to add to the differentness, I’ve had to step up and take way more responsibility for the team than I’ve ever needed or wanted to have.

Don’t you just love the way that God will force you out of your comfort zone every now and then?  In fact, I’d like to go back and use a stronger verb than “force” there.  Throw.  Kick.  Blast.  Yeah.  They’d fit.

Our wonderful, precious, sweet missionaries had a death in their family just days before our team arrived.  Because of that, our missionaries were back in the US when we arrived in their majestic country.  And as the bus doors closed behind us at the airport and we headed off to the hotel, I heard people calling my name, asking for translations, and I suddenly realized that I’m the only bilingual American on the team.  That made me the impromptu translator for the team.  Me.  (Oh, Lord, help us all!)

For the last two days, I’ve had to translate between the Dominican pastors and my team leader.  I’ve had to negotiate meal plans and travel plans.  I’ve had to do far more translating in the clinic than I’ve ever had to do before (even though I’m my own translator in the pharmacy).  Me.  The blonde-haired, blue-eyed gordita from North Carolina who uses her formerly-fairly-fluent Spanish exactly once a year–on the mission field.  Ay!  I’ll tell you this– if I hadn’t believed in the gift of tongues before, I’d definitely believe in them now!  Because I promise that the Holy Spirit is having to translate through me.  I don’t know nearly as much Spanish as I’m being able to use!  I’ve spoken more Spanish in the last 36 hours than I’ve spoken in the last almost-four years since I stopped working with the Hispanic community in the US.

Today’s clinic was a little rusty at first.  We had a lot of new team members who’ve never had to set up a medical clinic from scratch before, using only a few plastic chairs and tables.  After we’d set up the clinic and I’d recruited two teenaged girls (Jessica B and Erica) to help me count pills for the medical stations, Jessica looked at me over her pill counting tray and said, “You know, when Missy said that we were going to give them medicines, I just thought we’d be giving them some generic medicines and vitamins.  I didn’t know that we’d be treating their specific sicknesses with real medicine and stuff!”  I laughed and passed her another bottle of Amoxicillin to count.

With three medical stations and one pharmacy, we saw a little over 133 patients today.  A little disappointing from a veteran team member’s point of view.  Last year, we saw nearly 300 on most days.  But I know a couple of things that help temper my disappointment.  First, we’ve got a less experienced team and no missionaries to keep the process running smoothly.  But second (and most important) the 133 people that we saw today were the ones that God handpicked to be ministered to.

Because my roommate (Jessica Hamby) is an excellent amateur photographer and because I’m using the computer that she’s downloaded all of her pictures and videos to, you get the benefit of some great snaps from our trip.  The pic you see up top here is one of her great snaps.  These three little folks got the benefit of double ministry today.  They got to sit in the Children’s Ministry area and get ministered to there with some one-on-one evangelism and they got a lesson on how to brush their teeth correctly–along with a brand new toothbrush and toothpaste so that they can practice at home!

God has allowed us to come here and minister to their bodies and to their spirits.  What a humbling thing!  I’m so grateful that God trusts us with this ministry!  And I’m so grateful that God trusted us with this 133 today!

Please pray for us tomorrow as we travel to our second clinic.  We will be traveling 45 minutes out from the city of Santo Domingo to San Cristobal (Saint Christopher).  It is actually the church of our Children’s Ministry translator, Isais.  Again, we will be ministering without our missionaries.  But I have every hope that we learned enough lessons today to be able to work efficiently tomorrow.  And I know that God is going to send us exactly the folks He’d have us to treat tomorrow.  It’s His trip.  His assignments.  And we just need to be faithful to walk them out.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Elizabeth says:

    Yo entiendo, paso a mi la misma en la primera dia de mi trabajo siete anos pasado en la escuela de Fayetteville Christian. Pero recuerdes, sara, con Dios, todo es posible. Su hermana latina, Elizabeth Con oraciones y amor.

  2. mama-ggru says:

    BUG! GGRU says “WOW!”—You are always in our thoughts and prayers-and know that you are “in tune” daily with what the Lord wants you to do—- just thought you might enjoy knowing that if you had been with your mama today you would have watched everything there was to watch about the Michael Jackson Memorial!! Poor GGRU!!! she watched it all with me!!!!! Gotta give the remote a rest!!!! Love ya and pray that tomorrow will be REALLY productive—especially good FOOD!!!! MAMA and GGRU

  3. Wow, I just came back from vacation and learned that you’re on a mission trip. I’m praying for you, Sarah, and I look forward to hearing more about your experiences.

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