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Day 21

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Thursday, August 4 For this blog, my roommate and I decided we’d interview each other to learn about our inner thoughts and experiences.

Attention All Parents and/or Concerned Citizens!

Tropical storm Emily was a bust. A few of our hours yesterday were spent filling about 30 sandbags, picking up everything from the floors on the bottom level, and cleaning off debris from the roof in case of the flood. Thankfully this wasn’t necessary and the storm rerouted to Haiti (not so thankfully for the Haitians). Everyone here at Clinica Christiana is safe and the threat of the storm hasn’t stopped any of us from having an awesome time.

Our plan of attack for the day was to join forces, combining our four groups into two and traveling to two areas where we knew we’d be able to travel back safely in the event of flooding. I was with one group and Jenna was with the other. Between the two teams, we were able to provide assistance to 666 people in one day! In closing, we’d both like to share a few moments from our day and say that even though we are loving it here, we cannot wait to get back into the states and see our friends and family.  God has blessed us with such a great opportunity. We’ve taken so much away from this experience and we’d like to thank you for giving us the time to share it with you all.

This concludes our public service announcement.  Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Jessica: What were you most afraid of coming into this trip and how has that fear been eradicated?

Jenna: Actually the plane ride in, and we made it safely so that fear doesn’t exist anymore! Just kidding. I was most afraid of the language barrier and it is definitely a challenge but we worked through it. It is so hard to believe that here you can have two human beings face to face yet you cannot communicate with each other. They point to their stomach and talk a million words a minute for five minutes and you still have no idea what is wrong with them. It makes me wish I would have paid attention in my high school Spanish class. The translators we had were incredible. I am so thankful for them. With the translators everything turned out great and we helped so many people who desperately needed it.

Jessica: Yeah, I’d have to agree, the language barrier and plane ride were my two fears too. Looking back though, I don’t know why I was scared, because in the relative sense of what we we’re doing here, those two things mattered the least.

Jenna: What is the biggest difference between the American and the Dominican cultures?

Jessica: So far I’ve noticed that the need for status from what you own doesn’t matter to the Dominicans. This area is a crazy mix of modern technology, poverty and love for life. They have cell phones, Facebook and amazing architecture but at the same time they live in wooden shacks with aluminum or twig roofs and dirt floors, but that doesn’t seem to matter to them. What you own doesn’t nearly seem to be as important as who you are as a person. I wish Americans could view themselves and each other more in this way. Also, the need to rush and be stressed out in America doesn’t exist here. Nobody stresses out about lines (which isn’t always a good thing) or trying to beat people in life and everyone trusts everyone else and they all help each other with everything else. They’re just happy with who they are and they love being alive and living in the moment.

Jenna: Although they were happy, you can see that they have concerns; Medical needs, hunger and shelter needs. A need for clothes and shoes. But they were always so grateful and smiled as they walked out of our clinics. The faith in God they have is incredible. I came here expecting to teach the Dominicans something but it turns out I learned way more from them. We worked in a lot of churches and we heard the phrase, “Dios te bendiga”- God bless you, constantly. Not only the love for the Lord, but they have instantly for us, is something I have never seen.

Jenna: What were some of the goals you had for this trip and have they been achieved?

Jessica: I had a few. I wanted to learn some Spanish while I was here and that was easily achieved. I think it would be impossible to live here for a week and not pick up on any Spanish. I also wanted to try to experience the culture shock that everyone had told me I would experience. That happened and I explained that earlier. Lastly, I wanted to work with the children. I don’t have any younger brothers or sisters and have basically no experience with kids.  Before this week, I’d never held a child under one year old (mainly out of fear it would freak out), but now I have no issues with holding newborns and have learned that children actually like me. Yesterday, I worked with the kids for the whole time we were in the barrio. I taught them how to make friendship bracelets and was quickly surrounded by 60 of them (I counted haha).  When I went back inside our makeshift clinic, the kids stood outside chanting my name. My touching moment from the day was making a friend who understood me even through the language barrier. She made a friendship bracelet and introduced me to her whole family, who then invited me into their home for lunch, which I had to turn down due to sanitary reasons, but it was touching that it only takes that little amount of time to make a best friend and gain the trust of an entire family here.

Jenna: I think the children here are amazing. It is unreal how happy beads made them. I experienced the same thing as you and saw firsthand how quickly you can become someone’s best friend and feel the love they have for you.

Jenna: Today we showed up to the church where we were going to set up our clinic and the first thing we see in the small church was a tarantula just hanging out in the corner. So as Americans we jump back and start taking pictures but the Dominicans just pushed it out the door as if it were no big deal. Great start to our last day in the barrios. Today I worked in the “pharmacy” (two benches pushed together with a box of donated medications) and it worked out great. I also worked with the children. It was a perfect ending to an amazing experience. God has been so good to us. Words cannot describe. So all praise to him for the week we have had. The only problem from today was I couldn’t hold it any longer and had to use the bathroom (hole in the ground) so I got the full experience today!

Jessica: My group had a very short journey today to the edge of San Juan where we set up at a school.  This was by far the best place that a clinic has been set up this whole week.  We set ourselves up in four separate rooms in a school yard that even had real toilets! (Unlike the other location)  There was also a basketball court, which we played baseball on with a soccer ball. It was awesome to see the older children teaching the younger ones to play their favorite sport. It was also pretty awesome to see the amazed look on one of my new American friend’s face when a little kid line-drived the soccer ball at him. (Sorry Jon had to share). I also helped out with vitals and pharmacy. One of the saddest moments of the day was when we ran out of antifungal creams and weren’t able to give some to one of the Dominicans who really needed some cream. I think I looked in our little pharmacy box for five minutes before I gave up the search. Times like that make me wish I could do more, but I know that the Dominicans are just thankful that I did anything at all. Today was a good day for everyone and we’re all sad that our trip is coming to a close

—Jessica Davis
Somerset, Ohio

—Jenna Steveley
Wapakoneta, Ohio