“It’s like riding a bike…you don’t forget.”
A Reflection from the 2023 Winter DR Mission Team Trip
By Susanne and Jay Jordan
After many years of actively participating on the Dominican Republic Mission team, a surprise relocation to Rhode Island and the COVID pandemic (both at the same time!) sidelined us from being a part of the last few trips. Our last visit to La Romana was in July of 2019; so while we were excited to participate in this year’s winter trip, we were a bit nervous as well – what would we do and how would we fit in, would folks remember us, could we keep up with the pace of the trip, will it be hot?
Well…I am happy to share that we did fine! Returning to serve in the DR, with the support of our friends from the Maranatha Church and the Good Samaritan Hospital, was just like riding a bike – you don’t forget! We were blessed to serve with a wonderful team of volunteers (35 strong), many were new faces to us, but many were old friends from past trips. The team was incredibly cohesive and worked well together. It didn’t matter if we were sorting pills for the upcoming medical clinics, worshipping together early in the morning or delivering food on the bateyes (during a monsoon), everyone was kind, compassionate and hard working. We also reunited with many friends from the bateyes and with our sponsored student (now a graduate) from the Joe Hartman School. The week was filled with substantive and rewarding work projects, several new initiatives and numerous opportunities to change lives and build new relationships.
It is hard to capture the essence of the trip in a few short paragraphs; and even as I write this, plans are already underway for the summer weeks. It felt good to be part of the winter trip and know that we were laying the groundwork for the summer 2023 teams. Several members of our winter team conducted an extensive inventory of all the roofs on Batey 50. Most of these roofs sustained damage during the fall hurricanes. It is our goal to begin rebuilding these structures, this time using new ideas and techniques to ensure that the rebuilt roofs will be able to survive future storms. Also on Batey 50, the community gazebo and the church both received fresh coats of paint and the foundation was started on neighboring Batey La Papita for their community gazebo.
Each day the medical team went to a different batey or barrio and we ended the week at the Joe Hartman school ministering to the Kilometer Six community. In total, the med team treated over 500 patients. The team distributed important health information and medication, provided dental care and distributed reading glasses and hygiene kits. We finished the week with several “house calls” and a mattress delivery to a gentleman living on Batey 50 – he thanked us profusely, but singing and praying for him blessed us beyond words. Food distribution also happened each afternoon and a staggering amount of food was delivered in five days. In total, over 500 families received weeks worth of food and nutrition.
Several new initiatives were also continued on this trip. One of our college students led a bilingual STEM program for students on Batey 35. In the past, Garrett has introduced these students to drone technology; this year, he explored renewable energy sources with them, specifically solar energy. At the end of the program, each student received a solar light to help them complete their homework at night and provide a safe environment to work in.
Our teammate, Brian, worked at the hospital introducing a trade training program – forging metal. He hopes to continue teaching skills that will provide an immediate source of income to those who participate in the program. This summer he will be bringing an auto mechanic on the trip, and ultimately his goal is to created a permanent trade, learning center. Pastor Bill shared that “he worked hard spiritually while the rest of the team worked hard physically!” Our partner churches were in the middle of their New Year fasting and prayer period (a total of three weeks). Pastor Bill prayed each morning with our friends from the Maranatha Church and in the evening preached at the Berraca Church on Kilometer Six. As always, he was a wonderful mentor, teacher and encourager to our friends at both churches and to our new American Baptist Global Servants - Brian and Lynette Smith.
I could say much more, but I am sure by now you can see that Jay and I were happy to “get back on our bikes again!” We were excited to be part of this year’s winter team, and we are proud to continue working with such an impactful organization. With your help, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of the Haitian communities that we serve. It is our hope that you will join us on one of these life-changing trips. If you are interested in participating on a summer 2023 team, please visit drmissionteam.org for more information and to reserve your spot.
And thank you to ALL for your support of medical clinics, food we delivered, construction projects, and more . . . this work to help those great need cannot be done without you. Please visit our support page if you are able to sponsor a med clinic or help in other ways for the big three week effort in June and July.
-Susanne (Jay) Jordan