Earlier this month, I traveled to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic with Christian Medical Ministries of Alabama (CMMA). They partner with our local university (which happens to be my alma mater) to give students an opportunity to connect their area of study with ministry through short-term missions. This was my first medical mission trip and my first time in the Dominican Republic (DR). I journaled while in-country and a good bit upon my return. I share my DR diaries, not to highlight the good I did but to draw attention to the work being done through CMMA and the pastors in the DR. More than that, I want to point you to God who works in and through us to accomplish good.
When I said yes to this trip, I thought about all the things I had to offer. I am a strong believer, confident in my faith. Communication is one of my strengths. I have seventeen years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist treating all kinds of people with all kinds of injuries. I’m flexible, resilient, and a hard worker. Clearly, I needed an attitude adjustment.
In the days leading up to this trip, the ugliness of my pride was exposed. The thought that I’m really not enough began to wash away my confidence like the steady waves of the ocean hitting the sand leaving my inadequacies exposed. While I do understand a lot about my particular area of practice, I am not well-versed in the other areas. It’s been almost two decades since I sat in the classes my students just completed—the gap allowing for a lot of memory loss on anatomy, disease, and disorder.
As for the spiritual, my misplaced pride was enough to make me feel disqualified. Further, I didn’t pray over this trip as much as I thought I should. I don’t openly share the gospel with others in the States; why do I think I can do it in the DR?
When you add up the sum parts of who I am, the results are always less than enough.
This place of not enough is just where I needed to go so God could use me. His strength is showcased in the setting of my weakness. My not enough makes room for his more than enough. When I feel inadequate, I have no choice but to ask for God’s mercy and strength.My not enough makes room for his more than enough.Click To Tweet
Before I left and again today, I confessed my pride and asked for divine strength. In our first worship service, I broke under the weight of his glory. Singing, “How great is our God // and all will see how great // how great is our God,” confirmed what I already knew to be true: Nothing about this trip is about me. It is not about my willingness to travel to a developing country to do good things. It’s not about the strengths I bring to the table. It’s not about my healing hands or the words I share. It is simply about bringing God glory. My sole purpose is to demonstrate God’s greatness to others.
Our first clinic was at a nursing home in Monte Cristi. I walked toward it with a little strut, wearing my experience with the elderly like a jeweled crown.
My OT students and I worked with four residents. The only long-term solution we had to offer were arthritis gloves for a blind octogenarian with knobby hands. It felt like a sorry excuse for care. Later, while we worked on the tired, knotted muscles of another resident, I heard a raspy voice singing behind me. I turned to see our gloved friend singing with his hands in the air. I asked our translator about his song. She confirmed what I suspected after seeing the peace in his opaque eyes—it was a hymn.
After just one day of serving, I am more than sure that I am not enough. So many people came to our clinic that I couldn’t help. I had nothing to offer to make them better. How disappointing. The disappointment is evidence that I’m not over my pride yet. It shows that I still expect my strengths to carry me. I still want to be the hero instead of the instrument used by the Hero.
How I wish I could reach in and take their pain from them. Or do something to offer hope for tomorrow, to let them know that it won’t always be this way. It is this thought that drives me to share the gospel with them. I can’t fix their pain, but I can introduce them to my friend, Jesus, the Comforter, and giver of hope.
God, hope like that is only yours to offer. Only you have the power to take the suffering away. Will you? Will you send hope to those I saw today? Whisper it in their ears, dark and folded with age. Touch their body and take away their pain. Maybe in doing so, they can connect it to the Jesus-people that came to see them today. The people who thought they were something but were really just a little nothing you could use.