Not just solemn lessons learned.
This has been a very interesting journey. On this blog site, I have chronicled my frustrations, my reservations, my anger at going on a short-term missions trip to the Dominican Republic. And I have posted that much to my surprise and gratitude, it was a fantastic trip.
But in reading my posts about the trip, it might seem like this was just a solemn, pious, boring trip. And it was anything but that. I haven’t laughed that hard or that often in a great while, and my wife Beth said the same thing. Of course, some of the stuff wasn’t funny to me except in retrospect, and I was so cranky about the whole thing that the laughter didn’t start until at least Tuesday or Wednesday, but that’s ok, I’m a bit slow sometimes.
It started on Sunday. Saturday night when we arrived, we were told some of the rules, with a full orientation to be given on Saturday at 3:00 PM. One of the things we were told right up front is that the septic systems in the D.R. cannot handle toilet paper, and they have a strict rule about not putting used toilet tissue in the toilet and flushing it. We had to put it in waste containers beside the toilet. In fact, our friend Jen told the entire group that if you forget and put the tissue in the toilet, “Don’t flush. Go fishing.” Hardy-har. Real funny. Especially since I forgot (just once). Any idea how gross it is to have to retrieve such an item and put it in the waste container? *Sigh*
At the Sunday meeting, we were introduced to the various areas available for us to volunteer our time during the week. I had no idea what I was going to do, but at least I would be with one of my teammates from our church. I was not real comfortable being in that place with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and took comfort in knowing I would be around at least one of the other four from home.
I am not a handyman. I’m not too bad at home projects big or small, but I don’t enjoy them. And (speaking in my attitude at the beginning of the week) if I had to go on this stupid trip I’ll be hanged if I do anything that smacks of handy work. So when they said they had light construction and painting, I was able to rule them out in about a nano second. Beth, my lovely, supportive, wonderful wife, who I held tighter on that trip than Linus held his security blanket, pipes up in a chirpy, cheerful voice, “I’m gonna paint!” Say what? Great, just great. One down, but I have three to go. Out of the remaining three, I’m fairly sure I’ll be with someone from home on one of the groups. Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the kids in the village? Not likely, before the end of the week, I’ll likely wind up in a Dominican jail, and wouldn’t that be just lovely? Steph decided that was for her. Two down, two to go.
Then there’s the prayer team, which went into the villages with the medical, dental, and optical teams (and VBS). Ok, I pray frequently, but walking around asking strangers to pray wouldn’t likely happen at home, let alone in a place that, as we all know, I was not real thrilled to be at in the first place. Debbie, John’s wife, decided to go with the prayer team. Three down. Now I’m getting nervous.
I asked John what he thought he might do, and he said he was thinking about going with the medical team. Whew! That’s what I was thinking, so now I’m a bit relieved. Wow, I was worried a bit there, God, thanks that John’s going medical with me. John and I went and sat down, and listened to the presentation by the medical team leader. After, oh, maybe five minutes, John leans over and says, “I’m gonna go see what the prayer team’s gonna do.” Are you kidding me??!!? Real good, God, way to maneuver me into a position of maximum discomfort. Was that really necessary? Well, yeah, I guess in retrospect it kind of was. And I have posted on what God did with it. I can kind of giggle about it now that I’m on this side of the situation, but I gotta tell you, I was less than happy at the time.
John often wound up riding on the same cattle truck that I did, since the prayer team travelled with the medical team. So I did have the comfort of a friend nearby, at least for the ride out and back. But after he left me sitting on the bench, I shoulda heaved him over the side.
…more to come…