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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dominican Republic in January

Dear Friends and Family,

Two years ago I was blessed to spend two weeks doing mission work in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The experience was truly incredible. I can still remember the names and faces of the Dominicans and Haitians I met there. The purpose of the mission trip was medical: hospital building in the city of La Romana and medical care in the outlying and startlingly poor sugarcane plantation villages, called bateys.

I spent most of my two weeks in the city, doing construction on the Good Samaritan Hospital. While at the hospital, we poured the cement base and first level of the elevator shaft, we evened out the roof of the second floor so it could become the third floor, we built benches for some of the batey churches. Even though it was winter and the locals were wearing pants, it was incredibly hot, challenging, and inspiring work.

One of the days, I went to a batey with the Medical Team, instead of the hospital. This batey was very far from the city, in the shadow of the mountains. We set up in the small church. The doctors and pharmacists were inside. Outside, a long line formed as people awaited their only chance at medical care. As long as the supplies lasted, each one seen received things we take for granted: vitamins, ibuprofen, a toothbrush or soap. While all of this occurred inside, I was outside. The children in the bateys are highly susceptible to parasites from dirty water, which only compounds their malnutrition. A hugely successful part of this medical mission over the past decade and a half has been to give the children doses of de-wormer every few months. The people who have been a part of the mission since its inception told me stories about the vast improvement they have seen in the children's health over the past decade. It was my duty that day in the batey to give out the sticky, sugary cocktail and to play with the children. One girl, in an inside-out green corduroy dress became particularly interested in me, even though she seemed to have no interest in the other children around her. Another highlight of the day was getting to speak (my own terrible) French with a Haitian woman. She had only recently come across the border from Haiti and did not yet know any Spanish. She was a very kind and stunningly beautiful woman who looked out of place in the poverty and squalor of the batey.

I could easily go on, sharing what has now become a passion for me. I have learned much more about the history, culture, and politics of Hispaniola since that first visit, which has only increased my desire to return and do more to help the people there. Although it may affect my chances of finding employment for the winter, I feel that God is once again calling me to participate in this mission. After much prayer and even debate with God, I have decided to step out in faith and trust God to provide.

I would very much appreciate it if you could join me in this endeavor. The mission team and I would be grateful if you could pray for us leading up to the trip and particularly during our tenure from January 24-February 7. Also, I am trying to gather supplies such as (unexpired) medications and medical supplies. Last time, we ran out of regular and children's vitamins. Lastly, if you are able in these lean economic times and feel led by God, I would very much appreciate any assistance in funding this opportunity. In addition to the travel costs, we need to generate a building fund to pay for supplies for the hospital building and the new water filtration building projects going on in the bateys. If you are able to contribute either supplies or financially, please email or call me so I can share mailing information with you. All donations are tax-deductible.

I thank you in advance for your prayers and support!

In Him,

Beth Spencer

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