Hola from San Juan de la Maguana

February 24, 2023  |  Written by David Johnsen.

This year SPC sent the largest delegation in their 20+ year history of Medical Mission trips to the DR.  Our group is comprised of a surgical team, a primary care/pharmacy barrio team, a prosthetics/orthotists team, a small construction team, and a few who floated between the teams to help out as needed.  The participants flew in from 5 states- VA, PA, MD, UT, and CA eventually meeting up in Santo Domingo, DR.Friday 2/24-Saturday 2/25/23The Virginia based team of 30 gathered at the Greensboro airport Marriott in the evening and after a few brief hours of sleep, met in the lobby at 4:30 am to transport 60 bags of equipment to the American Airlines check in counter. They efficiently processed our group checking our bags through to the DR. All personal clothes and items for the week are carry-on only- it is a lot of stuff!  We arrived in Miami with a 5 hour lay over during which our out-of-state group members joined us.There is a necessary bit of declaration paperwork for transporting medications and equipment through customs that typically this comes through a week or so prior to our travel date. This year it arrived about 45 minutes prior to departing Miami for Santo Domingo- a little test of faith that reminded us of Who is in control and who isn’t…

Due to a “mechanical issue”, our takeoff was delayed and ordinarily this is viewed as a nuisance.  However the delay resulted in our group passing through customs at dinner time and the agents waved us through without any questions or searches for which we were most thankful. We were met at the airport by Jeff Bucher, in-country director for Solid Rock International and after a quick pizza dinner during which we got acquainted with new team members, we boarded the bus for a 45 minute trip to the hotel at 9:30 pm- It was looong day.Sunday 2/26/23We arose, had breakfast at the hotel and boarded the bus at 8:30 am for the 2 hour ride to San Juan de la  Maguana, stopping along the way as usual at the DR equivalent of Sheetz or Stuckey’s. Arriving at the Clinica Christiana de Salud Integral in time for lunch and staff instructions then an afternoon and evening of unpacking pharmacy and surgical supplies. Traditionally we went to an evening service at a local Church but these were cancelled during Covid so we hung out in the courtyard Cabana and most made it an early night. And that night the strangest thing happened- it was quiet! No roosters crowing or passing cars blasting music, only a few dogs occasionally barking. It was the quietest night any of that the veteran participants could recall, but it proved to be a singular anomaly…Monday 2/27/236:45, Tim Bibee and CJ Swanson had already made many pots of coffee and the triangle clanged calling all to the dining area. SPC Administrator Nathan Anderson led a devotional reading from the first verses of Genesis (the creation of light and separation from dark) and a reflection of this text with Jesus as the Light.  He challenged each of us to be a light in the world we each went into that day. And after breakfast we each went out into that world.At dinner that evening, a member of each team offered a brief synopsis of the days events. The Prosthetics/Orthotics team evaluated amputees in anticipation of providing new limbs before the end of the week. The barrio team provided primary care  and medications to 115 patients in a small grotto community. The Surgery team processed patients with pre-operative assessments and the Orthopedics team even performed a couple of afternoon procedures.  The Construction crew painted shelves blue, to be installed at the new Clinic, and they showed up to dinner looking a bit like Smurfs.  After dinner the local artisans came and sold or took orders for jewelry, baskets and tailored clothing. Some of us gathered to chat and offer observations and solutions to many of society’s problems… and then we tried to sleep.  It was the evening of the Dominican Independence Day and it was a LOUD night, somewhat ameliorated by ear plugs, and  somewhat comforting  in a familiar way.