It was an oft-repeated volunteer trip to this medical mission, but each time, God's presence was manifest in every patient we treated. The doctor for whom I was the translator was named Peter. And the very first patient I brought in to see him was a 90-year-old gentleman named Jesus! Jesus got us off to a very good start with his cheerfulness and friendliness.
But the Jesus of the Gospels kept coming back in different ways. He came with the elderly women, the blind men needing medications, and the children from the one-room schoolhouse across the road who needed dental care. Then there was the rainy evening, when we were down to the last 3 or 4 patients and Dr. Peter chose the unkempt 70-year-old man out of turn so he could examine him. His feet were dirty, his clothes disheveled, he was missing several teeth, and didn't smell great. His name wasn't Jesus, but I knew the Lord was there again - just looking scruffy this time! We cared for him to the best of our ability and provided the medications he needed. I thanked God for reminding me that the Lord comes in many guises… the clean and the scruffy, the old and the young, the grief stricken and the affable, the laborer and the immigrant.
The Lord's blessings were also on display in the hugs our patients gave us that dispelled our weariness and kept us going. Two patients shared packs of cookies which I was able to share with a woman who had been waiting for hours and with a crying child. Another patient gave me a hard candy which helped to boost my flagging energy before lunch. I think that loaves and fishes abounded! When we needed music, the Lord sent us a Haitian baby with shining eyes whose musical laughter made us smile and gave us joy (Jesus, is that what you were like as a baby?).
And so we completed our mission - weary in body, but blessed and renewed in spirit by the Lord's presence in this small town in the hills of the Dominican Republic.