Traditional ways to show one’s love may include saying ‘I love you’, perhaps giving someone flowers, or a hug.
As I reflected on the phrase “Love Re-imagined” it made me think of unique ways people show God’s love to others.
This past year I had the privilege of going on a week-long medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Somos Amigos Medical Missions (more info is on the Christ Church website).
Here, I witnessed first-hand several examples of such “Love, Re-imagined”.
I found Love, Re-imagined:
-in the Mission and Vision of Somos Amigos Medical Missions – providing reliable healthcare to isolated mountain communities in the Dominican Republic.
-in the involvement of the community of Naranjito who has been partnering with the Somos Amigos Medical Mission team every year, and multiple times a year, so that the delivery of this healthcare is made possible, thus bringing healing and hope to those who are struggling.
-in the perseverance of Frank Brightwell. He is the founder of Somos Amigos Medical Missions. His journey began with a bunch of high school kids whom he led there to lay roads and provide some basic amenities. While there, he identified the need for medical and dental care in the community and resolved to return. So he went back - not once or twice but every single year after that. Each time he went back, he took along with him a team of medical and dental professionals and volunteers, whom he put together himself. He also took with him medical and dental supplies, so he could help the people of Naranjito and the neighboring communities. Each time he achieved a milestone he pushed for more, to the point that he now takes teams to the Dominican Republic 4 times a year! He is also constantly developing new programs - for instance, the Diabetes program is finding a way to bring something as simple as insulin to those people who depend on it.
-in the hospitality of Lourdes and Chucho. They open their home to all the volunteers and mission team members every year, multiple times a year, for an entire week at a time. Not only that, but they provide nutritious and delicious food for the team 3 times a day for that week without expecting anything in return. The teams are not small groups, either - on many occasions there are up to 50 people in a group!
-in the magnanimity of all the other families of the community of Naranjito—I don’t know all their names, but I know this much - what little they have, they share ungrudgingly. They open their homes freely to the various volunteers, so they can get some rest at night while they carry on their mission work.
-in the ardor of the volunteers. From high schoolers who are giving up their free time to help the clinic to function efficiently, to the translators who with their knowledge of Spanish and Haitian Creole help facilitate communication key for mission work, and of course all who sort through the medications so that the correct one can be dispensed. There were even a couple of local Dominicans who joined the group to help their fellow countrymen. One specific volunteer deserves special mention - the ‘pee lady’ - our own Ministry Coordinator - who has a specific function, and who has not yet missed a single mission trip.
-in the dedication of the doctors who give up their busy practices and lives and come to a busier clinic to help an underserved group of people. Cardiologists bringing their own equipment and staff in order to do meaningful work in a place where such services would be otherwise inaccessible. One such example is that of a little boy, Franci, who’s heart condition was diagnosed because there was such sophisticated equipment available to utilize.
-in the devotion of the dentists and dental students who come back every year, multiple times a year, with the required equipment to take care of a basic need for people who otherwise would not understand or experience the significance of good dental hygiene.
-in the commitment of Magaly, the local school teacher. Educating the local kids in the one room school room is her main objective. Due to the limited resources available to her, she must be innovative in getting new supplies. She goes out of her way to plan for various meaningful lessons for the kids. Not only that, but she also opened her home to a family of 4 kids from a local tribe since their father was unable to provide the education his kids needed. One of these kids is Franci.
-in the generosity of a church community - our very own Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia, Maryland. They opened their purses so graciously for this same little boy, Franci, so he could have open heart surgery. Thanks to their generosity, he can “be a kid again” and participate in normal activities like the other kids, as well as keep up with his education. Even though he was so far away, they cared for him as if he is one of their own.
These are just a few of the examples of Love, Re-imagined in a small community in the hills of Dominican Republic that I can recount here.
I see God’s Love Re-imagined in each and every one of these instances.