by Rachel Sawyer
Poverty is a robber of the basics: clean water, basic hygiene, hydration, etc. But God is the GIVER of life and truth, and He is a most excellent Provider. Once a year, Makarios welcomes a medical mission team that provides check-ups and care for Makarios students and their families as well as the staff and their families. At the end of October, a medical team of 6 from Maryland and Ohio, consisting of 2 providers, 2 nurses, and 2 techs, provided medical care in the form of well child checks and also identified other issues that needed to be treated (fungal infections, stomach problems, pneumonia.
This post is not just about people receiving the health care that they need but can't afford (which is a HUGE blessing!), but it is also about using the gifts that God gives us to glorify Him, AND about the spiritual return when spiritual investments are made! The last medical team captured the heart of these truths best in their own words:
Provider Julia Circle, who has served with Makarios on a medical mission team multiple times, says "God has blessed us all with our special and specific gifts. We all make the human body of Christ with all its required pieces (gifts) for a healthy life. Using our gifts, in whatever capacity, is the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan for our lives."
Providing health care to those who otherwise would not receive it is a privilege and goes beyond medical provision. Provider Jessica Wohl recalls that "I felt like I was able to help medically while connecting spiritually. It was an opportunity I hope to experience again and will most definitely never forget."
Once our teams hit the rocky, dusty ground in the D.R. in the communities where Makarios serves, they are met by genuineness and authenticity by our Dominican and Haitian families. Brittany Logan speaks about one of her most memorable moments saying "We were visiting Chichigua, and there was a lady that was so happy to see us and invited us in her home, and then invited us to church."
"A captivating moment I had was walking in Pancho Mateo. The people were so welcoming and gracious. There was a sense of pride as Francis (Cackito) showed us Makarios' first location and the village where he grew up. He spoke with such passion and love that it was a moment where I felt I was a part of something great. The children were also tiny blessings: holding hands, skipping and giggling with them through Pancho Mateo was another special moment," Jessica Wohl recalls the sense of divine purpose as part of the bigger picture she experienced during her moments serving with Makarios.
Amanda Mitchum reflects on what she took away from her time serving as part of a medical mission team, "One of the biggest things I will take with me from my trip to the DR is how appreciative a majority of the people we were able to treat were. It felt so refreshing to be surrounded by people who were grateful, caring, and respectful. If we could all learn to be nice to one another and to appreciate the people we are surrounded by, the world would be a much better place. Something that sounds so simple could have such a huge impact."
The medical team saw 240 patients in 4 days. And the need is always greater than the time and resources allow.
In the face of such overwhelming need, it could be easy to feel discouraged, but Nurse Dan Kallemyn thinks of it this way, "I guess the one big thing about ministering in a medical capacity is the need. It really reminds me of the story of the boy who was throwing starfish that had washed up on the shore back into the ocean - helping one at a time. It was important for me to keep that in mind throughout the week."
Perhaps one of the greatest blessings for those who return to serve again and again is the ability to see areas of impact over the long haul. "Each time I travel to the school, I feel God has a new lesson for me to learn. Each year my relationship with Him and the community grows. One blessing has been that each year I have become more comfortable in caring in a human capacity and not just as a medical provider. Luke 9:6 says "So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere." This year was a blessing and encouraging that I felt the "good news" was being told back to me . . . I could feel God's presence growing."
The Makarios staff, students and families would like to offer a huge high five to this last medical team that blessed our communities! Furthermore, we are utterly greatful to know that others can see the presence of God increasing in Makarios' areas of influence - thanks be to God who is the one that makes this happen and for the fact that He allows us to partner with Him in what He is doing!
If you would like to be a part of what the Lord is doing through meeting medical needs in our communities, there are several ways that you can help: fund a medical mission trip, come on a medical mission trip and/or give to the medical fund! Also, in the not so distant future Makarios will need a new Director of Health. If you know anyone who would be interested in serving in this capacity, please share this link with them and have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staying Healthy at Makarios:
Working in a one-room clinic in a school on the north coast in a poor area of the Dominican Republic is a big change from doing pediatric emergency medicine in a large urban hospital. I had been working in the ER for over 11 years when we were called to work full-time with Makarios. I had also done some adult ER and Family Practice before that. I am a Physician Assistant (PA-C) and my training makes me a great fit for this job. My family and I took our first medical trip to Makarios in 2007 and came back once a year, every year, until we came on full-time. We have been here for almost 2 years now. I would like to share a little about my work with Makarios.
My main responsibility is to provide health care to the students at the Makarios School (there are currently 140 kids). I also provide care to their families, the staff at the school and their families, and the clinic is open to walk-ins from the surrounding community. A normal day involves giving ADHD medication to one of our students, seeing acutely sick and injured kids, and walk in patients from the community. I also take phone calls and emails from other missionaries and ex-pats in the area. Sometimes I need to take patients to get labs and x-rays. Other times I need to go to the hospital to visit patients or even take people to the hospital. One of the students has HIV so I need to make sure he gets his medication and regular visits to an HIV clinic.
No two days are the same. In the clinic, I see normal illnesses that we see in the United States (ear infections, fevers, rashes, pneumonia, wheezing, lacerations, abscesses) but I also have to be aware of tropical diseases that are not in the States, for example: Dengue Fever, intestinal parasites, and most recently Chikungunya. I have some basic tests such as quick strep, urine pregnancy, urine dips, and blood sugars that I can do at the clinic but all other lab tests need to be done at a local lab. I spend time looking up medications that have been prescribed to my patients by other health care providers that we don’t have in the United States but are used in Latin and South America (all in Spanish, which is a challenge).
All of the care and medication that I provide is free of charge to everyone. I keep track of all of the heights and weights of the students to make sure they are growing. A lot of our students have been malnourished in the past and some are still struggling with being malnourished. Many patients that I see also have anemia. It is challenging to keep patients healthy if they aren’t getting the vitamins and nutrients that their bodies need and this makes them more susceptible to disease and chronic health issues. At the school we provide the students with both breakfast and lunch along with a multivitamin every day so this helps with their overall health. I also do some health education at the school where I emphasize good hand washing, staying hydrated, educate on how germs are spread, and making healthy choices.
As part of our ministry, we have teams come to the DR that range from five to six people up to forty-five people. With all of these people there are a fair amount of injuries and illness that I am responsible to provide care for. I also prepare the schedule and charts for medical and dental teams that visits once a year each. In the future my hope is to have a medical team visit every six months. If you would like to be involved in one of those trips please let us know. We also have a medical fund that people can give to so that we are able to purchase the needed tests and medications, please consider this opportunity. Click here to donate to the medical fund.
This job is challenging yet rewarding. My mission is to promote health to all that we serve. Not just physical health, but mental, emotional, intellectual, and most importantly spiritual health.
Darren Young, PA-C, MPAS
Makarios International Director of Health
by Darren Young, Makarios Director of Health
The other day, I bought a coffin for a patient who had died. I had never done this before, however, I was
able to serve the family by providing emotional support and praying with them. I know I serve Christ and
not man, but it’s hard when something like this happens. At only 52 years of age, this man was the
father of an extremely poor Haitian family living in the Dominican Republic. We have four of his six kids
in school at Makarios. This is why I serve.
As a medical missionary, I really admire the life of missionary doctor David Livingstone. He spent his life
in Africa, treating all sorts of diseases while preaching the good news of the gospel - his main purpose.
He is a true example of sacrifice and service for the greater cause. Yet, this is what he had to say
about his life:
“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa…Is that a
sacrifice which brings its own blest reward? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a
thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or
danger…All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for
us. I never made a sacrifice.”
How many Christians today could say that serving is a privilege? When my family left for the
Dominican Republic, people praised our “sacrifice” in leaving behind the comforts of the American
lifestyle. But I now know it truly is a privilege to be able to serve, and I try to have an eternal
perspective on our work.
It is easy to let our desires rule us or to lose focus of our priorities. Often, you may think, “I’m too busy
to serve,” or, “I don’t feel like serving.” It’s not about our feelings; it’s about being obedient to what our
Lord has called us to do. It is so easy to be involved in the business of our schedules that we forget
why we are doing what we are doing. Ask God what he wants you to do in the lives of others. Part of
service is figuring out what people truly need and being prepared to serve in a way that you may not
Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing
that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Certainly our Father in heaven has a well-defined plan for each of His children, and the extent to which
that plan is found and followed determines how you will attain completeness and true greatness.
It truly is a privilege to serve. Remember the words of David Livingstone: “I never made a sacrifice.”
How Can I SERVE?
in your path. Make this an intentional habit that becomes part of your life. (Galatians 6:10)
Want to partner in the privilege of serving by providing resources to meet medical and health needs for our community? Click here to donate to the Makarios Medical Fund.