James the brother of Jesus and pastor of the Jerusalem Church wrote in his epistle about the importance of partnering faith with action. He wrote that you cannot actually demonstrate perfect faith without corresponding action. Monday was a great day to see this at work.
We started the day by opening a small dental clinic. A local dentist and her assistant were brought in to give fluoride treatments, search for cavities, and provide basic aid to people that could never afford that kind of healthcare on their own. Dakota, Ashlee, and Jordan P. assisted the dentist with the more technical aspects of treating patients, during which the remainder of the team worked on repairing, painting, and decorating parts of the church where the outreach was hosted. Four hours later more than one hundred and thirty seven children, plus numerous adults, had been treated.
That afternoon we moved outside the church to pick up trash. People here do not throw away trash. They generally just throw it down wherever they happen to be. Trash is everywhere. Lots of it. By picking up their garbage we are demonstrating an act of sacrificial love in a way that is difficult for some of them to comprehend, but not all.
We split into three teams made up of American and Dominican workers and went down three different streets collecting, cleaning, and greeting. I split my time between the teams taking pictures and recording video, greeting the nationals, and helping where I could. While walking with a team down a pretty nasty street I spotted a little dog on the porch of a dilapidated home.
Behind a large metal gate/door set an elderly lady. She looked at our group with a curious apprehension which spoke volumes. She thought we might be doing something good, but she wasn’t sure. Like, maybe we were trying to trick her or maybe something else was afoot.
To assuage her apparent concerns I began to play with a small chihuahua, that had to have belonged to her. I am not typically fond of chihuahuas, in fact usually I find them to be rather annoying, but I spoke kindly to the dog and snapped some pictures on my iPad as the lady looked on with what was quickly becoming mild interest. Cheerfully I climbed her steps and greeted her as she sat behind her iron wrought door. I began to show her the pics of the dog as she ooh’d and awe’d over the vibrant colors. When I showed her a short video clip she laughed heartily and full. Before long I had an interpreter there to help me communicate with this dear lady beyond my meager grasp of the Spanish language. She came out from behind her door, hugged me, and took a picture. We spoke for a few more minutes, I invited her to the outreach service we were holding near her home that night and she smiled a pure and genuine smile, devoid of the all previous apprehension.
This is only one small personal example of how doing something, in addition to just believing in something, can have an impact on those we reach out and minister to here. With four days of ministry behind us there are now dozens of these same kinds of stories that could be told. Our team is continuing to perfect a faith that says we believe God loves these people and wants to show them, by partnering with demonstrative actions that speak louder than words. With two days left of ministry activity, I’m sure there will be many more opportunities to continue to do the same.