Intern serves in DR

September 04, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Rafey-interns1.jpgNorthwestern College interns Kaitlyn Hassman and Anna Teigland see patients at a mobile clinic in the Dominican Republic.

(Editor's note: Kaitlyn Hassman, a junior nursing major from Spencer, Iowa, attending Northwestern College. She spent part of her summer as an intern at El Buen Pastor in Rafey, Dominican Republic. Hassman was joined by fellow Northwestern student Anna Teigland.)

Intern serves in DR

By Kaitlyn Hassman

RAFEY, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—“Helloooo people!”

This is what I heard on the daily from our 10-year-old neighbor girl, Ashley, who frequently showed up at our apartment unannounced because she could easily crawl onto our porch from her house. She was always a bundle of energy and sass, and never failed to make us laugh.

Ashley is one of the many people I had the privilege of getting to know during the six weeks I spent in Rafey, Dominican Republic as a Luke Society intern. One of the biggest things I learned throughout this time is that building relationships can be one of the most effective and important forms of ministry.

In fact, ministry needs to come out of a place of relationship. It was often discouraging not being able to help in all the ways I could. or not being able to express myself or say the exact words I wanted to say because of the language barrier, but loving on people and developing relationships can happen even when conversations are broken.

Here are just a few snapshots of people I grew to know and love during my time there:

  • The woman who came into the clinic almost daily to get her blood pressure checked. She could barely talk, and she struggled to move one side of her body due to a recent stroke. Nonetheless, she always greeted us warmly with smiles and hugs and when her blood pressure was good. We always celebrated with a high five or fist bump.
  • The man who came to the clinic twice a week for treatment of an infected wound all down his arm. Despite his grimaces and frequent FaceTime calls with his wife to keep his mind off the pain, I grew to appreciate his sense of humor and strong personality.
  • All the neighborhood children who came to our apartment daily to play games, color, make bracelets, or take TONS of goofy photos and videos.
  • The woman who came with her daughter to the clinic for treatment of a wound on her foot. She always thanked us for our help, and her daughter showed us pictures of the healing progress from when they first started treatment to now. It was really cool to see!
  • The little girl who frequently wandered into the clinic looking for us so that we could play doctor or other games.
  • Our 12-year-old neighbor girl who looked up to us and who desperately craved our attention because she does not always get it from her mother. Often, her actions seemed to come from a place of hurt or insecurity. She has been forced to grow up too fast.

There are so many more people I could write about, but I’ll leave it at that for now. It’s sort of discouraging thinking back on the summer and the relationships we developed, not ever really knowing what will come of our interactions with these people. But I can only hope and pray that God used our time there, that people were blessed and loved and pointed to Christ, even though it was so hard to verbally share about Jesus due to my limited Spanish-speaking abilities.

God taught me that a willingness to love others through simple conversations or acts of service can impact people greatly.

Although I often felt like I was not useful or doing much to further the kingdom, God reminded me that relationships are the foundation for ministry. Loving on people and entering into their lives, treating people with dignity and welcoming them in — this is the lifestyle God calls us to live.

Rafey-inters3.jpg
Kaitlyn Hassman said she learned much about the importance of relationships while serving as an intern in the Dominican Republic this summer.

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