Is it better to give or to receive? Most of us would automatically answer “to give” without giving it much thought; it’s not a new concept. However, this summer I heard this idea challenged by a different worldview. We were just finishing our morning devotion in the clinic when Dr. Brendaliz asked the patients this question. One brave woman spoke up and said that it was better to receive. When Brendaliz pressed the issue further, she replied that when you receive, you can then turn around and give. This woman barely had enough for her own family to survive, but saw receiving as an opportunity to bless others.
This was not the mindset of a single woman. That very same day, we visited another patient and arrived at her home hot and sweaty from a long walk in the scorching Dominican sun. After sitting us down, she began to pass out packets of tissues so we could cool our faces. When we protested, knowing she could use these for her four children, she responded that she had received them as a gift and wanted to share. This summer, as an intern for the medical site of Students International, I experienced immense generosity in the smallest and biggest ways, and I was forced to examine my own life.
In my role as an intern, I had the privilege of serving with Dr. Brendaliz in her medical clinic in a small community outside of Santiago, Dominican Republic. After spending this past Interterm with the ministry, I had the opportunity to return for the entire summer to assist Brendaliz, performing simple procedures, translating, and connecting with the people of the community. When students from the States would come down on short-term mission trips, my fellow interns and I would get to share the Dominican culture and teach them about how God is working in Santiago.
Since coming to Greenville, I have been pushed by my classes, professors, and fellow students to understand my faith and to see how God works in others. However, they never could have prepared me for how God was going to challenge me this summer. As a driven pre-med student, I was ready to take on the medical side of the internship and give quality care to every person we encountered. I was not ready for the afternoons when we would sit and visit with a single patient, enjoying their friendship. I wanted to be out, healing people, when in reality, the most important work was encouraging a single friend in their faith. Growing up in the Christian church, I was prepared to serve the sick and the poor as we are called to countless times in the Bible. I was not prepared for how much the poor would serve me and teach me about faith, hospitality, and love. The story of the widow giving her two copper coins at the temple in the book of Mark came alive over and over again this summer. My Dominican friends give joyfully out of their poverty, while I hold on tightly in my abundance. I want to be more like the people of Los Mangos, giving freely of myself and what I have in order to bless others.
My three months abroad stretched me, encouraged me, and taught me so many lessons about my faith and God. He is working in incredible ways that we often do not see until we step out of our comfort zones and trust Him fully.
by Kellie Steele