Thursday began with Bibi ringing my doorbell once again to wake me up. Since I knew what took place the previous morning, I jumped right out of bed, opened the door, and gave Bibi a broad ‘I am awake and looking at you, Bibi, smile.  Then it was time to take a shower, get dress and run downstairs to breakfast at 6:15 a.m.

The usual drill of getting everything I needed for the Eucharist, and taking the duffel bags and other supplies into the van needed to be done. Next, our missionary day began with the Eucharist at the church. The readings were taken from 1 Chronicles 16:28-36, Psalm 33:12-22, and Mark 16: 12-20. Carol Bhim and Karen Eddy read the first reading and the psalm respectively while Father Vicente proclaimed the Gospel. The prayers of the people were led  extemporaneously.

As the Medical Team was about to journey to another part of Bonao to set up a clinic, we learned that the Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Julio Cesar Holguin Khoury, was coming to the village to preside and preach at the Eucharist right across the street from where the medical clinic was held. The clinic was being held in a person’s home. It is so humbly to see how people willingly give up their homes for a whole day to accommodate us. They packed all their furniture and items into one room giving us space to work. At this particular house, we entered it by crossing over a make-shift bridge, since a stream lie between the road and the house. It was an interesting experience because we had to be careful not to fall off the narrow bridge and into the stream. By the end of the day, Dr. Pat treated 63 patients, the lowest of for the week thus far. This was partly due to  the team taking time off to attend the Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Khoury, later in the afternoon. The day went well without any major hitches. The Medical Team prepared a small stool for Dr. Pat and wrote the words: “Dr. Pat’s chair.” It was suitable for a child since it was small and low and  not suited for Dr. Pat but the reason they did it was because she is a relatively small woman. I was ordered not to take a picture of the chair so I do not have one to show you on my blog. Nevertheless, I guess these nurses and health professionals do have a lot of respect for their doctors and each other (LOL).

I returned with Father Vicente to the Rectory where I spent a part of the day, chatting with him and his family, and working on my blog to catch up since I was a day behind. Tomas, the chef, and his wife, Hilda, also came by the Rectory and I had a lengthy conversation with them, with Father Vicente’s assistance, of course. Then it was back to the church for lunch.

Meanwhile, the Vacation Bible School had its most students to date during a morning session of 45 students. The lesson of the day was the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” Students are always very participatory in the lessons. However, the morning session seems to always get through their lessons faster than the evening session. But again, there are only a quarter of the children in the morning session as they are in the afternoon VBS.

In the afternoon, there was a shortened form of VBS since the team was attending the Eucharist, presided by the Bishop. The group taught part of the lesson and then gifts were given to 160 children. You can well imagine the joy on the faces of these children. They felt that it was Christmas (Navidad) in June. This was the last day for the afternoon VBS; however, the morning VBS session will conclude on Friday. One of my highlights or joys of the day took place at the afternoon VBS session. A 7-year-old girl came up to me, gave me a great big hug around my waist and said, “Te quiero” (“I love you”). It was an amazing experience and one that brought some emotion to me. I responded with similar words.

The second one came when I returned for the Eucharist. Earlier when we took the Medical Team to their clinic site, Father Vicente, Ron, our painter, and I went across the street to the home at which the Bishop was celebrating the Eucharist. The home is also the venue each Sunday for worship of the Misión San José de Arimatea (St. Joseph of Arimathea Mission). However, in the morning, the appearance of the house was that of raw concrete cement with galvanized shutters at the windows. On my return, I thought I had seen HGTV. The house had looked like a different place with the walls painted in colonial white and the galvanized shutters removed from the windows. Ron [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][McDonald] and William worked tirelessly to have it ready in time for the Bishops visit. If I was filled with joy at the finish product of this house could you imagine how the owner of the house must have felt? What was even more heartwarming for me was the sacrificial love the owner made in extending her home to the church every Sunday for services and now God had rewarded her with such a beautifully painted home at no cost.

Bishop Khoury and Father Vicente arrived at 3:40 p.m. The Bishop met with persons at the house and then he visited the clinic to meet the medical team. I met and spoked with the Bishop since he speaks English fluently.

Fr. Vicente, Fire Chief Garcia, Bishop Khoury & Fr. Tony

The Eucharist was originally scheduled for 4:00 p.m. but started at 4:15 p.m. As expected, the service is in Spanish and although I could not speak the Spanish words, I was able to do so in English since the structure of the service is the same as in English. Immediately after the service, I presented the Bishop with a gift for his wife and grandchild, on behalf of the team.

While the Medical Team returned after the Eucharist to treat more patients, the VBS team and Ron returned to the hotel for the night. It was a long night with a late dinner followed by team meeting and a spiritual exercise with the question: “What brought you the most joy today and how was God reflected in that joy?” I concluded the session by inviting the missionaries to always find their purpose in life each day and to highlight the joys they experience in their daily lives.

We then received our palanca from family members and friends and missionaries both on the Jamaican and DR teams. I received a beautiful letter from my wife and children, cards from my parish family and friends, including my Senior Warden, which I thought was pretty nice. I also received a book entitled “Poke in the Box” from one of the members in the Dominican Republic team who is also a dear friend and parishioner. I plan to read it on the flight on Saturday. I also received a wonderful card from another dear friend and parishioner who is on the Jamaica Mission Team and she told me to hug and kiss every member of the team.

While the rest of the team retired for the night, the team had appointed 4 members – Karen, Pat, Maryella, and I – as a sub committee to look into certain matters and to tell them of our recommendations at breakfast the next morning. The 4-member team met until the wee hours of the morning. At the end of it all, I had a 20 ½ hour day. To God be the glory![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]