After a tiring but rewarding past few days, team leaders Linda and Enrique worked with Pastor Gabriel to organize a surprise day for the team. Over the week, we had talked about many different parts of the Dominican Culture. As part of today, the team got to experience some of them together.
The group embraced early in the day aboard an open air truck that allowed for optimal viewing of the landscape. We traveled to a sugar cane plantation to witness how they harvest the cane and got to sample its’ sweet taste. Next we traveled along several back roads past various MLB training sites (Mets, Marlins, Cubs, Pirates and more). From there we made a stop at a local market stand to buy candy. As we then traveled along several very bumpy and dusty dirt roads, the children would run out into the road to gather up the candy that we tossed to them as we slowly road by. This was one of the poorest areas we have traveled through so far. The children would hear the truck coming and know each day that people would be tossing them candy to collect.
Our next stop along the way was at a coffee and cocoa plantation. They showed us how they grew, harvested and ground up the coffee beans. They then brewed the coffee over an open fire and le the team sample their final product. We were able to purchase some of the local coffee grounds, chocolate, and honey
Our final destination was a beautiful waterfall located on a ranch. Some of the team members rode horseback the mile trip down to the falls. After a very steep decent down into a rock canyon, the group was rewarded with a spectacular view. We were able to swim and enjoy a relaxing time together followed by a delicious lunch with local cuisine.
Our group visited a local baseball team’s practice field to present the donations of balls, bats, hats, gloves and multiple other equipment donated by community, hospital staff and the Daytona Beach Tortugas. The children were still in school while we were there, so the Manager of the team that oversees the children as well as young adults accepted our donation. We were also able to play on the field for a few minutes before they had to begin their practice. Prior to leaving, one of our volunteers presented our team members Linda with a bat her deceased husband had received for an award at work. What was so special about the award was that it was an engraved baseball bat. Baseball was a love of his and had played all his life. There were a set of circumstances that led her to deliver the bat to us. She felt it was the place that this bat needed to be for its next place in life. We were honored to present it to the youth team manager for him to use with his team.
After day 4 of medical and construction, the pastor of the church invited us to walk to his house to show us his appreciation for all that we had done. They also had cut down multiple coconuts from their own trees for us to drink and eat. The pastor’s wife is a physician that we had joined us each morning for a few hours to run a clinic station. She was also responsible for ordering and preparing all the medicines that we had purchased for the week. Without her, we would not have been able to provide the meds that so many of these people needed..
Today we had the pleasure of joining the construction team on site at the church. It was awesome to see all the hard work they have been doing over this last week. We were proud to see the efforts to transform the cement building into a beautiful church. The medical team held their clinic inside of the church alongside the construction crew and local dentists. The medical team saw 111 children/babies and 125 adults while the dentists saw 95.
The area we were at for the clinic/church is the poorest of all the areas we have been to with very little access to many needed supplies and assistance. The people who came to see us walked for along time over roads that were impassable at times.
One 80 year old gentleman walked 30 minutes with a cane to get treatment. When he arrived, we could smell his foot before he even took a seat in the chair. We all looked at each other and said…gangrene. Upon removal of the sock, we could not believe that he was able to walk. He said that he has had this problem on his foot for 15 years because he walked somewhere he was not supposed to and therefore was now cursed. It was impressive that he still had a foot and was not septic. Stuart was our wound nurse this week and proceeded to treat the area. The gentleman has been using this material from a local tree to cover the infection. (see picture below)
It has been a terrific week doing clinics with so many different but wonderful experiences each day.
Today was an exciting day as our medical team held their clinic at the site where our church is just about complete. We had fun assisting them and some of their crew helped us out with construction as well.
The exterior painting was completed on all of the walls that were done and the 2nd coat of paint was put on the doors. The sidewalk was completed all the way around the church (which included lots of trips to the well with buckets and sifting out the dirt to make more concrete). The back room was completed with all of the mortar to smooth the surface of the concrete block walls. A beautiful mural was painted inside the baptismal by one of the locals.
It has been a great week so far and much was accomplished. We enjoyed working along with the medical team today as well as alongside the wonderful people of the Dominican Republic.
Wow and terrific are some of the words to describe today. We saw 111 children/infants (including a 2 pound baby-see picture) and 187 adults for another busy day of 298 total patients. The local dentist team joined us again seeing 120 patients. One of which we needed to treat when he started to pass out and had a blood pressure of 50/30.
We had the pleasure to meet with the President of the Conference. As part of our original scouting trip, we had met with him and the Pastors that would be assisting us for this trip. He came by both team sites to ensure we were having a great experience.
Apologies for the medical blog this evening. We are having issues with internet and website. We will attempt to add more and correct in am.