March 26th marks one year since I have moved to the Dominican Republic. In some ways I can’t believe it’s already been a year, but in other ways it feels strange that I have only been here for one year! So much has happened in the past 365 days…my learning curve has definitely been high, but I know I still have so much to learn. I thought this blog might be a neat opportunity to look back over the past year and highlight something from each month. So here we go….
I signed the contract for my apartment about a week after I moved here. It felt a little crazy then, but I am so glad I was able to secure this place as my home! Much of April was spent learning my way around San Juan and starting to develop new relationships.
My first barrio teams arrived in May. It was so good to finally be able to really dig into my job and to be able to put my nursing degrees and experience to use.
Arlo definitely has to be June’s highlight! Looking back, I now understand why some of my family thought I was a little crazy for getting a dog so soon after moving, but Arlo was definitely meant to find his home with me. So thankful for the companionship, snuggles, and laughter my little guy has brought me this year!
I moved into my apartment! Like I mentioned earlier, I started renting my apartment soon after I moved here but I wanted to wait to move in until I was comfortable getting myself back and forth to the guesthouse. So, I guess another highlight from this month was that I finally started feeling confident driving the stick shift trucks!
The end of August and the first two weeks of September I really deepened my relationship with some other Americans living in San Juan, and I learned so much about the healthcare system here in the Dominican Republic while I spent much of my time in the hospital with Jess and her daughter, Cami. So very thankful for answered prayers and that Cami is doing so well now!
September brought my first surgical teams. It was great to be back in the OR and learning this portion of my job!
At this point I was finally starting to feel confident in my role as medical coordinator. I knew I still had a lot to continue learning but I finally felt like I had a good grasp on what all goes into hosting a barrio or surgical team. My sister, Katelyn, also visited me in October…it was so great having her here for a few days!
Two surgical teams, a women’s conference in the capital with Kamanda and Nicole, and a trip back to the States for Thanksgiving really made the month of November fly by!
Spending Christmas with my Dominican family and sharing traditions was certainly a special experience I won’t forget.
Starting the New Year in Jarabacoa with my friends and our dogs was a great way to start the year. Once we returned, we hit the ground running with essentially 3 straight months of teams.
February was a busy month full of barrio and surgical teams. I was exhausted at the end of each week but was always left feeling so thankful for each team and especially for our SRI team!
I love working with all of our medical teams but I have to highlight the medical team from Roanoke. They brought a barrio team, surgical team (3 surgeons – orthopedics and general), and a prosthetics team. This was my biggest medical team so far and required a lot of work weeks in advance to ensure the team had a successful week. I have a lot of amazing stories from that week but one of my favorite moments was the prosthetic team’s “walk day” where all the patients got their prosthetic leg fitted, practiced walking in the consult room, and then got walked out to clapping and cheering while the song “Danzando” played. 32 people got prosthetics, 25 of them for the first time. Such an incredible week for the entire medical team…so many lives were touched.
Throughout this past year I feel like God has really been teaching me to be more humble and to be more reliant on Him. I am a helper and I have a really difficult time asking for and accepting help. Well, God started working on that in me the day I moved here! I am still working on this but through this fairly frequent struggle I am always reminded that I am not in charge and that I am not meant to do life on my own. There have been many times in the past year where I have felt very out of control which has been both humbling and also reminded me of why I am so grateful to have a Father who knows all things, has plans in and through everything that happens, and is control of everything.
I can’t say that this past year has been easy, but I can say this past year working with Solid Rock has been one of the best and most fulfilling years of my life. I feel so lucky to have my dream job and to get to work alongside so many incredible people. Deep in my heart I know I am exactly where God wants me to be right now and that is honestly the best feeling.
Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers over the past year. I am so looking forward to what God has in store for me in year two!
- Health and safety
Here are a few additional pictures from the past month!