By Allison Lindsey, Advocate Contributor
When Rev. Isaac and Mrs. Paty Salgado boarded the plane for the Dominican Republic early one morning in late July 2022, they carried extra baggage. Not baggage in the form of luggage but baggage in the form of worry, busyness of work, church activities, family, and the growing uncertainty of The United Methodist Church. All of this weighed heavily upon them. Leading right up to the time of departure, they even questioned whether now was the appropriate time to go.
Rev. Salgado serves Waynesboro United Methodist Church where their congregation is blessed to be home to John and Donna Bearden, a missionary couple leading the work of Big Hope Ministry. The Beardens lived in the Dominican Republic for several years and continue to serve the people there alongside Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana, one of the largest protestant denominations in the country.
The Salgados were asked to be part of this multi-denominational medical mission team to serve as translators for the doctors and nurses. This mission journey was coordinated by a group from Pittman Park UMC in Statesboro led by Dr. Randy Smith and included members from Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Greensboro, Ga. and Waynesboro UMC.
A highlight of the trip for the Salgados was Sunday morning when Rev. Salgado preached in Spanish for the Sunday worship service and the team then ministering to their brothers and sisters in attendance. Mrs. Salgado described this cross-cultural worship experience as a great time of fellowship and blessing with ‘one God, one Spirit, one heart.’ The very next day the work they came to do began.
The team served five bateyes, a term used to refer to a rural community of sugarcane workers, during their time in the Dominican Republic. They felt the love and mercy of God each and every day as they served. Makeshift clinics were set up at each site, team members processed patients for intake, doctors and nurses attended patients, tests were run in the lab, the vision team tested and provided glasses for patients, and the pharmacy team completed the patient’s visit with needed medications. By the end of the week, over 700 Dominican and Haitian children, youth, and adults had been cared for physically and prayed for by the mission team.
Although the days were long and tiring, the hearts and spirits of the team were uplifted.
“What did I learn from this experience?” said Mrs. Salgado. “I learned that God is still at work! The church of God keeps sharing and proclaiming about the love and peace of God! God is still using His people, His church. Just for a week, we forgot about all our worries and fears and let God fill us with His love and grace to remember our call to go and heal the sick, make disciples, and proclaim His word.”
The Salgados traveled to the Dominican Republic to help translate for the team and carry the good news of the gospel in their native tongue. But what they found was that God had a message for them. The message that God was sharing became clear. The message was one of promise and hope, or ‘esperanza’.
“It is incredible what the church can do when we focus on the important things,” said Rev. Salgado. “When the gospel is proclaimed, there is freedom. Yes, we were on a medical mission, but we prayed for people, shared the word with them, and saw lives transformed!”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13