From the start, my recent trip to the Dominican Republic was a constantly unfolding surprise. For one, I never imagined I’d be given an opportunity to visit one of our hospitals so soon; I was hired in December, moved to Pennsylvania in January, and on a plane to Santo Domingo in February. I was also surprised to find myself on a creative team to capture photos, videos, and stories. My confidence level in the creative arena (or, let’s face it, any arena) tends to vacillate between slim and none, so I was more than a little intimidated by the prospect of working alongside professional creatives… as a professional creative myself.
Perhaps most of all, I was surprised to find that the trip began in earnest before I ever stepped foot on Dominican soil.
I was making my way to the gate for the second flight of the day. While on the moving walkway, I noticed a kid standing in front of me was having some trouble zipping up his coat, so I came up next to him and asked if he needed help. He looked up at me with big, grateful eyes and answered, “YES! Yes, I do!” So I started wrangling his zipper into working order when he – all of 7 or 8 years old – asked me what my name was. I told him my name was Beka and learned that his was Kevin. I finished zipping up his coat just as we reached the end of the walkway. As we stepped off he turned around and said, “Thank you, Beka! I love the airport! People here are so nice!”
As he walked away, I noticed he had a severe limp. It grew worse as he picked up his pace to run, as best as he could, over to the gate where his family was waiting. He then began to tell them all about the great people he had met at the airport so far. Perhaps I caught them at a bad time, but they did not appear to mirror his enthusiasm.
I was all of a few hours into the trip at this point, and I was already moved to tears, because Kevin became CURE to me.
CURE provides physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for kids with treatable disabilities like the orthopedic issues Kevin seemed to suffer from. And while I don’t know his story, I can assume that part of the reason he was so abundantly joyful about the kindness of strangers might be because the kindness of friends and family is harder to come by. I didn’t do anything overwhelmingly “kind” for him; all I did was zip up his coat. But maybe the act of extending an offer to help, acknowledging him and his inherent worth, meant something more.
That’s literally what CURE does: we acknowledge kids who would have otherwise been neglected because of cultural beliefs about disabilities. We heal their physical wounds, and in so doing, heal their (and the family’s) emotional and spiritual wounds by sharing the love of Jesus in a tangible way.
Kevin became the first CUREkid I met in real life. Even though he didn’t have surgery at one of our hospitals and we didn’t talk about Jesus, it was clear that love was exchanged in our interaction and he was encouraged because of it.
Meeting Kevin was a total game-changer. Our encounter attached a purpose to a plan: I wasn’t going to the Dominican Republic to take on a big task I was intimidated by; I was going to serve kids like Kevin. I was there to show love in any way possible and tell their stories because their stories deserve to be told. That realization became my focus point, a vivid job description the Lord was gracious enough to give me right out of the “gate,” as it were, through Kevin.