Summer Highlight: FAME, The Hartgerink Family

By dorsey

hartgerinkLast fall around this time, as I was out for a training ride on my bike,  I felt a distinct pull to go back to the Dominican Republic.  My wife, Beckie, and I had been there previously on a medical mission trip in 2008 with FAME and vowed to Steve and Julie that we would one day return when our children were old enough to accompany us.  This felt like the year to do so.  After discussions with both Steve and FAME we determined that it would not be an issue at all for our 15 and 16 year old kids to come along and be a part of the ministry and clinics. Makalah and Colin were both fired up and excited about the prospect of serving God in another country!  After our 15 member crew from FAME’s flights from Miami to the DR were cancelled and God showed that He, not the airlines, was in control, we finally arrived to El Catey at Steve and Julies compound. I was really excited to awake the following morning and check out what had changed in the 5 years since we had been there.  I had distinctly remembered the vision Steve had shared with me about God’s plans for the facilities and couldn’t believe all the building that had taken place.  The baseball field was completed, a pizza parlor was built, a dental clinic had been added, and most significantly was this huge pavilion that would be the center of our time there.

As we had been late in arriving by a day and a half no time was wasted and we immediately set out preparing for the clinics.  We sorted medications for hours that first day and loved getting to know Papa John, Jeffrey, Kiki, and Freddy.  Even though none of us on the team from FAME knew one another, it felt as if we were long lost friends due to the circumstances of our travel and cancelled flights.  There is no question that God used those stressful first hours to unite us and create a bond that would carry us through the week.

The clinics were nothing short of amazing!  To be able to watch my kids mature in front of me was an absolute blessing!  The interactions they had with the people of the DR were so much fun to watch.  I am certain that there was not a time that I looked at Makalah and she didn’t have a humongous grin on her face as she directed people on where to go and spent time educating.  In her words, “A smile doesn’t need translating.”  Listening to Colin talking in his limited Spanish was a pleasure and hearing him and the others singing “Yo me lavo las manos”  to the tune of La Bamba still makes me laugh thinking about it. Seeing my wife Beck back in a clinical role was thrilling as she helped run the pharmacy every day. The impact we as providers had was pretty special as well. To be able to have access into the local’s lives was quite incredible and our time of prayer with everyone was awesome.  I think I was most touched when several of those I was “ministering” to offered to pray for me.  It was really neat to be able to practice my craft of medicine surrounded by my family and newfound friends from FAME.

I remember our first time to El Catey and Steve’s words that often times during short term mission work, we as the “missionaries” reap more that those we are serving.  I have no hesitation saying that was the case this time around.  After every incredible evening meal prepared by Julie and the dishes had all been cleaned up, our team all gathered at the afore mentioned pavilion and had a time of devotions, singing, prayer and sharing.  We spent hours there most evenings hoping for a little rain to drive off the humidity and bugs (although the XXL toads did a pretty good job with the bugs too) :).  It was these times that will forever be imprinted in my mind.  The testimonies that were shared bonded us like no other.  There was advice given to my children that I could never hope to replicate in any other circumstance.  The teaching that individuals half my age were able to impart on me was incredible.  God was present and felt strongly, I wouldn’t hesitate to say, by all of us that had the honor of serving Him for this life changing week.  For this I will always be thankful and have a special place in my heart for the time we were blessed to spend in the DR in the summer of 2013.


In Christ,

Todd Hartgerink

Filed in: Founders' Blog • Saturday, October 5th, 2013

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Dr. Steve, this is where you need to put a little "bio" for you and Julie.. (Pastor John)