From the 24th to the 28th of May 2014, a team from CRS Singapore headed down to Jakarta for a cold trip (i.e. not a crisis relief trip). The team for this trip was larger than usual, comprising 12 people from different backgrounds: 1 doctor, 3 nurses, 6 medical students, and 2 bioengineering students. It was an interesting mix of working adults and students, which offered a unique variety of personalities and skills, and we learnt from one another as we worked together.
Everyday, we would get up at about 6.30am and have a time of worship and devotions. After breakfast, we would head out for the day’s activities. On Day 1, we attended services at the 2 churches we were partnering with- Karmel and Gideon Church, and for Days 2 and 3, we set up mobile clinics at these churches from morning to mid-afternoon. We were assigned to different stations: triage, laboratory tests, consultation, and pharmacy. It was a great experience being a part of something bigger, each of us contributing little efforts to make the clinic a success. There were opportunities to pray for the patients too, and some of us prayed for patients who were not believers. On the third day, we also visited the slum area to pray for some families and present our gifts of food packages. In the evening, we would have time to interact with the locals over a meal, or have some RnR to ourselves.
Our visit to the slum ministry was one that really touched our hearts. It was an unfamiliar experience, weaving our way through the labyrinth of houses and catching glimpses of the lives of its inhabitants. They lived in cramped conditions with often less than ideal conditions, yet they were all very hospitable and happy to see us. We met a few families and prayed for particular members of the household. One was an old lady who had recently lost her son, and as Ivy prayed for her, she was greatly overcome with emotion and filled with thankfulness. Wordlessly, she hugged each of us before we left. It was a clear demonstration of God’s power and comfort that transcend all boundaries, even language. There was another woman hoping to conceive children, and Dr KJ prayed over her and proclaimed that she would have not one but three children. This was a very inspiring moment to many of us, seeing the absolute faith that he had and claimed on so strongly.
Not one of us left Jakarta unchanged. Ming Wei, our food and accomodation I/C commented: “Overall, this trip was a meaningful one. The mobile clinic gave me an enjoyable experience in helping the patients. The volunteers from both Gideon and Karmel churches were friendly and helpful, and this allowed the team to communicate effectively, making it easier for us to do our work. In addition, the visit to the slums was an eye-opener for me as it made me appreciate the privileges I have in Singapore- access to clean water, food and medicine. If given the time and opportunity, I’ll definitely come back and render my assistance again.” Yi Hui, our children¡¯s ministry I/C added on: “It was a great experience to work alongside people who were willing to serve- both local partners and fellow Singaporeans. Sometimes things were a little impromptu but thank God for His grace to help us adapt to go along with the flow!”
Overall, we were unanimously touched by the warmth and sincerity of the locals as they hosted us, and were moved to do the same for them should they come to Singapore. We were also inspired by their dedication in service, just watching them worship and serve alongside us at the clinics, many having taken time off work to help out. We learnt how love is a language that others will inevitably feel even though we might not speak the same language. “Kindness is a language deaf people can hear and blind people can see,” said Gek Swee, our photographer. While it was a commendable effort for us, having served more than 600 patients over 2 days, it wasn’t the numbers that mattered the most, rather each and every individual life that we touched, be it through medical care, a prayer, or even just a simple smile and pat on the shoulder. The team hopes to return in the future to keep learning from these people and serving them.
Reported by Ms. Tessa Lim