By: Kellie Pernula
Has the Lord ever blessed you with the feeling of being completely at home when you were in a place or season of your life that was unfamiliar or uncertain? This moment for me was in another country during a global pandemic. Myself, three other veterinary students, and one veterinarian had been in the Dominican Republic for just a few hours this past December when for the first time in my life I felt whole. My heart was so full. Full in anticipation of serving the people and animals of the Dominican Republic. I felt instantly at home although I’d never been there before. At home in selfless service to glorify God. It was a joyful, soothing feeling that spread from my heart to my entire body. No nerves. No fear. No anxiety. Just peace and contentment and the overwhelming sensation that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. That feeling saturated our trip and our team. As the days went by, we came to grow more comfortable in this new place during this uncertain time. Every time I try to recount my experience serving in this beautiful country surrounded by inspirational fellow believers it becomes more challenging. I have realized this is because there is no way to put into words the fullness of the power and glory of God. That is what I witnessed on this trip and was incredibly blessed to be a part of. During the 10 days we treated 350 animals, ministered to/prayed over 65 people, handed out Gospel tracts to 57 children, and witnessed the acceptance of Jesus Christ into the hearts of two new believers! I learned new veterinary skills, but the spiritual impact of this trip will forever shape me and be an essential milestone in my faith journey. Our translator and a local helper presented the Gospel to the first new believer and prayed with her completely in Spanish. Although I did not know what was said until after the fact, witnessing that woman come to Christ is an experience that will be with me forever. You could hear the passion and power of Christ in every word that was spoken. It was a remarkable moment that I will always cherish. Another unforgettable moment was at the village church two of the members shared their powerful testimonies. God and His redemptive work are alive and well all over the world. He is changing lives and shaping hearts. It was such a profound experience for me to hear the testimonies of two brothers and sisters in Christ who I was blessed to meet before Heaven. Every moment and detail of this trip gave us a closer glimpse of “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”. The Lord moved in us through the Holy Spirit in unique and genuine ways to spread the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ while growing deeper roots in our own faiths and understandings of the fullness of Christ’s love.