Well, today is our last full day in the Dominican Republic. Tomorrow we weigh anchor enroute to the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. This afternoon we will have a closing ceremony where the leadership of the Dominican Republic, the leadership of our mission, and the leadership of the American Embassy will all say what a great thing it was for the COMFORT to be here. There will be lots of fanfare and celebration!
But yesterday, we got a note from Ms. Cathy Flynn, a Canadian who works in a little town called Puerto Plata, about a four hour drive from Santo Domingo, where the ship is. I want to share it with you. As we go through times of missing our families, and we all do, I think it helps to know that we're not just punching holes in the ocean. I hope that all of you at home are just as proud of all of your loved ones who are on this mission as I am. It truly is an honor to serve with each and every one of them! So anyway, here's the note, and a picture of the kids:
Dear Captain Ware and Crew,
Greetings from Puerto Plata! I am writing this email in an informal manner, I will write as a friend, because this is how I felt when I was on your ship last weekend.
I want to thank you, well, for quite a few things really. First and foremost, thank you for the wonderful Comfort Ship programme you are running and for helping our kids from Puerto Plata. Our 4-hour journey from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo made our mission a bit trying, but with a lot of help from your end, it went smoother than expected. I’m sure you hear all the time that you change the lives of children that would never have the opportunity for surgery due to difficult financial reasons. This is so true with our kids. Without you all their surgery would NEVER have happened. I also had hands on experience with the families of each of our kids, trying to relate messages back and forth from the ship to the families of our patients. I hope you all realize the domino effect you have on the entire family. You are all like angels to them. All the families wanted me to send you all a big Dominican GRACIAS.
Thank you to your crew of course. Which I will from here on in, refer to as your team, because this is what I definitely witnessed on your boat. Not staff, but an incredible team always working together, always willing and able to help us during our stay. No matter where we went on your ship, someone always passed us by, said hello and asked us how we were, or just gave us a great big smile. Getting lost was part of our daily routine, but when we asked one of your team how to point us in a certain direction, we found ourselves constantly with a personal escort instead!
When we first arrived at the sports complex, we were met by Lt. Morlock, and Dr. Donahue who bent over backwards for us to be able to have our kids all sent over to the ship that day, instead of the next day as planned. They also worked very hard trying to schedule their surgeries around our Puerto Plata schedule. Then it was back to Puerto Plata for me where I received emails from Lt. Morlock and Lt. Marrs to keep me posted, and to arrange for myself and my translators to return to the boat that weekend. So many from the team helped us, HM1 Jeffrey Glick who took care of us making sure we were comfortable at the sports centre, the helicopter team, Javier that showed us around the ship, all the doctors and nurses that worked their miracles, and Lt. Battcock that explained to us the ins and outs of the US Navy. Even Lt. Osmond with his eye exams for all of us, and his witty conversation about Cousin Donny!
As I was walking down the corridors of your ship I found myself wanting to reach out and hug each and everyone of your team, from the doctors to the nurses, down to the dishwashers, just to remind them that we do appreciate what they do day in and day out. Everyone was super friendly and so attentive. It has been a long time since I have been around such contagious positive energy. Without each and every one of your team our kid’s lives would have been hopeless. You gave our kids a new outlook, and a new beginning. Not to be better than, but just to be like other kids, that’s all they really want. Thank you all for being so selfless, and so kind.
My daughter, Ally, was with me on the ship, she is 6 years old. So many of you stopped to chat with her, which made her feel even more important than she already felt on board. Afterwards, each time, one of you looked at me and told me how much you missed your own children. As a mother, I finally realized the sacrifice you all make being away from your families. If it is any consolation at all, even though you are missing yours, know that we will be forever grateful for your time spent with us.
So I write this as the ‘little guy’ who’s motto is, “You don’t have to change the world, just change a life”, and that you all have helped me to do! Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough to say really. Just know that we truly appreciate everything you have done to change the lives of our kids here in Puerto Plata.
Although I am Canadian, I find the need to say……….GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!
With much love and gratitude,
Thank you Cathy, and may God bless you and all your work with the people of the Dominican Republic!