St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Thursday, November 26, 2015
There's a place for you here.

Dominican Republic

Following are posts and photos from our most recent groups who traveled to the Dominican Republic.
February 2013 medical mission to Azua
Photos 1 and 2 by Michael Sweeney; remaining photos by Colin Billings
(Left to right) Colin Billings with patients waiting to see our team; Eddie Ross providing dental care; doctors takte a break with Andy Thompson and Michael Sweeney; doctors on wheels.
Michael Sweeney (in red shirt) and friends in Azua--can you tell he's a youth minister?
October 2012 mission trip and dedication of new church building
From the Rev. Leigh Preston, October 11, 2012
Our week is going well. We're adding another room to the same house the group worked on last year, and we'll be helping to paint and clean up the church for the consecration, as well. Bishop Holguin came to Azua yesterday, and we had a nice visit with him. I also got to celebrate the Eucharist yesterday at Reconciliacion. The power went out, but it didn't matter. The congregation continued singing and praying in the dark. Folks have been asking about Weezie, Gene, Martha, and Jeff. They miss you all and send their greetings.
Photos by Leigh Preston
The team arrives: Colin Billings, Alice Goodwin, Richard Clary, Bev Guy; young people in Azua; working on an addition for the cinder block house we helped build last year; the completed church, to be dedicated October 14. 
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Dear Friends,
We are all well in Azua and little by little the community is growing stronger and healthier with help, prayers and patience. In only a few short hours
today we were able to treat ninety-nine patients from the church community! Our hard work was rewarded with a great honor by Padre Jesus: the first service held in the new church. Even in the half light of candles and the beam of
a single flashlight the space was made brilliant by the infectious feeling of celebration within the community. Construction continues, in all things here in Azua, with an indescribable enthusiasm that will continue to boost our spirits and, hopefully, make up for our nearly sleepless nights.--Sarah Taylor
This photo by Melissa Schwarzchild show the line is forming outside the clinic on Thursday.
Friday, February 3, 2012
At the end of the day it is difficult to decide what is more impressive: the fact that we treated 195 patients, or that our pharmacy stores are still holding fast! The weather has been beautiful the last two days with cool breezes and nearly constantly sunny skies and other than a few difficult cases we are happy to say that things continue on course and without incident. Tired and sore we are ready for a good night's sleep after Compline tonight. Of course, we are looking forward to an early start to another full day tomorrow and, even more so, our much needed morning coffee. -- Sarah Taylor, Translator
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Just when we thought we had see it all we watched as Nelson carried our lunch out under his arm after breakfast and bring it back four hours later in a pot - it was, without a doubt, the freshest "sancocho de gallo" (rooster stew) that any of us have ever had. I don't think we anticipated such a delicious meal from such a tough old bird, but it was a particularly restorative lunch. 
It was a good thing too because by the end of the day we had seen another 183 patients including a young girl with a 104 fever. But, aside from the many smiles and a plastic cup full of extracted teeth there is not much else to say about our work today. We are all eager for a day of rest and relaxation tomorrow after church and, of course, the rice pudding in Buenos Aires. Que Uds descansen bien!
Photo at left: a little girl is treated for a high fever
Sunday, February 5, 2012
It is hard to not feel like we have all become a little more Dominican after a day at the local beach, a lively Sunday service with Padre Jesus and dancing followed by cups (plural) of steaming hot arroz con leche (rice pudding). 
With only one working day left ahead of us it is surprising to image how far we have come in a single trip. Aches and pains have been cured, friendships have been kindled and renewed and always with a smile. Although we have run out of toothbrushes, our pharmacy stores should hold long enough to carry us through the remaining day at the clinic. The memories however, and in some cases incriminating photographs, will be carried with us even after our return to Richmond.
Monday, February 6, 2012
More photos are available on St. Stephen's Facebook page.


Six hundred and twenty-eight patients and six flavors of ice cream later and we can barely believe that our time in Azua is at an end. Our thoughts turn now to future trips and how best to plan and organize. Hopefully, the new church will provide more space and continued participation within our own community will support our efforts and propel our success.
It is safe to say that congratulations are in order if for nothing more than for the brand new clinic toilet that we were all (patients and doctors alike) thankful for. But small or large, accomplishments of this kind cannot be counted, but rather felt by those of us who have been here and reflected upon by those who of us who are yet to come.
Posts from our team in Azua, October 2011
October 8, 2011

Ann Pearman Blanchard, a member of St. Stephen's and a student at St. Catherine's School, is with St. Stephen's team in Azua, Dominican Republic, working with the Episcopal Church there. Ann Pearman sent the following dispatch October 8:

Everyone here has been so excited to see us. When we got to Azua Thursday afternoon, Chichito, a member of the church who drives us in his taxi, was waiting for us. He was so happy that he lifted my mom [the Rev. Weezie Blanchard] and Jeff [Thomas] off the ground when he hugged them. When he took us to the church, lots more people were waiting and were so glad to see us. The kids especially love to play with our long hair and have their picture taken. They fed us a feast.

Yesterday [Friday] we helped build a house for a family with 10 children who live in a one-room house with tin walls. The new house will have three rooms and is made of cinder block. Those of us who are strong carried block and helped lay it. The rest of us put cement on the block. The maestro was very particular. All the kids watched and wanted to help. After lunch we played games with the teens and adults. At first it was awkward, but then everyone had fun playing games like bingo and singing songs. We had a church service last night. Padre Jesus was annoyed that not many people showed up. When he asked why, everyone said, "Because it's Friday!" That was pretty funny.

Ann Pearman's October 10 post:

More from Azua and La Carreras, courtesy of Ann Pearman Blanchard: On Saturday we played games with children in Azua and Le Carreras, where there's a smaller church. The children loved when Emily [Krudys] read "The Cat in the Hat" in Spanish and laughed at her pronunciation. Then we played more games. They especially got into Musical Chairs and got almost violent! (in a fun way). In La Carreras, a nearby village, we played bingo while Padre had church with the adults. The kids were definitely having fun. They love that we have come to see them.

Watch a slideshow of one of our trips to Azua below.   | Back to main International Outreach page