Have you ever felt a smile? The kind that moves you to a new world…like going from a desert to a rain forest when you’re parched? Sami has this kind of smile.

The first time I saw Sami was on my first missions trip, recently, to the DR. I was a shaky American entering a new world, knowing nothing, fearing much, feeling small and pinched. He was a benevolent soul who was there when I touched down in the 3rd world. The moment I met him he acted as if we were very old and well acquainted friends. If he could have picked me up off the ground, I think he would have. Though his arms stayed at his sides, his smile grabbed me and catapulted me high into the air. “Betsey!”, he exclaimed with a Dominican familiarity that I had never known from a stranger.

In an instant, in a foreign land with nothing recognizable to anchor me anywhere, his smile and voice spoke to that ancient place, the most familiar of places. The message resonated through me, “You are seen. You are known. You are Betsey. No matter where you are…I am here. With you. Always.” I felt the smile of God. 

In that liminal moment I knew I would be able to handle all that was ahead…the unknown, heat, fatigue, fear, new smells, roosters, trash, mosquitoes, sleeping in a net, sharing one bathroom with 17 others, eating strange food, struggling with the things that are so easy here in the US. In Sami’s smile, I knew all was well. I knew I was seen, and known, and most of all...loved.