Settling back into the routine of life in the U.S., PBA students like Chelsea Harlan find that their foreign mission trips are shaping their outlook for serving others anywhere.
Pharmacy student Andrea Mezentsef, center, with a translator and a Ugandan patient.
Harlan, a student in the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy, joined a team providing medical clinics for underserved villages in Uganda. In five days of clinics, the team saw 870 patients – an exhausting, but rewarding experience.
“After this trip, I can say that I am more grateful than I have ever been to God for giving me the heart to help people through medicine, through counseling patients and through giving the best health care that I can possibly give,” said Harlan. “My prayer now, is just to always remember the reason I do what I do.”
And that reason, that motivation, she said, is simply “to do the work God has called us to do.”
On the Ugandan trip Harlan and 10 of her fellow pharmacy students worked alongside three of their professors, Dr. Mariette Sourial, Dr. Harm Maarsingh and Dr. Adwoa Nornoo. The team also included two pharmacy alumni and two members of the Gregory family: MaryBeth Blessing and Lydia Blessing, daughter and daughter-in-law, respectively, of Mary Ann Blessing, who is the daughter of Lloyd L. Gregory.
MaryBeth Blessing took photos and video of the mission trip and helped out in a variety of other ways. “She’s one of those type of people who’ll see a need and meet it,” said Nornoo. Lydia Blessing worked with a Word In Deed Ministries crew that accompanied the pharmacy group, serving with seminars for women and activities for children.
Word In Deed is a community development organization with outreach to multiple countries. PBA alumna Lisa Sorensen is president of the organization’s board of directors. She went on the Uganda trip, as did her husband, Steve Nester, a preceptor for the Gregory School of Pharmacy.
Pharmacy students and their professors had the help of local health professionals, pastors and translators. They filled 2,164 prescriptions, did tests for HIV and malaria and did lab work and health talks. They also prayed with their patients and shared with them their own stories of faith.
The team visited a Ugandan orphanage that is supported by the Gregory family. They found the children “full of joy and love for our Lord.”
The Uganda trip is an annual outreach for the pharmacy school, as are summer mission trips to the Dominican Republic and locally to Belle Glade. Meanwhile this summer, other teams of PBA students have been serving in outreach to various countries, including work with Syrian refugee children.
As students venture out to make a difference in needy countries, often they find the experience makes a profound difference in their own lives. Before leaving Uganda pharmacy student Harlan was baptized in the Nile River.
“If anyone would have asked me for a real reason why I had never been baptized in the past, before this trip I would have had no answer,” she said. “Now, I can say it hadn’t been right in God’s timing. I was meant to wait; to wait for this trip, to wait for these people, and to wait to renew my faith in Jesus Christ.”