Over the summer (July 2021 from July 10-18) I was able to travel to Dominican Republican and serve the under-privilege people in the Northe Side area. We had 15 people in our group to use medicine as a platform to spread the gospel. These 15 people that stepped out on faith was pharmacists, pharmacy student, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, nurses, and nursing students, as well as servant leaders. I didn’t know what to expect as this was my first mission trip. The overall experience was amazing I met a lot of people that are now considered my brothers and sisters of Christ. I’m thankful for this experience it opened my eyes for the things we normally take for granted in the United States such as clean water, having the ability to flush our toilet paper down the toilet, and having the ability to not have to take albendazole for parasites because our water is not contaminated. This experience humbled me and allowed me to trust God in ways I never thought I would. The way God grace and mercy covered our clinic during the 5 days we were open to the public was breathtaking. Seeing the people travel from all over to be seen by us was very rewarding. While using health services to bring people to Christ I can honestly say that out of 1471 people seen, 93 accepted Christ. The food was amazing, the people was very helpful, and the organizations that put this mission trip together deserve a standing ovation. The hotel we lived in during our stay had the best hospitality, the transportation team kept us safe, and we worked together to ensure our mission was fulfilled. I would recommend a mission trip to any student that has not been on one. This is literally an experience of a lifetime. I look forward to going on many more in the future.
I attended the Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) for the first time in 2007. I remember arriving to the conference at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky and feeling so overcome with emotions. The place was buzzing with like-minded Christian people; there were so many breakout sessions to choose from; and the exhibit hall was ready to connect me with service opportunities. I asked myself, “Where do I start first?” Almost 15 years later, I still feel that “rush” when I walk into GMHC. Yet, I see this event as an opportunity to “return home” to brothers and sisters in Christ, beautiful souls that are serving around the world for Christ.
To me, the GMHC represents several things: family, fellowship, and the heart of God. This annual conference has allowed me to explore topics in medical missions more deeply. It has connected me with individuals that I probably would not have had the opportunity to hear and meet. Why wait? See what the GMHC can mean for you!
I was 11 years old when I first decided that I wanted to be a pharmacist and 18 when I knew I wanted to be a missionary pharmacist. During my senior year my youth pastor challenged me to go on an international trip, so that summer I attended my first short-term medical mission trip to La Montagne, Haiti. The trip leaders knew that I was pursuing pharmacy, so I was able to spend most of my time serving alongside an amazing pharmacist. There was one particularly busy day in clinic and the doctors and nurses were working as fast as they could to see the patients, and we were finally coming to the end of the long line of prescriptions to be filled when we were told one more family would be coming through. I remember being feeling mentally and physically exhausted, as many on the team were, but then that mother of three walked in to pick up her prescription. The pharmacist was not in a hurry to simply fill her prescriptions so that we could pack up for the day, but rather she sat with this mother and soothed her crying infant and talked with her while we filled the prescriptions. She then verified and counseled the patient on the medications and made sure to answer any questions that she had before praying with her and sending her on her way. None of the prescriptions were for anything major, but the pharmacist knew that what that mother needed more than medicine was to know that she is loved and that heard her concerns.
Fast forward a few years and I am on the other side of the world working on a team in Uganda. It was our last full day of clinic and we had traveled to the furthest clinic site from our hotel. The doctors had finished seeing all of the patients and we were finishing up the final prescriptions that needed to be filled. I look over and see a mother with a young daughter in her arms and two teenage children that looked a little confused by everything going on around them. When I finished with the patient I was counseling, I pulled the translator with me to speak to this family and see if they were waiting on a prescription or if they needed help with something else. It turns out that they had walked all day to reach our clinic but had not made it in time to be seen. I immediately went in search of one of the doctors to see if there was anything we could do for the family. It turned out the youngest child had a mild rash that only required a few days’ worth of cream, but what I saw in that interaction is something I will never forget. The doctor had worked a full day in the clinic skipping lunch in an attempt to see as many patients as he could and he finally had a chance to breathe and was sitting down to eat when he saw me coming, but he immediately put down his food and came to help the family. When talking with him after the family left, he told me that what he had learned in his years serving on trips like this one is that what most patients that come to the clinic need is not medications, but rather to know that they matter. By the doctor putting his own needs/desires aside to serve this family, he showed them that they have value, that people care, and that they have a heavenly father who loves them so much that He sent a team of foreigners to come show them His love for them.
When I look back at these stories I am reminded of the conversations I had and lessons I learned from the GMHC: every single one of us has gifts and talents and are called to use them to serve God whether it be here in the U.S. or abroad. Our vocation may be what opens the door for us to get involved, but ultimately our goal should be to love and serve others like Christ did no matter what sacrifices we have to make. So when someone challenges you to step out of your comfort zone, pray about it and don’t be afraid to say yes! You never know when one “yes” might change your life as you learn where God is calling you.
This story was published in the GMHC program, Elements, during the fall 2020 conference.