During my writing hiatus of the second half of last year, my husband and I got to go on our first mission trip together back in June and my first medical mission trip ever! We booked the flights for this trip in February of 2018 – just a couple months after my last chemo treatment. It was a leap of faith. We went to Bolivia with a group from Every Nation Ministries. They have some churches there where we set up 3 days of free medical clinics and saw about 700 patients total over the course of those 3 days. We then did evangelism at the 105,000-student University campus in the middle of Santa Cruz. I have so many stories and pictures that I wish I could share them all. If you want to know more, let me know!
This trip was monumental for us. This was exactly the type of ministry that our family feels called to do in the future. We will forever look back on this trip as a milestone amidst the season of fighting cancer and the starting line of our partnership in ministry through medicine.
If you are reading this, and you supported us with finances or through prayer, a simple thank you does not feel sufficient to express the gratitude I have for helping make this trip possible. I personally saw about 70 or so patients per day (times 3 clinic days), which was extremely challenging due to the post-chemo fatigue I was still battling, but God graced me every moment that I felt I had nothing left to give. There are many stories to tell, but I will briefly share a couple that really touched and broke my heart for these people and stirred me to continue to pray for them:
A middle-aged woman came in. She reported to me that her blood pressure and heart rate were periodically elevated and that she had been having trouble sleeping at night due to worry. After further discussion through my translator, this lady was dealing with severe anxiety and depression that was compromising her health. We had no medications with us that could help her. So I asked if she had a Bible. She did not. I investigated with the pastors of the church we were at if there was a way to get her one and they said they were too expensive. Discouraged and frustrated by our lack of resources, I went back to my table. The Holy Spirit prompted me with Philippians 4:6-7. I asked my translator to write it on a sheet of paper in Spanish. I gave it to the woman. She was thrilled. I told her “this is your prescription for today…read it, say it, memorize it.” I encouraged her further and suggested that she get plugged into the church that we were basing our clinic out of that day. I also encouraged her to continue to seek medical and psychological care. She went away with a smile on her face. We know that we can’t meet everyone’s needs that walk in, but hopefully, her faith was strengthened.
Another time, I was hit with my cultural naivety when a woman explained how she had problems with her gallbladder and had been told by her doctors in Bolivia that she needed surgery. I then presumed to say to my translator, “Well, at least we know she’s not infected because those doctors wouldn’t have sent her home if she was dangerously infected.” My translator responded, “Well, that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t infected—that just means she didn’t have enough money for surgery.” Me: “What?!” Translator: “If you don’t have the money or insurance, then they send you home to die.” Floored, I treated her with what we had and prayed for healing. Gripping and sobering.
I share these stories because it shifted my perspective of what I’ve personally experienced with cancer. We could have never paid for all the treatment I have received. I can’t take that for granted and I am so thankful.
There are many, many more stories (like the one-year-old who spontaneously vomited up a twelve-inch intestinal parasite worm while standing in line waiting for worm pills at our pharmacy. I have pictures if you want to see sometime. 🤢🤮). Some stories evoked tears and many that evoked joy and thanksgiving. I hope for the opportunity to tell you more very soon!
Until our next trip,
Muchas gracias (thank you very much) and Dios te bendiga (God bless you)