MISSION TRIP REPORTS
My Trip to Haiti
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am, Send me!’” - Isaiah 6:8
As I set out for Haiti, I was both nervous and excited. My anxiety stemmed from the fact that this was my first mission trip and that I was traveling with no family and only one person that I knew well. However, I was so excited because this was an opportunity for me to foster and confirm my desire to pursue missionary work and more specifically, this trip was an opportunity to experience global surgery, a passion that God has put into my heart. Needless to say, this trip was everything I hoped for with so many great surprises along the way. I made some great memories and even better relationships, with both the local Hatians but also with the fellow missionaries I traveled with. I want to describe just a few of the highlights and areas of personal growth from my trip and to thank all of those who helped make this trip possible for me through donations, prayer, and encouragement!
One of the things I was most excited about on this trip was the fact that it was surgically based. For the last few years, I have been feeling a call from God to pursue surgery as a means to impact people's lives here in America and also to be best prepared to participate in whatever version of medical missions that the Lord has planned for me in the future. This is part of the reason that I chose to train in general surgery, which I will be pursuing next year when I begin the long process of a surgical residency. For all of these reasons, this trip was important to me because of the opportunity to gain more operative experience. I was surprised that some of my best operative experience came with the OB/GYN surgeons. During the week, I scrubbed into 6 total hysterectomies (removal of the uterus, usually for fibroids-- an important surgery for a global surgeon to know!) and I was able to participate as a surgeon, being able to take down part of my side of the uterus which included a "clamp, cut, tie" pattern and also closing the abdominal fascia (both of which I had never done before!). Not only was igreat to participate in pelvicsurgery, something I don't get to see very often, but it was also a chance to be able to truly operate inside the body, instead of simply opening and closing skin as I had done many times before. I also worked with the general surgeons,doing primarily inguinal hernias and hydroceles. On one particular bilateral hydrocele, I did the majority of my side of the surgery by myself! Overall, during this trip I was able to operate more independently than I ever had before, which will not only boost my confidence going into my surgical intern year but will also make me a better surgeon as a whole!
Having never before gone on a mission trip, I think I expected there to be more of a "formal" process to sharing the gospel and evangelizing with the Haitians. I even became a little discouraged a few days in when I realized I hadn't really "shared thegospel" in the exact sense of the phrase. However, after some conversations with others and God working in my heart, I started to realize that evangelism is less about a short explanation of the gospel and more about building a relationship and being a conduit of God's love to others. While difficult with the language barrier, I really enjoyed praying with several of my patients pre-operatively. With the help of an interpreter, all of the patients received the prayers well and were quite appreciative to be prayed over at such a scary and vulnerable time. Although it goesagainst my personality, I also tried to slow down and be intentional with simply "hanging out" with and loving on the patients and their families. This includedtalking/praying with them in pre-op, sitting with them after their surgeries, and even calming a young scared boy before and after his surgery by playing a motorcycle game on my phone! There are several ministries on the mission that I tried to participate in. The Grand Moun is an area that takes in senior citizens without family who would otherwise be homeless (there is no Social Security in Haiti!). On one particular occasion, I went down to the Grand Mount hoping there would be an interpreter there to help me communicate with the seniors. There was no interpreter, but undeterred, I sat with a couple of the older men and stumbled through some short conversation in very broken creole. When I soon ran out of things that I could say, I just sat in the rocking chairs with them in silence, holding one gentleman's hand as he smiled. Several minutes into the silence, the gentleman (sitting next to me in the picture), who was blind, turned to me and said in broken English, "We love you... Jesus loves you." I was shocked and repeated the same thing back to him. This was such an encouraging moment for me!
Growing in my own walk with God:
On our first day of travel to the mission, we crossed paths with a team that had been there the week prior. In passing, one of the ladies wished me good luck and told me, “you will receive even more than what you give". I didn't quite understand what she meant at the time, but now looking back, I realize that I gained so much in my own walk with the Lord.
A highlight for me was being able to preach one of the nightly devotionals. I chose to speak about how I (and many others) struggle with fear, anxiety, and the constant need to have full control over my life. I gave my testimony of how I have really struggled with overanalyzing and over-thinking my residency decision. I said that there are two reasons that we no longer need to be filled with fear - God's love and God's grace. I concluded with Ephesians 2: 1-10 which after describing the depravity and hopelessness of man, says “...But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…”. After giving my devotion, I had my friend and his sister play guitar and sing a song. I will never forget looking out over the group as we sat in that chapel on that breezy evening and we sang the words, "I'm no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God." One of my greatest growths of the week was the realization that I need to have enough faith in God to give all of my life to him and to worry less about if my petty plan for myself is coming to fruition. My theme phrase for the week was "More of Him, less of me!"
All in all, this trip was amazing. I got to serve so many people in a physical sense-- helping to provide them with life-changing surgeries-- but more importantly, I also was able to serve in a way that provided spiritual nourishment. I was surprised, though, in how much I personally came away with. Not only did I learn and experience so much from a medical standpoint that will make me a better surgeon, but I also gained encouragement and growth in my walk with the Lord. To all of those who donated to my trip, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without your contribution, this trip would not have been possible and my future as a surgical missionary would be less certain. I truly believe that your donations were multiplied as we healed lives, made more disciples, and as I was encouraged to continue my path into surgical missions. I also want to thank all of you supported my trip through constant prayer and encouragement—I couldn’t have done this without you! Lastly, I want to thank and give Glory to God for using a lowly sinner like me to serve His beloved people in Haiti.
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