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Preparing to do what I can’t at home

February 18, 2009

I have waited my entire life to go on a medical mission, because of restrictions within the U.S. that means I am going international. It is odd really, for the last 15 years I have been a nurse. A nurse who has seen many new lives come into the world, and several slip peacfully out of it. I have tried to help families, cried with families, prayed with families and done almost every procedure imaginable for a nurse to do (yes, this includes stitches). Why, with all of this important work to do here where I live am I going on a medical mission? I have actually had people ask me this and other questions….. Why would you put yourself in harms way, you have kids to think about? That costs a lot, why wouldn’t you use that expense for your family? Do you think it is ethically sound to go to another country and provide them care for only a little while and then leave without establishing anything? Why don’t we just leave everyone else alone, they don’t have to be just like us you know?

Well, I have pondered these questions and find some of them to be valid concerns. Let me address them as best I can to help others understand my perspective. This gift I have, nursing and motherhood, equip me for compassionate knowledgeable care that not everyone can provide. It is a gift and I am therefore obliged to share it where I can. I do share it in my work, but find that there are others who need my gift freely. I also believe that I am fairly young (as a matter of personal opinion I know) and strong and I am able to go to places that others cannot and do things that others might dare not. I ask the question, if I don’t go ‘there’ who will? If I don’t do this now then when and why the heck not? I have enough money that everyone gets fed and the bills get paid and we are warm and safe. What possibly more could I want? Also, showing my children by example what they are called to give up in their own lives and in their future is important. This last point is so important that I have decided to take my 11 year old son with me so that he can work/experience/be changed by this international medical mission. We will be working with some of the poorest people in a country that does not experience wealth nearly by Western standards. This is something he and I both need to live with for a while. Finally, I am not allowed by state laws, insurance companies, etc… to provide free medical care to the neediest people without grilling them about their income, their insurance, and certainly not passing over state lines unless of a natural disaster. This makes U.S. medical missions quite difficult, likewise litigation against even bystanders who try to help is a fear within this society http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-03-23-samaritan-accident_N.htm.

Anyway, we are preparing in knowledge, patience, strength, and in our spirits for this trip. Maybe this video will explain why…. this is done by Sarah Groves and chronicles her experience going to Rwanda. Well written and does express this longing/understanding of a call to help others well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSdP6PqsbJY.

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