My trip to El Salvador with GHO has been one of the best experiences I have ever had.
A typical day consisted of breakfast and a daily devotional with the team in which some team members volunteered to share a word. We then had a debrief meeting on changes that needed to be implemented in terms of responsibilities and organization. We boarded the bus and drove about 10 to 15 minutes to the site, where we all went to our assigned locations. One of my main responsibility was to triage the patients. This task would have been impossible without Laura, my translator. I obtained the patients chief complaint, took their blood pressure, measured their weight (children under 12), noted their pulse and gave those who had not already taken anti parasitic medications.
I met so many patients and heard so many stories, some of which was very similar to my experiences when I was in Nigeria. I learned to appreciate the little things such as clean water, electricity, air conditioning, food and most importantly, safety. Through all the hardships, my patients smiled and showed their appreciation by thanking me.
While on this mission trip, I had to face one of my biggest fears, praying out loud. During our first team meeting we were told that our mission here is to serve this community medically but most importantly, to bring them closer to God, so we were encouraged to pray for the patients after triaging. On the first day at the site, I prayed for the patients I felt led to pray for, however, I prayed really fast, leaving no time for the translator or the patient to interpret or comprehend what I was saying. I was so scared of not knowing what to say next in my prayer and was terrified at the thought that my translator would think I did not know how to pray. For these reasons, the first day was the most difficult for me because I experienced the impostor syndrome. I prayed about it before I went to bed, asking God to give me the courage to overcome this fear and to speak through me. The next day, I went to my triage location where my translator welcomed me with a hug and a smile. As I walked to my table, the children waived at me and other patients/parents smiled at me. I felt at ease. After triaging my first patient, I caught myself speeding through the prayers again, but this time I stopped and somehow found the courage to pray out loud so my translator could interpret it for the patient. Unexpectedly I received a hug from the patient, thanking me for my help. Ever since then, I prayed out loud for the patients who gave me the permission to pray for them.
The GHO team members knew of my interest in applying to medical school, so they gave me the opportunity to observe the patient-doctor interactions, perform some medical procedures and learn about medical conditions. I was blessed to have teachers who answered my questions and explained why they chose a certain course of treatment. This positive environment sparked my interest to conduct a research on some medical conditions I observed during this mission trip.
To be honest, I registered for this trip not knowing what to expect, I just knew I was meant to be a part of this mission. After I registered, I did not know how I was going to afford this trip or what I would be bringing to the table as a master’s student. GHO not only made it possible for me to attend this trip by giving me a scholarship, the team made me feel needed. I was reassured of my purpose here on earth, to know God and to make him known through service.
This was my first mission trip, but certainly not my last.