At Medical Missions Outreach, we have heard it many times: “I could never travel on a missions trip.” Maybe you wish that you could try a trip, but you have never even traveled outside of the country. It may prove hard to imagine joining a team. Although the first step may be difficult, even our most seasoned staffers started with their first trips.
I was a newer nurse who had heard about MMO through a friend. I had never met a single person on the team or on the MMO staff. I wandered around my departure gate until I saw some familiar-looking t-shirts. A few team members quickly adopted me, and about thirty of us were off to Guatemala. I listened to my patients in clinic and patiently waited for the sometimes, heart-breaking interpretations. One man had abdominal pain which stemmed from Stage IV cancer. He wondered if I could give him any pain medicine. I ached for him, realizing that we did not have pain medications strong enough to make a real difference and were resigned to giving much less effective medicine. But, I knew the church people would present Jesus to him. It was my first trip.
Steve worked as a Physician’s Assistant on a medical/surgical team in El Progreso, Honduras. The team served alongside Pastor Robbie and Christine Ellis and Pastor Matt and Dallita Goins. Steve sent one patient to the Honduran hospital for bloodwork to assist in his diagnosis; however, he learned that in Honduras the patient must pay for each test individually before blood can be drawn. The cost of the tests far exceeded the patient’s ability to pay. The medical needs in the community were great, and in one day Steve had the privilege of delivering thirteen babies! He found the MMO team very organized, and he could see how much they loved serving the Lord and other people. He also appreciated the heavy emphasis on the local church there in Honduras. It was his first trip.
Brandon joined a team of about fifteen volunteers in Kenya. Many would become repeat team members over the years. Having never been outside of the country, everything about the culture shocked him. The housing accommodations were especially challenging. Brandon grew up in a Christian home but had lost sight of his priorities upon entering the workplace. Not only did the trip open his eyes to missions, but God used it to bring him back to Himself. That first trip God proved to Brandon that He is still alive, working and inviting us to be a part of His work. It was his first trip.
Joseph traveled to South Africa with a larger team of around forty members. The clinic setup was fluid in nature, and everyone shouldered the workload together. He enjoyed meeting new people and learning their stories. Joseph helped fit people for glasses in the optical clinic. There was singing, dancing, crying, and celebrating when the right pair was found. The excursion day included wildlife safaris and jumping off a 700-foot bridge! It was his first trip.
Becky ventured out with a team of eight to Port de Paix, Haiti. As a nurse she helped carry clinic supplies down a hill, across a creek, and back up another hill to reach the clinic site. Vehicles were unreliable that week, and at times fights would break out as patients desperately waited for medications and treatment. But God was working through the host missionaries who had served that community for forty years. Becky left impressed by their faithfulness and love for the Haitian people. It was her first trip.
Dr. Jason Frazer knew his heart was drawn to full-time missions, but he had no direction about a specific people group. In 2016, he journeyed to Quito, Ecuador with a team of thirty. They ministered with a pastor planting a church in an urban setting. Although they hosted clinic in a small venue with modest patient counts, he saw souls saved, including his interpreter for the week. Jason was drawn to MMO’s Gospel-centered approach and their partnerships with local church-planters. These two factors eventually led him to join MMO in a long-term position in the Rearick Surgical Center (Honduras). It was his first trip.
Maybe you have been hesitant about your first trip. As the MMO staff, we can say confidently that we thank God for our first trips. They were not free of challenges, but they were full of God’s goodness. Every time that a team member signs up for one of our trips, our staff members get an email notification. Sometimes in the bottom of the email, it announces: “This is this team member’s first trip.” When I read this, I can’t help smiling to myself and praying, “God, thank you for what you’re going to do next!”