It was 2011. When I think back on it now, it seems like a lifetime ago. Having been married for five years, Calvin and I desired to participate together in a short-term ministry abroad with Medical Missions Outreach. Together, we decided on Kenya in January of 2012. Our only child at that time, Blaine, was two years old. My heart did flip-flops at the thought of being apart from him for ten days. But I mostly felt excitement about the adventure that lay ahead.
Our first flight was to Newark. During the overnight layover, my stomach began to ache, which we assumed was due to my nerves. But early in the morning, as we awaited our next flight, my nausea rapidly increased. During those frantic moments, as my discomfort grew and the passengers began to board, we were torn. After all of the planning, after all of the money God had provided, should I simply stay home? We decided to pray, trust God, and board. I remember clearly, as the airplane took off toward London, the nausea subsided instantly. It may seem insignificant, but in this small way, God proved His faithfulness again as we followed His leading.
When we finally landed in Kenya, tired and disoriented, our surroundings felt warm and chaotic. The culture was rich and colorful. The wildlife and scenery were breathtaking. The host missionaries, Denny and Angela Madory, were gracious and treated us like honored guests. We did, in fact, feel honored to spend time with them, as well as with our fellow MMO team members and the Kenyan believers. But it was our time in the clinic that made the deepest impact on our hearts. Calvin and I had been trained to serve with the vision team. After a patient’s eyes were examined and a prescription was written, we were given the task of finding a “close to perfect” match among the boxes of donated glasses. It was challenging at times, but it was always rewarding. I will never forget one elderly woman in particular. She placed her new glasses on her face and immediately pulled a Bible out of her bag. Joy radiated from her as she began to read, tears sparkling in her eyes. The ability to read God’s Word, a privilege we often take for granted, was her first priority as she finally saw the world with clear vision. We were exhausted at the end of each day, but our hearts were overflowing.
That week, Calvin and I had the opportunity to work alongside a veteran missionary couple who had formerly served in Ethiopia. On two separate occasions, they confronted us as individuals about God’s calling on our lives. “So when are you two going to surrender to full-time missions?” It was said lightheartedly, and we would laugh. But they probably had no idea they were watering a seed that God had already planted in our hearts. Throughout the following year, it seemed that every sermon we heard, every verse we read, pointed us to a nameless place in “the uttermost parts of the earth.” We were willing. Restless, even. We deeply love our home church family in Ohio. We were seeing Christ transform lives within our little community. But we never forgot that breathtaking work abroad. The world had become both bigger and smaller for us. Our eyes had affected our hearts.
In 2014, our plane touched down in our new home, the Philippines. Since that time, over the past three years, we have watched genuine miracles take place through the birth of Bahay Sibol Children’s Home and the flourishing of a church plant, City Baptist of Lagro. Only a few weeks ago, we ushered in 2018, watching the work of God complete a full circle before our eyes. On the six-year anniversary of our trip to Kenya, a Medical Missions Outreach team hosted a vision clinic on our side of the globe. Because of God’s work through the MMO team, many Filipinos in our community have accepted Christ and have been attending our church. But clearly, the work of MMO does not end with the patients. The story of our life and family is testimony to what God can do in the hearts of the MMO volunteers. God used our short time in Kenya to open our eyes to God’s work in the world and to consider our role in it. We never dreamed that those ten days with Medical Missions Outreach would lead to a lifetime of serving our Savior in the Philippines.
Would you like to be involved in MMO’s vision clinics right where you live? You can help by collecting and shipping eyeglasses to our headquarters in Baltimore, where they’ll be processed and then distributed to patients on upcoming trips! Collection boxes are available in our online store.