We will go to Nicaragua again in a few weeks on our second medical mission trip there with a group from our church. Last year was my first visit to that beautiful country and my first medical mission trip. I returned home changed by the experience, as I have been by previous mission trips. I recognized one such change recently when I was forced to start antibiotics for a persistent respiratory infection. I was grateful for the medicine, but felt guilty as I remembered the hundreds of people who came to the doctors in our mission team for medical care and for the medicines our group provided: aspirin, Tylenol, and antibiotics among others. For many, if not most, of the people our doctors treated, such medicines are not readily available. We live in a culture that is saturated with drugs, good and bad. And while there are many people in this country who lack access to medicine and good medical care, many of us take pain relief and treatment for infections for granted. I find it hard to wrap my mind around what it would be like to live without the basic medical care I take for granted, a situation common to too many of the world’s people. In spite of the challenges in their lives, or perhaps because of them, I learned from the people we encountered on our last trip to Nicaragua more about how to live joyfully in difficult circumstances. I learned years ago that what we have to bring to the people we meet on our mission trips is helpful, but what they have to offer us in return is priceless if we go with open hearts. My prayer is that I will return from the upcoming trip changed once again and for God’s help in sharing what I learn there when I return.
Grace and Peace,