Small Town Girl Gets Out
What happens when a Pacific Northwest native meets spiders, snakes, and water buffaloes
A Ministry Minutes Reflection
In 2007, this small-town girl got a wild idea. Go to Vietnam on a medical mission. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought I’d ever do something like that. And if you think I was surprised at myself, you should’ve seen my long-suffering husband’s reaction when I informed him I wanted to go. You’ve heard of that deer-in-the-headlights look? Yep, that was him.
There were over one hundred of us who went. Many were college students, and several were actually from that part of the world.
They were invaluable to the rest of us greenhorns because they spoke the language, knew the customs, and could explain stuff like, “Deb, I’ll take your picture with the water buffalo in the background, but don’t get too close to him–they’re kinda cranky sometimes.” (Picture to the right was taken prior to my weight loss journey of about 60 pounds . . . the water buffalo doesn’t look impressed with me, right?)
Another piece of advice we received was, “Make sure you take your malaria pill with food, or you’ll get really sick.” Deb forgot to take hers at dinner one evening and remembered at about 10PM. Took it anyway. (Getting a bit sick is a lot better than getting malaria, right?) Not so sure about that . . . got sicker than I’d ever been before, and had to be given an injection.
Point taken. Didn’t do that again.
We had doctors and nurses, and other medical professionals who led the trip. Our job was to set up clinics in schools not in session in July, draw blood, dispense needed medicines, and refer the sickest to the nearest hospitals. My particular task was drawing blood.
Many villagers came out of curiosity. But many brought their sick parents, children, and other loved ones. I remember riding in our transport buses on mountain roads early in the morning, and passing people walking to the school we’d set up in for the day. Some carried children and elderly on their backs. That’s not a sight I’ll soon forget. When I need a doctor, I call and make an appointment–then jump in my car and I’m there in ten minutes.
My take-away from this trip? When I arrived back home, it took me about two weeks to stop looking up when I entered a room–to make sure there were no giant spiders hanging from the ceiling. And then there’s the food. I longed for a cheeseburger.
Don’t get me wrong, we were well-fed, but it just wasn’t the same. And sometimes, wandering through an open-air market, we’d see dishes never seen in Yakima, WA.
But the biggest, most important take-away was the realization of how spoiled I really am. And how quick I am to be disgruntled or angry if something doesn’t go my way. I thank God for the trip he allowed me to make with a stellar group of mission-minded folks. And . . . of course, that he allowed me to come back home.
One of my favorite pictures from the trip (besides the first one at the top) is this one. We never spoke to each other–I don’t think she spoke English, and my Vietnamese was limited to bathroom and roll up your sleeve.
But, as you can clearly see, her story is etched in her face and the way she holds her hat.
I won’t tell you what I see in her face. I’ll leave it to you to decide what her story is for yourself.
We’re sometimes insulated here in America. It’s good to get out and experience something new, to see life from a different perspective.
What about you? Have you had that kind of adventure? What did you learn from it?
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing about the wildness God has brought into your life.