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Nursing Students Travel to Somotillo, Nicaragua

This past August of 2012 we had the opportunity to travel with the Christian Medical and Dental Association’s Global Health Outreach to Somotillo, Nicaragua. This was Lauren’s third trip to Nicaragua with GHO and Renee’s first with GHO. On this trip there were about five medical doctors, one nurse, two dentists, and a pharmacist as well as many logistics people – the ages of the whole group ranged from high school to late 70’s. Once in the city, we met up with many local translators, as well as a doctor, two nurses, and a dentist.

We set up a clinic at a local church building with tables for a triage section, tables to see the doctors, one exam room, a makeshift pharmacy and a make-shift dentistry. During the week Monday through Thursday we saw many local people from surrounding villages. They began by sitting through a health education seminar in which they learned about proper hygiene and ways of preventing illness. This was also a time when the local pastor would present the Gospel and sing songs with the people. The group would then go to triage where we would obtain their vitals, a glucose test, and their main complaint, and then give them anti-parasitic medication. As nursing students, we got to help out a few times with triage.

The patients would then wait to see a doctor. The doctor would do a basic assessment and address the main complaint of the patient. The doctors also had the opportunity to share the Gospel and talk with the patient about their faith. At the end of their time together, they would end with praying with the patient. A prescription was given to the patients, who would then go to the pharmacy to get it filled. Many times the medication would simply be ibuprofen or vitamins. We also got the experience of helping out in the pharmacy by counting and packing medications.

When not at the clinic, we spent our time helping with the children’s ministry. We were able to play games with them, and share about Creation, our need for a Savior, who Christ is, and how to live out your faith. This was done through creative activities such as coloring, games, pictures, etc. It was amazing to see the love these kids had. As nursing students, we went on the trip expecting to do many medical things. God ended up using us to also reach out to these kids, who in turn, ended up reaching out to us and showed us what it means to have selfless, unconditional love.

On each day of the week, a few people from the team were able to go to a surrounding rural village to provide care to the people who would not have the means to travel into town.  The group packed medications, vitamins, and basic medical supplies as well as toys for kids. Many people would show up at one house to be seen by the doctor. Despite their poverty, these people were rich in the joy of the Lord. They took to heart what Paul writes about in Acts 12:10-13 – devoted to each other as a community, being joyful in the hope of the Kingdom to come, faithful in praying for fellow believers, and practicing hospitality. Whether old or young, whenever we would come to a house, they would welcome us with love and generous hospitality

On our way back from Somotillo, we had the opportunity to stop by a place known as “the Dump” in Managua, where generations of families live literally in a trash dump. A few years ago they had their houses in the trash heaps. Within the past year, the government has gotten involved and pushed these people out and made them move. Now they are down the hill from the heap of trash, in houses made of trash and tarps. It was emotionally difficult to go and see this dump where vultures circled in the air, dogs and horses ran wild, and all were digging through the trash looking for things for their household and food to eat.

Our team leader asked us to think about what we will take away from our time at this horrific place; then proceeded to share what he has taken away from it in times past. He mentioned that many times our response to an experience such as this is to walk away feeling very grateful for the things we have, and make promises to ourselves to not complain about what we do not have. God blesses us all in different ways; but what our team leader (Andy) was saying was that all the “things” we have are all “trash” to God. Just like this place was a heap of trash that had a terrible stench that made you sick to your stomach, so God sees the “things” that take up our life – it is a heap of trash and a stench to Him.  Just like we saw people climbing up these heaps looking for “trash” so they would have things to eat and things to keep, so it is like us looking for “things” to buy, eat, and live with. Andy compared this to what the Bible had to say about certain people being like a stench to God (for instance when Isaiah 3 talks about Jerusalem and Judah forsaking the Lord). Andy was saying that when people are not living for God, all their possessions are like trash to Him – they are constantly climbing that alleged trash heap, seeking things that they think they need to live. Instead, when someone relies on the Lord, He continues to provide for all theirneeds, and any extra “things” they have are to be used for God’s glory.

This was an experience that neither of us will ever forget. The times we shared serving these people through medical missions was such a blessing to us. In the future, we hope to serve the Lord further through these kinds of mission opportunities. It is our prayer that God would grow students pursuing the medical field to serve him in caring for the poor and the week. Lastly, we are both very open to sharing our experience further and more specifics on ways God made Himself known to us and to the people in Nicaragua.