from her own personal testimony
Breathtaking, eye-opening, humbling, emotional, and exciting are only a few words to describe my experience with Mission to the World in Monterrey, Mexico. For seven days, sixteen Americans, including myself, were called to part with the comfort and luxuries of home. Instead, we would submit ourselves to the service of others, all in the means of glorifying God. Every team member relinquished his/her rights unto the Lord and entrusted Him to provide us with the strength and character we would need to succeed in all the Lord’s desires.
The first two days of clinic were spent at La Vida Nuestra, a Presbyterian church in Monterrey. On Wednesday we served half a day at a nursing home in a poor part of the city. Thursday and Friday were spent at Bethel Presbyterian Church. The members of Bethel extended their time and energies to the team with a grateful heart. While the Pastors provided us with transportation, the ladies served us lunch every day.
Our medical team consisted of doctors and medical students, nurses, a lab technician, a pre-pharmacy student, a physical therapist, and me, a pre-physical therapy student. Our non-medical team members served in administrating the clinic, counting pills in the pharmacy, providing patients with reading glasses, and leading children ministries. The Lord also granted us with several Mexican dentists, three vets (who gave vaccines to cats and dogs as another example of the free grace of Christ), two Mexican evangelists, a barber (giving free haircuts to waiting patients), and many translators for our six providers. Betsy, our team leader, did an outstanding job managing clinic flow.
In the days before and evenings after clinic, we enjoyed sightseeing and experiencing the beauty and culture of Mexico. We attended church at Bethel on Sunday. Being in the presence of such a welcoming family in Christ helped me to feel at home with my first step through the door. Pastor Eraclio preached a sermon on God’s timing that we all found beneficial as the team was dealing with seven missing pieces of luggage containing a good portion of our clinic supplies. One of my favorite cultural experiences was eating lunch at a restaurant famous for its goat. For someone who had never planned to eat goat, I must say it was delicious! Bethel organized a fiesta for us Friday evening. We enjoyed many Mexican delicacies and danced to a Mariachi band.
While the scenery and culture of Mexico certainly had an impact, the greatest impact came from service in the clinic. I was blessed to have an amazing physical therapist, Michelle, as a mentor. Our interpreter, Oscar, also wants to pursue a career in physical therapy. It didn’t take long for the three of us to form a bond, exchanging thoughts, feelings, and inspirations.
My heart began to race at the sight of our first patient. Fernando, a seventeen year old male with cerebral palsy, was carried into the clinic by his mother. He could not walk, talk, sit up by himself, or lie down without trembling off the table. Fernando’s mother, a single mother, carries him everywhere and has very little help. We educated his mother on how to care for cerebral palsy. It is comforting to know he is attending physical therapy two times a week. We also supplied the mother with printed copies of exercises and stretches for her back. Through prayer and encouragement, both of them left the clinic with uplifted spirits and gratitude.
Fernando and his mother are only a glimpse of the large variety of patients we encountered. We treated patients with back pain, tension headaches, sciatica, arthritis, wounds, tendonitis, and orthopedic injuries. The limitation of equipment did not hold back the effectiveness of treatment. Every patient left with extreme gratitude expressing that they hadn’t felt that good in years. When we asked each patient if there was anything they would like us to pray for, they never hesitated to speak of the misfortunes in their life. As we prayed, I found myself fighting to hold back tears. I was overwhelmed with the presence and the work of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, my heart was breaking, thinking of their struggle.
Knowing each patient left with alleviated pain and the understanding to properly care for their body was rewarding. However, it didn’t compare to the love, compassion, and generosity the Mexican people extended to us. Through their generous hearts, I discovered how precious the gift of life is. If we could all put aside our self-interest and rely only on God for our every need, we too can have an attitude of gratitude that allows us to channel our blessings onto others. We are often so overwhelmed with our day to day tasks that we regularly forget the blessings in life. We need not take for granted the ordinary blessings, but also must recognize the hidden, subtle and indirect blessings. Even in our most extreme adversity a blessing can be found.
When it was time to say our goodbyes on Friday, I realized a week wasn’t enough. Our team had established a bond with each other, our patients, and the churches that made it incredibly difficult to go our separate ways. It was a wonderful experience that I owe to Dr. John Buckingham, a huge supporter of ALC. I can’t thank him enough for his scholarship that covered all my air and in-country cost. What an honor it was to have been chosen for it.
I ask you all to pray for Monterrey and its people. God has allowed wonderful things to happen there, so let us all pray that He makes a path for them to continue. If God knocks at your door with an opportunity like He did for me, I strongly encourage each of you to let God in. I believe you will find He has great plans for you, even if it requires you to move outside of your comfort zone. As Anne Ortlund stated, “Whatever God asks you to be, He enables you to be!”