This past June I went on my first medical missions trip to Honduras! I am SO grateful for everyone who donated to my trip, shared my Facebook posts, bought shirts and prayed for me. My heart is truly fulI from God's goodness and His provision. I went with CompassionLink, a team filled with amazing healthcare providers, missionaries and pastors. It sounds super cliche, but it was truly a life-changing trip and it really opened my eyes to the physical and spiritual needs of God's children around the world, but especially the Miskito people in Honduras.
*The photos in this post are taken by our talent teammate, Aaron Davis, btw. I have personal photos on here too, but you can definitely tell which ones are mine.
I made so many beautiful new friends and had a chance to practice my Spanish... or well I got really good at saying "Hello my name is Nicole and I speak and understand a little bit of Spanish". Hahah. It did help that lots of Spanish words are Tagalog words and since I speak Tagalog, I had somewhat of an advantage. I did learn a lot of Spanish medical terms though and I intend on being conversational when I return!
It was definitely a physically intense trip considering we were on a bus for a total of 12 hours and on a dugout canoe for about 26 hours. We slept on floors in our mosquito nets, shared tubs of water for our "showers" and took "redneck showers" (wiping yourself with baby wipes & praying that you don't smell as bad b/c you're drenched in baby wipes) when we had a chance. There were times where I couldn't sleep b/c I felt so disgusting and times where I fell asleep within minutes because of exhaustion... BUT if I could do it all over again, I would. As much as I desired the comforts of my bed, a hot shower and air conditioning, I would give it all up if it meant I could serve God's beautiful children.
I went with three other XA students on this trip, Dalena (who I was friends with at UT), Amanda (from Iowa) and Braeden (from Arkansas)! I learned so much with them since Dr. Honderick would give us case studies while we were on the boat. It's pretty safe to say we became fast friends with the amount of time we spent together. We played games on the boat and Braeden became a victim of our relationship questions, since us girls (mostly me), wanted to see things from a guys' perspective.
I really loved this trip because if you know me, you know my two passions-- Jesus and medicine. I LOVED being able to observe the healthcare providers and help provide care to the patients, but I also LOVED how we were able to pray for each of them afterward. It really reminded me how God's love knows no boundaries and doesn't need translation. It was so beautiful.
We had a total of five clinics in the villages: Krausirpi, Pimienta, Kurpa, and Wampusirpi. The other students and I would switch out on rotations -- medical, dental, optical and pharmacy. We did each rotation at least once and the rest we just chose where we wanted to go.. so you know I spent most of my time in medical. I did gain a new appreciation for dental though, considering I have an aunt and a grandma who are dentists. I still do not think it's for me, but I had so much fun/cringed a lot when they pulled teeth. I got to give out stickers though to the brave kids who went through with it!
I think some of my favorite moments though, were hanging out with the kids. I got to give them candy and stickers and even showed them how to put on a sticker (I stuck it on my face and started a trend). We even painted nails which I am terrible at, but it was so much fun!
There were many moments where I had to fight back tears because of how overwhelmed I was. I was overwhelmed by God's love for them and how he is capable of using someone like me to serve and love on them. On the Sunday service, I was able to give my testimony, which was translated by Pastor Randy. I really didn't want to cry, but I always end up crying when I give my testimony because God's goodness and love just overwhelms me. So I guess you can add Honduras to the list of countries I have cried at!! Hahah. In all seriousness though, it was an honor to be able to give my testimony to everyone in the church and I am so grateful to have had that opportunity. I was terrified, but when Pastor Randy asked who wanted to share, I immediately said yes. I mean it's not everyday you have a chance to share what God has done in your life in another country so... go big or go home.
Every day we ate beans and tortillas or rice and it is safe to say I devoured my food each time it was time to eat. I am so grateful for the ladies who spent HOURS cooking for us and would wake up at like 2 am just to make us food. I'm not a picky eater so I loved everything that we ate, but it's safe to say I am taking a break from beans for a while. I did buy some of their chocolate and it was SOO good. I love sweets, but their chocolate wasn't even THAT sweet which made it even better.
We would go to bed each day around 8:30-9 pm and get up between 6-6:30 am. If only my life was like that in the U.S. *sigh* During our free day we had a chance to explore the village of Wampusirpi with the kids and try the different types of chips they had. Walking around the village reminded me so much of the farm areas of the Philippines. We even took a tour of their health clinic and my inner public health nerd got to see some of their health posters which were really neat.
I realized I didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but I was just too busy taking it in... or my phone was dead. Haha. I tried to absorb and remember everything because I was just so grateful to be there. I remember asking God to let me go on this trip after refreshing the CompassionLink page so many times and seeing one that was open for students and I couldn't believe it actually became a reality.
So, from the bottom of my heart... I just wanted to say THANK YOU again to everyone who helped make this trip possible. My life is forever changed for it and I have y'all to thank for that.
This was my first medical mission trip, but it definitely won't be the last!! My love for medicine grew on this trip and so did my love for Jesus and His people + I realized I look really great in scrubs, so why not? I amazed myself by how much I could endure physically, emotionally and spiritually and how I take so much for granted when I'm back home. I am so blessed and grateful to be in a country where even though the healthcare system is broken, I still have access to it. I can only hope and pray that one day healthcare would be seen as a right and not a privilege, so that people like the Miskitas can have better access to health.
To my teammates and new friends, I miss y'all very much! Y'all became my family during this trip and I adopted each one of you as my own. Each of you are truly amazing people and I have learned so much from each of you. Thanks for impacting my life + accepting my friend requests.
The girl with upside down dimples