I have always wanted to go on a medical mission trip, as I am a nurse. However, “always” usually refers to your whole life.
My husband found the Lord by watching a television evangelist, and I committed to God shortly after noticing the change in him, some 47 years ago. I grew in my faith through our attendance at my local church and also the local chapter of a global Kingdom movement called Aglow. We became active in our church and began making decisions based on God's leading in our lives.
My husband retired without a retirement fund. I had been working in administrative positions in nursing at a psychiatric hospital, but was also between jobs. I felt the Lord call me to work at a detox center with alcoholics and drug addicts, which I knew nothing about! God showed me that I was on His mission field, right here at home. So I didn’t go away on a mission trip.
At one point our church was sending another group on a medical mission trip, and at the last minute one of the nurses could not go. I was asked to take her place! It turns out I could not get off from work. I was so disappointed. I continued to work at the detox center for 18 years until I retired at 65.
Several years before I retired, I realized that my husband was having memory problems. He was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My heart’s desire to go on a medical mission trip faded like the sunset. I moved to Henrico to be close to my children so they could help me care for my husband. The Lord showed me I was once again on His mission field, until 2 years ago when he went home to heaven.
In the beginning of this year I made a bucket list. Number one on my list was, “Go on a mission trip!” That very Sunday, I discovered that a women's team from my church was going to Linda Vista, Costa Rica, to work with at-risk girls! I was excited, but hesitant. I’m in my 80’s now, so I thought, what could I offer?
But I found out it was not all about me, but what God had to offer the at-risk, 5th and 6th grade girls in Costa Rica. I had an abusive childhood—an alcoholic and sexually abusive father—just like some of those girls, so I could relate to them. I was asked to give my childhood testimony to them, and many came forward. We prayed and cried with them. I realized that God will use us when we are available and willing to be used by Him.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, but it wasn’t about me; it was about them. I am so grateful the Lord granted me the gift of “going,” which had been my heart’s desire for so many years.