As a Nurse Practitioner in a community, one never knows what journey life will take you on. In 2012 after much trepidation and anxiety, I joined the “Hand of Hope” Medical and Dental team through Joyce Meyer Ministries. Hand of Hope is a volunteer organization that travels all over the world to help people in medical need who would not otherwise have access to care. It is also known as Medical Missions.
The trip came at a time when I was searching for a deeper meaning of what I wanted to do to make a difference in someone’s life, something outside the “box” that challenged me and my faith to be without feeling comfortable, privileged, or entitled. I applied (a pretty lengthy process, with health valuations, immunizations, background checks, and reference letters), oh, and yes, you have to pay for your flight and lodging.
No two Mission are ever alike. There are only a few I have traveled with more than twice. There are usually 30-35 volunteers, from various back grounds, ethnicities, and experiences. We always have a group leader from the Joyce Meyers Ministries who keeps us on track and engaged. Volunteers come from all over, so strangers become, colleagues and sometime life long friends. We all seem to come and gather for a similar purpose, giving of yourself to someone in need.
My First Mission: Coffee Bay, South Africa, 2012
Coffee Bay, South Africa, was my first mission. A 20-hour flight from Sacramento to New York (5 hours) 15 hours from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa, another one and a half hours to East London, South Africa, followed by a 5-hour bus ride to the village of Coffee Bay. This was my first trip to Africa. There were 35 of us volunteers from all over the world, US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Nigeria. We stayed at a hotel on the beach that would be considered a 1-2 star but had the best food and wonderful authentic host.
We set up clinic in cow pasture, under a tent. There was no running water or indoor toilet facilities. Working in this little village that had no electricity or plumbing was challenging. The South African people came out in great numbers to receive medical attention. Some had never seen a doctor before.
Most of us were medical providers. There was a pharmacist, a dental team, nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, and laypeople (school teachers, business owners, construction workers, and EMT. We all found a purpose and a job to do. We jumped in to did what needed to be done. There was also a ministry tent, that was specifically for prayer and salvation. It was a good fit.
The village felt like I had stepped back in time 30 years. The villagers lived in huts, made by hand with no running water or electricity. They cooked on wood stoves, and many had no shoes. We met a host church that organized our stay and made sure we were transported to our clinics, which was a cow pasture, under a large tent. There was no running water and no indoor bathrooms. For five days, we saw and treated so many conditions not seen in the US. Many children were orphaned, having lost parents to AIDS.
Common complaints and severe medical conditions were seen all day long. The people of the village where we administered help were very humble. My “first world problem” was nothing compared to some of the devastating health problems we encountered. We say over 3000 people for medical and dental care in a week. The people of Coffee Bay, South Africa, were some of the best I have ever known, hospitable, humble, and gracious. They shared their town, culture, music, and themselves.
Now, here are a few pictures from my Nairobi, Kenya and Kathmandu, Nepal trips.
Nairobi, Kenya, 2013
We were in Kenya for 8 days, in one of biggest and worse slums in Kenya. Hurama Slums. There are about 1-3 million people living within 2 slums along a river. There is no sanitation and is one of the worse living condition I’d ever seen. We set up clinic in a in Hurama, and saw over 5000 patients.
Kathmandu, Nepal, 2014
We spent a week in 5 different villages in Nepal. Most of the clinics were in remote areas where health care is non-existent. Through Joyce Meyers Ministries we were able to help many patients get much needed help.
Finding My Purpose
I just completed my 6th Medical Mission in Ethiopia, East Africa, in November of 2019. (Coffee Bay, South Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Kathmandu, Nepal, Panama City, Panama, Manila, Philippines) I try to go once a year. You can say that I found my calling. It took a lot of souls searching prayer and faith, but being blessed with so much, it is a privilege and a blessing to reach out and help some else.
“You can say that I found my calling. It took a lot of soul searching prayer and faith, but being blessed with so much, it is a privilege and a blessing to reach out and help some else.”