Mercer On Mission

2015 Blog

Sunday-Weekend 2: Jenny

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, and to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

When I signed up for the Mercer on Mission Honduras medical trip, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Sure it would be “cool” to go to another country and, yeah, it would probably look good on my resume one day, but what I didn’t know when I signed up for the trip was how the people of Honduras would touch my heart, how much I could learn in such a short amount of time, and how sleeping in rooms without air conditioning and riding in beat up, circa 1960’s Land Rovers up and down treacherous mountains could make total strangers into the best of friends.

The patients we saw in Honduras lived in secluded villages in the Agalta Valley – many of the villages were hours away and took us a long time to reach even though we took cars there. Their houses were tiny, didn’t have air conditioning, and most of them didn’t have electricity or even plumbing. Patients would get up at 5 am and walk 3+ hours just to come to our clinic and see us. There were a lot of patients we could help, but there were also a lot of patients we couldn’t help– with heavy hearts we had to tell people they most likely had cancer and we had to tell young mothers that if they didn’t get their heart murmurs evaluated by a cardiologist they were facing the possibility of heart failure. However, no matter how little or how much care we were able to deliver, the patients all had one thing in common – they were so THANKFUL for us. The gratitude and kindness they showed us, despite our lack of resources to care for some of their health problems, was truly moving and something that we don’t see much of in developed countries that take their access to healthcare for granted.

Throughout our time in Honduras, my teammates continuously amazed me with their compassion for their patients and their knowledge related to health care. In the beginning no one really knew where they stood and what their “roles” were – we had undergraduates, translators, nurses, medical students, and pharmacists on the trip. However, we quickly learned how to successfully work together, and we built on each other’s strengths to become an efficient team that respected and encouraged one another. Besides working well together as a team, we also all became close friends that really care about each other.

Even though it was a long 2.5 weeks and I am glad to be back home where I have air conditioning, don’t have to worry about constantly applying bug spray, and have easy access to Chick-Fil-A, I wouldn’t trade my experience in Honduras for anything. I was able to truly live in the moment by immersing myself in a new and different culture, learning a lot from the people of Honduras and my teammates, and I making some lifelong friends. I will forever be thankful for the opportunities this trip has given me and for the experience I had.

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