In case you haven’t heard, I will embark on a medical mission trip to India over my Christmas break! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this opportunity. Although I went on a medical mission trip to Cambodia as an undergraduate student, I never believed I would be able to go on one during medical school. I thought the financial obstacles and time constraints would be too great to overcome. However, God proved me wrong and used my family, friends, church, and sorority sisters to provide everything I need to go to India. Now, I have the opportunity to share this experience with you. I am writing a series of blog posts that will cover my journey from beginning to end, and hope you will follow along :).
The first order of business I want to cover through this series is the why. Why am I going on a medical mission trip? Why not just send that money directly to India to help people?
The simple yet complicated answer is that I feel called to go. However, I don’t really know the answer as to why I feel called… I just do. I’m sure that God will give me that answer, though I can’t guarantee when He will. In the mean time, I’ll give you some thoughts about why I believe medical mission trips can be beneficial.
Even though the mission trip is only 10 days long (a few of those spent just traveling to India), I truly believe I will be able to help people during that time. The group I am going to India with returns to the same area every year, and partners with a hospital in the region to provide medical care to rural villages. We will see hundreds of patients. Some will come to us with acute conditions, which we will be able to treat while we are there. Many patients will come to us with chronic conditions that require treatment over a long period of time. Despite the long term treatment required for these patients, I still believe they can be helped, whether through education about their condition or through osteopathic manipulative treatment. In addition, by returning each year, we help expand the hospital’s reach and provide preventative care these patients would otherwise not have access to. Although there can be a lot of harm done from short term mission trips (read the book Toxic Charity if you are interested in this!), I believe this one in particular does more good than harm.
I’d be lying if I said there isn’t anything in this for me, though. Clearly, there is. It’s a once in a lifetime learning opportunity. These patients will be some of my first patients that I get to help heal on my journey to become a physician. This will be the first time I get to actually apply the concepts I have been learning for the past year and a half, and put human faces to some of the pathologies I’ve seen in the books. I get to learn about and interact with a new culture, helping me become more culturally sensitive in my medical practice. It will renew my passion for medicine, and help me fight the burnout and anxiety of boards studying. I believe going to India on this mission trip will help me become more confident in my knowledge and skills, and erase some of my self-doubt and imposter syndrome.
Most importantly, though, is using this as an opportunity to show the love of Jesus. I get to go to the other side of the world, visit villages I have never heard of, look those people in the eyes, and listen to their stories. By going, I am letting them know they are not forgotten, that they are worthy of good health and healing despite their poverty. That they are worthy, period. No, I’m not going with a religious group, but I hope that God will use me so at least one person I meet will see Jesus and hear His name.
No matter my personal thoughts and motivations for going to India, the reason I am able to go is because of people who love me and believe in me. I can never thank you all enough for the support you have shown me through my life’s journey.