Exceeding Expectations: My First Mission Trip

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by bethygood bethygood (New)

Sitting at the airport I look around at everyone about to leave for their first mission trip wondering if they are prepared for what they’re about to do. No one really knows what the trip involves, or the amount of time and effort that needs to be put in. I’ve been to the Dominican Republic twice already and still remember my first trip and the doubts that I had when we arrived.

Exceeding Expectations:  My First Mission Trip

We got our luggage and walked out of the airport to three buses. One was packed with our suitcases and the other two with about 65 Registered and Student Nurses. It was so hot, two of the buses had cracked windshields and the one bus carrying the luggage had the air conditioning!

I remember watching the paved roads turn into dirt roads and undeveloped roads. My eyes grew wider as we arrived at a gated area, our living quarters. The buses stopped and waited for the gate to be opened and after the buses pulled in the gate was shut behind us. This is where we would be staying when we weren't in the clinics.

The sleep rooms consisted of rusted bunk beds with mattresses that were old and about two inches thin. The bathroom stalls were at the end of the room with three shower stalls across from them. Each shower had a slow steady stream of cold water that felt good considering it was so hot there, but you had to be careful not to get it in your eyes or mouth because you'd run the risk of getting sick. The water is not safe to drink unless it's bottled or from the water cooler where we stay.

After I dropped my bag off at our sleeping quarters and claimed my bed I walked to the dining hall for lunch thinking, "Oh no, what did I get myself into!" There were many of us thinking the same thing. After we ate we unpacked and started to prepare and separate the medications and supplies.

We were in the Dominican Republic for five days and three out of the five days we spent working in the clinics. Each day we split up into two groups and went to two separate clinics to work. We got up early, ate breakfast, and arrived at the clinic site between 8:30-9: 00 am and left when the last family was seen. One would spend the day with an interpreter if you didn't speak Spanish while discussing concerns, doing health education and assessments, and distributing health-care kits to families.

The clinics were usually held in churches, and in order to provide privacy, we created individual rooms by hanging bed sheets. The number of patients one would see over the course of the day was incredible; we hardly took breaks, just a quick lunch and then back to seeing patients. Here we weren't just seeing one patient we were seeing one patient and their family, so we would take turns eating so people could continue to be seen. It was amazing to see how many people were there to help. The people from the town that the clinic was held in come to volunteer, translate, interpret, direct people where to go, or make coffee to keep everyone energized. The people were so grateful that the nurses were there in the Dominican Republic to help.

People come from all over the Dominican Republic, some walk half a day and sit waiting for hours to be seen by the nurses from the United States. For some, this is the only healthcare they receive. They are so appreciative of the care that we give and the time that we spend with them. By the end of the trip, it was hard for me to leave, for me this trip made me realize that we have so much more to give.

bethygood

Beth Goodheart RN, BSN, CNOR.

1 Article   4 Posts

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24 Comment(s)

retread71

retread71

59 Posts

thank you for sharing, it would be my goal to go on a mission trip when I complete my goal of becoming a nurse.

freedom22

freedom22

62 Posts

How do you find out about these mission trips? Where do I sign up?

Thanks.

americanlatina313

americanlatina313

Specializes in OB/GYN & Med/Surg. 51 Posts

my dream is to go on a medical mission trip - and if god so wills, this year!

meluhn

meluhn

Specializes in acute rehab, med surg, LTC, peds, home c. Has 16 years experience. 661 Posts

I am not religious or affiliated with a church but I would love to do something like this!!! Where/how can I do this?

workingmomRN

workingmomRN

Specializes in med-surg, dialysis. 116 Posts

I have always been interested in doing something like this as well, but have never been able to find out how to get involved.

zuzi

zuzi

Specializes in trauma, ortho, burns, plastic surgery. 502 Posts

Yup this is nurse missionary...is amuch than welcome all over the world. Is not about excitement is to give back what tou received. Just I love it! Good for you!

Ciale

284 Posts

How do you find out about these mission trips? Where do I sign up?

Thanks.

If you click on the "Specialty" tab, then go to "Nursing Specialties", there's actually a forum for volunteer nursing which includes missions. There are a lot of good resources there/contacts you can make.

QuitoGal

QuitoGal

Specializes in OB-GYN, Med-Surg, Rehab. Has 14 years experience. 1 Article; 10 Posts

For those wanted to know how to find a medical mission opportunity I would encourage you to look at this website http://www.medicalmissions.com/ They host a conference ever year that is excellent and affordable and have tons of booths on potential opportunities.

For those seeking international experiences but not affiliated with religion, this organization is excellent and has some good opportunities: www.cfhi.org

mcclatchey5

mcclatchey5

5 Posts

I have considered doing Volunteers of America. I think they are endorsed by the ANA if I'm not mistaken. IT is a sort of a working vacation, you can include everyone of your expenses as a donation on your taxes.

MaritesaRN

MaritesaRN

Specializes in psychiatric, UR analyst, fraud, DME,MedB. 427 Posts

Exceeding Expectations: My First Mission Trip

Beth Goodheart RN, BSN, CNOR

Sitting at the airport I look around at everyone about to leave for their first mission trip wondering if they are prepared for what they're about to do. No one really knows what the trip involves, or the amount of time and effort that needs to be put in. I've been to the Dominican Republic twice already and still remember my first trip and the doubts that I had when we arrived.

We got our luggage and walked out of the airport to three buses. One was packed with our suitcases and the other two with about 65 Registered and Student Nurses. It was so hot, two of the buses had cracked windshields and the one bus carrying the luggage had the air conditioning!

I remember watching the paved roads turn into dirt roads and undeveloped roads. My eyes grew wider as we arrived at a gated area, our living quarters. The buses stopped and waited for the gate to be opened and after the buses pulled in the gate was shut behind us. This is where we would be staying when we weren't in the clinics.

The sleep rooms consisted of rusted bunk beds with mattresses that were old and about two inches thin. The bathroom stalls were at the end of the room with three shower stalls across from them. Each shower had a slow steady stream of cold water that felt good considering it was so hot there, but you had to be careful not to get it in your eyes or mouth because you'd run the risk of getting sick. The water is not safe to drink unless it's bottled or from the water cooler where we stay.

After I dropped my bag off at our sleeping quarters and claimed my bed I walked to the dining hall for lunch thinking, "Oh no, what did I get myself into!" There were many of us thinking the same thing. After we ate we unpacked and started to prepare and separate the medications and supplies.

We were in the Dominican Republic for five days and three out of the five days we spent working in the clinics. Each day we split up into two groups and went to two separate clinics to work. We got up early, ate breakfast, and arrived at the clinic site between 8:30-9:00am and left when the last family was seen. One would spend the day with an interpreter, if you didn't speak Spanish, while discussing concerns, doing health education and assessments, and distributing health-care kits to families.

The clinics were usually held in churches, and in order to provide privacy we created individual rooms by hanging bed sheets. The amount of patients one would see over the course of the day was incredible; we hardly took breaks, just a quick lunch and then back to seeing patients. Here we weren't just seeing one patient we were seeing one patient and their family, so we would take turns eating so people could continue to be seen. It was amazing to see how many people were there to help. The people from the town that the clinic was held in come to volunteer, translate, interpret, direct people where to go, or make coffee to keep everyone energized. The people were so grateful that the nurses were there in the Dominican Republic to help.

People come from all over the Dominican Republic, some walk half a day and sit waiting for hours to be seen by the nurses from the United States. For some this is the only healthcare they receive. They are so appreciative of the care that we give and the time that we spend with them. By the end of the trip it was hard for me to leave, for me this trip made me realize that we have so much more to give.

Could you please give us info as to how this volunteer mission happens? financially , etc???

Thanks for sharing.

Newfie Lover

Newfie Lover

Specializes in Critical Care, Educator, Home Care. Has 13 years experience. 15 Posts

As a young nurse, I went on a Medical Missions Trip to Guatamala, in 1986. I will never forget it and wish every nurse could have this opportunity. I saw diseases that we vaccinate children for, and how they kill babies, who don't get the vaccine. I saw a man tortured and left to die on the edge of the road, by civil war guerillas. But some of what I will never forget, are not just the people, but the living conditions. I went to very remote areas, in the jungle, where people don't see a doctor their entire life. The ride into that jungle, took 8 hours, on a dirt road along cliffs that you could see cars and buses over the edge, in the ravines. Once, our car was stopped, after coming around a blind curve, by soldiers holding their guns toward us. They shouted for us to get out of the car and stand spread eagle against the car. Then they started to frisk us, one by one. I was scared to death! The Guatamalan doctor we were traveling with talked to the soldiers the entire time, explaining that we were all doctors, nurses, and dentists setting up clinics in remote villages. I was praying the entire time and by the time they got to me they stopped and said we could go. I thank God they did not lay a hand on me. All of these experiences gave me an appreciation for my country, and I never again complained about bad road conditions, traffic jams, dirty toilets, etc. A missions trip will give you an appreciation for the "little things in life". For me, it was an opportunity to do something for my Lord, Jesus Christ, but as He always does, He gave me much more than I gave Him. :paw: