Who would ever believe that I would be where I am today?
It is AMAZING how God continuously renews the past with an unexpected new. My maternal great grandmother had 20 children when they were living in a small village called El Jardin (so small it does not even appear on Apple Maps), which is about one hour away from the big city of Medellin, Colombia. Of those 20, three of them died in their childhood and the rest were put to work by feeding the livestock or harvesting coffee beans and other produce. Not all of them were able to attend primary school or even have a meal every night. Eventually, at a young age my grandmother moved with my mother to the United States in hopes for a better life.
I came along while my mother was still in her teenage years and because of this country I was able to attend a primary school (which from about the time I attended the college enrollment rate was 54.6% and college graduation rate was only 23.2%). Years later I graduated high school, which no one in my nuclear family had done, and I was set to attend a beautiful Christian campus, Baylor University. It was not until move-in day until I realized the scary journey I was about to commence. No one in my family knew how to help me and I felt alone starting my time at Baylor. Undeservingly, God provided my father with enough work to pay tuition which is why I am still here.
During my first year, I had a mentor, Junelyn Gamao (she is actually Junelyn Floyd now and invited me to her wedding over the summer) who got me involved with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). I was involved thanks to her and even got to join her committee. The summer after my first year I had the INCREDIBLE opportunity to study abroad in Italy and meet amazing people. While in Italy, I realized the many sacrifices my parents had made throughout their lives so I could have the life I have today. I remember crying while eating spaghetti with a close friend in Rome and in the shower thinking about this and how God’s grace is so grand. On this trip, I met the Mission Trip Chair of AMSA. She invited me to apply and told me that the Spring Break mission trip for the upcoming school year might be in Colombia and so I was ready and excited to apply. I got accepted, God provided again, and WOW; I was set to go back to my roots to help run a clinic.
In Columbia, we ran a clinic in a small church in Facatativa where we had a general doctor, a dentist, and a physical therapist all investing their time into the many patients we were receiving. Us students got plenty of hands-on-experience taking vitals, shadowing the doctor as she explained different diagnostic methods, and my favorite task, handing out medicine. AMSA members at Baylor were asked to bring general over the counter medications so that we may distribute as necessary at the clinic we were holding. Handing out medicine was my favorite task because of how grateful the people were. Sadly, the most prescribed medicine by the doctor were two small tablets that cost under $1 that many patients were not able to purchase themselves. The most impactful experience that I still remember seven months later was a lotion and a foot brace a patient needed. She came back the day after her visit to see if we had been able to purchase her prescription for her. Fortunately, we were able to and I was the lucky one to hand it to her along with another member, Frida. When we grabbed her prescription bag she began to weep and tell us that her husband had set aside some of their food money for the prescription and she even gave me and Frida a hug and told us “I bless you both for the rest of your lives”. It was such an impactful moment for me to see such gratitude and rejoice over a bottle of lotion that in the United States we call “cheap” or “off-brand”.
My mission trip to Colombia was a big eye-opening experience. As I write this, I am realizing how God’s plans are just perfect. My roots lay in a small, poor village and to a small, poor village in Colombia I went. I see it as the closing of a circle or the fulfillment of my grandmother’s hope almost 30 years ago. That “better life” she aimed for was provided by God and the hard work of my parents so that I could be where I am today. Who knew?! God has transformed my family and I into something new which circled back to our past to bless their future. For me to, first of all, graduate high school and be enrolled into Baylor University, travel to a distant country to hear about a mission trip to another country which just happens to be where my roots are from. God’s plan.
If God could use me, why can he not use you? I learned that doing a mission is not only about leaving the country but becoming involved with opportunities to give. With the little we had, my father always stressed that “we are blessed to bless”. So, I encourage you to find a way to get involved with a mission trip either by donations, time, or being part of the missionary team, invest in something greater. You do not need to cross to the opposite side of the world, but just like I started in my home, start at yours. In the United States, we have access to a lot of opportunities that many around the world desperately want and even within the United States there is necessity as well. Medicine, clothing, a minimum wage, education, be grateful where God has put you, but ask yourself; what does God want you to do with that?