Adventure on the Amazon

I expected to serve during my mission trip last summer, and I did! But God also blessed me in more ways than I’d dreamed of, with renewed confidence in how He can use me, a precious new friend to pray for, and a desire to serve the Lord in a new way.

As a nurse, I was invited to journey to Peru with a team of medical and business professionals and other volunteers. Local missionaries and translators joined us in country. Each day we travelled by boat to villages on the Amazon River. Over the 10 days of the trip, we saw more than 850 patients in five different villages.

Days were long and very hot—I think I sweat the weight of an entire person! I worked in triage, administering shots and medications. But I also got to play with the children!

Before I left, I had loaded up on beach balls, bubbles, stickers, and coloring books at the dollar store. The children were delighted to play, swarming me like bees to honey.

One day I was coloring with many children when Susana caught my eye. She drew beautifully and gave me her finished art. We hugged and exchanged names.

Shortly after lunch, I heard a child screaming and crying. It was Susana, lying on a table in the exam room, pulling away from the doctor and nurses and crying in fear. They had found an abscess under her arm, and were attempting to give her a shot to numb the area so they could remove it. I grabbed a chair, sat with her at eye level, and used an interpreter to remind her of our coloring time.

As she calmed down, the doctor could begin the procedure. I sang to her, showed her pictures of snow in Michigan on my phone, and asked her questions about her family. As the doctor worked, I held up a piece of paper so she couldn’t see what was going on. After about thirty minutes, they were finished, and Susana got up and hugged me tightly. Through the rest of the afternoon, she never left my side!

As we left her village that day, she and many others walked us to our boat. They stood waving as they watched us drift away.

Susana is in my heart now. I hung her photo on my mirror and pray for her daily. Peru has touched my heart and sparked a desire to return and serve again.

God used this experience in so many ways. I think the biggest thing He taught me is, “Yes, you can do it!”

My worst fear had been that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the “youngsters” on the trip. Most of the team members were in their twenties and thirties. What if I slowed them down? Would they have to help me? But that was surely not the case. I felt vital, appreciated, and even leaned upon a bit by those who traveled with us, young and old.

It was exciting to see how God can still use me in a new and challenging setting. Having gray (okay, colored!) hair didn’t mean I was less agile or needed extra rest. I rested in Him, and He gave me everything I needed to carry on. I am ready for the next assignment He brings my way. I just hope that one won’t involve giant beetles!

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