Why Domestic Mission Trips Matter, Too
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Why Domestic Mission Trips Matter, Too

Sometimes, the greatest areas of need are in our own backyards.

Why Domestic Mission Trips Matter, Too
Personal Photo

“Medicine is closer to the practice of love than to the practice of science.” This is a quote I heard at a lecture during my freshman year, and while the speaker did not know who said it, it has always stayed with me.

This past week, I had the opportunity to see this quote put into practice firsthand with the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). My summer had been pretty insignificant until I received an email from AMSA notifying its members of an opportunity to medically serve the valley community in Harlingen, Brownsville, and Olmito, Texas.

I’m relatively a pretty shy person, and the idea of traveling to various cities with a group of people I didn’t know for a week was initially daunting. Fortunately, I submitted my application before I could think about it twice, and it has honestly been the best decision I have ever made.

We may not have traveled far and beyond to a country abroad, but the importance of domestic mission trips is just as significant. There is a world out there in need--that we can all agree on. But sometimes we have to remember that a part of that world in need is in our own backyards, just a few hours away from the comforts of our college town.

This mission trip not only allowed me to grow as a student and hopeful future physician, but it gave me a chance to branch out with people I would not have met otherwise, and come together as a team to make an impact on these valley communities.

Our group had one week to visit three cities and do as much as we could to leave a positive mark on this area. While I thought I would be the one making the impact on these communities, I was the one left impacted in more ways than one by the people and stories of the valley.

During my time at the Olmito Community Church, I was able to speak to a young girl named Mica who was starting her senior year of high school. She was soft spoken but ambitious, and I knew that this girl had a heart that wanted to change the world. As I joked with her and gave her advice for her final year of high school, she seemed so receptive and kind. She looked like an everyday girl, young and vibrant with her whole life ahead of her. Once she left, the church pastor came up to me and told me her story.

Her mother separated from Mica’s father and now had a boyfriend, a boyfriend who asked her to choose between her children and him. The mother chose her boyfriend, leaving Mica and her three siblings on the streets. Unaware of where they are staying every night, Mica is often left alone, and with no idea where her brothers sleep until she sees them the next morning at school.

Although it may not be a medically related story, Mica’s story is one that changed my entire perspective of this trip. Medicine is not always about finding the exact science behind a diagnosis or prescribing an ideal medication for a condition, sometimes medicine is simply the practice of love.

It breaks my heart to reflect back on my time at the valley and fully grasp the severity of some of these circumstances. On the other hand, I also feel blessed to have had the opportunity to talk to these people one on one, to talk to these real life humans with real life stories, and to possibly serve as a positive inspiration for these kids. Without this trip and without this team, I would not have had a week full of learning curves and new experiences.

I could detail every encounter I reached during this trip, and quite frankly, every encounter deserves its own article. From some of the older folks at the shelters to the smiley faces at Sunny Glenn Children’s Home, every person and every story significantly impacted my heart and my desire to pursue the medical field.

I often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of school, trying to juggle extracurricular activities and the never-ending studying. Sometimes I forget to reflect on all of the blessings I have like the opportunity to attend Baylor, my own apartment, and even general access to healthcare. Basic amenities often become overlooked because of the mindless wear and tear it goes through in our daily lives, yet there are families struggling to survive rural poverty in neighboring cities.

This mission trip showed me how to appreciate the life I am fortunate to have. This trip allowed me to realize that I must understand my blessings, take full advantage of them, and reach my greatest potential so I can come back and give back to these communities for a longer term than a week at a time.

These people that I met, their souls are fighting souls. While they have gone through more than I could possibly imagine, they still manage to smile. My heart goes out to these communities, and my admiration goes out to those who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of the less fortunate.

Thank you to my team and the mentors who traveled with us. Thank you for making my first mission trip amazing, but definitely not my last one. Thank you for your friendship and outpour of wisdom and love. Thank you for inspiring me and reminding me to think of the world outside of my Baylor bubble. Thank you for opening my eyes to the world of rural medicine. Thank you for reasserting the ignition in me to continue my journey as a pre-med student.

“The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that is wants to live humbly for one.” ― Wilhelm Stekel

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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