I have this one journal that has my journal entries from three out of the four years that I have been to Jamaica. The first two years I remember sitting on the plane telling myself I was going to try to document everything that happened in my journal. Obviously, that didn't happen. I would start out strong but as I got more and more tired throughout the week, journaling took the backseat and I usually just went right to sleep. My third year I wanted to do better with my journaling but I decided instead of writing exactly what happened each day, I would instead write down things that were going through my head. I would rely on the pictures I took to recap what happened each day, but the journal would retell me my feelings throughout that week. I had no idea how important this would become to me months down the road when I was at Emory.

One particularly frustrating weekend at Emory I was sitting in church taking notes on the sermon when I flipped back a few pages to my journal pages from Jamaica. I read through how on fire I felt after leaving the hospital that we visited (read more about that visit here) and how I knew I really had a calling to be in the medical field. I sat there with tears streaming down my face, confused on how easily I had somehow forgotten my passion when the weight and cloud of stress and hardships seemed to completely surround me. My own words became the encouragement that I needed at that very moment.

So, this year I wanted to make sure I wrote plenty of how I was feeling so that in November when I am getting close to my chemistry, human physiology, and physics finals I can be the exact encouragement that I need.

This year my entry in the afternoon spent at the hospital in Jamaica was mostly focused on how I felt assured as I was walking around the hospital and talking to patients and their families. It was almost like I was having all of the feelings from last year but everything felt familiar and a little bit more comfortable. I think I felt more comfortable because I had a year of school at Emory under my belt and I was a small step closer to achieving the goals that I have set for myself.

I also felt comfortable because instead of zeroing in on the fact that we were talking to people in a hospital I focused on that I was there to talk to people. Being in a hospital doesn't bother me, the medical equipment doesn't faze me. I was just talking to the people that were around me. The patients are people that have lives separate than the circumstances that led to them being in the hospital that day. I am in school to learn to better help and serve people. Yes, I will treat patients but more importantly I will be helping people.

So, I wrote that all down and as I continue to reflect on the trip I have continued writing and rereading. I am continuously surprised by how much my own thoughts can teach me. And as weeks separate me from Jamaica I am left with a book of my thoughts and the reminder to help, love, and care for others.