What is your experience with these types of medical mission trips?
I saw my first cleft lip/palate patient 20 years ago on a Mission trip to Vietnam when I joined a team from Denver called ‘Face the Challenge’. That was an adventure! Seeing Ho Chi Minh City and working side by side with Vietnamese nurses and doctors in a relatively primitive setting was fascinating, challenging and shocking to me, e.g. they washed and reused surgical gloves and IVs, and often, two separate procedures were occurring in the same OR! I’ll never forget the cat strolling into the OR from a back door.
In 2015, another Mission opportunity came my way with Dr. Joe Clawson, and I traveled to Ecuador with his cleft team. Two more trips with Joe’s team followed in subsequent years. I’ve learned that while the differences among peoples and cultures can be profound, the joy, relief and gratitude on the faces of parents when they first see their child’s repaired deformity is universal and heart-warming. It is heart-breaking to see a child malnourished and undersized because of a cleft palate that will soon be repaired by our talented surgeons.
This October will be my second trip to Kenya with ‘Samaritans Purse’, and I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of this team!
What is your background and connection to this particular trip?
Home is Tualatin, Oregon where I live with my husband and, living close by, are our two adult sons and two beautiful granddaughters. My husband, sons and extended family are very supportive of my Mission experiences and love to hear about the places and peoples we have served. For one trip my sister found out we needed patient gowns for the children so she sewed dozens of them in cute colorful patterns.
I’ve been an RN for over 40 years and after working in a variety of clinical areas, perioperative nursing became my specialty and the majority of my career has been spent in surgery, which I love. Since retiring from my local hospital in 2015, I’ve been working in Dr. Vessely’s office with co-worker (and friend), Sarah.
Long ago when I was planning to go into nursing I dreamed of working on the hospital ship, SS Hope, to travel and ‘see the world’. While that ship experience never happened, the several Mission trips I’ve been on have certainly fulfilled those youthful dreams.