My Medical Missions Gap Year

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You know that two-truths- and-a lie-game? The get-to- know-you style ice-breaker, where each person reads three ‘facts’ about themselves and the rest of the group tries to figure out the fib? Thanks to YWAM, I rock at the game. When you get to throw in ‘I’ve bathed in crocodile infested waters,’ ‘I slept on the ground for 9 weeks’, and ‘I’ve been three feet away from a baby being born,’ it tends to stump people. They’re all true, by the way (thank you, Papua New Guinea – land of the unexpected). My Gap Year with YWAM Townsville (my DTS followed by my IPHC) back in 2009 was still the greatest adventure of my life. Not only did I meet my husband (no promises with that one), but I remember writing to my friends back home that ‘I didn’t know that life could be this good’. Truly, It was the entirety of it and therefore really hard to explain.

To start, there was meeting people from all around the world. Is there anything better than a Scottish accent or having friends from the Caribbean Islands? The answer is no, there is not. Then, there’s encountering God in extraordinary ways, doing life with people of passion, being inspired that I can truly make a difference holding the hand that holds the world. Seeing the ‘well, maybe’ become an everyday reality. In that year I made the greatest, deepest friendships that still carry me today. God transformed me and I will reap the benefits forever. My worldview was both expanded and shattered across a thousand different moments. I fell into my identity in Christ and His heart for the nations. I found my passion in that place. How could I not, as I held Smithy in my arms (the little boy with HIV/AIDS who was rejected by his community.) I rubbed cream into his skin and tried my best to make him laugh. As I overcame my fears of blood and needles to immunise expectant mothers from tetanus, carrying the knowledge of its benefits to them. As we were welcomed into the most remote places with songs, coconuts and little handholding children. As we prayed over the sick, ran education classes, and did skits about malaria. My quiet, introverted friend had to act out the ‘diarrhea symptom,’ and that memory? It’s priceless. Looking out and seeing people, dozens of people, waiting to see us – with infections, diseases, heartbreaking stories and knowing that we could help them. Or, that we knew a God who could.

Being a source of hope is a remarkable feeling. As is learning about generosity, community, culture and humility. “I learnt things I never knew, I never knew” (which yes, is a Pocahontas quote). Of course, being the ridiculous person that I am – I fell off a toilet ramp into a pig pen, I accidentally purchased seaweed for our team’s dinner one night, I broke my only pair of shoes and had to sew them up with dental floss, and I won (is it really winning?) the not-shaving- your-underarm- hair-growing- contest. But, I wouldn’t trade a thing. I craved an adventure away from the monotony, and I fell into significance, purpose and transformation; a year that set my heart on Jesus and the course of my entire life. It wasn’t always easy, but it was by far the most extraordinary experience.

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Rebecca Isaacson

Rebecca is a former medical missions alumni (DTS) (IPHC) currently residing in Omaha, Nebraska. She has been a return volunteer on the YWAM Medical Ship!

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