Writing from the front-lines of remote medical missions. It is breathtaking. Sometimes due to exhaustion, but most of the time because it is amazing. Non-stop moments where there is only one shot and no filters. Sometimes messy moments that become the most beautifully meaningful memories.
Remote medical missions is beautiful and messy.
Ten weeks of sailing and anchoring along Papua New Guinea’s coastline on the MV YWAM PNG. It’s a wild thing. I’m a six year full-time YWAM Honolulu staff member on a two and a half month mission out of country leading the Optometry Clinic on YWAM Townsville’s Medical Ship. Long days, hard work, cross-cultural strain alongside managing modern medical technology. Sometimes the only breaks come at the expense of turning away crowds of people who have gone to great measures to arrive.
How do you tell a family who has paddled for 8 hours by dugout canoe who are all fighting the weight of malaria, that “We’re done with our clinic for today.” In this recent real-life situation, there was fortunately just enough sunlight, energy, and medicine left. What do you tell an old blind man who hiked for three hours led by his son over a mountain, and through the jungle, barefooted, in hopes of receiving sight? Our assessment was his eyes were infected beyond our repair, no eyeglasses or surgery would help. Somehow in that moment, the one hundred pairs of eyeglasses already given that morning and smiles of renewed sight of others fade away, replaced by a face of disappointment staring at blackness in front of you. In this real-life situation, I was drawn to step outside the clinic hut to pray for the man. When finished, the man and his son smiled big and shook my hand, expressing the most gratitude I had seen, and the son and the blind man departed on their long journey home.
Those are just two stories out of hundreds of consultations our group has seen in just the past two weeks in remote areas of Papua New Guinea. It’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s worth it.
Messy; sweat, mud, seasickness, bush toilets, waste-high swamp water, bugs and crocodiles.
Beauty; crystal clear coral-filled bays, rolling lush green hills, mountain ranges that disappear into the sky, fresh huge fruits and vegetables, long family lines, honouring and caring people, songs and dance, intricately fashioned jewellery made of shells and wood, incredible traditional tapas and tattoos, simple living, fresh air, listening ears and countless stories to share.
A healthy reality check, count the cost and enjoy the gift. Be real. Be love. I am extremely grateful, God has opened doors and led me down this path. I’m writing this from the YWAM ship somewhere in the Solomon Sea. Finding my sea-legs, while seeing the amazing sunrises, sunsets, and miracles daily. The inevitable transformation of my own character along with experiencing God, this is the reality of remote medical missions. Messy, beautiful, worth it.
Are you ready to experience the mess and beauty of medical missions? Sign up for our Medical Missions Gap Year.
Christina is 32 years old from Connecticut and is currently on staff with YWAM Honolulu. Christina has been on staff for 6 years already and is a medical assistant. She has loved being able to witness people receiving eyesight in the remote villages of Papua New Guinea, as she has been leading our Optometry Clinic on board the MV YWAM PNG. She enjoys riding motorcycles and leading worship.