One of my favorite verses in the Bible reads, to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc. 3:1. When I turned thirty, I started thinking about my purpose. I felt my life was incomplete; I wanted to do more, be more.
I was married with three beautiful children and a career in radiology but everything had become mundane. I was a wife and a mother, but I wasn’t sure who “I” really was. I have always had big dreams and big ideas and more than plenty of good intentions; however, I wanted to move from “wanting to do” to “doing.” I knew whatever I chose; I wanted to become involved with teenage mothers. I had of course been one myself and with the grace of God, I had escaped my presumed fate. My own mother was a drug addict, I’ve never met my father, and I have no siblings. I was drinking and doing drugs by 9th grade and I know I escaped this fate for a reason. I believe this reason was to help others in this situation; to help them realize there are options and that they can do more-be more!
My time had come to fulfill my purpose. I started by finding an organization that I could make a difference in. I chose St. Joseph’s Carmelite Home for Girls. They were developed to take in girls from six to eighteen who have been abused or neglected. However, today they house over 60 children, including infants, boys up to age 8, and teenage mothers in need of residential care during their pregnancy. With the help of friends and family, I was able to donate clothes, toys, bikes, and even a computer. We brought in Christmas presents and Easter baskets, but it was still not enough.
I decided it was time to change my career. I loved being a radiographer but I couldn’t use this skill to help others. So, I went to my family and we discussed an even bigger change; we discussed my decision to quit my job of ten years and return to school to become a Physician Assistant. Of course, my husband and children were supportive of my idea and were more than willing to travel down this new road along side me. We knew it would be tough financially but we really had no idea of what was yet to come. I quit my job May 12th 2009 because I had finally been accepted into a full-time Physician Assistant program at the University of Saint Francis; however, my husband soon thereafter lost his job also. We decided to move forward even though we knew we wouldn’t be able to pay our bills, we would be without health insurance, and would only have my school loans to live off of. I can remember how we would lay at night and talk about how we would probably hit rock bottom, but that together we could do this. I think of that now and in reality we really had no idea of what rock bottom really was. We no longer can afford to live together, my husband and children moved in with his parents two and a half hours away. Nowadays, I see them on weekends if I can afford the fuel to get there. It is what it is. I can’t cry, or should I say, I shouldn’t cry about things I have no control over. I pray every day that I make it from semester to semester and that God gives me the strength to get through these tough times.
During my toughest hours, when I am down and wallowing in my own sorrow, I remember that it is a privilege and honor that I was accepted into a PA program, my family has a home over their heads, we are not starving, and most importantly we are all healthy. That is why I made one of the biggest decisions of them all to go to Haiti on my first medical mission trip ever. My classmates and I decided early on that we wanted to help others in need both in and out of our own communities, because the saying “help your neighbor,” should have no boundary. We only had two stipulations that limited our choices of travel: time and cost. We only have one week off from school during spring break and we are all unemployed so, we must be able to raise the funds for whatever we choose to do. A classmate did some research and found Haiti Outreach Ministries, a Christian based organization that has been bringing education and healthcare to the citizens of Haiti long before the earthquake. After hearing about their need in 2009, I knew I wanted to help and after the earthquake in 2010, I knew I needed to help. Thousands of Haitians were killed and injured and over a million were homeless; they had hit rock bottom. How could I not help?
On March 11, 2011 I will travel to Haiti with 9 of my classmates and several practitioners to set up two clinics funded and operated through their sister organization, Family Health Ministries. Haitians and volunteer medical teams staff these clinics. Typically, I would have talked myself out of this trip; I would have asked myself, what can I really offer in one week or maybe I should wait until I have more time and money. I would want to help, I would plan to help, and all with great intentions, but in reality it probably would have only made it to my list of things to do. Life gets busy and continues to move forward and all the things I’d like to do seem to get lost in time. This time I made a decision to make a commitment and I know this trip will bring me rewards that I cannot begin to imagine. I have borrowed money to get my vaccinations and passport and I have helped fundraise to pay for medical supplies and even a portion of my airline ticket. I did come up short and I will have to find some money to make this commitment possible. However, even though I feel like we have hit rock bottom as a family and we struggle every day, I think of what it must be like to live in a tent in squalor, without food, without clean water, and for many, without their loved ones. That’s when I remember that I should thank God everyday for all of the blessings he has given me. He allowed me to rise from a condemned childhood, he opened the door to provide me with medical training, and now it is my time to serve his purpose. In March I will travel to Haiti, in August I will graduate, and for the rest of my life I will continue to work in my own communities as well as those abroad helping those in need.