Recently a 15 person Christian medical missions team from MPFC visited an island in the Indian Ocean where Christianity is not welcome. This medical mission trip was different than others in the past as we had to discretely share the gospel in this closed country. We experienced powerful connections with local peoples who have little to no access to medical care. This blog post is a letter sent to our director by one of the members of that team. We are publishing it here to give you a first hand report of the unique experience of serving as Christians in a closed country.
This is the first time that I am reflecting quietly on what happened on our trip. It truly has changed my life. I have always had a heart for people since I work in the health field, but to go where healthcare and medicine is limited and to make a difference was something special.
Some of the most eye-opening experiences happened to me on this trip.
I cannot believe how most people take for granted the liberties and freedoms here in America. We can talk and display our love for Christ freely in the United States. We are not constantly reminded of the oppression with the call to Muslim prayer every morning and night. We can turn on the radio and listen to worship music or any of the hundreds of other stations. The island had one radio station and they could only hear it at night if they were lucky.
We can go to school and pursue a higher education. The education system on the island only went up to high school for most and at an early age they are taught the Quran. We can turn on the light at all hours of the night and make a phone call, send an email with the click of a button. Most people on the island dont have internet or even a computer.
Some nights we lost electricity and that is a common occurrence on the island.
Shopping is made so easy in America by using Amazon and your package can be on your doorstep in two days or less. The people are not able to make purchases online or even have a mailbox to receive mail at home. Our trash is collected every week and disposed of while the people on the island dont even have a waste management system in place. Most of us have safe drinking water and a water heater.
People on the island dont have a water treatment system or even efficient plumbing.
My heart was touched by the people of the island. Even with the lack of resources these people were so welcoming and content with what they had. They appreciated the least and shared the most.
The main priorities on the island was family and they had so much respect for the elderly, women and children.
We were greeted with floral leis and huge smiles. It is somewhat surreal being back home and not jumping in airplanes, vans and marching around with our bags trying to deliver care to the next village. God was truly with us and answered many of our prayers. One prayer of mine that was answered was having enough translators for us to be efficient with care and education. We also prayed for protection.
We were never in any danger on the trip. The crime rate on the island is extremely low.
The last day was truly the hardest for sure as we had developed close relationships and having to leave them. I cant stop sharing my experiences with family and friends especially co-workers what it was like and most say they want to do something like that. Some people wonder why someone would go to a third world country like that until I share my experiences with them. I always tell people they can and to see for themselves! Going on a missions trip has always been a lifelong dream of mine and cannot wait until I go on the next one.