My main goal for embarking on this missions trip was to learn how to effectively initiate a conversation about Christ during patient interactions. I desired to witness the reality of being a Christian and a practicing physician. During the trip, for the periods when I shadowed physicians, I was privileged to observe how the physicians introduced Christ into their conversations with the patients. I saw how they asked the patient if they could say a prayer for them. I also learned about how a nurse always told the patients “God bless you” in Spanish.
Nonetheless, some internal changes occurred while I was in El Salvador. Being a first year medical student with minimal clinical skills, I was rather unprepared and not confident in my ability to navigate through patient interactions while also maintaining communication with my translator. I remember the anxiety that plagued me on the bus ride to the site on the very first day of clinic. I was anxious, nervous and afraid. It didn’t help that I had a speech impediment; my stuttering exponentially increases in new situations. Being in El Salvador, going to provide healthcare to people from a drastically different culture than I am accustomed to and having minimal clinical skills sent my anxiety through the roof. I was at the end of myself on that bus ride which was a very humbling moment because moments like this point me to Christ and His never ending grace for me in times of limitations.
Upon arriving at the site, things were really chaotic especially in the triage which was my station. I noticed that I became inpatient and almost dismissive. Most patients had up to 5 chief complaints and as I was trying to triage each patient as quickly as I could, they seemed to have a never ending list of complaints. I became exhausted and almost started dismissing the patients’ concerns because they were endless and quite honestly irritating. I had to give all my fatigue and irritation to God. I learned that I wouldn’t be the gracious, loving and welcoming person I aspire to me without the help of God.
This trip brought me to the end of myself mentally, emotionally and physically. I was stretched in countless ways that reminded me that I can’t do anything alone. It is Him who died for my sins and traded my sorrows and pain for joy. It is in Him that I can find peace and strength. I will continually come to the end of myself in this life but in Him, I will always break through my limitations.