A message from Sherry
This year we were blessed to have 34 doctors, nurses, an optician and support people providing care to the people of the communities of San Luis, El Golfo, and Luis B. Sanchez as part of the medical mission team from Caring Hearts Ministries. Our awesome God was at work throughout the entire trip as we sought to provide medical, spiritual and emotional care to the people He brought to our clinics.
Due to new governmental regulations, we were limited in the number and type of supplies we were able to bring across the border. God in his providence, allowed us to receive what we needed. Not all of what we wanted, but what we needed. We purchased all of the medications we needed at local pharmacies and truly bolstered the economies of San Luis and El Golfo with our presence.
We diagnosed and treated many new cases of diabetes, hypertension, pharyngitis, ear infections, back pain, knee and leg pain, STDs, and multiple other conditions in addition to treating many nonhealing wounds. Our doctors identified 3 children with significant heart issues and the ball is now rolling to get them treated. Our clinics included teaching videos on hypertension, diabetes, obesity, healthy diets, personal hygiene, dental hygiene and multiple other health topics that ran while our patients waited to be seen. Handouts were available on all of these and other health topics to reinforce the teaching we did about their disease processes and how to control them. All of these were well received by our patients and many commented that they had never had any medical professional spend the time with them in assessment and teaching that they received from us. They also repeatedly mentioned how compassionate the team was in all aspects. Mike, our optician, saw more patients than anyone and the people of these towns are now delighting in their new glasses and clearer vision. Our ministry team prayed with everyone seen in the clinic and handed out Bibles to those who did not have one. After clinic hours, teams went out to see shut in patients with Inez and provided wound care, teaching and encouragement to those people and plans are being made to continue with their care.
We could go on and on with stories of the trip, but suffice it to say that God was at work in a might way using us to bless his people. It was wonderful to see boys that grew up in Oasis stepping up to the plate to minister to others as they have transitioned into adulthood. Witnessing the love, praise and joy at the worship service led by Pastor Francisco, ministering to our translators and seeing young men and women considering careers in service to the Lord made our hearts overflow with joy. What a privilege to minister to these most needy people through medicine, but mostly through sharing the gospel and the love of our Lord Jesus.
The term "missions trip" sparks alot of different thoughts, emotions and viewpoints. When I tell people that I lead short term missions trips, I get responses from people everywhere from "Thats such a good thing to do" "I bet that is very fulfilling" "Why do you have to go to another country to serve?" "Isn't it better to just donate that money than spend it on traveling there?" "I heard that missions trips do more harm than good". As someone who has been on many missions trips and works for a missions organization, I have heard and contemplated all of these phrases.
I have heard stories of missions groups going to Haiti and building huge compounds and homes in a place that has no access to water. Three years later, a beautiful, million dollar building stands vacant, because if anyone lived there they would have to walk a huge amount of miles to get water. But the team has photos of them working hard in Haiti, and the donors have no idea that there money was completely wasted, and the same amount of people still live without shelter in Haiti.
I have heard of groups going to countries where they are unwelcomed, bringing food in a way that caused an uproar causing people to riot and kill one another.
Of course we also encounter the common problem surrounding any outreach or free program, does this enable and cause the people to become dependent?
To all of these points, the answer is yes ,with short term missions can come many problems if you aren't careful. The best service trips and programs are done in communication and partnership with a ministry that already exists through the locals in the town or village you are going. At Caring Hearts, we do everything through the local church, partnering with our Mexican brothers and sisters, serving along side them. When we go to build a home for one of the sick families in the Shut In ministry, we go with Marcelo and the older boys from the Oasis Boys' home to work with them. We go to the church and prisons simply to encourage and partner with the pastors and ministries that already exist. We go into the villages and tell the people that they are loved and seen by God and give them food. But during those times they are introduced to Adalberto and the other church members who will be able to continue to visit them once we leave.
As missionaries, we come bringing the funds to provide alot of food and resources. We also come bringing refreshment and fresh excitement. We give special opportunities for ministry, a free VBS, an extra worship service. But at the same time, we travel to visit our brothers and sisters, in the same way you spend time and money to visit your struggling sister with a new baby. You could mail that sister a check to hire help and buy diapers, but your loving presence makes all the difference. This is why traveling on short term missions is important.
On the other hand, short term missions are just as important for the missionaries. I see missions as a pipeline for people to understand their true purpose. To get away from all the busyness and all of the stress and noise of everyday life, to give up all the things we do each day for ourselves, to pay our own bills, to get our own bodies in shape, to make sure our houses and cars are clean and presentable, and instead concentrate solely on meeting needs and sharing hope with others. This is where we find out who God created us to be and the gifts he has given us. We experience love for others and understand that THAT is how our God also sees us. As we pray for God to do miracles, and we are able to provide answers to the prayers of the poor and sick, we are reminded that God wants to answer our own prayers and meet our own needs as well.
To me, this is why missions are important. It is important for both the visitor and one being visited. When done from a humbled place of wanting to share and be shared with, from a place of visiting brothers and sisters in a foreign nation and letting them tell you their needs, and from a place of compassion and willingness to learn, missions trips are powerful for all involved. We serve those in front of us as if they were God himself standing in front of us, and in return, we are blessed by them.
Missionary Ambassador for Caring Hearts Ministry
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’