by Shelley Robert, Adjunct Professor and
Nurse Practitioner, Vanderbilt Trauma Center
“Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.” -Psalm 119:89-90
Leading the students on this trip has reinforced and renewed my faith in several ways. As a newcomer to Guatemala, as a rookie leader of a student trip, and as a nurse practitioner who practices in a highly organized healthcare system with ample resources, this trip presented many challenges and fears. I was not able to solve these challenges by my own volition or control, therefore I asked God to give me the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. I breathed this prayer under my breath many times throughout the week, as I walked up to obviously sick women and children. And He responded. Our student team saw many very sick patients who literally had no other option outside of us. We are practicing in a rural area where many families live in great poverty, and they do not have the resources to provide healthcare for their families. Many of our Guatemalan friends, when I questioned their medical history, had never been seen by a doctor. We saw a variety of illnesses, ranging from children with chronic respiratory illness to a woman with dengue fever and impending hypovolemic shock. I prayed so many times during these examinations, for God to help me remember my training and to give me direction for how to best care for these very sick people. Cellular networks were unreliable, and we had no use for all the fancy & informative apps on our phones. But God came through for us. He answered my prayers, in all His goodness and grace. He helped me to recall the knowledge and skills that go unused in my day-to-day profession, which is highly specialized and not at all similar to the primary care/international medicine practice that we needed with these patients. He also gave me a brilliant multidisciplinary team of health science students and other leaders who were passionate and excited to lend their fresh expertise in a new perspective. God is faithful. Our prayers are a reminder of our reliance on God, as we humbly and desperately invite Him to fill us with faith and strength.