A little over a year ago I had the privilege of traveling to Nicaragua. I had been on vacations and I had been on mission trips in high school and with WELS Kingdom workers. There were components of this trip that fit each of those categories. We did some sightseeing and other activities meant for vacation and it was a mission trip in the sense that we were there to serve, but truly there was very little that could have prepared me for what I would experience during those three weeks in Nicaragua.
You see my true purpose in Nicaragua was different: it was educational. At the time, I was in my senior year of college and the trip to Nicaragua was actually a community health clinical for my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
During the course of the trip we met people in rural and urban areas in Nicaragua. The culture shock was profound. We stayed with host families for a portion of the trip. These families lived in an urban area and lived quite comfortably compared to many of the homes we saw in more rural areas, yet they were without running water on every third day.
We traveled “door to door” in more rural areas for home visits, and I put that in quotations because the homes in these areas did not have doors and some did not have true walls but tarps that served as walls. We also set up a clinic at a school one day. We did our best to meet people where they were at so that we could speak with them about their health concerns and provide them with education and treatment with the limited resources we had. At that pop-up clinic our group saw and treated 97 people in one day, which was a lot for a day’s work but how big of a difference did we truly make?
As I recall this experience, I recall everything that God used to lead me to it. I was about 14 when I first seriously thought about becoming a nurse, and once I had the thought I stuck with it. When I graduated high school, I went straight on for my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing which was the most challenging thing I have ever done. Those four years were the hardest I have ever experienced, and there were definitely days I thought about quitting. There were also days where I could not imagine God taking me down any other path.
I think a lot of us thought that we were going to make a difference in Nicaragua by providing care and education, and I believe we did make a difference to the individuals that we cared for there but did we really make a difference in the country as a whole or even in the larger communities? Probably not.
In fact, I think the bigger difference is the one that was made in each of us that got to have that experience. I think we all learned a little bit about earthly blessings: they’re nice to have but they’re not truly necessary—not really necessary for earthly happiness and certainly not necessary for salvation. This is also one of the experiences that I can point to as a true turning point in God leading me to my mission in this life, my calling. It helped me to understand what it truly means to be a nurse.
I graduated almost a year ago, and I’ve been working in my current job for almost 9 months. I now can look back on every experience I’ve had and truly see God’s hand in leading me to this profession. People often express how difficult they think my job must be which it is, but I truly believe God made me to be a nurse. There are also jobs in this world that I know I would never be cut out for, like accounting or being a teacher.
There is a calling for each of us. I thank God every day for the journey that led me to mine. It doesn’t mean that my job is perfect or that there are never challenges, but sometimes the challenges are what makes it rewarding. Working hard to meet someone where they are at and provide them with treatment, education, respect, and compassion is my purpose, and it gives me joy to fulfill it.
I feel truly blessed that God has led me to my calling.
I pray that he will use my work to his glory.