Written by Dr. Traci Bacon, PT, DPT
What was the mission?
It is hard to believe that there are countries that struggle with basic needs that we take for granted every day. The majority of people who live in Nicaragua lack access to clean water. The major causes of health complications and death in the areas we served were kidney disease due to drinking contaminated water, chronic gastrointestinal illnesses and lack of proper hydration. The mission trip through Crossroads church was to provide two major regions with clean water. We did this through teaming up with the local Amigos for Christ team who provide sustainable projects to educate and provide resources to communities in Nicaragua.
This water source was used to drink and bathe from in one of the communities we served. It was very hard to experience and accept the conditions people live with.
This was my first mission trip and it was a life changing experience. The entire week I felt completely fulfilled and with a much deeper appreciation and prospective on life. I could have spent a week vacation laying on a beach, but I knew God had a bigger plan for me when I received the opportunity to attend this trip. This was a small sacrifice I could do to help serve and provide for others. I grew a lot as a person throughout this trip and I was able to feel truly grateful and blessed for the life I have been given. Doing mindless hard work and having time in solitude and prayer helped me to re-connect with what is really important in life.
It was very hard for me to adjust to my everyday routine when I returned from Nicaragua. I kept thinking about the families I served and how much more work needs to be done in the communities I worked in. However, with much reflection and debriefing after the trip, I was able to blend this experience with my everyday life. I have been blessed with the knowledge and ability to change my patient’s quality of life every day. Whether it is making them smile by telling an awful joke, improving their independence, achieving their personal goals, or reducing their pain levels; I am grateful to be a part of a career where I have the opportunity to make a difference.
A lot of people have mastered the art of meditation however, it was never a skillset of mine and it never clicked with me; it would just make me more anxious. I am very busy balancing three jobs but this trip taught me that it is important to take time to reflect on life’s blessings and take time for prayer without just “fitting” it into my day when I can. Since the trip, I now take time every single day to reflect on the positives of life including everything I am grateful for and then I follow with prayer. I have noticed an improvement in anxiety, stress, and apprehension with these daily reflections. This trip has shaped me into a better physical therapist. I have a deeper appreciation for my job and a more positive outlook on life.
This mission trip was about the act of service, personal and spiritual growth, spreading my faith, and a strong calling to meet Kimberlin. I found out from my translator when meeting Kimberlin that she and her mother kept calling me her Godparent. I thought that was strange at first but then as they prayed over me with such appreciation and love, it only made sense. I had a Godchild to whom faith and prayer brought us together.
This blog does not directly relate to physical therapy. However, my experience through this mission trip has made me a better person and therapist. I hope to inspire others to spend time reflecting on the positives in life and to be more appreciative for the relationships, experiences and gifts life has brought us all.
- Dr. Traci Bacon, DPT, PT