Month: July 2016

  • Written by Dr. Traci Bacon, PT, DPT

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    Kimberlin and I meeting for the first time

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    Why Nicaragua?
    My husband and I sponsor a 6 year old child named Kimberlin through Compassion International. I had been chosen through Crossroads church to have the opportunity to visit her while staying at Amigos for Christ in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Compassion International organized a day for the children to spend time with their sponsors who were going to be on the mission trip. Meeting Kimberlin was an unforgettable experience. She ran into my arms while I was holding back tears of joy, nervousness and excitement all at once. She could not wait to tell me that she remembers all of our letters we have wrote each other and that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. When you sign up to sponsor a child, it is easy to question the process and whether your money is even making a difference. After talking to Kimberlin and her mother (with the help of a translator), I can say with 100% confidence that I am making a difference in their quality of life. My sponsorship helps provide Kimberlin with basic needs that we take for granted; education, health care, life skills/vocational training, supplements to protect against malnutrition, etc. I had a bookbag full of gifts for her including school supplies and basic necessities. It put thinks into prospective when the mother was glowing with excitement over the toothpaste.
    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.

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    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. 

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    ​We spent 4 full days digging in the ground in order to lay water pipe lines to connect to water wells that will provide clean filtered water to local communities. One of the water lines was the beginning of a brand new school complex that we were laying the foundation for. We worked with a team of local Nicaraguans who have been working hard for over a year to build the barrier wall for the school complex. You cannot help but develop a deep appreciation for the hard work the team puts into these projects to help grow their community. These men work a full day doing physical labor with no heavy machinery; things we take for granted in the United States.  We spent 4 days digging space for a pipe line with pick-axes and shovels only. –Talk about hard work! I was able to put my physical therapy skills to work by helping the local workers with their injuries and develop proper strategies and correct body mechanics to prevent getting hurt. I also spent a lot of time working on those on the mission trip since we all were not used to doing this type of physical labor.

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    What did I learn?
    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.


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    ​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.

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    The big picture.
    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


    Start each day with a grateful heart. 


    ​If you would like more information on how to sponsor a child like Kimberlin,
    please see the link below.

    www.compassion.com
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