The dust is everywhere, cloaking the world in powdery substance. From the haze emerges a man carrying his frail 15 year old daughter–undernourishment and dehydration have confined her within the frame of an eight year old–moments away from death. Sophomore Marlee Drake was fortunate enough to be a part of the clinic that stabilized the girl’s condition and transported her to the hospital for further treatment. Drake went overseas to Sendafa, Ethiopia on a mission trip: she traveled a total of 20 hours by plane, with one connecting flight in and stayed for ten days. While in Sendafa, Drake, along with a team of 19 people, including her dad, Bill Drake, worked in a clinic that focused on eye health, yet were also able to help . Over the course of five days, they saw a total of 1200 people, all desperate for medical attention. “There were so many we were never able to get to… and when we ran into someone we couldn’t help, it hurt me… to have to turn them away. It was heart-wrenching,” said Drake, who witnessed completely blind people asking for glasses. On the last day of the clinic, a 14 year old girl came in who, as a child, had been beaten to the point of losing one of her eyes. Her school had expelled her due to her bad vision which caused her to be under performing in school. Drake’s team was able to give her glasses that allowed her to have 20/20 vision;Drake’s only hope was that the school would allow her to return.
[blockquote author=”” pull=”pullright”]“These girls were my age, and yet their lives were completely different. But when I looked at them I realized the biggest difference between us was where we were born. They face such extreme poverty and I wish I could do more for them,” Drake said.[/blockquote]
Even with such immense poverty, Drake noted that the people were gracious with what little they had and were willing to give up their comfort for others. While at a church service, the congregation set out popcorn and cookies with Coca-Cola and coffee, despite their lack of resources. Then when one of the nurses on Drake’s team admired a woman’s scarf, the woman took the scarf off of her shoulders and gave it to the nurse. This trip was Drake’s first overseas mission trip. “I just want to say that if anyone ever gets the opportunity to travel to another country and see real poverty or do missions work, they should take it. All the pictures and videos I’ve seen of the living conditions and culture don’t do it justice and could never have prepared me for seeing it. It’s something you have to experience firsthand,” Drake said. Junior Vanessa Napoli took the opportunity to do missions work in Nicaragua for a week. The trip took her a total of eight hours, on three different airplanes. While in Nicaragua, Napoli’s job was bringing healthcare to the people that couldn’t afford it. “This trip really opened my eyes to how lucky Americans have it, and I don’t think people realize how grateful we need to be,” said Napoli, who went with a team of nine people, including fellow students: Lauren Griffin, Maddie Berry, Alyssa Harris, Hanna Paul, Keenan Harris, and Grant Britton. Similar to Drake’s experience, Napoli marveled at generosity of the people, despite their dilapidated conditions. “They literally have nothing, but they make the best out of what they have, which really inspires me. The most amazing thing is how friendly and peaceful the Nicaraguans are. They are just so welcoming: allowing complete strangers into their homes,” Napoli said. Missions trips are a way for people to get out of their comfort zones, and help the less fortunate, whether it be through providing basic needs such as healthcare, or food, or sharing the love of Christ. They are as much about helping the helpless as they are about growing the faith of those on the mission trip. “God is everywhere, with everyone. I was shown that there is always a reason why we go through hard times,” Napoli said.