Anticipation of Intangible Gifts: Gynecology Medical Mission Trip

Jodi Grahl Coordinator of Latin American Programs June 19, Miami airport

I'm off again!

Join us this week as I accompany two surgeons to Bolivia for a training visit with our dear friends at the Municipal Hospital of Tiquipaya, on the outskirts of Cochabamba. A U.S. gynecologist, veteran missioner Dr. Carrie Giordano, and a U.S. urogynecologist, Dr. Janet Tomezsko, will work shoulder-to-shoulder with their Bolivian counterparts to teach new techniques to manage and treat some of the most common afflictions of our female patients.

Every mission trip is a fresh leap into the unknown, but this one puts me at cliff's edge like none before. It is my first time as solo coordinator (plus translator/circulator/chaplain/photographer/blogger/?!), and I'm a bit overcome by the enormity of the challenge.

But I'm also eagerly anticipating the intangible gifts I know are waiting for me. It is perhaps best described as a sense of being at a sort of threshold -- Juan Lorenzo would call it a liminal space – between the “me of here and now” and whoever I will be on the plane home next week. Each mission has unexpected turns. Good things and bad things happen, and it's never quite clear which is which at the time. But what is certain is the fact that lives will be marked. Not only those of the patients we humbly strive to heal but also our own.

I know this, I know that something will happen that will move me so deeply that it will change me. The best I can do at this moment is to try to be ready to receive that impending something, to know that it holds some deeper meaning for me, and prepare myself to savor that meaning. As leader of this trip, my new challenge is to invoke that spiritual dimension of mission for my team. Fortunately I am keenly aware I'm not really alone. The whole staff back in Evanston sent me off with a beautiful blessing, and they keep reminding me they're praying for us (thanks guys!).

I need to get to my gate now, but I'll keep you posted as the gifts appear! And I'll promise to do my best to receive them and pass them along to share with you. Written by Jodi Grahl