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Evangel students partner with HealthCare Ministries to hold medical clinic in Peru

May 29, 2013 | Ashli O'Connell


Dr. Rick Honderick had never brought this much insulin on a medical trip before. But when a Peruvian woman walked into the clinic that morning with a blood sugar level of 578, he was prepared.

After an examination, he sent her home with enough insulin for the next few days, advising her to check in with the medical team throughout the week.  As he prepared to leave Peru at the end of that week, he instructed the local missionaries to keep in contact with him about her and left them with even more insulin – enough to last her for two years.

“We all believed that this was a God thing,” says Erica Harris, assistant professor of biology at Evangel University. “He prompted Dr. Honderick to pack the necessary supplies to be a help and a blessing to her.”

Dr. Honderick, a 1971 Evangel graduate, was one of nine medical professionals from Assemblies of God HealthCare Ministries who joined Harris and eight Evangel Science and Technology students on a service trip to Moquega, Peru, May 4-13, 2013. Also with the team were Randy Bardwell, the AG HealthCare Ministries team leader, and a biology graduate student from Central Michigan University.

The Evangel students on the trip were Elsa Blair, Kim Hackler, Brigette Ketron, Kelsey Magill, Jill Kalinowski, Amanda Roettgers, Elizabeth Wright and Abbi Leathers.

Faith and learning in action

Abbi Leathers in Peru

Abbi Leathers, a sophomore Pre-Nursing major, treats an elderly patient.

The team set up a clinic in the neighboring community of Chen-Chen to provide free medical, dental and optical care for the villagers. Approximately 540 patients visited during the five-day span.

“The minute we arrived to open every day, a huge crowd of people lined the street,” says Jill Kalinowski, a junior Biology major. “We had people lined up starting at 1 a.m. just so they could get in.”

The students worked side-by-side with the medical professionals, learning how to carry out various medical tasks and developing relationships as they went. Harris says the medical team and the students worked well together, and that many patients expressed this had been the first time they felt someone had actually cared for them.

Kalinowski says she will never forget the names and faces of many of the patients she saw in that clinic. She tells the story of one woman who came in for a teeth cleaning and broke down when asked about her life.

“She broke my heart as she said no one has ever cared enough to ask about how her life was going,” Kalinowski says. “Her family was facing struggles, and she was so overwhelmed that we loved her and wanted to pray with her. She is only one of the many patients that came through with this same burden.”

Partnering with local missionaries

Following each consultation, the patients met with a Peruvian native for counseling. Harris says more than 200 patients prayed a prayer of salvation as a result.

Praying

Praying and caring for the patients on an emotional level was an important part of the work done by the Evangel team.

Through the partnership with the missionaries, the team also had the opportunity to work with the local church. Patients at the clinic learned about the church, and the team attended the Thursday night service — a service that set a church record for adults in attendance. Harris says nine adults and several children prayed for salvation that night.

The team also had the chance to experience the natural beauty of Peru. After the final day at the clinic, many students went on a tour of the city and the surrounding mountains.

An overseas trip wouldn’t be complete without an opportunity to experience a taste of local culture, and students did just that when the mayor took them out for a meal where many of them experienced a first: eating guinea pig.

“I was rather intrigued when they brought it out on a platter with its head, ears, claws, teeth and whiskers still attached,” Kalinowski says. “It honestly was a rather tasty meal, even though there wasn’t a lot of meat on it – and I did not eat the organs.”

For this group of students, who all plan to go into the medical field, the trip provided a taste of how their talents can be used on the mission field. Harris says this trip opened many eyes.

“This trip confirmed that I want to pursue a career in medicine,” says Magill. “I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with on this trip. We had a very easygoing and strong team. My roommate for the week, Brigette Ketron, and I were sad we were not better friends before the trip.”

Kalinowski agrees, and she says she believes the relationships she formed with some of the members will be lasting ones.

“Our team consisted of people who truly love to serve the Lord – plain and simple,” Kalinowski says. “I firmly believe that the Lord called each one of us to Peru that week, and when He does that, there’s no way that the team cannot fit together. If I could relive this week and work with these same exact people, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

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