I was recently blessed to be able to visit Cartagena, Columbia for a medical mission trip. Cartagena is a beautiful city that borders the Caribbean Sea, but is also well known for the drugs and violence. We traveled to different villages and refugee camps with police escorts by our side the entire journey. Our escorts were very adamant that we left before dark each day because this is when the area becomes most dangerous. However, I have only seen the people of Columbia who are very loving and each of them welcomed us with open arms. Very few of the Columbians spoke English so I was able to brush up on a little Spanish during the visit, but we mainly relied on translators that were with us while in clinics.
The group of consisted of 35 members from on our medical team through Bridges of Hope, two of whom were my sisters. This was the first mission trip for all three of us, which made it that more special. The medical team included multiple physicians, an OBGYN, anesthesiologist, dentist and the rest both medical and non-medical professionals. We worked together as a team in Columbia for 7 days total and were able to see 3,000 patients give or take a few! I worked along side Dr. Hardy (a General Dentist from Greenwood) and Sarah (another hygienist). It was almost as if we have known each other for years.
It was about 110 degrees farenheit in the clinics with no running water or air conditioning in most places we visited. As sweat rolled down my face and my fingers went numb, the gratitude shown by the patient after each treatment on our medial mission trip gave me new energy to keep going. The poverty is eye opening, but the sense of pride and happiness in what they do have as a culture is amazing. What a rewarding experience!