By: Molly Livingstone
For many, the Saturday before Memorial Day means going to the lake, grilling burgers and relaxing with friends and family. However, for a group of students in Texas it meant driving to south Texas, checking blood pressure, and attempting to overcome language boundaries.
The group consisted of 11 people; including one doctor, and eight students from Texas Women's University, The University of Texas, The University of Texas Medical School and the Baylor College of Medicine.
"We are able to connect the churches with the community," director of the Baptist Student Ministry at Rice University and University of Texas Medical School, Andy Dennis, who planned the trip said. "A great way to do that is with medicine. The goal is help pastors connect with communities and see the church in action."
Dennis also said he wanted to provide students a chance to use their gifts to share Christ's love.
"I wanted to give students an opportunity to serve the 'least of these'," Dennis said. [I wanted them] to catch a vision for missions."
The group set up their clinic in the church, Temple Emmanuel in Mission, Texas. It included a children's play area, a blood pressure assessment, a consolation with a doctor and a pharmacy.
Collin Basham, a nursing student at the Texas Women's University Houston, said he likes being able to use his skills in the missions setting. He spent the day checking the patient's blood pressure.
"I feel really good," Basham said. "I can [help] heal them spiritually and physically. I can evangelize and give advice on how to live a healthier life."
Jaclyn Bravo, a doctoral candidate in molecular and human genetics at the Baylor College of medicine. This was her first mission trip, and she helped in the children's play area.
"I learned that my Spanish is painfully awkward," Bravo said. "But the kids didn't care, as they listened to whatever I was able to share with them."
Bravo said that participating has encouraged her to continue going on mission trips.
"I really enjoyed the time to reflect and serve and hope to be able to join again in the future," Bravo said. "We all hope to see this effort grow and become a tool that the local churches can use to reach out to the community that they serve."
Vanessa Quintanilla who coordinated the trip through Texas Baptists River Ministry said she was very impressed with the group of students that came.
"They were very in tune with everything," Quintanilla said. "They were spending time with the people and getting to know them."
She said the students adapted to every situation in a humble manner.
"They were a blessing at exactly the right time," Quintanilla said. "They have servant's hearts. [They were] showing love though everything that they were doing."
Quintanilla said that the community reacted positively to the students.
"People called me and thanked me for the group that came," Quintanilla said. "They saw that love."
Bravo said she hopes that in the future they can expand to include more students and non-students, additional health information as well as including more ways to share Christ.
"In the future, we would like to conduct a more extensive triage, to include a time to get spiritual information and opportunities to ask how to pray for the patients," Bravo said. We would [also] like to create informational pamphlets to distribute information and recipes for alternatives to their current diet."