Some students from the University of Indianapolis had the opportunity to go on mission trips during the summer. Two of those students were senior exercise science major Stacy Weber and senior psychology and pre-occupational therapy major Emily Goolsby.
Weber took two weeks to travel to a few villages and cities in Ecuador in May. She took the trip through one of UIndy’s Spring Term courses. While there, she and several other students helped run a traveling health care clinic for the Ecuadorians. After paying a small fee, patients were led in to get their vitals taken and the students would listen to their general concerns. After visiting the doctor, they could go to the pharmacy, eyeglasses station and ear-washing station. Weber said that she was surprised by the number of people that the ear-washing station helped.
“On the first day, me and another girl were in the ear-washing station together,” Weber said. “Initially, I was like, ‘I don’t really know how much this is really going to help people.’ But some people really had a lot of blocked up stuff in there. So after that came out, they could really hear a lot better, which is kind of crazy to think about…. It made a much bigger difference in just clearing their ears out.”
The clinic cared for a couple of hundred people over the course of four days, according to Weber. Along with the clinic, Weber and her fellow classmates taught the patients and students from a local school in the area how to do CPR, wash their hands and brush their teeth. Weber said that the clinic went to mostly rural areas, where patients do not have much access to health care.
“For them, they don’t really see health care providers often,” Weber said. “And they don’t have a lot of access to pain medicine. That was something that we offered through our little pharmacy, along with vitamins and some other antibiotics. For us, you can get it easily, but that’s not necessarily true for them.”
Weber said that her experience on her mission trip has motivated her to go back in the future, to help the people of Ecuador as a physical therapist.
Unlike Weber, Goolsby decided to take her mission trip in the United States. She traveled to Rockford, Ill., for a week in June with her church, New Life United Methodist. Goolsby said that the goal of the trip was to “help rehabilitate the community.” The group went to several houses and a church and helped them with projects, such as clearing out brush and trees, mowing grass, planting flowers, building fences and painting.
Goolsby said that one of her favorite memories from the trip was when her church planted flowers, trimmed trees and cleared out trash for an ER nurse.
“[One woman] came home from work as we were finishing it [the project],” Goolsby said. “She is a nighttime ER nurse, and her shift got out at 9 a.m. that day. So her house was the first one we did that day. We got there at 7 [a.m.] and got done by 9 [a.m.], and she came home and … just bawled her eyes out because of how well it looked. And she is a single mom just trying to help get her family through things.”
Along with the renovations, Goolsby also was able to work in an abuse center for men, women and children. Most of Goolsby’s church went to remodel the rooms, while Goolsby and a few others worked in the kitchen. According to Goolsby, the center provides over 2,000 meals a day to the homeless people of Rockford’s community. All of the food prepared is donated from stores such as Target, Aldi and other local stores when they have food that is about to expire. The food is prepared and served that day.
Goolsby said that although she went on a domestic mission trip, she learned she could make just as much difference here in the United States.
“With me having taken other mission trips before, I thought that most of the mission trips had to be done in more of an outside-of-the-country way,” Goolsby said, “because I felt like America is already so exposed to God and to Christ and that a lot of us close off anybody when they do in-state mission trips.”
Goolsby said this mission trip made her think differently, and she now sees the importance of mission trips both inside and out the country.
“From this trip, I was able to see that there are still people out there who want to hear the Word and who are very impacted just by a group of people just coming together to do something for their community. So watching our church go to an area … and watch[ing] how it changes the community over years and how they’re able to expand that to further and further outreach, it really made a difference to me to say that it’s not just outside of the country that needs it. It’s inside the county that needs it as well.”