travel nursing, vocation

You Can’t Mess It Up

Last summer, I felt stuck.

(To be honest, the feeling is one that constantly lingers. As I recently wrote about, much of it likely has to do with the fact that I’m in the messy middle of a lot right now, and it just does not feel like any progress is being made.)

As I was explaining this feeling to my dear friend Emily, we got on the topic of dreams. We talked about how God gives us our dreams and longs to fulfill them. She encouraged me to sit with my dreams and write them down.

As I looked over my list, a combination of very deep and some very superficial-sounding things, I noticed a lot of them are far off. A family is far off. A house is far off. Being about to put forth time into publishable creative writing beyond this blog is far off. Heck, even getting a dog is far off with my current schedule.

But two stood out: “I want to communicate effectively in Spanish and not just understand what others say” and “I want to do a medical mission trip.” I had a bit of money and a spring break in 9 months. This could happen.

Like a modern millennial love story, I turned to the internet. I Googled “Catholic medical mission trip” and started looking through pages. I found one that sounded legitimate and was pleasantly surprised to find that it fit with my spring break. I looked at the page and was pleasantly surprised to find that the doctor leading it had been someone I had seen years ago and someone who has treated my friends during their pregnancies. This could happen.

I put in for the vacation time from work and got it. This could happen.

I worked through the application, sent in resumes, and thought little of it. All of a sudden, things started happening. A friend of mine in town had gone on this trip for years. Then another went last year and was going again. Team meetings were happening that I couldn’t go to. This was happening.

And then my schedule for this semester hit.

I cannot recall a time in my life with more competing expectations than I have right now. At any given moment I could be doing 10 things and should at least be doing 2. I am half-assing most of my roles in my life because I have neither time nor energy to give my full self. And the icing on the cake was that one of my classes had a mandatory in-person class on a day I was scheduled, and I thought I had to work my spring break to make up the hours.

I was slowly getting more and more overwhelmed. I did not think a spring break full of giving myself in service every day, not sleeping, and not studying was going to be helpful. I frantically emailed the group leader to cancel.

Thankfully, it turns out I made a commitment to a non-refundable flight. I am a very thrifty human, but I am also a very loyal person. There was no way I was going to make a service group make up for my mistake and pay for my flight, and there was also no way I was going to pay for 1/2 a trip and not go on it. I made the hours and assignments work to go, and I barely realized I was leaving the country in the 24 hours before the trip.

But somehow, it all came together.

You know how when your dreams become a reality, they’re more challenging yet somehow better than you could have ever imagined?

I wasn’t even double digits yet when the inkling of this dream started. I didn’t even know what kind of health care provider I wanted to be when I knew I wanted to give whatever services I was going to learn to people abroad. I didn’t think I could make going work with my schedule. But somehow, this medical mission trip all came together.

I never imagined going with such a kind, supportive group of people.

I never imagined I could be so hot my hands and feet would swell to the point that they were almost always faintly numb and tingling.

I also never imagined a glucometer malfunctioning because of the heat.

I never imagined I could feel rejuvenated on 6 hours of interrupted sleep and no coffee.

I never imagined patients would love vitamins, Tylenol, and sun/eyeglasses as much as ours did.

I never imagined the amount of freedom and responsibility I would get as a provider.

I never imagined how well fed I would be.

I also never imagined what a delicious thing called a pupusa was, that it existed, or how amazing it would taste.

I never imagined being as challenged as I was.

And I never imagined it all ending with a freshly macheted coconut on the Pacific Ocean.

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My spiritual director has said this of the dreams that both God and I desire: “When it’s His will for you, you can’t mess it up.”

I tried to get out of this trip but could not.

I did not put in as much effort as I could have and it still all came together.

I didn’t think I could spare the lack of sleep and energy but could and even let feeling rejuvenated.

I didn’t think I could see patients the morning I got some food sickness but the antibiotic kicked in just as I thought I could not make it.

So many of my dreams are being built right now, and to me, this trip was not just a fulfillment of a dream but confirmation that when I dream with God, not only can I not mess it up but He can fulfill it in ways I cannot even start to fathom.

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