Across the Atlantic
Students and staff travel to Africa over break to witness missions in action
While many students travelled home to recuperate from another successful semester at Liberty University, others trekked overseas during winter break to witness missionaries in action.
Six students from Liberty’s School of Nursing journeyed their way across the Atlantic to Togo, Africa, hoping to assist missionary doctors and nurses in the field of medicine, while also providing doctors with supplies and Christmas gifts from their families during their visit.
LU Send organized the trip, which serves as the campus travel agency and provides opportunities for students to become academically and culturally engaged through various mission fields, whether it be locally, domestically or globally.
Led by Dr. Deanna Britt, Dean of Liberty’s School of Nursing, and Biology professor Dr. Kimberly Mitchell, the group of students was able to experience the culture and healthcare services of the small, West African nation over the course of two weeks.
“Our goals in this trip were to expose our nursing students to missionary nursing by allowing them to meet with missionaries, and also to work in the hospital there at the mission compound,” Britt said.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Togo is known to run a high degree of risk for food, waterborne, vector borne and respiratory diseases with the most common being typhoid fever and malaria.
The students joined missionaries at two different hospitals in Mongo and Tsiko, where they were able to practice their medical skills by distributing medicine and assisting in various medical evaluations and procedures.
For senior nursing student Rachel Walters, Togo was her first experience in an overseas mission trip. She noted several economic differences and compared many techniques and resources used by the missionaries to those of doctors in the United States, the largest difference being the relationships the missionaries had built with their patients.
“It was really cool to see the missionary doctors on rounds,” Walters said. “After they would discuss treatment options with patients or discharge them, they would all pray for them. They did that with every single patient, which is something we’re not used to in the (United) States. They rely so much more on God there in comparison to how much we do, especially in medicine.”
When asked about their most memorable moments, both Walters and Britt expressed that although a moment may be memorable, it does not necessarily make it pleasant.
“There was one day that a mother came in carrying her child, and within five seconds of laying the child down on the bed, the doctor called a code,” Walters said. “… And sadly, the child didn’t make it. (Three of us) were just standing there, watching all of this unfold before our eyes. That was certainly a traumatic experience for all of us, and we are still trying to process it.”
Though the incident was filled with overwhelming sorrow and grief, Walters used the opportunity as a way to minister to the mother who had just lost her child.
“Afterward, I was able to pray with the mom, but (because of language barriers), it took a while for her to realize her child wasn’t coming back,” Walters said. “It was heartbreaking to watch that, and unfortunately, it’s something they see far too often in Africa.”
Despite this tragedy, Walters along with students Hannah Voelkner, Courtney Rousseau, Isabelle Doody, Meghan Nawyn and Rebecca Wise were able to enjoy the culture and even visit a church service in Tamberma as the residents celebrated the spirit of Thanksgiving by sharing testimonies and singing songs of God’s grace.
“Although, it was in a different language it was beautiful to see how upbeat and joyful and just filled with love and gracefulness they were to God for everything He had done for them,” Walters said. “That was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”
When asked how the overall experience affected them spiritually, Britt shared that many students verbalized their interest in becoming missionary nurses after graduation while Walters expressed how God worked to show her the importance of rejoicing.
“I’ve learned a lot about surrendering to God … even when things go wrong,” Walters said. “God tells us to rejoice in all of our circumstances. We rejoice because we know that He is God and He is sovereign and He works all things for His good.”
For the students in the School of Nursing, their trip to Togo and the relationships they made with current missionaries will likely be something they forever cherish in their hearts.
“I most definitely want to go back,” Walters said. “I may want to go to language school first . . . But, I think it will be really exciting to see what God does there in the future. I feel blessed to have been a part of it.”