In May, fifteen students from LCU’s pre-health professional programs embarked on a medical mission trip to Peru.
“In 2012, we had three pre-med students who wanted to go on a medical mission trip,” he explained. “At the time, we didn’t have anything specifically for medical missions—we had to source those trips through other sister universities, and those students went because they wanted to participate in an experience like that. When they came back, though, they shared that while the trip itself was great, they never felt included—they never really got integrated with the rest of the group. They asked me, ‘Why doesn’t LCU do this?’”
After those students graduated, Dr. Laughlin took it upon himself to find a way for LCU to facilitate such a trip for its students, and that very next year, he took a survey trip with Olive Branch Ministries International to see if LCU might be able to partner with them in the future. Less than a year later, and he was returning with a contingent of LCU students on a medical mission trip in the spring of 2013—the first of eight such trips.
Each trip to Peru was made in partnership with Olive Branch Ministries, and over the course of that decade,120 students have traveled to South America to serve the people of Peru while also gaining valuable experience working in clinics and with diverse cultures.
“These are designed specifically for our students,” Dr. Laughlin said. “They can be any pre-health profession majors—we've even taken pre-vet majors before—but the trip is really designed to be a short term, international trip with a medical emphasis, so that they can accumulate some shadowing hours and experience different cultural perspectives.”
Sage Post, a senior biology major from Midlothian, Texas, was one of the students who went on the trip in 2023. She shared that the trip emphasized to her just the universal nature of the medical profession.
“Obviously, the culture there is very different from our own,” she explained, “but medicine is so much the same. The illnesses that plague them are the same things that like plague us. In America, we constantly preach the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and I was surprised to find that it's the same over there. That's something that I wasn't quite expecting.”
Kayton Genenbacher, a junior biology major from Lubbock who plays volleyball for the Lady Chaps, explained how deeply the experience affected her perspective of her profession as a calling.
“Even with the language barrier, we're all the same people,” she shared. “At the end of the day, each person that came in wanted to be known, wanted to be heard, and wanted to be loved. And we had a chance, even beyond the physical care, to show them God's love—even without words, just by us being there. I think that was my biggest takeaway—how can I constantly be showing love, even nonverbally?”
Another student, Kamryn Lucas, a senior biology major with a pre-dental emphasis from New Home, Texas, shared her own takeaway from the experience.
“This trip really gave me hope for my career path,” she said. “It was really inspiring to see the doctors who joined us give of their personal practices and love on these people. I spent my time in the dental clinic, and I learned so much from my time there. The dentist supervising there didn’t have to spend the time to explain different things, to teach me, but he chose to do so anyway. That wasn’t just helpful to me as a professional—it was inspiring to me—I realized that I want to do that for others one day.”
Lynsey Rogers, a senior pre-physical therapy major from Lubbock, echoed that point. “I have a PT tech job here in Lubbock, and in that role, I don’t get to do half things that I got to work on in Peru. Here, my job is mainly cleaning and communicating with patients, but while we were on the trip, I actually got to talk with patients about their health challenges and try to figure out how to help them through the exercises we prescribed them.” Each of the students was able to work with a licensed professional who mentored them throughout the trip.
The trip also provides the local churches in Peru with a new way to connect with and serve others in their community. Dr. Laughlin explained, “Sometimes, the professionals we work with will come tell me, ‘Hey, this lady just lost her husband two days ago—is there somebody out there from the church who could come and talk to her?’ We kind of intercept them and connect those people with a member of the local church to come alongside them in whatever need they have, even if it’s just to walk with them.”
According to Dr. Laughlin, however, the ones who get the most out of the experience are the LCU students.
“They get a rich experience because they get to make connections with all of these health professionals,” he added. “They now have this whole battery of professional people who they can actually pick up a phone and call to help them in their practice, and they've got all these people who are going to help them on their journey.”