Each summer, Dr. Andy Laughlin leads a medical mission trip to Peru in partnership with Olive Branch Ministries. The purpose of the trip is two-fold: personal education and global service.
“We want our students to have quality exposure to professionals through shadowing, observing, and, when appropriate, participating in interactions with patients. Most return with a new perspective on their academics, and all return with a deeper knowledge of God's creation and purpose,” said Dr. Laughlin, who began coordinating the mission trip with Olive Branch six years ago.
Over the course of the spring semester, the students underwent weekly training in missions and basic medical procedures to prepare them for the trip to Peru. In May, they boarded a six-hour flight to Lima. For the following week, the group ran a medical clinic out of an orphanage in Ventanilla. The clinic included stations to address a variety of medical needs: general practice, gynecology, physical therapy, dentistry, optometry, triage, and pharmaceuticals.
The style of living and culture of Ventanilla immediately made an impression on group. Local children came to the orphanage because their families had no food or money. The children were malnourished and often had to share beds, cramming onto mattresses. There was no running water or electricity. The space for their dental clinic consisted of a metal folding chair. Some patients walked two days, desperate for medical attention.
Peru gave students the opportunity to learn from dental and medical professionals, including some big names in the field; they worked together, ate together, and shared life-changing experiences.
One student, Jaci Wulfjen, hopes to return to Peru in the future as a medical professional herself.
“I can’t imagine having a more valuable educational experience,” Jaci said. “At the end, it was harder to leave than I ever thought it would be. I’ve felt a calling to be in the mission field for a long time. I know I’ll be going back for trips, if not for longer periods of time.”
To read more about the mission trip to Peru, check out the Winter 2016 issue of Reflections.