When Adam Olson went on a short-term trip medical mission trip to Nicaragua, it changed his perspective about life, love and the mission field.
“We had just arrived at the Re-nutrition Center and were quietly peeking at the children as most were laying down for an early afternoon nap. As a few of us were standing in the hallway an adorable little girl – perhaps 3 or 4 years old – came unexpectedly shooting out of one of the bedrooms. Her arms were extended out in front of her, and she was making a beeline for one of our team, Dr. Hackbarth. She ran up to him and wrapped her arms around his leg, and looked up at him as if saying “well…what are you waiting for?…pick me up!” I was, of course, touched. Here was a little girl, who (not knowing her story at the time) was imaginably rescued from a life of misery through starvation and given the chance to thrive. Then something else dawned on me. She didn’t run out into the hallway and ask Dr. Hackbarth for food. And she didn’t run into the hallway looking for a toy or for someone to play with. She ran out into the hallway because she was looking for someone to love her – to hold her, to show her affection, and to remind her that she matters in her little place in the world. My next thought was this: there is nothing unusual about that behavior. How many times have you seen a child, back here in the US, run up to somebody (strangers, even!) begging to be held? That need to feel loved is universal. When I look back, more than anything, for me, the story has become a powerful reminder that every person – of every race, color, creed, or nutritional status – needs love. Yes, the mission of our trip was to provide healthcare to the people of Nicaragua, but our greater calling was to love the people of Nicaragua. And, from my perspective, to do it as Christ first taught us to. For many of the people we saw, their enalapril or acetaminophen will probably run out, or their head lice will return – but I can guarantee that they will not soon forget the people who intentionally and deliberately made an effort to show them that they are loved.
It is my desire to continue with overseas missions at some point in my life, and this year’s trip to Nicaragua has played no small role in that decision. But at the same time – in the spirit of the story above – I have learned (or rather been reminded) that the mission field is as much here in my hometown of Wauwatosa as it is in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Our calling to love God’s people isn’t reserved for a week or two out of the year.”