As a physician specializing in primary care and anesthesiology, I have been fortunate to be able to use my expertise to care for numerous people in the United States, Mexico, the Yucatan, Guatemala, Haiti and other locations around the world. Going on mission trips within and outside of our country allows me to care for people in need of assistance in meeting the very basic requirements of life, such as water, food, housing and medical care.
One of the many ironies that becomes apparent in the mission field is the fact that people who have less are often more grateful, happier and less stressed than those with abundance. While we are working overtime to acquire the next “thing” or to fund our retirement accounts, many around the world are working to meet basic needs and prioritize spending time with their families.
There are many reasons to consider going on a mission trip at least once, if not regularly, during your life. Of course, the primary reason to go on a mission trip is to improve the lives of those in need. But did you know being part of a mission has many benefits for team members and their families as well? Here are a few great reasons to go beyond the borders of your neighborhood and town to help others.
More Than Words
Regardless of one’s religious preferences or background, one thing is clear: faith without works is meaningless; talk is cheap, action is needed. Many people think that only those involved in faith-based organizations or those in the medical field are suited to go on a mission trip. This simply is not true. There are no specific skills needed to reach out to others. The world is made better one day at time, one situation at a time, and one life at a time. Imagine what love, concern and caring looks like: Hands to reach out, feet to go where needed, eyes to see the need and ears to hear the laughter and sorrow of others.
There may be plenty of reasons not to go on mission – you don’t like to fly, you don’t have the money, you can’t get away from work, etc. But looking back later in life, will you remember why you didn’t go or will you remember the amazing places you went? Will you wonder how your life and other’s lives might have been different if you had helped? Will the memories you created warm your heart? Will you imagine the people you could have met or the places you could have seen? Will your life be enriched by the people you have connected with and the things you have seen?
If going on mission sounds intriguing, but the time is not right, I encourage you to put it on your schedule soon. Start small if that helps to get you moving. Otherwise, you might wake up someday at 85 years old, still saying, “Maybe next year. . .”
There are many organizations in our region, the U.S. and worldwide that need volunteers. Any skill is needed – from building and repairs, to cleaning and organizing, to teaching and mentoring, to medical and surgical care. If you are interested in traveling outside of the country, consider getting involved with locally based organizations that do out-of-country trips such as Northern Arizona Volunteer Medical Corps, Medishare, Doctors Without Borders or FaithWorks. There are also numerous local agencies looking for helping hands right here in Northern Arizona. A good list of local and regional organizations is available on the United Way of Northern Arizona website; click on the documents tab and then select Flagstaff Resources. Or, just doing an Internet search for mission and volunteer organizations will yield many results. All it takes is a few clicks on the computer, a phone call and a willing heart to make a profound difference in your life and the lives of others. FBN
By Stephen R. Peters, M.D.
Stephen R. Peters, M.D., is an anesthesiologist with Forest Country Anesthesia. He is board-certified in anesthesia and internal medicine. Dr. Peters cares for obstetric patients and surgical patients who need any level of anesthesia or sedation – from local anesthetic to regional anesthesia such as a spinal or epidural to full or general sedation. Dr. Peters followed in the footsteps of his father, who was a physician. His three brothers are also physicians, and his three of his four children also work in the medical field. Dr. Peters and his family moved to Flagstaff in 2005. In addition to his role as a husband, father and physician, he is passionate about helping others and regularly joins mission trips to care for those who are in greatest need.
The team of anesthesia performs more than 16,000 anesthetic procedures each year in all areas of anesthesiology including cardiovascular, obstetrics, neurosurgery, pediatrics and orthopedics, across five facilities in Northern Arizona. To learn more about Dr. Peters and Forest Country Anesthesia, visit ForestCountryAnesthesia.com or call 928-773-2505.
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