|Staci Pessetti is mobbed by curious children.|
(Aug. 17, 2012 - by Harold Goerzen) Staci Pessetti was one of eight students who took part in HCJB Global’s internship program in Accra, Ghana, June 30-July 27. Here are some excerpts from an interview with her:
What type of work did you do? What did you accomplish?
I was one of the students serving as a physician’s assistant (PA), treating patients with Dr. Steve Nelson. We traveled into the villages between Accra and Asamankese (with the assistance of partner Theovision) to bring medical treatment, hold a children’s ministry, enjoy pure fellowship and show our love for God’s people. I don’t think we will ever know exactly what we accomplished. We came as faithful servants to the calling that God has for us, knowing that we could be the hands and feet of Jesus, offering love, mercy and grace in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters…. Though we treated many illnesses and diseases (medical outreach was the main focus of the mission), our overwhelming purpose was to be instruments of the Lord as He sowed seeds in the hearts of His people. And as the workers who aimed to help plant those seeds, we won’t see but a glimpse of that harvest until we enter God’s kingdom and take it in with Him.
What were some highlights of your work this summer?
There are so many mental pictures that come to mind as I look back on this month in Ghana. I am reminded of each morning’s drive, taking in the beautiful scenery of God’s creation, the humble daily lives of the people and the joy on the children’s faces as they greeted us with waving and jumping. I will never forget the blessing of opportunities to get on my knees with several critical patients to pray, encourage and just listen to their story. I was amazed daily at how God provided for the team and the people of the villages and the power of His Word.
|Bernice arrives with an adominal tumor.|
Who were some of the memorable people you met this summer?
Francis was a young epileptic boy with a difficult home life who was nearly abandoned by his village. I have never seen such a beautiful smile, and he exemplified the beauty in the broken. Bernice was a young girl with an enormous abdominal tumor that had eroded through the wall of her abdomen, yet she greeted each day joyfully and peacefully with a glowing face. Auntie Jean was a woman who gave all she had to serve the children in her town, just so they might come to know their Creator and Father. I’ll never forget our tiniest patients, the babies and children, whom we scooped up in our arms, carried on our backs and gave loads of love. What a blessing their witness was to us, just in the ways they approach each day and share love for each other!
Eva, our cook and friend, offered abundant love and encouragement to our team and exquisitely modeled the love and grace of the Lord to us. The Theovision staff joyfully and patiently, plugged us into the villages, organized the crowds, translated our endless questions and encouraged our team with incredible hearts of service, humility and praise to God. The missionaries on our team showed us phenomenal examples of living for God, seeking His will for life, trusting in Him to do and provide for all things, and approaching one another in humble fellowship, service and compassion.
|Staci listens to a patient's heart and lungs.|
What did you learn from those to whom you were ministering?
I came to understand a true sense of community and relationships through the people in the villages, just by the way they work together and support one another. I learned the importance of acknowledging those around me, even with just a simple smile or wave, a loving touch, a listening ear or a spoken prayer…. I truly and vividly learned that the medicine and knowledge I bring is nothing but a bridge into the hearts of the people I reach out to. I learned that the weight of serving others and being the hands and feet of Jesus lies purely in showing up, just being there with open hands, ears, hearts and minds…. I learned to linger a little longer in the presence of God and in connecting with others, to look more closely at what is necessary in this life and to examine and rid myself of the excess that crowds God out of my life, making me the one who is really “less fortunate.” I learned that sometimes it takes getting as far out of my comfort zone and normal life as possible to develop a more full understanding of serving God, answering His call and having my eyes opened to see the needs of those around me more readily. I regained an understanding that so much of life is about perspective, the condition I place my heart in, the mindset I choose each morning, and how I let the events of the day either rob me of God’s opportunities to serve Him or propel me toward the purposes He has laid out for me.
How does this apply to your studies? Where are you attending school?
I am in the PA program at Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., graduating this December with my master’s degree and becoming a certified and licensed PA. This mission experience qualified as an elective for one of my four-week rotations, allowing me to gain more exposure to the mission field, building on the experiences I have had in the past (Alaska Eskimo village work and Uganda medical mission work). It was a great first opportunity to finally blend treating patients as a provider on the mission field in a developing country. I was able to broaden my knowledge on treating various medical conditions and incorporate a different cultural and organizational framework in the care I provide.
Do you have some stories to share?
In Kofikyere I had a special moment with a little girl, maybe 3 years old, whom I had been watching in the village all day. I don’t know who was responsible for her because I never saw her with an adult, and I don’t know her name because she didn’t speak any words in our presence. But she reached up to me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders and snuggled up to my neck and cheek, perfectly content for awhile. My heart melted for her, and as I held her tight and rubbed her back, I whispered prayers to God over her. She was absolutely beautiful. God has really given me a passion for the little ones—they just light me up! I love being able to talk to the mommas, play with the babies and young kids, and give some sort of comfort and reassurance to their situation. Many of the children in the village don’t see a doctor until the day they become very sick, so it’s a blessing to be able to examine them and see the relief on the parents faces to know that their child is healthy and growing well.
I was blessed to treat a family of four kids who eagerly crowded around my table with their mother. Each child had their own issues, so we went one by one and addressed each of the needs presented. The more time we spent together, the more I had to laugh to myself. This family reminded me so much of my own. They were sitting on each others’ laps, laughing and joking with each other, and each one knew the details of everyone’s problems: “She can’t poop … ha ha!”; “He doesn’t brush his teeth … he lied!” They were a little gift from God to me—a piece of home but also a reminder of the importance of just loving each other and how powerful our support is for one another.
I felt many kicks from one seven-month belly and loved seeing one momma get to hear her baby’s heartbeat—something they probably never experience here. It was a great feeling to put together a person’s history and symptoms, and then educate them about it and give them reassurance. This came up often with the babies as mothers were concerned about their development. It is not uncommon for the babies to be held or carried on someone’s back all day, which slows down the speed at which they learn to sit up on their own or walk.
During lunchtime I took a couple moments in the middle of the village. There were three little girls walking around, one about 4 years old and sobbing, carrying a broken shoe. I walked over to them and wiped the girl’s tears, temporarily putting the strap back in place and putting it on her foot. I gave her a hug, and she was stunned about the whole thing! They walked away, and the shoe came apart again, but she just kept watching me and gave up the tears. There was also a man drying cocoa beans outside in the sun. He was so proud of his hard work and begged me to come look at his beans and take his picture. It was a great moment, hearing his story and contributing to the worth of his work.
What are your impressions of HCJB Global’s summer internship program?
I was very impressed by the program. The organization was fabulous in its communication and setup of the experience. The missionaries were phenomenal leaders and friends—just like a unique little family all working together in love and service. The experience was incredibly well planned to include valuable medical work, eye-opening cultural experiences and a well-balanced schedule of work and time to process/relax.
How did this time open your eyes to missions? Are you considering full-time missions?
I feel called to regular mission work in my life to include service locally in the community in which I live as well as abroad to those who have needs I am equipped and led to meet. I am passionate about loving my neighbor as well as seeing the needs of this broken world. God has created each of us with unique gifts and talents, and I believe we are called to give those gifts back to Him in our relationships with others. My eyes were first opened to missions in high school when I traveled to Alaskan Eskimo villages to do children’s outreach and community work during three summers, and built on through experiences in rural Kentucky and a medical mission in Uganda. My month in Ghana continued to expand the vision God has shown me for loving and serving His people, further breaking my heart for others and providing me with guidance towards following His call for me to serve with my life and career.
Editor’s Note: Look for the next (September) issue of Voice & Hands magazine which includes a full report of this year’s summer internship program.
Source: HCJB Global