This past March, Emily Smith, a pre-vet student from Missouri,was given the opportunity to serve in Nicaragua. Emily and her team spent a week working alongside Oscar and Tamy Gaitan, a local pastor and his wife, where the team and their treatment of the animals served as a bridge for the Gaitans and sharing the Gospel.
Emily was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
Q: Please share how this trip impacted your spiritual walk.
Emily: I know that God has called me to be a long term missionary in the future. This trip only strengthened my convictions and opened my eyes to many of the aspects of spiritual life that I have learned about through Perspectives or through my church life. I can not adequately describe the impact that this trip had on my life. I feel so incredibly comfortable in an environment where I get to use my technical skills and share the love of Christ. God is the God of Nicaragua as much as He is in America.
Q: What were the most encouraging/challenging aspects of your trip?
Emily: I think that seeing how incredible our hosts were when interacting with others in their country was extremely encouraging. The programs and churches that they have started to strengthen the church in Nicaragua are extremely effective and have clearly blessed those around them. I learned so much about what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ for them and only hope that I will be as effective in my ministry someday.
Q: Do you think you will go on another short-term mission trip?
Emily: Absolutely! My only regret is that I didn’t get to stay longer. Whether I take another trip to Nicaragua or somewhere else I think that these trips are a huge part in preparing me for my future as a veterinary missionary and are incredible ways to share Christ’s love through our actions.
Q: Would you recommend going on this trip?
Emily: Yes! I think that this trip teaches those interested in veterinary medicine so much! But the greatest reason I would suggest it is the blessing it provides both to the people we serve and to ourselves. It puts the rest of life into perspective.
Q: Please share a story of an experience from your trip of something that impacted you or that you learned.
Emily: I think the most important lesson I learned is one about what it means to have true God given joy. There was a day in Nicaragua when we visited a small village tucked away up a goat trail of a road. Nicaragua is in a drought and I road the entire two and a half hour drive in the back of a pickup truck. It was close to 120 degrees that day and that night I took a shower out of a bucket and slept in a hammock outside. By my privileged American standards I should have hated that day, but it was one of the best days of my life. You see I didn’t care that it was hot, that the day was long, that I didn’t have running water, or that I was so covered in dust my team kept telling me I had a dirt beard. We spent that day doing something that made a difference. We treated dogs, cats, horses, and pigs for people who have next to nothing. We laughed and joked and ate and learned and prayed together. I felt more joy in that single day in Nicaragua than I did in a month in America. That day I got to see the birth of a calf and the rebirth of a little boy named Antonio. If that doesn’t sum up veterinary missions I don’t know what does. Every day that I think about God’s plan for my life, this crazy idea that he wants me to give up my home and family to move to a foreign place and meets the needs of His people somewhere else, I will remember that village and that newborn calf and my new little brother in Christ. I will remember all of it and know that God’s joy surpasses all human discomfort and pettiness. God’s joy is worth every minute of it.
A special thank you to Emily Smith for allowing us to share in a little piece of her journey to Nicaragua! May the Lord continue to use this experience to touch the lives of others.
Not able to participate in a short-term trip but have a heart for what God is doing through them? Support CVM’s short-term missions by giving to our short-term missions program!