By: Hayley Geis
The opportunity to serve the people and the animals in the small Yupik villages of southwest Alaska through Christian Veterinary Mission was truly one pieced together by God. He put a strong love for mission work in the small villages of Alaska in my heart from the beginning of high school and that love shaped my decision to become a veterinarian.
In a time of yearning to hear God’s voice this past year, in February it became apparent that God had been listening to my prayers as I was presented with the opportunity to trust God and take a leap of faith. I drove from Athens, GA (where I am in vet school at UGA) to Raleigh, NC to meet Dr. Wages exactly two weeks prior to when the planes would be taking off for Alaska. She told me that she had a spot available on the short-term mission over spring break through CVM. With original hesitation due to the extremely fast turnaround, the Lord could not have been any clearer that I needed to get on that plane. I had to trust that He was going to keep leading my steps in the coming weeks, as they were already packed full of exams and other commitments through school.
Throughout the trip, with the unique hearts of each person pieced purposefully together for this team, our theme ironically ended up being trust. Trust is scary, but we all have complete faith that the promises in Jeremiah 29:11-13 are true – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
With the Lord’s provision and perfect will, everything came together for the trip and soon enough I was heading to Atlanta, GA from Athens to hop on a plane headed for Alaska.
We went to a total of four villages; with our entire team (10 of us) going to the first two villages, and then splitting in half in order to reach two other villages on the last couple days of the trip. As we arrived in each village, we set up a “home base” makeshift veterinary clinic with a reception area, a space to do physical examinations before the procedures, a surgery and recovery area, and a children’s station with coloring and crafts.
Once we set up the home base, part of our team would stay behind to help with the procedures, and the rest would go out in teams to knock on the homes and offer veterinary services, prayer, and fellowship. At people’s homes, we administered vaccinations for rabies and distemper/parvovirus, dewormed all of the animals, and before we left, would offer to pray for the families. Even if people didn’t have animals, we would make sure to fellowship with them and pray for them.
We slept on the floor where we could, ate granola bars, gummy snacks, dried fruit, and MREs throughout the week and would pause throughout the day to eat a snack when we needed one. We would stop working when the last dog was recovered from surgery, clean all of our supplies, eat dinner finally around 11:30pm (if not later), and then decompress with devotional time and sharing of our “highs, lows, and God moments” from the day. It was amazing that even though our days started at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t end until the wee hours of the morning the following day, we were energized and filled with the Lord’s spirit to keep us going.
Truly I tell you, where our strength ended, His began and carried us through. Though every day was filled with so many highs and God moments, there were definitely hard times, as both veterinary medicine and mission work test your empathy, compassion, and strength on so many levels. Through it all, serving the people of Alaska and serving the animals that are in such a great need and were my motivation to become a veterinarian, and doing so with the ultimate mission of sharing the gospel was an indescribable feeling. The Lord is moving: in the group He put together for us and in Alaska. He is orchestrating something big through these trips that I can’t begin to comprehend, and we saw God working in some amazing ways. This story is far from over and I pray that everyone reading this finds hope in the fact that we serve an indescribably good and gracious Father that is working even at the ends of the Earth.”