A Call to Serve: Meeting Health Care Needs in Rural Ecuador
Jane Spreckelson, a senior in high school, traveled to Ecuador in mid-August with the Disque Foundation team. The purpose of the trip was to train health care providers and other indigenous people of the Andes in Basic Life Support skills, as well as to partner with FIBUSPAM, PACH and Trek Coalition to provide life-changing medical services through their primary care, dentistry, ophthalmology and multi-specialty surgical programs.
The experience proved to be much more than expected. Jane has graciously shared her reflection essay drawing parallels from her trip with the Disque Foundation in 2012 and her week in Ecuador in the hope of inspiring others to contribute as well.
A Teenager’s Reflection
As a naive 11 year-old-girl, I set off on my first mission trip to Costa Rica. While performing maintenance tasks at an orphanage, I widened my understanding of myself and the world. I viewed a world I never dreamed of. This marks the first time I recall feeling my heart tugging me towards serving the less fortunate. Flash-forward to my 17 year-old-self as I partake in a medical mission trip in Ecuador; I feel that familiar tugging at my heart when I grasp the little calloused hand in mine. In the past, I felt uncertain about my path, and these moments pointed me in the direction of my dreams.
I opened the door to service through my mission trips. While in Costa Rica I performed maintenance improvements around an orphanage and interacted with the children. This made my young heart brim with love and proved to be an unshakable feeling. So when the opportunity arose again to partake in another mission trip, I took advantage of the opportunity.
In 2019 I went to Ecuador in conjunction with Fundacion Internacional Buen Samaritano Paul Martel (FIBUSPAM), the Save a Life Initiative, and Trek Coalition. We provided healthcare clinics in remote villages in the Andes. We provided general healthcare, gynecology, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, and chiropractics. I worked in dentistry and utilized my Spanish skills to communicate with the dentist and assist in dental care.
My first daytested my skills, but by the end of my trip I knew all of the dental instruments in Spanish and could anticipate the next instrument. This helped me greatly improve my Spanish speaking skills.I also helped present CPR trainings to the FIBUSPAM employees: empowering them to save lives. When on lunch break I taught the kids some dances, colored, and blew bubbles. These small acts serve as memories they will have forever.
Opening the door to service impacted my life in many ways. When serving others whether in other countries or here in my community, I feel fulfilled and full hearted. By experiencing other cultures I acquired a much broader world and life view than my peers. I experienced a completely different world where people have little and yet, gratitude abounds. In the US people possess so much and still want more. I grew in appreciation for my many blessings and opportunities. I developed more gratitude and realized how fortunate I am.
My trip to Ecuador to serve others cultivated personal growth. I came to know my purpose in life — to serve others. Nothing else ever made me feel so fulfilled, strong, and alive. I loved every moment I spent on both of my mission trips. Seeing the children’s unwavering bravery when I held their hand and they needed to have a tooth pulled or a cavity filled, influenced how I see my future. I know that in my life I will serve others in whatever path I take. All my life I searched for what I was meant to do, and I now can say it is to serve the less fortunate.
Coming back from both my trips, my heart glowed. While in Costa Rica I witnessed another world. This left an unfadeable imprint on me and influenced my decision to partake in the Ecuador trip. Ecuador catalyzed my thoughts of serving the less fortunate. I may not know how this will be, but I must strive to fulfill my purpose. I discovered that the future is filled with the unknown and I must brave the challenges to come. I must proactively serve those less fortunate in any way possible. I foresee extraordinary things to come in my life. There will be more opportunities coming my way, and I must decide which to take. Life is what you make it, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me.