Volunteer Abroad: 8 Things I Learned on my Mission Trip

“Volunteer around the world, it will change you.”

The wise words of a doctor I work with. Little did I know, he was right about my Volunteer Abroad experience.

As mentioned before, I went to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to partake in my first ever Medical Mission Trip. It was my first time that I volunteered as a nurse and also first time volunteering abroad. Therefore, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about my volunteer abroad experience.

Volunteer Abroad: 8 Things I Learned on my Medical Mission Trip

1. Change the World

On my Volunteer Abroad trip to Honduras I felt we were changing lives and making a huge difference. When I came home I felt I could change the world. I know changing the world may be far fetch, but that huge spark could help me change a life or two here in Minnesota. Don’t be surprised if this is how YOU will feel after a volunteer abroad experience. 

2. Deep within myself

I looked deep inside myself throughout the whole mission trip and once I got home. I re-evaluated what was important to myself and my husband. We discussed less buying items on non-necessities and more donations or sponsoring a child. Again, I told you; you will be changed. 

3. Stay Humble

The stories I heard and the things I saw will be a daily reminder to stay humble in my everyday life and take in the experience. This will be brought home with you and shared among friends and family. 

4. Thankful

Every patient we met was so thankful. So thankful, to be given the chance to have surgery and the chance to keep living. But little did they know, we were so thankful for meeting them and being able to hear their stories. This reminded me to be more thankful, no matter how small. Don’t be shocked if you find everyday things thankful, that you missed before, after your volunteer experience. 

5. Vacation

No, a Medical Mission trip is not a vacation. We’re there to do business, to get things done that are asked from us and to rest up for the next day. We would work from 5am-6pm, we were exhausted and would wake up and do it all over again. This isn’t a vacation, we’re here for a purpose, let’s get that done. Hint: Go on a vacation afterwards. 

6. Not America

We were not in America. As a Medical Mission trip we didn’t have the same resources we would of had in America. At times the electricity would go out in the middle of surgery (no joke), there would be a 3 minute delay and then the generator would kick in. Along with the electricity, water would also go out. Water wasn’t as big issue for surgery cases (use sterile water), but there would be days we were unable to go to the bathroom due to having no water. Appreciation and thankfulness of things like clean water and electricity will stay with you for life. 

7. Now Vacation

A vacation may be needed after a Medical Mission trip. As mentioned above, you spend countless number of hours working, hearing stories and helping others that it is physically and emotionally draining. Being able to go to Roatan and do vacation things was a great way to end the trip. As a servant, one needs to find sometime for self care as well. 

8. Next one

I had such a positive experience on my first Medical Mission trip that I came home right away to research my next mission trip. Don’t be stunned when you’re doing the same thing. 

The most important thing I learned was; all of the above. Volunteering abroad will change you, it doesn’t even have to be medical. There are so many organizations out there that allow you to do other things besides medical volunteering.

Volunteering, in general, is a beautiful time. Share your time with others and be a servant to those less fortunate.

Have you volunteered abroad before?