For the second time in as many years, the Gordon Hospital Missionary Team took their medical knowledge, relief supplies, and their burden for the Great Commission to the poverty-stricken and earthquake- ravaged Caribbean country. The group of 12 missionaries returned back to Gordon County on Feb. 16 with renewed life perspectives and appreciation for items often taken for granted.
“This was my first trip to Haiti, and hopefully it will not be my last,” says Mallory Brown, 20, daughter of Jeff and Polly Brown of Calhoun and the neighbor of Gordon Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Amy Jordon.
“This trip really put into perspective for me the poverty that exists in the world, and how there is so much we can do to help. I wish that everyone could have the opportunity to have such an eye-opening experience as the one Gordon Hospital provided.
Jordon, who completed her second mission trip to Haiti, echoed Brown’s statements.
“The people of Haiti are so loving and welcoming,” Jordon adds. “While we go there to help them, we always receive much more than we give to them. It is very difficult to come home to all that we have after seeing such need.”
In addition to Jordon and Brown, also making the trip this year included Brenda and Michael Cooper (who organized the trip through their organization Haiti Helpers), Robert and Sandra Holland and their granddaughter Courtney Blalock, Max and Meredith Parrott, Angie and Alyssa Shawgo, and Gordon Hospital Chaplain Dave Smith.
“I received a blessing spending time with the Haitians,” says Angie Shawgo, RN at Gordon Hospital, who concluded her second mission trip to Haiti, only this time with her teenage daughter, Alyssa. “They were very appreciative of everything we gave and did for them. The things we take for granted – clean water, food, shelter, clothes and school are not available to many of them. Going to Haiti reminds me of how fortunate I am.”
For Max Parrott, MD, chief medical officer for Gordon Hospital, the trip served as an eye-opener for not only him, but for his daughter, Meredith, as well.
“Treating patients living in these conditions reminded me of why I went to medical school in the first place,” Dr. Parrott says. “It was a very rewarding, yet humbling experience. My daughter didn’t want to leave. She can’t wait to go back.”
According to Gordon Hospital Chaplain Dave Smith, the organizers of Haiti Helpers, Michael and Brenda Cooper, take teams of medical professionals to Haiti two or more times every year. For the past two years, one of those trips is designated as the “Gordon Hospital Mission Trip.”
“The Hospital Family throws wonderful energy and support into our trips, raising thousands of dollars for medical supplies and transportation costs so that anyone willing to use their vacation time is able to experience the great satisfaction of being used by God where one’s skills make a great difference.” Chaplain Smith says. “As a teenager, college student, and pastor, I travelled to Africa, Nicaragua, and Madagascar. So, I’ve experienced the gratitude-impact of short-term immersion in Third World poverty before.
The jackets and dress shirts I took to Haiti for every-evening preaching are now on the backs of Haitian believers each weekend. Simple backless benches in the mud-floored churches to which our team took nightly evangelistic services were so jammed that faces filled the window and door openings, doing their best to hear the Bible messages!”
During the day, large tubs of medicines were loaded onto trucks headed to clinic sites housed in simple Adventist church buildings. Trucks and motorcycles on rutted dirt roads could only get physicians, nurses, and other volunteers within four miles of one chosen village clinic site.
“Medicine-laden missionaries cautiously picked fragile footholds in the exhausting switch-backed trail which terminated at a palm frond and mud worship structure,” Chaplain Smith explained. “No physician had ever come to care for the medical needs of that village before our trip! The countryside gave up its residents for miles around as Haitians of all ages and maladies crowded in to receive medicines and always a parting prayer blessing.”
The hospital missionaries are sharing their testimonies with individuals and through daily Chapel services at Gordon Hospital in hopes of garnering support and interest for next year’s trip.
“It takes all of us working together to make a trip of this magnitude happen,” Jordon added. “We are so thankful to everyone who helped us raise money and supplies. Lives were changed, not only through the medical services provided, but most importantly through the Bible School and church services that our group provided to the people of some of the most remote areas of Haiti.”