From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Nurse gets 'recharged' through mission work in Mexico

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 7 Apr 2004 14:06:59 -0500

April 7, 2004 News media contact: Linda Green 7 (615)742-5470 7 Nashville,
Tenn. 7 E-mail: 7 ALL-HIS-RM-FM-I{164}

NOTE: A UMTV report and photographs are available at

A UMNS Feature
By John Gordon*

Susan Dungan set out to help others when she joined members of her church on
a medical mission to Mexico.

After visiting some of the most-impoverished areas in the country, she found
out that being in mission means receiving as well as giving.

"We come with the presumption that we're coming to help these people," Dungan
said.  "And we leave with the overall and overwhelming confirmation that we
were helped by them in learning how big love is."

The registered nurse from Shreveport, La., spent her spring break far from
Mexico's resort areas. She and a team from North Highlands United Methodist
Church drove 700 miles to Carboneras, a tiny fishing village on the Gulf of
Mexico. There they treated more than 200 patients in two days.

Carboneras has no doctors' offices or clinics. Most of the villagers live in
shacks on dirt roads and cannot afford medical treatment. Chickens and pigs
roam the dusty streets.  Boats line the beach as fishermen prepare their

But townspeople who line up at the clinic are smiling.

"I see a very content people - very happy, very satisfied with life," she
said.  "But the need that I see is great for medical care."

Children began following the church's van as soon as it arrived in the town. 
The 10-member mission team also included two doctors, a pharmacist, a retired
nursing instructor and a paramedic.  

While the team unloaded equipment and drugs, entire families began lining up
at the makeshift clinic, set up in a church built by members of the Louisiana
Annual (regional) Conference's Volunteers in Mission program.

"I thought, 'This is exactly where we needed to be,'" Dungan said.

The team treated illnesses ranging from runny noses to foot infections. The
clinic has its own pharmacy, with drugs and vitamins donated by a U.S.
pharmaceutical company and brought across the border with the help of the Red

But more than drugs are needed to deal with common medical problems in
Mexico.  Many residents cannot afford socks, so the team brought 500 pairs to
give away to reduce foot infections.

"I feel more needed and wanted here than I have in a long, long time," said
Pam Waguespack, on her first mission trip. Waguespack is a postal worker and
member of St. Charles United Methodist Church in Destrehan, La.

"These people are just so warm and open and honest and genuine," she said. 
"And I wish everybody could meet them and know what that's like."

Scott Temple, a paramedic for the Bossier City Fire Department, echoed those

"You just feel fantastic," he said. "You feel like you have a heart as big as
the Empire State Building."

Team members met a living example of how the mission work can help. A local
teenager, Erick Trevino, arrived at the clinic on both days to meet patients
and help translate.

Two years ago, Erick, 16, limped after he dislocated his hip while playing
soccer. His family could not afford an operation.

A Methodist doctor on an earlier mission trip met Erick and later arranged to
cover the costs of the operation. Now, Erick walks normally.

"I feel real good, no pain," the teen said. "I'm very grateful because they
helped me."

Aaron Parman, a retired factory worker in Reynosa, helps coordinate the
efforts of mission teams visiting the area.  Parman sees stronger faith as a
key to solving Mexico's economic and social problems, such as alcohol and

"It's very important that brothers (from the U.S.) come to preach the gospel
and help our people," he said.

Dungan has been making the mission trips twice a year for the last four
years. The experience has changed her life. Now she is taking night classes
to become a nurse practitioner so she can provide even more care to Mexico's

"I was immediately taken to the mission ... and knew that this is what God
had called me to do," she said. "I get recharged when I come down here."

Louisiana Volunteers in Mission wants to send teams to Carboneras monthly to
provide follow-up care. The organization also sends construction crews to
Reynosa, just south of the Texas-Mexico border, to build homes and churches.

Dungan's first mission trip to Mexico seemed to happen by chance, but she
believes it was fate.

"I accidentally showed up here the first time," she said. "I was carrying
some men home from a retreat and just happened to be invited to be part of a
mission trip down here to Mexico to help as a nurse."

Dungan is already planning her next trip to Mexico in September. She still
has another 14 months of long nights as she studies to become a nurse

"It inspires me to continue doing what I'm doing. I just feel so blessed."

The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Web site,,
details mission opportunities and how to sign up or make donations.  

# # #

*Gordon is a freelance producer residing in Marshall, Texas. 


United Methodist News Service
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