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“Cleaning a Medical Clinic Provides Ministry”

By Ellen Pogue*

ASIA–My favorite part of Expedition was cleaning the medical clinic because I saw the desperate need there for that. It was horrible to see people lying in the hospital room sick and having their rooms dirtier than their homes. We got to see the lives that we were affecting by cleaning and working there.

My first impression was “I do not know how anybody would want to set foot into this place.” Then, I thought about it and was like, “This trip’s not about me. I’m here to help people, and this is how I can help.”

We cleaned one day and we were supposed to have a day off the next day, but we decided to clean the whole clinic because we wanted to give that to the people. Having an interest in the medical field, this trip kind of increased it, because it’s just an easy way to have an impact on people’s lives.

We were told that we were going to a clinic, but I had no idea what it was about; I thought it was a hospital or something. We were given sponges, rags, dishwashing soap, and buckets and told to go scrub the walls. I expected to have one or two spots, but we walked in and all the walls were covered in a huge, thick layer of dirt and blood. It was disgusting, and the smell was disgusting.

We started out in the main hall, finished that, and then moved into the patients’ rooms. In a couple of the rooms, the sick people were still in there, so we got to see how we impacted their lives and how we were helping them.

It wasn’t totally clean when we finished, but it was a night and day difference. We mopped the floors with bleach, and it smelled so much better. We painted the outside, and it looked like a new clinic.

Our actions had to speak louder than our words because we were not able to share words with them, because it is a closed country (where the government forbids a Gospel presentation).

I learned not to give up, even when I don’t think that I have the strength to keep going. If God wants me to do it, He will give me the strength to do it. After the first day, I was so tired of cleaning, but I asked Him for strength and He gave it to me. Sometimes I thought my arm was going to fall off, but He gives the strength to get through it.

I think that it was good for me to not be sitting around at home this summer, but to actually get out and do something productive with my team and get to know people on the team. I tried new things I’d never try in my comfort zone and just looked at the options there are for the future. The trip opened my worldview up a bit and I saw how other people live.

Everyday I live in a bubble and don’t have to communicate with nationals. I have my group of friends, and I don’t try to branch out. I get to eat food that I like, and I get to choose anything. On this trip, I didn’t have a choice of things to eat, and I had to eat it. I didn’t have a choice of people to work with. We couldn’t get around without communicating with the nationals to do the work, because we didn’t know what to do. They were the experienced ones so we had to rely on them to teach us how to work, which I’ve never had to do before.

This trip has made me analyze my life, and how I spend my time and just sit around doing nothing and the waste of time that that is. I’m going to try to go home and totally change – get out and see if I can help people somewhere and seek out where God wants to use me and actually have more compassion for people on the streets, or people living in the villages, because now I’ve experienced it to a very small degree. I’m going to go home and work on being a servant leader, to look into that more and see what it really means.

*Name changed for security reasons.

Ellen Pogue, 17, is an MK whose family serves in South Asia.