Ethiopia (MNN/BI) — Thirteen-year-old Jackson Glenn's first time out of the country was not a luxurious vacation to the Caribbean with his family, or a class trip to Europe. Rather, he went with his father, a dentist in Grand Prairie, Texas, to serve the people of Ethiopia on a medical mission trip with Buckner International.
"The blessing is on the people we serve, but the greatest blessing is on those who serve," said Rusty Glenn DDS. The trip was Glenn's ninth medical mission trip.
Jackson played with children and handed out gifts brought over from the States. He fell in love with Ethiopia. He knew this trip was much more than a vacation.
"The Ethiopians, no matter how much poverty they're in, they just smile, and they're so joyful," Jackson said. "I think we should take a page out of their book as Americans and just be joyful all the time. I just think it would be great for everyone like me to experience this whole place.
"It's such a blessing to come here," he said. "I wish every child and every American could do it. It's just amazing."
Buckner Health Services will host three medical mission trips in 2012: to Kenya, Honduras and Peru. Trips are approximately 7-10 days long and offer a two-day cultural experience.
Buckner is seeking a variety of medical professionals to serve on the trips: doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and general volunteers. There are various ways to serve: assist a doctor or dentist; help in the wound care clinic, the pharmacy, triage and patient registration; or be a part of the spiritual support team and provide health education, entertainment, and prayer.
"We begin planning for each trip with a balance of professional staff and an open mind, because we trust God will guide us," Buckner director of health services Cynthia Casperson RN said. "Each medical/dental brigade is unique, and the right combination of people seems to end up on these trips."
Because of the donations made through the Buckner Health Fund, Buckner is able to purchase crucial medicines and supplies to take on the trips. They ministry provides fresh, unexpired medicine and donates what is not used to the in-country clinics. Buckner also has a variety of portable medical and dental equipment, like a 32-pound dental field chair that folds up and can be carried as a backpack.
Like Jackson Glenn, past participants love telling stories about their trips, about the people they served, and how they saw God working in other countries. But most often, they talk about how their own lives were transformed.
"One of the most common things I hear when people return from a mission trip is that the experience helped them look at their own lives differently," Casperson said. "It gives them a reality check, seeing malnutrition, poverty, dirty water, the effects of war. It gives them a much greater appreciation for the world around them."