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Small Town Girl Gets Out

What happens when a Pacific Northwest native meets spiders, snakes, and water buffaloes

A Ministry Minutes Reflection

Photo by Deb Gorman

In 2007, this small-town girl got a wild idea. Go to Vietnam on a medical mission. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought I’d ever do something like that. And if you think I was surprised at myself, you should’ve seen my long-suffering husband’s reaction when I informed him I wanted to go. You’ve heard of that deer-in-the-headlights look? Yep, that was him.

Just me and my water buffalo . . .

There were over one hundred of us who went. Many were college students, and several were actually from that part of the world.

They were invaluable to the rest of us greenhorns because they spoke the language, knew the customs, and could explain stuff like, “Deb, I’ll take your picture with the water buffalo in the background, but don’t get too close to him–they’re kinda cranky sometimes.” (Picture to the right was taken prior to my weight loss journey of about 60 pounds . . . the water buffalo doesn’t look impressed with me, right?)

Another piece of advice we received was, “Make sure you take your malaria pill with food, or you’ll get really sick.” Deb forgot to take hers at dinner one evening and remembered at about 10PM. Took it anyway. (Getting a bit sick is a lot better than getting malaria, right?) Not so sure about that . . . got sicker than I’d ever been before, and had to be given an injection.

Point taken. Didn’t do that again.

We had doctors and nurses, and other medical professionals who led the trip. Our job was to set up clinics in schools not in session in July, draw blood, dispense needed medicines, and refer the sickest to the nearest hospitals. My particular task was drawing blood.

Many villagers came out of curiosity. But many brought their sick parents, children, and other loved ones. I remember riding in our transport buses on mountain roads early in the morning, and passing people walking to the school we’d set up in for the day. Some carried children and elderly on their backs. That’s not a sight I’ll soon forget. When I need a doctor, I call and make an appointment–then jump in my car and I’m there in ten minutes.

My take-away from this trip? When I arrived back home, it took me about two weeks to stop looking up when I entered a room–to make sure there were no giant spiders hanging from the ceiling. And then there’s the food. I longed for a cheeseburger.

Photo by Deb Gorman

Don’t get me wrong, we were well-fed, but it just wasn’t the same. And sometimes, wandering through an open-air market, we’d see dishes never seen in Yakima, WA.

But the biggest, most important take-away was the realization of how spoiled I really am. And how quick I am to be disgruntled or angry if something doesn’t go my way. I thank God for the trip he allowed me to make with a stellar group of mission-minded folks. And . . . of course, that he allowed me to come back home.

Photo by Deb Gorman

One of my favorite pictures from the trip (besides the first one at the top) is this one. We never spoke to each other–I don’t think she spoke English, and my Vietnamese was limited to bathroom and roll up your sleeve.

But, as you can clearly see, her story is etched in her face and the way she holds her hat.

I won’t tell you what I see in her face. I’ll leave it to you to decide what her story is for yourself.

We’re sometimes insulated here in America. It’s good to get out and experience something new, to see life from a different perspective.

What about you? Have you had that kind of adventure? What did you learn from it?

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing about the wildness God has brought into your life.


6 responses to “Small Town Girl Gets Out”

  1. Darlene says:

    You were so brave to go what an experience

    • Deb Gorman says:

      Hi Darlene! Thank you for reading and responding!

      Yes, brave just about sums it up, all right. And I don’t know if I could do it again, but who knows? Hope you have a great day.


  2. Kay DiBianca says:

    What a great story, Deb! You are a courageous woman, indeed.

    My husband and I have had a few interesting journeys to parts of the world that made us even more grateful. we traveled to Kenya for just a week over a decade ago. And we were in China for several weeks back in the 80’s. I have always believed that God richly blessed me by letting me be born in the time and place I was, and giving me to my wonderful parents. I can be spoiled and cranky about little things, but I know how fortunate I am.

    Proud of you.

    • Deb Gorman says:

      Exactly, Kay! I learned that I’m a wimp! The people needing our help were actually stronger than me in so many ways.

      It was a hard experience, especially for my husband-he, of course, worried about my safety-but it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

      Thanks for reading and responding, my friend!


  3. drakeleeb says:

    A Debo in Vietnam! Saved a pdf of this Sis.

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