A Wrench in My Master Plan

I’ve been at odds with myself on how to begin this post. The past week has brought a lot of new opportunities that I didn’t think were possible yet, and I’ve been giddy with excitement ever since. So I guess I will leave the beginning of the post as I had written it as of Wednesday, and then share some good news I got in my inbox on Friday.

Going on a medical missions trip has been on my heart for years, and I’m finally figuring out how I can turn this pipe dream into a concrete reality. The summer I worked as a research intern at the IU School of Medicine, Evansville campus, one of my fellow interns told me about a medical missions trip he had taken the summer before to Ecuador. Talk about a dream come true! I got more info from him and decided to contact the group he went with. Bad news: there were campus chapters of this organization, and none of them were my undergraduate campus. IU Bloomington had a chapter, but wouldn’t allow IU Southeast students join (YES, I asked; I was not happy). So I pretty much put that out of my mind for the time being.

Fast forward two years. After I graduated from IUS and before I started my graduate work, I contacted that organization again to see if they took on volunteers that were not a part of a campus chapter; I was put into contact with a guy (I forget his name now), but he said he would love to put me on their email list for the next trip that came up. I was so excited! But since I figured he would contact me… I’ll be honest… I forgot about it, thinking that when the next brigade went on a trip, he’d let me know if an opening was available. After months of hearing NOTHING, and finally remembering that I had specifically asked, I made an attempt to contact that same guy. Three times. No response.

After that, I pretty much put medical missions trips at the back of my mind, figuring that I’d have a much better shot at going after I earned my medical degree and could go on a medical missions as a full-fledged, licensed physician. I was very disappointed, especially since this organizations specialized in children’s healthcare, my intended specialty once I begin medical school.

Fast forward another two years. At the beginning of this year, there was a day where I needed to run from my building to the adjoining one and back, a brisk walk across the pedway that also served as a waiting station for the IU Health People Mover. In this waiting area, IU Health leaves stacks of their magazine. I’d never read one before, so I grabbed one out of pure curiosity on my way back to my lab.

One of the stories in this issue was about a newly-graduated IUPUI nursing student who was hired as a new IU Health employee and was going on her third medical missions trip with an organization I had never heard of before. Her story was inspiring, and reignited my idea for wanting to go on a medical missions even if I hadn’t had any medical training yet, instead of waiting. Her story is currently posted at my desk, so that this time I cannot forget or push it off for (yet again) another two years.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a list maker…. lists and flowcharts, plans A and B (and C and D)… I’ve always got things mapped out well in advance. So I found information on the organization this girl had used and I’ve been planning accordingly. Since the organization had been advertized by the IU Health system and this girl had gone with them on three separate occasions, I figured they must be a good group and were worth doing some research on to see if they’d be a good candidate for the trips I’m wanting to make an annual event.

Last week was a very long and trying week. There are points in my day where all I can do is wait while part of the experiment finishes; during these breaks I’ll check my email, read a book, or check my Facebook/Twitter apps to pass the time. On a lark, I had followed that first organization on Twitter, since they are specifically geared toward children’s health issues. I noticed one of their tweets discussing upcoming brigades to Guatemala, so I asked specifically if they ever took volunteers. I received a response of an email address to use if I was interested in more information. Knowing that I had been let down by this organization before, I wasn’t expecting much, but I still fired off a quick email asking for more information about it.

Who knew Twitter would have been good for something??

By Friday, I was whipped. Utterly spent. Being the only person in my lab, I have the sole responsibility for all the data that comes out; I churn out data at breakneck speed, even though I know it’s not healthy for me to keep working this hard for this long. We’re supposed to be hiring a new research tech soon, and he or she cannot get here fast enough for my liking! I decided I needed a break, so I took my printout of missions trips with me to the lounge to make up my “Master Plan.”

Technically, I’d be fine jumping into a Level 3 trip with this group, but to get a feel for the organization and get some experience under my belt, I figured a Level 1 and Level 2 trip would be beneficial, especially since I’m hoping to make this an integral part of my career. There are several opportunities that drew my interest, one in Canada and one in Georgia, as well as Disaster Response Training that is held every spring and fall. After those, I think I’d be comfortable enough to give a Level 3 trip to Greece a try. Given that these trips are going to take at least a week each, I wasn’t planning on going until at least spring of 2013, which would allow me to build up funds and vacation time to be able to go on these trips without being rushed.

If I am not mistaken, I believe I have written, “God is always perfect in His timing”, as well as “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”  Isaiah 6:8.

Oh how I wish I had a copy of the real Master Plan that God is writing for me! It would take out so much of my worrying and over-analyzing everything that I do all of the time!

So after my short break, I felt happier that I at least had an idea about what direction I was heading, and a feasible timeline for beginning. Until I got back to my desk, that is.

There it was, in my inbox. An email response about my initial inquiry, with a request for me to take part in a medical missions trip to Guatemala. This coming October.

Not only was I so excited I couldn’t sit still, but I was also scared to death. This OCTOBER! Much, much sooner than my neat timeline had calculated. And yet there it was, the opportunity of a lifetime, that I have dreamed about for years.

And I find myself hesitating. I want so badly to go ahead and pay the deposit, send in my paperwork, and make it a done deal. Right this instant! But now I’m waiting. My biggest concern is the timing. I would be gone to Guatemala the week of my birthday… which is not a big deal, except that I’m already planning on being in Washington, DC during my birthday for the annual American Society for Bioethics and Humanities conference, which I have submitted my Neonatal Ethics manuscript abstract to, in hopes of being a presenter come October, and which I will not receive confirmation about until July. In addition to this, I still have not heard about school in the fall. I’m honestly not counting on being admitted for this fall’s entering class, but if I am indeed called to fill a position in the 2012 entering class, by golly I’m not going to miss out on that opportunity as it holds the key to all of my dreams from here forward. Not knowing about these two little details is currently driving me insane.

Now, I am praying for patience. I urgently want to jump on this opportunity to head to Guatemala so bad I can’t stand it. At the same time, I’m wanting to show restraint and wait until I know everything will fall into place. I can’t help but think God is getting a good laugh as I struggle through this.

I could really use prayers as I try to figure out what to do. I am truly at a loss, with one of my lifelong dreams dangling right in front of me, waiting for me to make a move.

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