The DMA Boot Camp kicked off today in spite of political unrest in Port au Prince that threatened cancellation of this event. DMA stands for “deferred mission appointee” which is a loan repayment program run by the Adventist church for medical students interested in long term mission service. When students enter the military loan repayment plans they go to the reserves and do training. So why not have a similar orientation for our aspiring mission doctors wanting to do long term international service?
The boot camp was conceived when I was in Chad, Africa in February 2018. I would like to take credit for the idea, but in reality it is Dr. James Appel who deserves the credit. My experience working with him in Chad last year was a true boot camp. Immediately upon arriving on the African continent we took a 12 hour drive across the desert to the eastern border of Chad and worked nonstop. Work started early and continued late each day. I was put in a small vault where I slept on the floor without any proper facilities. My immune system was strengthened with exposure to a new set of antigens, but not without paying a price. In spite of the discomforts the experience was a mutually beneficial learning experience for two doctors who had spent years in overseas service independently facing many of the same challenges. Voila! Mission boot camp was conceived.
James and Sarah are here with us in Haiti for two weeks. We are joined by eight first year medical students and one nurse married to a first year medical student (her husband is in Mozambique on a different trip). I am humbled by the aspirations of this energetic group each of whom have a strong desire to serve God and make the world a better place. Most are specifically interested in long term medical service in austere and limited resource environments. We are also joined by Dan Smith who is a general surgeon that is doing a global surgery fellowship at LLUMC. This is a program that gives general surgery graduates more in depth skills in a variety of surgical specialties and prepares them for overseas service. Dan is planning to work at a mission hospital in Lubongo, Angola starting next year where he will move with his wife and 8 kids.
Last night James gave us a Biblical safety briefing. I can elaborate on that more in a future post but in summary he reminded us that the safest place for us to be is to be where God wants us to be. There was some deliberation about whether to allow eight students and a nurse to be sent to a country with a level 4 travel advisory. My compliments to Loma Linda University for prioritizing a focus on mission service and allowing this trip to occur. That is not to say we are not taking all necessary precautions. It is not to say that we are depending on our angels to rescue us from irrational behavior. But we are all safe and in a place that we should be.