Mississippi College

MC Nursing Students Take Mexico Mission Trip

July 6, 2009

Mississippi College nursing students and professors are partnering with a Texas church for a week-long mission trip to Mexico.

The mid-July trip of 15 MC seniors, plus three faculty members, pair them with a delegation from First Baptist Church-Pharr near the Mexican border.

The south Texas church is sending 26 people to help construct churches, assist with medical needs, establish Vacation Bible Schools, and bring interpreters, said pastor Adam Landrum.

"It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun," Landrum said by phone Thursday. He worked with another group of MC nurses on a similar mission trip in Mexico last summer. "There will be a lot of joy to see the works being done."

The mission trip will be July 12-17 for the Texas delegation and take a little longer for the Mississippi College contingent due to return home July 18.

MC nursing professor Renee' Cole will lead the students from the Clinton campus to the city of Valles about 350 miles south of Pharr. They will fly to Texas to meet the group from First Baptist Church-Pharr and drive to Mexican villages.

Once they arrive in Mexico, it will be non-stop medical care plus hours spent to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The MC nurses and physicians expect to see 100 to 125 people at each clinic. The will assist Mexican people living in huts with thatched roofs in remote villages often with limited electricity. In almost all cases, the patients cannot afford medical care.

The MC group will be joined by an emergency room physician from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson as they work with doctors from the Texas church. Two physicians from the United States will work with two Mexican physicians at the clinics.

Mississippi College nursing students also raised $1,500 each in a variety of ways. They asked friends and family members for funds. In some cases, they sold candy and T-shirts to pay for the journey.

The MC bond with the Texas church got started after Dora Fast, a nurse at the church, met Mississippi College people on another mission trip in Mexico.

For the 15 MC seniors, the July 10-July 18 mission trip counts as part of their summer grade, Cole said. It's part of a class the MC professor has dubbed "spirituality in nursing."

Each day, the Mexican people "will also hear the gospel," Cole said. "We will take Bibles and have daily prayer with each one." Two other MC nursing faculty members Denise Ferriss and Mary Ann Enriques will join them. Cole knows the territory - it will be her third annual mission trip to Mexico with the MC nursing students. The group from the Baptist-affiliated university will stay overnight in a hotel in a city 40 miles away from the villages and make the daily commute.

"It's a very rewarding experience. The people we minister to are so appreciative for the care we give," Cole said. The visit to Mexico really enhances the skills of the MC nurses, she said. "It is a two-way benefit learn to minister to someone spiritually and physically."

MC School of Nursing leaders and those with the Texas church have kept up with the latest developments on the swine flu epidemic in recent months. Reports from the World Health Organization in early July show there are 77,201 confirmed cases worldwide, including 332 deaths. Also known as H1N1, swine flu has been detected in 110 countries, including Mexico and the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates as many as one million Americans have been infected.

On July 9, the Obama administration is expected to host a swine flu summit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

"We will be careful and smart and pray," Rev. Landrum said when asked about the concerns regarding swine flu. "We are confident that God will take care of us."

Photo: Kimberly Giles-Sheriff, recent MC nursing graduate, works with a translator to assess medical needs in Mexico.

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