The LA group of travelers of AMAA’s Medical Mission Team have arrived safely on July 1 in California. Thank you again to everybody for your love and support throughout this amazing journey of the Team – all for the well-being of our brothers and sisters in the Homeland and FOR HIS GLORY.
On this final day of clinic, we gave it our all. Every last ounce of energy that we had went into serving our remaining patients. By the end of our half-day of clinic, one team (doctor, scribe & translator) had seen a grand total of 26 patients.
After all the patients had been triaged and treated, the church needed some help cleaning up. With everybody chipping in, we were able to leave the church the way it was when we came. That’s when we walked over to the pastor’s home, where the church ladies had prepared a lovely meal for us yet again.
Thank you all for praying with us and for us throughout this week of service. Please continue to pray for a safety and strength as we prepare for our return home this weekend. –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls
For most of this trip, I have either been taking pictures, recording audio, helping with crowd control or filling in the gaps where needed. As one of the non-medical volunteers on this trip, the idea of working triage, vitals, or EKG was a little intimidating to me—and probably for good reason.
But today, I took a small step outside of my comfort zone and into a slightly medical role when I agreed to scribe for one of the doctors. Scribing for the doctors includes finding patient files, writing down their prescriptions and praying with them. There’s a binder full of stickers with medicine names on them, and my job was to find the correct one and place it on the prescription label.
This may not sound like much, but for a girl who somehow managed to weasel her way through high school and college without taking a single chemistry class, it felt like a huge responsibility. After a few patients though, I found the rhythm of my new role.
As much as I love stickers, interacting with the patients was by far the most interesting and rewarding part of the day. It was both amazing and heartbreaking to hear their stories of unfathomable endurance. One woman had been suffering from a hernia and gallstones for t h r e e y e a r s because she was unable to afford surgery. Other patients explained symptoms of heart failure as though they were minor inconveniences. I truly wish that their suffering was far from reality. At the same time, I couldn’t help but admire their strength.
For some of them, that strength is found out of necessity. The desire to provide for their families. Or maybe just pure Armenian stubbornness. But seeing the hope in their eyes when the translator said aghotenk told me that so many of them find their strength in the Lord. In His promises to walk with them through times of suffering.
As we prepare for our final day of clinic in Stepanavan, we remember that God is present in the details of every patient’s life. That He will continue to watch over them and sow seeds of hope in their hearts long after we’re gone. If our team plays even the smallest role in helping one person find that hope, every moment of hard work will have been worth it. –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls
Today marks the halfway point in our medical mission. After two full days of clinic in Vanadzor, we made our way to Stepanavan where we will spend our last day and a half of clinic.
As we drove up to the Stepanavan church, we were greeted by the members who have volunteered their time to make the clinic run smoothly. Three local children immediately started asking when we would start playing soccer with them. After setting up for the clinic, teams formed and cheerleaders assembled. Before we knew it, a heated soccer game began in the middle of the street, scattering only when drivers needed to pass.
Sure, providing health care and medicine is a big part of this mission—but it’s certainly not all of it. Not even close. At the end of the day, we want our patients and their families to leave the clinic with the hope of Christ and the love of God stored in their hearts. We want them to know that they are dearly loved and cherished by the God who created them. That they have value and purpose in Him. And that His plan for them is bigger than they could ever imagine.
Sometimes sharing that message of hope means playing a game of soccer with a few kids in a small village. Other times, it means praying with a crying patient who is overwhelmed by his diagnosis. Whatever the situation, it’s our job seek out those opportunities to bring His hope to the surface. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Intentionality was our word of the day today. We were called to be intentional with the limited time we have with our patients and I believe we did just that. We will never be able to heal every single patient who comes through the door, but if we’ve left them with a better idea of who God is and of who they are because of Him, we’ve done what we came here to do. –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls
At breakfast this morning, Allison Phillips gave a devotional that called our entire team to practice boldness throughout the day. “Whether that means telling your testimony or talking to a new patient, God will use your boldness to show His love,” she said. This challenge set the tone for the day, reminding us all to be courageous in the Lord.
Right before the devotional, I had volunteered to join the crowd control team. Little did I know that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to grow in boldness. Each station has two or three crowd control volunteers to move patients through the clinic. I was stationed at the doctor’s station. This is where the clients actually see the doctors and receive treatment and or medication.
I’m sure you can imagine how eager these patients are to see the doctors. Many have been waiting the entire year for the medication and care provided by this team. By the time they get to the bench outside the doctor’s office, they are excited, anxious and eager to receive help. That combination of emotions can lead to some pretty interesting interactions.
There were definitely times today when I needed to use my body as a physical barrier between patients and the door of an occupied doctor. And if standing between a medzmama and her medication isn’t bravery, I don’t know what is!
In all seriousness though, there were many people in our group who took Allison’s devotional to heart today. Two teammates shared their testimonies in front of the patients. Others took on new job assignments. Some taught health education classes. And when extra patients showed up, we all mustered up our last ounce of energy and bravery to make sure they received the best care we could offer.
In 1 Chronicles 28:20, David tells his son Solomon to ““Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”
We praise God for the gift of serving Him and for the strength he gives us in the process. And we’re grateful for the love and support of friends back home like you. Schnorrhakalutsjun! –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls
Waking up this morning, I had no idea what the day would bring. With a fanny pack full of snacks and a camera case on my back, I headed down to the hotel, ready to tackle the day.
During breakfast, all of us were assigned our official roles for the day. Some spent the day sorting pills in the pharmacy. Others ran tests in the lab or showed children how to brush their teeth at the dental clinic. Regardless of the tasks we were given, each pair of willing hands played a role in making the day run smoothly.This was the only day of the week that the entire team will be serving together at a single clinic. Tomorrow, half of our group will travel to the south to set up the second in Sissian. Having everybody together for the first day was extremely helpful, especially for those of us who were first-timers the trip.
We spent a full 12-hour day at the church clinic. With full hearts and absolutely no energy left, we made our way back to the hotel to rest for the night. I’m thankful for this beautiful day and excited to see what threat of you the week holds.
Here’s a short clip and a bunch of photos to give you a better idea of what Clinic Day 1 looked like. –Lara Tovmassian
After spending yesterday soaking in the culture in Yerevan, we made our journey to Vanadzor to begin setting up for a week of clinic. Dr. Phillips did a quick walkthrough of the different stations that each patient will visit. Then, we all got straight to work.
People who have been on this trip before were appointed to lead the assembly of designated stations. Whether we were transferring boxes of medicine into the pharmacy or putting up signs to direct patients through the clinic, we all had a role to play in preparing for the week to come.
As one of the non-medical volunteer, I realized during this initial setup that serving on this team will be much more about raising a willing pair of hands than being able to pronounce hydrochlorothiozide. I didn’t know much about the medicines we were unpacking, but I was able to help transfer and alphabetize boxes, pass out water bottles, and document the day with some photos.
That’s one of the many beautiful things about this trip—the fact that people of completely different backgrounds can unite under the common desire to serve the Lord. That desire alone is what gives us the strength and ability to glorify Him through our service.
At the end of the day, we stepped into the kitchen area to find an incredible spread of delicious Armenian food. This meal, prepared by women from our host church, was complete with lavash, olives, cheese, chicken, soujouk, fresh soup and so much more. We couldn’t have asked for a more hospitable welcome. They even brought out drumstick ice cream cones for dessert after the meal.
As I sit here reflecting on today and looking forward to tomorrow, I find peace and joy in the assurance that God has formed this team. Through His grace and providence, He has united brothers and sisters from all over the world to reveal His love through the blend of our unique gifts. That’s pretty neat if you ask me. –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls
To give you a glimpse into the trip so far, here’s a short clip from yesterday’s visit to Geghard Monastery and Dzidzernagapert.