Last week I went on an adventure. Not some dragon-slaying, wizards and knights adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. I went on a Medical Crusade. I posted updates on Facebook every day, so if you’re interested to see what I specifically did, you can check those stories out here. In this post, though, I want to take you through what Crusades actually are and what they look like. Let’s get started, shall we?
Emergency Medical Mission Crusades, or EMMCs, are humanitarian aid excursions through Fishers of Men that take place once a month. We travel with a team of primarily Mexican medical professionals and volunteers to different towns in Mexico to give free aid to in every field from general medical to dentistry to massages. The Crusade from this month included general medical, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, haircuts, massages, and a clown act for the kids. In addition, each and every patient is presented the Gospel and given the opportunity to discuss with one of our staff. Our goal is to help both the physical and spiritual needs of the people we’re serving.
We always go on Crusades to cities where we have a local church contact to ensure that any new converts have a community of believers to connect with. We don’t want to just go somewhere, convert a bunch of believers, then run off to the next town leaving them no way to grow in their faith or a community to encourage them. This also gives us a contact through which to gain access to a building from which to provide our services (usually the church itself or their property) and houses where our volunteers can stay at night. To those in the States, it may seem strange for us to just show up in a town and stay with random strangers for a few nights, but that’s how it works here in Mexico. Why pay extra money to house our often 20+ volunteers in a hotel when we know a church full of people willing and able to take us in? Besides, it’s nice to have a contact to talk to in the evenings to get to know the area and state of things.
A TYPICAL CRUSADE
The typical Crusade goes from Monday to Saturday, although some are only until Friday, start on Tuesday, or are a shorter period of time. It all depends on logistics and the specific needs of that community. The day before a Crusade is spent packing all the totes and equipment, all well organized by Adrian (Crusade Director) to make it a relatively quick process. Crusade members will begin arriving that day, and the Ranch rearranges itself to fit more people on its beds and couches. Only youth Crusade members stay at the actual house on the Ranch, as that is the private home of the kids and we like to respect that. Many stay in Adrian’s house or the apartment area my room is in on spare mattresses or couches.
Early the next morning (last time was 6 am), we load our personal luggage on the top of the van roof, lashed securely with rope. A quick breakfast is followed by prayer and goodbyes to the people staying at the Ranch. We then head off to wherever the Crusade location will be.
After we arrive, we usually have a meal and begin setting up. Since we have a well-organized system, we’re able to unload and set up fairly quickly and begin taking in patients. The amount of people we’re able to see in a day varies greatly depending on how many come, when we begin service, and what personnel we have. Typically, it’s anywhere between 50 and 200.
A WELL-OILED MACHINE
The Crusades are a well-oiled machine. Each of our volunteers are cheerful servers and excellent workers. Each area is sent patients from the welcome desk, where volunteers discern basic information and what each person is here for. They’re then directed to the appropriate area by one of our volunteers. The majority of the Crusade members are medical professionals or students working under them, but the few untrained (medically speaking) members such as myself still have plenty of roles to fill. There’s the welcome desk, loading and unloading work, and finally, cleaning the dentistry tools.
On Crusade, we typically work until 6 pm each day, or longer in some instances. The time after is reserved for dinner, a little relaxation at our host home or exploring the town, showers, and finally, sleep. We’re all exhausted by the end of the day, so even someone like me who takes forever to fall asleep is passed out after a few minutes.
Each Crusade is a different experience. We go to different towns, meet new people, make new friends, and help different people. I hope you’ve enjoyed a general overview of the work we do! Feel free to comment with any questions you may have and I’ll make sure to answer them as soon as I can. In the meantime, keep serving wherever you are, whether that’s Mexico or middle-of-nowhere Indiana.