At the time of this interview, Dawn — a single woman with a heart to love and serve others — had just returned from a one-week mission trip with Medical Missions, the fifth such mission trip she’d taken over the period of six years. Though living on a nonprofit salary, she’d managed to save enough money to finance each trip. Dawn didn’t wait for these one or two-week trips to be used of the Lord, though. She found various opportunities throughout the years to minister to others. She is a true example of one who invested her single years for the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than squandering her freedom, money, and abilities only for her own pleasure.
“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Matthew 25:29)
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
What is Medical Missions, and how did you first start taking these trips?
Medical Ministries International is a nonprofit organization based out of Texas whose theme verse is John 13:15 “I have set an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Their mission statement is: MMI is an opportunity to serve Jesus Christ by providing spiritual and physical health care in this world of need. I first heard about this organization in 1994 when my friend’s parents returned from a trip with them and recommended MMI to their daughter and me. We got more information and then went to the Dominican Republic in 1995, my first of four mission trips with MMI.
Tell us about each of your mission trips with MMI.
My 1995 trip to the Dominican Republic was with medical doctors, surgeons, and a dentist. My job was to greet the patients and take them to the appropriate doctor. I also helped to weigh the babies that came to the clinic. Another aspect of my job was to help entertain the children as they were waiting to be seen by the Doctor. We had things like balloons and bubbles to make their wait a more pleasant one.
Every day we would set up our “clinic” at a different rural location. This was a great way to see the country, too. Each patient is asked to pay a very small fee for the doctor’s services. For example, surgery may be $1.50. MMI wants patients to appreciate what services they are receiving; however, if they cannot afford to pay, no one is turned away.
On each MMI trip, while the patients are waiting to be seen by the doctor, someone on the team presents the Gospel to them. Those who become Christians are given a Bible. They are also encouraged to attend a health education “class” which teaches them to learn how to purify their water so they can safely drink it. I really like the idea that MMI tries to reach people not only physically but spiritually.
My second trip with MMI was in July of 1996. I went to Honduras on an Eye Project, which was organized to treat people with eye-related needs. My job on this trip was to greet the patients and dilate the patients’ eyes who needed it. I was also able to assist with minor eye surgery. I found it very interesting to see what eye doctors do and once again enjoyed reaching out to the whole person. The days were long, but we went to bed each night feeling very rewarded for our work.
Before our day would begin, hundreds of people would already be waiting. Some walked up to three hours to get there. The most touching memory from this trip was a blind lady who, after eye surgery, was able to see her children for the first time. There wasn’t a dry eye among us who witnessed this!
Ecuador was the location of my third missions trip. We stayed in a beautiful town in the Andes mountains. I agree with Jim Elliot who made the comment that “Ecuador has such a haunting beauty.” We worked mainly with the Quechua Indians. They were a conservative, quiet group of people. My job on this project was to help in the “pharmacy” by counting and bagging pills and vitamins. I also did some greeting of patients and ran errands for the Doctors. It was a great trip realizing God is the God of all people, not just North Americans.
My most recent trip was back to Honduras on a dental project. I was in charge of keeping all the instruments sterilized and in an orderly fashion so the dentist and dental student could have quick and convenient access to them. I enjoyed watching teeth being pulled, maybe because I was on the other side of the chair! On this trip, we did not have a specific preaching time but did show the Jesus video in Spanish. Many people commented about it and how much Jesus loved people.
I will go again with MMI as the Lord leads and provides the way.
Are there other missions organizations you have traveled with?
Yes, I went to Russia with Operation Carelift, an organization which is part of Campus Crusade for Christ and which is run by Josh McDowell. We went into the public schools in Russia, freely giving our testimonies to the classes. We were warmly received. Along with sharing Christ, we had gift boxes of school supplies for each child. Another part of the ministry was to hand out gospel bracelets which use different colored beads to share the plan of salvation in a very simple yet powerful way. I will always remember a Russian man stopping me and showing me the bracelet he had received the year before. He told me that he had become a Christian through the message he heard regarding the bracelet.
Once a year, for a two week period, Josh McDowell Ministries has a warehouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they make thousands of these gospel bracelets and pack gifts for the orphans and students they will be visiting on their winter and summer trips. I always enjoy helping out as my schedule permits. People are invited to come and help from all across the country.
How do you finance these trips as a single person?
Sometimes I have written letters to my friends and family. Often, people have given without my asking for money once they hear about my trip and what I would be doing. The Lord has always provided the way, down to the final cent.
What do you do for a living?
I worked for eight years as secretary and bookkeeper at a Christian elementary school. In June, I switched jobs and work at a nursing home. I primarily do cleaning and feeding of the residents along with some office work. I enjoy getting to know the residents and forming friendships with them. I find it interesting that often the folks who never married have more visitors and people who are concerned about them than those with families. One lady even commented to me that even though she has children, they rarely come to visit. So, we can’t assume that if we have children then our growing old years will be full of visits from children. They may or may not be.
Why do you take nonprofit jobs when you could make more money elsewhere?
I enjoy feeling like I am making a difference in people’s lives, not just bringing home a paycheck.
Tell us about your voluntary service experience.
For a year from January 1991 to January 1992, I worked at a public school as a volunteer in Johns Island, South Carolina. I worked in the office part-time and also had reading groups with children who had difficulty reading. I really enjoyed the friendships I formed with the teachers, staff, and children. This assignment was through a missions agency. Our household, which consisted of around ten people, was all involved in reaching out to the community, such as having kid’s clubs every week for the area children. The guys worked for Habitat for Humanity, volunteering their time and working with groups coming to help build houses for a week or two. Hurricane Hugo had recently gone through South Carolina and really devastated the area.
Are you currently involved in any other types of ministry?
I take care of an older lady on Tuesday nights. I have formed a very special relationship with her. She is a widow and her children are busy so their visits are not as often as she would like.
Do you consider yourself a Purposeful Single?
Most days. I also struggle with the desire to get married. But, I want to make a difference for God with my gifts and abilities now and in the future, either married or single.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being single in doing missions trips, volunteer opportunities, and the other jobs you’ve had?
The most obvious advantage is that I am not tied down to a husband or family, so I can travel easily. I know these trips can be done while married, but it definitely gets more complicated in making the arrangements and with the actual going. Also, it is easier to support one person on a “nonprofit” job income than a whole family.
The disadvantage is that it would be fun to share these experiences with a partner and children.
If you never marry, what would you like to look back at age 90 as being accomplishments in your life?
At age 90, I would like to look back and remember how I was able to go on these missions trips abroad and how here at home I formed relationships and made sacrifices in the name of Jesus. The final command Jesus left for all of us, married or single, is to go and make disciples of every nation.
What encouragement would you like to give to other Christian singles?
Use your talents and abilities to reach out to other people at home or abroad.