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Blog by Vanessa
By: Louis Bourget
Jan 14, 2018

This is my first medical mission, my first time to Benin (and Africa, generally), and it is truly a priviledge to be part of this group. I am incredibly grateful to my family for being so generous in ‘sharing’ me for the week. There are no words that can accurately describe the experience so far, and it’s hardly begun!

After surprisingly refreshing sleep, the morning got off to a beautiful start at mass with some members of the community. It was a great way to set the tone for our time here, and a very fitting gospel about the importance of ministering to those most in need – a hospital is for the sick, not for the well, and we are here to serve.

We took the morning to unpack and set up our new anesthesia machine. This was an interesting challenge with only intermittent power at the hospital, but I think at the end we’ve got a beautiful machine! After a nice lunch, we went on an incredible walk through the local area and to a village called Lukpo. I could go on at length about it, but any pictures you’ve ever seen of ‘Africa’ completely and utterly fail to capture the stark contrast with our familiar western comforts, and they also fail to capture the tremendous joy these people have. It is equally humbling and convicting to see people with so little in terms of material goods to be so rich with all that is truly important. I look at these families, and especially these children here and think about what a huge task I have as a mother to not let our comforts and privileges at home blind our eyes and our hearts to the true riches around us and to the very real needs of so many others. As I watched dozens of children my own daughter’s age today, I was struck by how different her life is from theirs, but how universal our human nature and our basic needs are. Incredible.

After dinner, we had an urgent surgical case come into the hospital. A young teen who needed an appendectomy. I went up to observe the surgery and the anesthetic before I dive in head first on Monday, and THAT was an education! (Much more to come on that later, I am sure). Looking forward to writing more over the week, but since it’s midnight, we lost power during the surgery, and I just had a cockroach crawl over my foot, I think I’m going to pack it in for the night!

Please pray that we have a fruitful week! Much love to everyone at home xo



Date: 14 Jan, 2018

Vanessa, Just finding out today of the amazing journey you are on in Benin, Africa. I can't imagine the emotions that you have felt since arriving. Such a wonderful selfless experience you have decided to take. So proud of you as I know Pat, sweet Charlotte and the whole Versteeg family are beyond proud. May your days be filled with success as defined by those you help and their love ones, things that make your heart flutter with joy, the smiles you encounter and the amazing opportunities you are given. Don't forget each day to take a moment and enjoy the little things that are in front of you.. May your journey be more than what you had dreamed of. Stay safe and enjoy. Love you xo. Myrene

Sherma Versteeg

Date: 14 Jan, 2018

Hi Vanessa, couldn’t be more proud of you and all your colleagues and friends for doing this mission. Serving others. The blogs have been so insightful and funny; am having a great time reading them and look forward to more. We miss you here at home and look forward to all you have to share about this amazing and special time in your life. Stay safe, we pray for you all and your clients. What a gift this care provides to the people there but also what an amazing gift to receive on your end from these people as well. All lives will be forever changed. Bless you all. We love you Vanessa 😘 ( Dharma & Bill )