Spring break trip to marry medicine, missions abroad

Courtesy Photo
Round Rock senior Colby Bouchard went on a mission trip to Guatemala last summer. She’ll return over spring break with Baylor’s American Medical Student Association.

By Caitlin Giddens

When packing her bags for spring break, Round Rock senior Colby Bouchard won’t be including tanning oil or bathing suits. Instead, she will be packing medical equipment and her Bible for Baylor’s American Medical Student Association trip to Guatemala.

After her parents founded a nonprofit organization called Drops of Grace, Bouchard knew mission work lay in her future. And after Bouchard visited Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, last summer through the Community Healthy Evangelism organization, she knew her mission work would lead her there again. So when she returned to Baylor in the fall, Bouchard immediately began planning the trip to Guatemala for pre-medical students.

“I was drastically changed the first time I worked in Guatemala,” Bouchard said. “I needed to share this experience with other Baylor students, so I wrote the proposal and met with people to make it happen. It was challenging at times leading the trip, but it will help me in the future because this is the type of thing I want to do with my career.”

The Guatemala trip will fuse medicine and missions. In addition to attending church services and sharing the gospel, 22 Baylor students will be offering free clinic treatment and education in health and personal hygiene.

“I hope we’re able to heal a lot of people so they can see God’s love and hope,” Bouchard said. “I hope we can bring some people to God.”

Bouchard says students attending the trip will give with one hand and receive with the other.

“These students will be able to understand the differences in culture and get experience shadowing a doctor,” Bouchard said. “That’s so valuable for pre-med students, and they’ll grow in their own faith by showing God’s love.”

After traveling to Belize for a pre-med mission trip last year, Moulton senior Adam Karmali vowed it wouldn’t be his last mission. He will be joining the association on the trip.

“It was the most rewarding experience I’ve had to date,” Karmali said. “Not only did I gain practical experience from the doctors, but it taught me about living simply. I’ve been striving for simplicity since I got back. And I decided to include missions in my future and in my career.”

While Karmali said people in Belize had less to be thankful for, compared to Americans, they seemed more appreciative and content.

“They made such a joyful noise in their church services,” Karmali said. “They were so happy and praising. It was some of the best services I’ve ever been to.”

Bouchard had a similar experience during her last trip to Guatemala. She immersed herself in a Mayan culture that contrasted starkly with her sheltered background, but she never felt endangered or out of place.

“I always felt safe and wanted there,” Bouchard said. “The families always invited me to eat dinner with them. They had such a strong faith in their poverty, which inspires me.”

During the trip to Guatemala, Bouchard and her peers will be able to help even more people because of one anonymous man’s generosity.

“We had a doctor from Oklahoma donate about $2,000 in medical supplies for the trip,” Bouchard said. “And an organization called Blessings will be our medical provider for different medicines.”

Bouchard met with study abroad adviser Katie Erickson to get the trip off the ground. Erickson will join the group during spring break.

“This allows me to see firsthand what the students will be doing,” Erickson said. “Colby has been a very capable, bright and mature leader by organizing this trip. She definitely has a future in this.”

As a senior, Bouchard is preparing for medical school and cementing her plans for her career.

And she won’t forget the most important aspect of being a doctor.

“Doctors can convert a lot of people to Christianity,” Bouchard said. “They change lives through the mind, body and spirit.”