By Julianne LaSmith
Mohammed Ali once said, ““Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” “Service to Others” is defined as “Choosing to engage without expectation of reciprocation.”
Alice Chambers, RN, is a member of a group called the Baptist Nursing Fellowship (BNF). BNF was founded by Dr. Ellen Tabor in 1983 and is designed to help health-care professionals use their talents to fulfill their desires to serve God alongside other people. BNF provides Christian professional fellowship, promotes continuing education and growth for members and nurse missionaries, and encourages nursing service in not only their communities but in the world.
During her membership Alice has chosen to spend time in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic as part of trips sponsored by BNF along with the Women’s Ministry Union (WMU). Her trips have all been in conjunction with a third group named Orphan’s Heart. Each year, WMU offers prepackaged domestic and international mission’s trips.
Alice’s first foray into missions work was in 1981 when she and her husband, Bill Chambers, were sent to Franklin, Louisiana, by the Mennonite Central Committee. Alice worked in the Teche Action Clinic seeing patients, and Bill volunteered in an adult literacy program implementing the “Laubach – Each One Teach One” method. Alice and Bill discovered first-hand not only what serving others involved; but also what it changed about a person. “It changed my life.” says Alice.
Although the majority of Alice’s nursing career has been spent in long-term care with the elderly, these mission trips allow her to care for people all ages, particularly children. Alice remarks that it is a nice change of pace and refuels her commitment to nursing. In addition she feels that using her nursing talents to help others becomes another way for her to serve her Lord. Alice is currently the Director of Resident Services at the Northern Montana Care Center in Havre, where her husband, Bill, also works,
In both 2012 and 2014 Alice visited Guatemala with the Orphan’s Heart Organization and worked primarily in the Malnutrition Site, a housing unit set up for children’s whose lives were in danger due to the lack of access to food in their homes. “Parents from the villages willingly allowed their children to be placed in this unit as they knew it could save their lives,” Alice stated. Their time was spent caring for and playing with the children housed there.
In 2016, Alice visited the Dominican Republic and was able to participate in a mass clinic. The clinics were held in 5 housing units that had been completed for the peoples of the area by another missions group. The idea was to use the spaces for a 4-day clinic prior to the new owners’ moving in. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were brought in to treat the locals who had traveled to the clinic.
Alice’s time during this clinic was spent in a 5-story structure that was being used as the hospital. Her duties were to assist with the medications handed out by the pharmacy. The medications ranged from simple pain relievers to antibiotics, medicines that are readily accessible in America but can be difficult to obtain in developing countries.
One little boy in particular snagged a piece of Alice’s heart while she was there and she is quickly able to show you photos of him still on her phone. “We were able to provide the boy with a simple breathing treatment when he was brought in that ultimately saved his life.”
Participants in these types of mission trips are expected to cover all of their own expenses. The trips are presented as package deals including the lodging and meals while in country, but not including travel to and from the country. The intent is that people wishing to do these mission trips either pay their own way or fundraise for themselves. Alice has always chosen to use her personal funds for her trips, but on her last trip she was offered support from members of her church, Immanuel Baptist.
“Because my trip had already been paid in full I decided to use the money to increase my influence on the community I was visiting. I was able to determine that this community was in need of a generator for its clinic. Once there I was able to assist with not only the purchase of the generator but also the preparation for and installation of it.” Alice related. “I was able to truly see the impact of the donated funds firsthand.”
Alice has also been able to bring along additional supplies on previous trips due to the generous assistance of friends and family.
When asked how these trips impact her, Alice shared a story. “I once heard a speaker compare the impact of missions with a bucket of water. When you put your thumb in the bucket of water and then remove it, the water level in the bucket has changed very little. But your thumb is now very wet. This is the impact that a mission trip will have on you.”
Alice is currently considering her next trip. Her options are mission trips to Haiti or Kenya, both with the BNF, which would allow her to use her nursing skills to help others. Alice is making a difference in the world with her service.