In her four years as a volunteer nurse for LEAP, Vicki Wendling has been on nine missions to Zimbabwe, Haiti, Belize, and India. We were very excited for her to join us again in Belize this month. During the last day of surgery in India this March, Vicki shared some of her favorite things about volunteering with LEAP.
After the hard work of setting up, Vicki enjoys treating the first patient of the trip. “When we have everything put in place and we get to start bringing back babies is the best.” Vicki laughs and adds, “My second favorite part is the tamales in Belize!”
Vicki is always impressed by the level of teamwork on each mission trip. “There’s a lot more thinking creatively and outside the box, and everyone helps each other.” The team of volunteers are all special to Vicki, and she finds joy in working with them all.
While each patient is special to her, there is one patient from Haiti who stands out to Vicki. “The patient was just a little baby, and we just sort of bonded. We looked into each other’s eyes as I brought her back to the OR, and we just connected. I love being able to keep the babies calm on the way back.” Vicki also recognizes how special the families of our patients are. “I am so impressed by the mothers who trust their babies with someone who doesn’t speak their language. That takes so much strength.”
Vicki is very clear on why she decides to keep traveling around the world with LEAP. “I think God just said, ‘Hello, it’s time to step up.’ I get overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m called to do this.” Vicki’s selfless volunteerism makes her a fantastic addition to each trip. “I think I get more out of this than the patients do. I’m just grateful to get to do this.”