In 2019, Ron Herman served in Uganda with a Mercy Medical Team organized by The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Herman is a retired registered nurse, working mostly in the emergency department. He has been married 45 years, and they have two children and two grandchildren. Herman is the parish nurse representative for the LCMS Pacific Southwest District, and he is currently in the deacon program.
By Ron Herman
It’s been 2 1/2 months since my return from a mission trip, and a reflection is in order.
I have never been much for keeping a journal. First, my mind races ahead, and I never take the time to record what has just happened. Second, I have always found that a retrospective look provides more clarity.
The trip was with a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Mercy Medical Team (MMT) to Uganda.
Part of my retirement plan was to devote more time to volunteer work, particularly efforts that would utilize my skills and experience as a registered nurse.
I had gone on two previous international humanitarian missions.
The first was a teaching mission to a trauma hospital in the Dominican Republic, organized by a friend and co-worker who was native to that country.
The second was with my Army unit to Guatemala, where we ran clinics at several locations for three weeks.
On both trips I got to understand more about the people in both countries, an experience you don’t get as a tourist. I wanted more, and the MMTs were an ideal choice.
Despite some challenges, I sent in my application for a trip in July 2019. While I had concerns, I also felt called to go on this particular mission. Trusting in God’s provision, I committed to go.
I had no preconceived notions about the mission or my role.
More than 20 years of nursing experience, mostly in the emergency department, taught me that not everyone can be healed, despite our best efforts.
Medical staff in other countries are just as competent as in ours, and they sometimes do miracles with limited resources.
In my professional life, I have seen sickness, poverty, death and hopelessness, and I have also seen moments of healing, love and kindness.
Some people told me the trip would change me, that I would never be the same.
But I did not see that happening. My only desire was to make a difference in someone’s life by demonstrating God’s love.
Health care for approximately 1,000 people
During our five days of clinic in a remote village, we saw at least 1,000 people.
Working with our Ugandan medical team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and a lab tech, we provided people with medical care they may not have received otherwise.
Fortunately, only a few were seriously ill, and we did not have any patient we could not adequately treat.
Many patients were assured their ailments were not serious, and many more received medications they would not have been able to afford on their own.
The Ugandans want what others want: to be adequately fed, to be free from disease, to have their children thrive, to feel that someone cares about them and their well-being.
This care was provided by our pastoral staff, which included the bishop of the Lutheran Church in Uganda; the pastor, vicars and elders of our host church; our team’s chaplain; and our two LCMS missionaries.
The light of Christ shines in these people and stood out as the most memorable part of the trip. Giving hope to those without it is a medicine without equal.
To learn more or join an LCMS Mercy Medical Team, please visit lcms.org/mercyteams. On each MMT, medical providers of all kinds and non-medical volunteers work together to provide care.