Meet the Medical Missionary: Nurse Caitlin Lawrence
Caitlin Lawrence’s “official” job in Bolivia is to be a nurse and medical missionary.
The reality is that she is much more than that. She will tell you that other hats she wears on a daily basis include consultant, counselor, and relief worker.
It’s all part of the job, though. Caitlin believes that, in this role, she has a unique opportunity to be present in people’s lives during their most vulnerable moments.
COVID-19 in Bolivia
COVID-19 is currently rearing its ugly head in Potosi, where Caitlyn serves.
Workers are running low on money to support their families, and starvation is rampant. Hospitals are full, and PPE is still hard to come by. The government has decided to enact more “flexible” quarantine measures to ensure that the economy does not suffer permanent damage.
While Caitlin and her co-workers are used to long days, the pandemic has stretched them to the ends of themselves. The emergency phones ring every hour of the day and night. Though Caitlin is “happy to serve,” she admits that she and her team are “also quite fatigued.” However tired, they resolve to keep serving the sick, sharing the Gospel, and seeking the Lord.
The Daily Ups and Downs
Each day brings something different at the hospital where Caitlin serves. Some stories are of great struggle; some are of triumph.
Caitlin recounts the story of a woman who called their emergency room trying to find a hospital bed for her unconscious brother. He was having trouble breathing, and she needed help. The surrounding hospitals had already told her that they were full and couldn’t afford to take him in. Caitlin’s team said that she could bring him there. The woman could not physically get him in the car though, and she gave up trying. The communication ceased and the fate of the man remains unknown.
Another day, a hopeful father brought his injured daughter to the clinic. The girl had gotten a piece of wood lodged in her eye from chopping wood. The team there was able to successfully remove the piece of wood and send the girl home to her family. The girl’s father tearfully thanked them for helping his daughter when no one else could.
The Call to Serve
When Caitlin left for Bolivia in 2016, she had no idea what would be in store for her. She knew her new life would be “serious, exhilarating, and potentially terrifying.” Still, she found peace in knowing that nothing would happen in her life outside the sovereignty of God.
Caitlin’s heart had been shaped for missions from an early age. She remembers sitting on her grandfather’s lap at the age of four and listening to him tell her about Jesus. As she grew older and matured in her faith, Caitlin came to many realizations about the call on her life.
She believed that her life belonged to her Savior “for His Glory and His purposes.” She took the Great Commission to heart and made it a personal mission to help make disciples of all nations. And she felt compelled by the Psalmist’s plea: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy.”
The goal became integrating her career with her calling. Caitlin decided that she would bring the Gospel to the nations through long term medical missions.
Staying the Course
Caitlin’s mission was – and continues to be – to relay the Gospel, train medical staff, and establish hospice and palliative care programs in Potosi. Though death and defeat are commonplace, Caitlin and her team still find the moments of joy.
The goodness of the Lord is evident, even in the midst of the poverty-stricken landscape. Through disease, pain, and even death, Caitlin says that the Lord, like a careful weaver, is “working all things together for the good of those who love Him.” He is also boasting His mighty power in the small moments of joy that seem to defy the grim nature of the situation.
Caitlin testifies that “God continues to remind me that He is in control, that He is at work, and that He is walking through this with us.”
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