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Valorie Coleman
Public Relations Director
College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, MO 65726
Office: (417) 690-2212
Email: pr@cofo.edu

September 11, 2019

College of the Ozarks students focus on medical missions for 2019 Belize trip

Student with children

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Six College of the Ozarks nursing students participated in a mission trip to Belize over the summer break, June 15-23. The students worked in medical clinics, aiding local hospitals and working in dialysis units.

“During the medical mission trip to Belize, we partner with a variety of ministries, organizations, and hospitals in order to support these organizations as they provide transformative healing in their communities,” said Andrew Bolger, director for The Keeter Center for Character Education. “This year, we experienced the fruit of a lot of hard work that allowed us to provide medical clinics in rural areas that had never been served prior to our trip. For our students, this meant, in many cases, that they were the first to provide healthcare for many of these people. This first encounter is especially powerful, considering that our testimony is that ‘Jesus heals.’ Altogether, we served nearly 500 people through the medical clinics, providing much needed primary care, medicine, glasses, and pediatric services for the children.”

Serving in rural areas made an impression on the students.

“Something that really impacted me in Belize was that the majority of the patients in the dialysis unit traveled via public transportation over 200 miles, that’s four to six hours, just to get to their dialysis appointments two or three times a week,” said Krystin Gertson, senior nursing major.

The College worked with La Loma Luz Hospital and San Ignacio Hospital, opening the door for students to get invaluable hands-on clinical experience.

“We had the opportunity to go to community clinics in two of the villages,” said Silas Boldman, senior nursing major. “While there, we saw many of the villagers. We ask what’s going on with their healthcare concerns. Then they see the doctors. It was really impactful for me because I was able to see a completely new perspective on healthcare and living in general.”

College of the Ozarks focuses on long-term goals as it moves forward in relationship with Belize.

“Our long-term goals with all of our mission trips is to support the Belizean local church through healthcare, education, and community health initiatives that draw people to Jesus, introduce them to the church, and provide opportunities for them to be transformed by the Gospel,” Bolger said. “Our hope for students who participate in these trips is that they would gain an understanding of how God is active in the world and how they can participate in His mission wherever they go with their gifts, abilities, education, and vocation.” 

Student participants:

  • Silas Boldman, senior nursing major from Kirbyville, Missouri
  • Lauren Bone, senior nursing major from Arnold, Missouri
  • Hannah Duncan, senior nursing major from Hollister, Missouri
  • Krystin Gertson, senior nursing major from Galena, Missouri
  • Macy Hutchinson, senior nursing major from Point Lookout, Missouri
  • Haley Buchele, senior nursing major from Tuckerman, Arkansas

Trip sponsors:

  • Dr. Andrew Bolger, director of The Keeter Center for Character Education
  • Dr. Jeffrey Elliott, professor of psychology and human and social services division chair
  • Rebecca Meyer, assistant professor of nursing

A long-term relationship

College of the Ozarks has been sending students to Belize since 2012, and for the past seven years, the College has made the trek twice a year. Hard Work U. students, faculty, and staff travel to the San Ignacio area in the Cayo District of Belize. Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country on the eastern coast of Central America. It is bordered on the north by Mexico, on the south and west by Guatemala, and on the east by the Caribbean Sea.

The College takes as many students as possible to influence the area. The students are trained to help in the areas of education, discipleship, evangelizing, and healthcare. Each November, C of O partners with Billy White School for discipleship and a pastor’s conference. Students teach about the love of God and serving others. Each June, the journey focuses on medical needs. Nursing and psychology students visit various villages and the local hospital to develop medical experience outside of the United States. They analyze the behavioral health framework and teach patients about sanitation, drinking clean water, eating proteins, and other health initiatives.

Over the years, the trips have had great effect on those who participated. Some of the regular sponsors who have participated in several trips and have a passion for the mission in Belize include Dr. Jerry C. Davis, College of the Ozarks president, and his wife, Shirley Davis; Dr. Eric Bolger, dean of the College; Dr. Sheryl Haile, professor of psychology; Dr. Jeff Elliott, professor of psychology; Steve Shepherd, athletic director and head men’s basketball coach, and his wife, Karen Shepherd, associate professor of nursing; and Dr. Andrew Bolger, director of The Keeter Center for Character Education, to name a few.

Christian Ministries has sponsored several trips with the cooperation of nursing, athletic, and various academic programs.

For more information, contact Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman at (417) 690-2212.

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