April 21, 2010

The Corner Where You Are

2010 1512 page22 capave you ever wondered whether God has a sense of humor? Or if He smiles at the plans He has for you and rejoices when you give your heart to Him daily?
During my undergraduate college years, I found myself struggling to discover my life purpose. I sensed a tug to be a missionary, but I thought that calling to be too sacred for someone such as I. Instead, I settled for serving people as I met them. “Brighten the corner where you are” became my motto.
Then an amazing string of events enabled me to spend six months as a pre-med missionary at Heri Adventist Hospital in Tanzania. It was there God showed me that I was suited not only to survive but to thrive in medical mission work. I enjoyed the work. It brought me to life. I considered the joy I discovered in mission service there as a “green light” to pursue long-term service.
Choosing Loma Linda
Having never attended an Adventist school before, I had an undeniable urge to do so. Of the three medical schools to which I was accepted, I chose Loma Linda University School of Medicine because I wanted to surround myself with an atmosphere that would encourage my desire for missionary service, support a balanced life in the demands of studies, and nurture my walk with God.
2010 1512 page22God blessed my choice. I was granted a partial scholarship and accepted into the Deferred Mission Appointee Program. Because of my experience in Tanzania, I applied to go to the East-Central Africa Division after completing my training.
During the first weeks of medical school God also blessed me with lasting friends who shared spiritual fellowship with me, and God-loving faculty and physician mentors. These friends and mentors continue to encourage me both spiritually and professionally—even from across the globe.
Finding a Life Partner
God had never given me a desire for marriage, but as I mentioned earlier—God has a sense of humor. Very early ?into my first year at LLUSM, He introduced me to my future husband, Bill. A few months later, when Bill asked me to date him officially, I replied, “No, I didn’t come here to date or get married. I came here to go to medical school and serve in Africa as a doctor.” After praying and wrestling with God, and after conversations with friends and family, I came to see God’s hand in my relationship with Bill. We were married just three days after finishing my USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) Step 1 exams. It was my joy to go to Africa with Bill in 2006 during my fourth-year elective rotations.
Mission Service in Africa
I was accepted into the residency program of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center Family Medicine in South Bend, Indiana, which encourages its residents to spend two months of their training in international health care. I went to three Adventist hospitals: a month in Malawi, a month in Chad, and two weeks in Nepal. These trips were vital in keeping my passion for medical missionary service alive.
Nearing the end of residency, I still expected to be assigned to a hospital in East Africa. Through a series of unfortunate miscommunications, however, plans fell through for me to work there. I reached my low point. God reminded me that He is the One I am serving. Finally, I surrendered: “Here are my plans for African medical missionary work,” I told the Lord. “I am willing to work wherever You want me to.”
The Call to Cameroon
Shortly after surrendering my will to God’s, we received a call to Buea in southwest Cameroon. Several years earlier, plans had been laid to build a hospital and expand the clinic there to a maternal-child hospital. The hospital was almost complete, but they had been without a doctor for more than a year. My husband and I prayed and believed that God was opening the door, and we accepted the call!
Bill and I arrived in Buea on December 2, 2009, and were greeted by many challenges. Even now, when I think of the enormous hurdles we face here, I become impatient and tempted to give up. So, how do we cope? Only by daily committing ourselves and the Health Centre here into God’s hands.
God’s Countless Blessings
We continually receive God’s encouragement. The staff members are wonderful teammates. The number of patient visits is increasing. And patients, family members, and members of the community provide emotional support as they see God working through the Buea Adventist Health Centre. I hope other pre-med and medical students will one day come here and be inspired to serve Christ through medical mission work as I was many years ago in Tanzania.
“Brighten the corner where you are” is still my motto. I give my dreams and visions to God to do what He will with them. I have nothing to fear, “‘for I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).
Trixy Franke-Colwell, M.D., LLUSM class of 2006, and her husband, Bill, who has an M.Ed. in Global Leadership and Administration, have been serving the Lord and the people of Cameroon since December 2009. This article was published April 22, 2010.