Helping healing hands

Mission | May 30, 2024

Megan Strusz, St. Paul member and nursing student at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made it her mission to bring her nursing talents to communities in Costa Rica with limited access to healthcare.

Megan knew she wanted to study abroad in college but found it difficult to fit into her school schedule. She took it upon herself to research international volunteer programs and found her way to VIDA Volunteers. So, on Christmas Day 2023, Megan packed her bags and headed to Costa Rica, not knowing a single other person on the trip.

“I was scared to make the trip alone but I knew it would push me out of my comfort zone to meet new people. Before I left, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right choice. But once I got there, I didn’t want to leave,” Megan said. “There were about 45 volunteers in all. Some medical students like me, and others in a dental or veterinary program. All of the volunteers were also college students so I met great people with whom I’ve stayed in touch.”

During her two weeks volunteering in Liberia and La Cruz, Megan gained hands-on, immersive training, working alongside local physicians to diagnose, treat, and educate patients and improve the overall health of underserved communities in Costa Rica.

“The impact of the volunteer trip went beyond the immediate tasks at hand. I witnessed positive changes that were brought about by the collective efforts of my team members and local community members. This experience highlighted the interconnectedness of our world and the responsibility we bear toward one another.”

One of the biggest challenges while in Costa Rica was the language barrier, both with the patients she treated and the host family she stayed with.

“With every journey comes a challenge, and my volunteer trip was no exception. Language barriers posed difficulties, however the warmth and patience of the locals helped bridge the gap. At the clinic and with my host family, English was not understood. I knew I had to adapt to their culture which required flexibility and resilience. Overcoming these challenges contributed to personal growth and a sense of accomplishment.”

Endowment Fund for mission outreach
Megan reached out to the St. Paul Endowment Fund for Mission Outreach for financial support to make this trip possible. This fund exists to support special programs, projects, and people who connect with the congregation’s desire to serve others.

Founded in 1984, the Endowment Fund focuses on three priorities; assisting with educational expenses of members pursuing a church vocation, or additional training for current church work, supporting projects that creatively extend the mission of St. Paul such as mission trips, preschool scholarships, community projects, and outreach endeavors, and supporting the different ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

A six-member committee elected by the congregation administers the Endowment Fund for Mission Outreach, encouraging and welcoming grant proposals from individuals or groups that bring forth creative ideas for funding. The current committee consists of Vida Luth, Jane Strittmater, Pat Ferrell, Steve Horan, Marcia Willi, and Christa Orfitelli.

Leave a Comment