Short Term Quarterly Highlights
Welcome to the quarterly Short Term Mission update! Over the past 36 years, CVM has had the privilege to challenge, empower and facilitate 3,429 Short Term Volunteers to over 69 different countries on short term mission trips to share the love of Christ through veterinary medicine. In 2011, CVM mobilized 328 volunteers to 21 different countries. Currently, for the year 2012, we have 331 volunteers that have signed up for short-term trips! Here are some photos highlighting one of our short term trips to the Navajo Nation followed by a brief story about the trip. If you have trouble reading the text due to the slideshow, you can pause the slide show to freeze the movement of the screen.
Long-term Vision for Short-term Missions
Nestled within the western United States, the Navajo Nation covers over 25,000 square miles, spanning across southern Utah, northern Arizona, and western New Mexico. The Navajo are the largest of the Native American groups, and while only 15% of most Native Americans live on the actual reservations; this is not the case with the Navajo, with nearly 50% of the Navajo population living on the reservation. This can be a difficult place to live, with a higher percentage of people existing below the national poverty level and twice the unemployment rate as the general U.S. population. In addition, the number of Native Americans professing Christianity is decreasing, and in just ten years, the percentage of Navajo professing faith in Christ declined from 75% to 50%.
Although the Navajo Nation spans three states, the veterinary care is limited, and currently, only two veterinarians work on the reservation. Many years ago, CVM veterinarians recognized not only the tangible and spiritual need, but they also saw how their professional skills could be used to help the Navajo with their pets and livestock, as well as build relationships that point to Christ. And this is how the relationship between CVM and the Navajo Nation began, and now, every year, teams of veterinary professionals and students volunteer their time to serve on CVM mission trips to the Navajo, where they experience the power of God’s love, build relationships, and practice veterinary medicine.
Over the last eight years, Drs. Sam Galphin and Page Wages have taken a group of veterinary students from the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine out to the Navajo Nation. However, this is no simple feat! Before they depart, the students must participate in a seven month Mission Preparedness class, which consists of 3-4 hours of class a month and countless hours of homework. The class covers the historical, Biblical, and strategical bases for missions, how to evangelize, and how to help without hurting. During their time together, they study the Navajo culture and language and participate in fundraising events. Lastly, the students must also pass a physical fitness test by running three miles. What a beautiful way to gauge one’s commitment level! As I said before, this is no simple feat!
When asked how she first got involved with the Navajo, Dr. Wages replied, “It all started at a Real Life, Real Impact (RLRI). It was my first year in vet school and I was trying to find a place for me. I liked the people that were in a group called Christian Veterinary Fellowship (CVF) and they did a Bible study, which I thought was weird to do in school, but when they asked me if I wanted to go with them to Auburn for a RLRI weekend, I said yes! And it was at that RLRI that I gave my life to Christ, and soon after that we decided to do a short term trip in the summer. We asked CVM where we could go, and they said that no one had ever been to the Navajo Nation. So, we met Dr. Sam Galphin (a local dairy vet) and took a van to Arizona with no expectations, and that is how the first trip started. While we were there, we told the Navajo that we would come back. Their reply was “no one ever comes back”. Well, that has been my challenge, and for the past ten years, we have continued to return and love and serve the Navajo in the most remote places on the reservation.”
And this year the team of veterinary professionals and students did just that! They covered quite a bit of territory in their two weeks on the road, and they traveled to all three states in the Navajo Nation. The days start early with breakfast and devotions at 7:00 am, and by 8:00, they split into two teams, a large animal team and a small animal team. The large animal team traveled to surrounding farms to vaccinate and deworm sheep, goats, cattle, horses, dogs, and cats, while the small animal team performed surgeries and vaccinations in church basements, buildings, and warehouses. And each day ends with dinner, fellowship, and devotions, with their heads hitting their pillows usually around 11 or 12. And guess what? They do it all over again the next day!
With the continued support of the CVM group and the training the Navajo people have gained, Dr. Wages reports an increase in the general health of the animals. “Over the years, we have seen a dramatic improvement in the care of the animals and an increase in the desire for routine deworming, vaccinations, spaying and neutering. We use to see dogs and cats dead on the side of the road, and now, this is a much rarer sight. In one place, where there is a veterinary practice, we didn’t have to do any small animal work this year. The people are coming in for routine care when we aren't there due to the education and the good rapport we have established. We have made a difference. The long term goals are to help the Navajo be self-sufficient in their care for their animals. And one thing I have learned this past year is that our mission, while it may be short term trips, is actually a long term mission to the Navajo Nation, through short term trips."
Thank you to Dr. Page Wages and company for your significant contributions and sincere commitment to the Navajo people! And a special thank you to all our short-termers who have a long-term vision for short-term missions!
Photos provided by Dr. Wages and the NCSU students.
Interested in going?
If you have not applied to be a member of our Short-Term Volunteer pool, then please click here for instructions on how to apply. And if you are already a member of the Short-Term Volunteer pool, then please click here to read about the upcoming short-term trip opportunities! We would love to have you join a team!
If you would like to support CVM in Short Term Missions, please click here to donate to our General STM fund.