For the 15th year in a row, a mission team visited Santo Tomás, El Salvador to serve the community for a week providing for the physical needs as well as the spiritual needs of the community by having clinical days, prayer moments and partnering with Hope 21 Ministries to provide purified drinking water to the region.

To learn more about the trip, read Carrie Carter’s insight as she stepped out on faith and has now been to El Salvador twice!

If interested in learning more about Hope 21 ministries and how you can be a blessing to the El Salvadorian people please visit and/or contact Ed Reed ([email protected]). Thanks for your support!

Stepping out on Faith

Two years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to El Salvador on a medical mission trip, and somewhat impulsively put my name down on a sign-up sheet that I’d be interested in going. At this time, I had just started my 3rd year of pharmacy school at VCU and had never been on a mission trip, or even out of the country, but I was excited to go on this journey. As our departure date got closer, and the more I prepared for the trip, I became more nervous and scared about traveling to another country and started second guessing my decision to go on the trip. But as I continued to pray and prepare, God told me that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and reassured me that He would protect me. And I am so glad that I listened because March 3-10, 2018, was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have had during pharmacy school. Spending the week in El Salvador and partnering with La Casa de Mi Padre to serve the people of Santo Tomás was such a humbling experience. Learning about the Salvadorian culture and taking the time to listen to our patients’ stories about how thankful they were for God’s provision in their life, despite the hardships they were facing, helped to mold my perspective of patient care. While I always strive to provide genuine patient care, this experience inspired me to be more empathetic and intentional about getting to know my patients by listening to their stories and learning more about what has gotten them to this point in their lives and working together to determine the best plan for their health going forward.

I think as soon as we got home last year, I knew I wanted to go again this year, if at all possible. During our 4th year of pharmacy school, we have 8 five-week rotations, and once I found out that my “off” block was going to be during March, I was excited that I might be able to go. However, I was also planning to pursue a hospital pharmacy residency program and wasn’t sure what the interview and Match timeline would look like just yet. As soon as information became available, God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect as I learned our rank order list for the Match was due March 1 and the trip was planned for March 2-9. This year was another spectacular experience getting to serve and share the love of Jesus with the people of El Salvador. One of my most memorable moments of the trip was when one of our patients came into the pharmacy to get her prescriptions. Normally, everyone waits outside and we bring the medications out to them once they’ve been filled, but she had made her way inside, handed me her prescription and gave me a great big hug. I had spent most of my day inside filling prescriptions and it brought me joy to see her smiling face and see how excited she was to receive her medications, reminding me of why I was there and the impact our medical team has in this community. It’s also always fun spending time playing with the kids at La Casa. One afternoon after lunch, everyone was playing soccer, but since I am terrible at soccer, I made my way over to the basketball court. One of the kids, Anderson, and I had been shooting around for a few minutes, and then he starts saying something to me in Spanish, but I had no idea what he was saying. So I told him, “No sé, no hablo español.”—”I don’t know, I don’t speak Spanish.” To which he replied “¡Pero, estás hablando español!”—“But, you are speaking Spanish!” Eventually, I figured out that he wanted me to guard him and try to get the ball away. As I got into my guard stance, he immediately bounced the ball between my legs and went right around me to take a shot at the basket! I couldn’t stop laughing!

I’m not sure when I will have the next opportunity to return to El Salvador as I will be completing my pharmacy residency next year, but, God-willing, I hope that this year will not be my last time traveling with this team to serve, love, and build relationships with the precious children at La Casa and the community of Santo Tomás.

Carrie Carter
4th-year Pharmacy student