By GENE ESPY
“I can’t tell you what a blessing it is,” Mrs. Carolyn Parker Wooten said about her medical mission trips.
“Every place I have been I have left a piece of my heart and I can barely speak about it without choking up and tears coming to my eyes because I see these people living in squalor and they have basically nothing except a cellphone and a television. I went to be a blessing to these people, but I was the one who received the blessing.”
Carolyn Wooten was born and raised in Trion and graduated at Trion High School – ‘’a River Rat” as she explained.
“I walked across the street to school every day,” Mrs. Wooten said.
When she graduated at THS, she went into nursing school and is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
When she first began her career, medical missions had not come into play yet.
Years later, after she had raised her family, a missionary came to the church she and her husband were attending for a mission conference. He was planning a trip to Peru and he said he really needed medical people to with him.
“It was like God reached out and touched my shoulder and said, ‘He was talking to you.’”
On our way home, I looked over to my husband and I said I have something to tell you, and he said, “You want to go to Peru don’t you?” Mrs. Wooten continued.
It was like he already knew, she added.
“I said, yes, I do,” Wooten answered.
She didn’t know anything about Peru except it was something she felt like she needed to do.
Mrs. Wooten met with the missionary and he explained what they did – they go into the country as tourists, under the guidance and under the umbrella of a local church with a local pastor.
What the Medical Missions does is follow the outline of Matthew 25:31-36.
“The purpose is to go reach people for their physical needs in order to meet their spiritual needs,” Mrs. Wooten explained. “I can’t tell you what a blessing it is. I went to be a blessing to these people, but I was the one who received the blessing.”
As a registered nurse, she is recognized in other countries as being a medical provider under the guidance of the team that she is with. They have one doctor and have nurses that are providers.
“We don’t just need medical people, we need people who are willing to give of their time to help set up the clinics, to help rebuild a wall that falls down because most of the countries they go to are Third World countries,” Mrs. Wooten said.
She said one of the things that she finds in these countries is not brushing your teeth for a week with tap water and using bottled water.
“When you get in the shower they tell you to be sure to keep your mouth tightly closed and your head down so the water doesn’t get up your nose just because of the things that are in that water our bodies are not used to,” she continued. “I grew up on Trion water and we drank that straight out of the ground.”
On the recent trip the group went to Guyana, South America with the Truth for Today Medical Missions.
“When you think about Guyana, you think about Jim Jones,“ she added. “The people there have not forgotten what happened. There is a lot of gang activity and the worst thing a gang member can call another is a “Jonesy Boy.”
Her group was a small group, they went to five separate areas, doing five clinics in five days.
“That was a lot of work, you have to set up everything and at the end of the day you take it all down and this involves moving church pews.”
Most of the clinics were in churches which are metal roofs over cinder block walls and then some very hard seats.
The week they were there they saw 90 patients the first day; the second day they saw 69 medical and vision saw 80; the third day they saw 51 medical and 54 in vision; the next day they saw 90 in medical and 125 in vision and the last day they saw 96 in medical and 74 in vision.
In the medical area the patients would come in and see Mrs. Wooten or one of the other providers and they would sit down and talk.
“I would ask, ‘What can I do for you today? What kind of problems are you having?’” she continued.
“Most of them are joint pain, back pain and what they call the flu, which is sinus or upper respiratory and we treat them accordingly.”
They also did a lot of teaching about high blood pressure and diabetes which they have a lot of because of their high carbohydrates diets.
“We make sure that we get them started on medication so they can continue their medication through their socialized medicine, which is a disaster,” Wooten added.
Vision is a very big part of the clinics. She said that the Rotary boxes of old gasses, many times end up on a mission trip and many glasses you think are trash or you don’t need them anymore, to these people the eyeglasses are “a treasure.”
A billboard the group saw advertised financing for eyeglasses from six months up to two years.
To give those people a pair of glasses, they have a machine called a refractor, they check their eyes and go through all the charts and then they know the strengths needed. They then go through the boxes of hundreds and hundreds of glasses and find the strength they need.
“The look on these people’s faces when they put on their glasses for the first time, they can see and they can read now,” Mrs. Wooten said.
There is no charge to the patients for the medical or the eyeglasses.
“Everything is either volunteer or free.”
She explained that the worst case she saw was a 17-year-old boy who was six foot, eight, and he was very thin. He was educated and still in school, and he was complaining about everything that was textbook for a bad thyroid. He had a goiter and for someone that young that is something that is not a good outcome.
“Rarely did we see someone that smoked,” Mrs. Wooten added.
“I bring away from my trips how rich, how blessed and how fortunate we are to live in America,” Mrs. Wooten said. “And to be free and to have the freedoms that we have.”