Sharing the Passion to Serve

When Bruce Curnuck, from Walla Walla, Wash., returned from Yap in 2007 where he served as an operating room nurse on a Canvasback Missions trip, he was inspired to organize an orthopedic team. His enthusiasm to serve was contagious. He recruited five of his colleagues at St. Mary’s Hospital in Walla Walla, as well as Robert Wells, medical doctor; Susan, his wife; and Tom Lengyel, a bio-medical technician from Portland, Ore.

The team’s mission was to provide orthopedic services at the Leroij Kitland Memorial Health Center on the tiny Pacific island of Ebeye. More than 12,000 people are crammed onto the 80 acres of Ebeye. While there they saw 122 patients and provided 26 surgeries, which included total knee replacements and arthroscopic surgery for repairing knee injuries.

Pulling together all the supplies was a daunting task. “We had skids of supplies which had to be transported to the Canvasback office to be shipped in a 20-foot container,” Curnuck recalls. “It was obvious God was working. Even in this economic crisis, St. Mary’s Hospital and many pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers generously donated equipment and supplies for the trip.”

One of the rewards of sharing his passion to serve was hearing the reaction of Cheryl Goudy, colleague. “Except for brief trips in Oregon and Idaho, this was my first trip out of Washington. The moment I stepped onto Ebeye, my heart was ripped out. I suddenly knew why I went into health care— to come and help these people. I received more than I gave. I want to go out again and I want to bring my family.”

“These trips are life-changing,” says Wells. This was his fifth Canvasback trip to Micronesia. He served on the remote outer island of Ebon in 1989 and has shared his passion to serve by returning to the islands, bringing his wife Susan, and granddaughter, Jessie, 14 years old. In June, Wells plans to return to the islands again to share his passion with another granddaughter.

Canvasback Missions is a nonprofit organization that began in Astoria, Ore. Jacque Spence, co-founder of the organization and team leader, says, “Canvasback’s passion to serve has grown over the years. In addition to sending surgery teams to Micronesia, we are running a Diabetes Wellness Center in the Marshall Islands where over 50 percent of the adult population are diabetic. It is exciting to see what a life-changing difference this team made. They gave life to people who could not walk and had no hope of ever receiving care.”

For more information on how to get involved on future trips contact Canvasback Missions, Inc. or on their Web site, or phone (800) 793-7245.

May 01, 2009 / Oregon Conference