Inspiring Hope Across the Globe: A Story From Sierra Leone

May 23, 2017 | Justin Mock

When your mission is rooted in living God’s love, you may find yourself called to cross an ocean to carry out that mission. That’s what happened in the lives of five Tillamook Regional Medical Center (TRMC) employees.

The five-member team from Tillamook, Ore., flew to Sierra Leone in West Africa in February to volunteer at Adventist Health System’s Waterloo Hospital. For 10 days, they shared their unique set of skills and expertise to provide healing and build relationships with the community.

The trip came to fruition after a doctor, Scott Gardner, and his wife, Bekki Gardner, previous residents of Tillamook who have since taken up residence in Africa, came back to visit their hometown and shared their experiences. They’ve been living in Sierra Leone since the previous April and noticed a need for chaplaincy training at Waterloo Hospital. 

When Danny Parada, TRMC chaplain and spiritual care director, heard this, he took up the call and decided to travel to Sierra Leone himself. Before long, several other employees from the TRMC joined Parada and the team was formed, including Sonja Bradburn, rehabilitation services direcotr; David Bradburn, family medicine physician; Jonathan Jackson, physical therapist; and Justin Mock, wellness coordinator, who served as videographer. With such a diverse range of skills, the team could meet a wide variety of needs, both spiritual and physical.

Through his chaplaincy training program, Parada was able to create a culture of trust and belonging for pastors, chaplains, evangelists and Bible workers from all over the country of Sierra Leone who had traveled to Waterloo to be part of the program. Bradburn and Parada also taught a Spiritual Ambassadors training program for all the hospital staff modeled after the program they lead in Tillamook.

Bradburn and Scott Gardner worked with a local physician to provide outstanding outpatient care for many patients at the hospital. Bradburn and Jackson also used their skills as rehabilitation professionals to continue building on the Waterloo physio department. They worked with two physio therapists at the hospital, teaching them new skills and techniques to use in the future.

The trip was about more than just providing care. Each member of the team developed relationships that will leave a lasting impact on both the staff and patients of Waterloo and the members of the team from Tillamook.

“Unless we feel like we belong to God and to one another, we can’t give hope,” says Parada. “Hope is given and received by those we belong to and we trust. If we work together for one mission, belonging will come automatically, trust will be given, and then we can share hope.”

Learn more about TRMC’s Spiritual Ambassador program by watching the video.