A world away, one young Neosho resident learned to make a difference.

A world away, one young Neosho resident learned to make a difference.

Sara Massey traveled to Senegal, West Africa, on Jan. 11 with a group from area churches. At 15, Massey was the youngest member of the missionary team. Her father, Gary Massey, made the trip before, and this time they went together.

“It was really cool and it opened your eyes to see the other side of the world, but it was a lot different,” Sara said.

The 250-mile trip from Dakar to the village took 12 hours. The roads were pocked and unpaved.
During the return trip they would have vehicle trouble and the Masseys rode most of the trip in a broken-down bus towed by a pickup truck.

When they arrived they were greeted by scattered trash and huts made of concrete blocks or woven limbs.

As part of the medical team, Sara helped her father dispense medication. During the next few days they filled 600 to 700 prescriptions.

Malaria, arthritis, stomach and skin disorders were common complaints. They handed out toothbrushes, multi-vitamins, de-worming pills and antibiotics. Estimates place roughly 4000 people in the village and the clinic saw 700 patients, in four days.

Each case presented special challenges. One small boy could not keep his medication down. His sister died earlier in the week and the team was treating him for malaria. Then Sara had an idea.

“Maybe we should try to feed him it. So we go into our lunch we find applesauce and we give it to him in applesauce and he finally gets it down.”

Pastors from the team and the local area shared the gospel and prayed with villagers in line for the clinic.

“This was really a mission trip,” Gary Massey said. “Medicine and doctors are the draw, but our goal is to share Christ, although we were part of the medical team we also had an evangelistic team.”

The humanitarian effort, the Masseys say, works to treat acute diseases and immediate pain, but the goal was much larger.

“Hopefully we made an eternal difference and not just a temporary one,” Sara Massey said.

“Probably the big thing was just trying to share Jesus with everyone and also help meet their physical needs as well as their spiritual and it was exciting to just get to be a part of that.”

The experience made her grateful for even the small luxuries of home.

“It’s opened my eyes a lot,” she said. “I’m more appreciative of what I have because over there a lot of them don’t have running water, they don’t have toilets, they don’t have electricity. I’m very appreciative of my bathroom.

“Just to see that they have nothing, but they still have hope and over here we have pretty much anything.”