"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Twenty years ago, I traveled to Mexico as a member of a humanitarian missions construction team. I don’t know what I was expecting but I found myself, homesick, damp, cold, and bewildered. The level of poverty in the community where we were serving was beyond anything I had ever seen or experienced. Somehow, by the time I returned home, I was ready to repack my bags and travel to another country. Since then, I have traveled to sixteen different countries on thirty-five mission trips.
Last month, during my most recent trip to Cambodia, my team’s primary goal was to conduct mobile medical clinics in four underserved communities in partnership with Cambodian Care Ministries’. For the second year in a row, we used medications from MAP International.
Over a six day period, our team of six nurses and seventeen non-medical support team members served 661 adults and children at our mobile medical clinic locations. 506 of them were children and youth under the age of 18. The prescription medications our nurse practitioners prescribed from our MAP “blue boxes” were medications our patients would not have had the financial resources nor the access to medical care any other way.
This month, I start a new adventure as a MAP International Board Member. I am going to try not to look bewildered at my first board meeting in Atlanta next week. But I am sure that some of the feelings I had on my very first mission trip — finding out about a whole new level of community need around the world — will be similar. And I will have even more reason to keep my suitcase packed and ready to go to another county!
Linda Freeman began her career as an environmental engineer with the U.S. Department of Energy in 1986 after completing her M.S. in Environmental Engineering at Stanford University (Palo Alto, California) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan). Since 1999, Linda has been the Executive Director of the Peacemaker Family Center (PFC) at Trinity Church in Miami Gardens, Florida. Under Rev. Freeman’s direction, PFC has been awarded and has successfully managed over $36 million in Federal, State, and local social service funding. Actively engaged in humanitarian missions, Linda has participated n thirty-five missions projects in sixteen countries over the last twenty years. In December 2014, Peacemakers Family Center was awarded the “Champions of Service” Award by Florida Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida (AmeriCorps).
Linda has been married to her husband David for 31 years. They have six children in their lives: Zachary, and his wife, Daniella; Vanessa; Nina, their niece; and their grandchildren, Noah and Mia.
(photo credits: Gabriel Rivera, Cambodia, August 2016)