Published on July 6, 2020 by Sara Roman  

Katee Nall, a second-year speech language pathology student, was one of 18 School of Health Professions students who traveled to Ecuador for a speech language pathology and physical therapy interprofessional medical mission trip. Below, is a personal account of her experience.

Prior to our arrival in Ecuador, we had no specific information of what clinical experiences we would be exposed to or what patients we would see. We had prepared supplies, fundraised for months and been praying over this trip, but we could not have fathomed what God had in store. 

We were an interprofessional team of students, many of whom had never met prior to the trip; yet, immediately upon our arrival, I felt a divine sense of community with the group. As we settled into our place of residence and became acclimated, I was reminded of 1 Peter 4:10, a verse many School of Health Professions students know well. I was ready to begin utilizing the gifts the Lord had given me to serve those I would encounter in Ecuador.

Children playing a game in Ecuador

We transformed an old daycare facility into a make-shift clinic. The number of people who came to us with needs was overwhelming, and the days did not come without doubts, fears, hesitations or anxiety, but the Lord allowed each of us to overcome and steward our gifts and talents for His good. I saw spiritual and physical needs met not only within our patients but also our team.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

One afternoon, I walked into a room within our make-shift clinic and found a teenage girl lying in the fetal position on the floor, I was terrified. Dr. Margaret Johnson, professor and chair of the Communication Sciences and Disorders department, said “Alright, Katee, let’s evaluate her.” My immediate reaction was to look around the room to find another member of our team to lead the evaluation. I doubted myself, I doubted God and I panicked briefly, but Dr. Johnson gave me confidence and the Lord graced me with his peace.

Students performing a health check in Ecuador

As I observed her, I noticed some repetitive behavior. She demonstrated rigidity in routine and stimming on a particular toy. This led me to question, “Does she have a medical diagnosis?” The caregiver replied no and I responded, “Has anyone ever mentioned Autism?” The caregiver’s demeanor quickly changed, and she said, “Yes! She has Autism.” I was in my wheelhouse now and God led me there. Why did I doubt? Myself and a physical therapy colleague worked with the girl’s caregiver to provide a plan for continuation of care.

Students with little girl in Ecuador

The trip was full of moments like this, moments that were rich, rewarding and truly life changing. I saw the Lord use every member of our team for good. Each person had a spiritual and professional gift that was highlighted as they were serving as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Now that I have returned home, I aim to remind myself daily of why I am pursuing a career in speech language pathology. I truly believe it is a calling and that God has placed a calling on each and every one of us to help bring glory to His great name. I will forever be thankful for Ecuador, our team and the amazing work of God!

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.