I was a young doctor with limited practical experience interested in a short-term missionary experience. After learning about the work in Cameroon from my sending agency (VKTM), I served as a medical doctor from September through December 2003. I had some information about Cameroon from others who had been there before me, but I did not have a lot of expectations. I had hoped that I could speak more French, but I enjoyed changing between the different languages of the team, the hospital and the German family who arrived while I was living there. I found the work well organized (more than I expected from Africa!).
The first few weeks were a bit tough but I soon acclimated myself to my new surroundings. I felt that even with my limited experience I was accepted and soon found my niche. The hospital employees were very engaged and motivated! I enjoyed participating in the different meetings of the field team during the week. God showed me that I was able to live in a very different culture and He prepared me to do exactly that! I learned that God wants me to be dependent upon Him alone and not upon all the material things, we of the Western world, culture ‘believe’ we need. With God at my side I am able to do the work and fulfill the tasks He gives me even if they seem too big for me. It is one thing to hear missionaries share their experiences of working in Third World countries, but it was another thing to see it with my own eyes and to be with the missionaries in their daily work.
If you are thinking about serving as a missionary you should ask yourself, "What is my motivation?" If you are only seeking adventure, I would not encourage you to go. You should be sure that you are willing to expend the necessary energy it takes to serve on the mission field and that you will be a help and not a hindrance to the overseas team. Speak with someone who is familiar with the mission and its team members. Be open to surprises. Be willing to let go of some favorite pastimes and leave your prized material possessions behind.
It is one thing to hear laborours share their experiences of working in Third World countries, but it was another thing to see it with my own eyes and to be with the laborours in their daily work.