The people of Papua New Guinea have a special place in the heart of Thrivent member Emily Rall. She and her parents lived in the Pacific island nation until she was three years old. After moving back to the U.S., her parents would often return to the country to do mission work there. A few years ago, Rall decided to join them. It was a trip that set her passion for helping others into action.
"When we got there, word spread that I had medical training," she explains. "Most of the people don't have access to good medical care or even basics like aspirin or bandages. So everyone in the village came up to me and asked if I had medicine. Unfortunately, I didn't bring any supplies with me."
When Emily returned home, she was determined to help the people she had to leave behind. Her thoughts turned to the Thrivent Action Team program. And that spurred an idea. Emily decided to hold a "mini-clinic" for villages surrounding Papua New Guinea. She gathered her family to form a Thrivent Action Team and buy and collect over-the-counter medical supplies.
Care to the rescue
Once they arrived in Papua New Guinea, word spread quickly about the clinic. Hundreds of men, women and children came to receive basic care or much-needed medications such as aspirin and antibiotic cream.
"I've found that one little thing that seems pretty insignificant can make a big difference to someone else."
"People came up to me with all sorts of medical problems," says Rall. "Many had back or knee pain because their livelihood is working in the garden. It's how they eat, how they survive. Giving them something as simple as Ibuprofen – they couldn't believe how good they felt after taking just one."
Access to medication wasn't the only positive benefit, however.
"Other times it was just giving them some reassurance like, 'Your heart sounds great,'" says Rall. "They were happy to hear that because they didn't know. They had never seen a doctor before."
Local efforts, global impact
Papua New Guinea is more than 8,000 miles from the U.S. But as Rall explains, it's not the size of the project or the distance that counts. It's about showing people you care.
"Sometimes people say to me, 'Oh my gosh, you went around the world for your project!' That's true," she notes. "And it was a blessing to be able to extend our ministry because of the Thrivent Action Team program. But you don't have to go that far to make a positive impact. You can easily do a Thrivent Action Team project in your own church or community. I've found that one little thing that seems pretty insignificant can make a big difference to someone else," says Rall"
Get involved – at home or abroad
Thrivent Action Teams are making an impact in communities everywhere! Learn more about the program and how to apply now to lead a Thrivent Action Team!