Last week, we reported that 71 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) have served with the USNS Comfort’s Continuing Promise 2011 mission. Our article briefly mentioned that 11 of the 71 volunteers have been on the ship for the entire five-month journey. The ship has visited nine countries throughout Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
This blog post looks at two of the 11 volunteers. Nicolette Broby and Courtney Lenberg stayed the entire voyage, spending most of their time on the 10-story tall, 300-yard long vessel, eating military food, sleeping in cramped quarters and working long hours — sometimes in hot, humid weather — to help the poor who have significant medical needs.
Latter-day Saints believe in serving people everywhere, which stems from the desire to follow Jesus Christ. The following four short stories and their accompanying photos show this belief in action and detail the fruits of such service.
1. Guatemalan children receive school supplies and stuffed animals
During Comfort’s stop in Guatemala in early July, Broby and Lenberg had the opportunity to run a “Give a Kid a Backpack” event at a local primary school. Together, they taught children about coughing into arms, dental hygiene, nutrition, hand washing and eye protection. After teaching, they gave the children backpacks filled with school supplies and stuffed animals.
“They were in heaven,” Lenberg said of the children.
2. Jamaican children benefit from new shoes
At an event during the ship’s stop in Jamaica, Lenberg was the lone Latter-day Saint volunteer to help with a “Samaritan’s Feet” project at which volunteers washed children’s feet and gave them new shoes.
“These children were so caring and excited,” Lenberg said. “It was a very rewarding experience.”
3. A Peruvian woman receives new glasses
In Peru, Broby became acquainted with a woman who received new glasses. The woman was hugging family and jumping up and down from the joy of her improved vision.
“As she walked near me I told her I loved her glasses and she looked beautiful wearing them,” Broby said. “She immediately gave me a bear hug and flashed the biggest smile you can imagine. My happiness for her was overwhelming. I burst into tears for the first time on the entire trip.”
4. Colombian boy receives much-needed surgery
In Colombia, Lenberg helped 12-year-old David with massive burns on his hands, face, arms, legs and back; he also had a massive infection on one hand and contractures (shortenings of muscle, tendon or scar tissue that cause deformity) in his fingers on the other hand. Lenberg said she tried “so, so, so hard” to get the boy in for surgery the next day, but was unable to do so because the surgical area was overbooked.
To Lenberg’s surprise, David was the first patient admitted the next morning for surgery.
“My eyes instantly welled up with tears because I was so thankful that this little boy was able to get his much needed surgery done,” Lenberg said. “I don’t know that I have ever felt so much intense gratitude in my entire life as I felt in that moment. David’s dad said that I was David’s angel because I had tried so hard to get him the surgery that he needed. It was such an amazing experience to feel such intense love for someone that I had only known for such a short time.”