Serving from a student’s perspective
Alicia Marquez, PhD (left), student in the marriage and family therapy program, and Sofia Rodriquez, DDS, student in the international dentist program, coordinate programs for Community Moms Connection.
After working most of my life as an accountant, my desire to spend more time in direct contact with people made me decide to change fields and that is how I came to Loma Linda to become a marital and family therapist. In the two years spent here I have experienced great joy sitting with clients, listening to their stories, and trying to help them see new perspectives for their lives.
Because most of the classes in the PhD program are quite intense, I felt I needed other forms of service that could add variety to my experience as a student. Service has always given me personal satisfaction. The phone call I made to Students for International Mission Service (SIMS) made a big difference in my life; even statistics didn’t seem so overwhelming afterwards!
Having dreamed often about being a missionary in foreign countries, and having given up the idea many years ago, the opportunity to travel with SIMS volunteers to the clinic in Ensenada, Mexico, was like an exciting adventure. However, at my age, the idea of sleeping on the floor of a church, not being able to take showers, and traveling with a bunch of strangers didn’t seem very appealing at all.
Like many other times in my life, God proved me wrong. I had a good night’s sleep with no back pains, hygiene was acceptable, and I made new friends. Such a nice bunch of people, you would not know who was a doctor, a dentist, a student, a nurse, or a translator; they all worked side by side, without differences. In addition to those blessings, we did some sightseeing at Ensenada, visiting the famous “La Bufadora.”
But the best part of the trip was the interaction we had with the local people, so loving, so humble, and so thankful. As I met the patients on Sunday, to do intakes and translate, I felt so blessed! I was amazed by the work the doctors and dentists were able to do. Limited equipment was complemented by creativity and enthusiasm.
Plans for introducing mental health services have been discussed with the local pastor. We will start with talks in the church and see how the Lord guides from there. In a place where there are so many urgent necessities related to survival, relationship problems are not a priority.
In the meanwhile, relationship issues are discussed at the Community Moms Connection (CMC) meetings, in San Bernardino, every second and fourth Saturdays of the month. These meetings attend to the needs of the parents, relatives, and friends of the children participating in Community Kids Connection (CKC) activities. The parents are responding positively to the presentations, for which they choose the content, and which go far beyond parenting classes (marital relations is the number one choice).
Many more interesting themes are planned for the future. So far, the presentations have been conducted by Carlos Morales, a psychologist studying in the marriage and family therapy program, and I. Guest lecturers will be invited in the future. It is exciting to see the interest of the participants as they listen carefully, ask questions, and participate in all activities.
I thank God for the opportunity to dedicate a little time to serve others. The amazing thing is that the most blessed person of all is me!
Editor’s note: The following article was written by Alicia Marquez, a PhD student in the marriage and family therapy program. According to Martine Polycarpe, MPH, director of SIMS, Ms. Marquez is instrumental in coordinating quality, relationship-focused programming for parents in the community.