|Devon McChesney , a sophomore nursing major, was profiled in a Feb. 11 Burlington County (Pa.) Times article about mission work she completed in Jamaica. See her comments in the article below.|
From: Burlington County Times Date: Feb. 11, 2008 Author: Danielle CamilliMOORESTOWN - Devon McChesney thought she was prepared for what she would encounter on her first trip to Jamaica five years ago.
As president of the mission club at Our Lady of Good Counsel School on Main Street, she had learned about the poor conditions, the sick adults and the orphaned children in the island nation.
"I thought I knew, but once you get there, it's still shocking," the 20-year-old said last week. "You leave the airport and you see the tin and cardboard houses on the side of the road, stray animals wandering. In the shelters, people have been abandoned there because of their physical and mental disabilities."
The trip reaffirmed McChesney's passion for mission work. She made a second trip in 2005 and has since worked on the home front to aid her church's annual efforts for a mission in Kingston, Jamaica.
For her efforts, McChesney was named last month as Our Lady of Good Counsel School's graduate of the year. She was recognized in a ceremony during Catholic Schools Week where she talked to students about her experiences on her mission trips.
Those trips and the experiences with the sick people she met while on the trips have inspired McChesney to study nursing at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She is currently a sophomore.
"I know I will go back to Jamaica and other third-world countries again," she said. "Missions will always be an important part of my life."
She has missed the annual Easter Week trips the parish sponsors because it conflicts with her college schedule.
Each year a group of parishioners spends the week working with the Missionaries of the Poor, which operates four homes for the sick, elderly and physically and mentally disabled adults, and with an orphanage for sick children. They bring supplies donated by others at the church.
On the trip in 2005, before she went off to college, McChesney accompanied three doctors as they took care of the neediest patients. She learned how to diagnose bronchitis and pneumonia in babies, a widespread problem there.
"They just did the best they could for them with what we had," she said. "Tylenol is so precious to them. We took a lot of medicine with us because they have nothing there."
In 2003, McChesney accompanied Dr. Linda Dix and her husband, Gregory, on their trip to deliver wheelchairs that were provided by local Rotary Club members.
"She is one of the most dedicated mission volunteers with whom I have worked with in the developing world," the doctor said. "She is competent, level-headed and very much aware of her surroundings in Jamaica, yet she is unafraid to minister to those in the most desperate situations."
McChesney, who now works part time for the residence hall office at Catholic University and participates in various activities with the campus ministry, said mission work gives her a chance to practice many of the lessons she learned at Our Lady of Good Counsel School.
"It's really what Christianity is all about," she said. "There are so many people who need so much of what we take for granted. It's kind of our responsibility to help since we are already taken care of."