In March 2006 Laurel Wallinga, 24, a registered nurse at Zeeland (Mich.) Hospital, began to pray for an opportunity to serve in the medical field outside the United States. A year later, through contact with African Inland Missions, Wallinga found herself among children in Mbarara, Uganda.
Wallinga, a member of Haven Christian Reformed Church in Zeeland, spent several months this past spring in a children’s rehabilitation clinic, giving medical attention and immunizations to infants and youths up to 18 years old, as well as assisting staff.
During her free time Wallinga stayed with the children, engaging them in activities such as coloring, painting their nails, and learning a bit of the English language.
“I was overwhelmed with blessings” said Wallinga, recalling a tender moment when the children at the clinic learned to say “I love you because God loves me” in English.
The nurse said she had “incredible support” from family, friends, and her employer, who gave her a three-month leave of absence.
Wallinga spoke of several families in Mbarara taking her in and calling her their daughter. She added, “I know that I will always have a home here in Africa.”