Victoria team to participate in medical mission trip
May 20, 2010 at 12:20 a.m.
Updated May 21, 2010 at 12:21 a.m.
Prom, graduation, Africa.
While most graduating high school seniors are focused on plans for fall semesters in college, 17-year-old Rebecka Tom is figuring out how to get into another hemisphere.
"Everyone has kind of told me I am kind of crazy for going everywhere," she said. "But I don't know. I feel right. I know I can help people here in our country, but other people aren't so fortunate to what we have."
Tom has been on two mission trips, one in the U.S. and the other to Mexico, but never overseas.
She, as well as her father, Darren Tom, and Vickie Rabino, an assistant principal at Memorial High School Senior Campus, will head to a remote area in southern Zambia. The team leaves July 15 and will return Aug. 1.
The trip is a part of an effort with the Central Church of Christ denomination. The three will also be joined by Rabino's daughter and will spend about two weeks living in tents in the African brush to provide support to a medical mission team.
The team will help with about 16,000 Zambians who will receive vital medical care in a country where the average life span is only 35 years.
The trip is the first African mission for everyone on the team, but each believe they're ready.
"Once you get into it, your adrenaline starts flowing," Darren Tom said. "You're looking at people that don't have a clue what we have here."
Rabino, who has traveled and lived around the world doing mission work, is expecting the time to be grueling.
"A lot of manual labor," she said. "I'm not expecting to be comfortable."
Rebecka meanwhile continues to answer questions about her uncertain future; friends keep prodding her about college plans, but she's unsure if she'll even come back from Africa.
"I'm hoping this trip will open my eyes for me," she said. "I would like to go to college, but I plan on doing more mission work."
In the past few months, the team has sent eyeglasses, crutches, wheelchairs and medicines to help with the mission where Zambians will be treated for everything from scratches to amputations.
The group has raised enough money to pay for their own travel expenses through door-to-door visits and weekly benefit dinners, but are continuing to raise money for unexpected travel or medical expenses while they are abroad.
There's a sense of fearlessness about Rebecka. The 17-year-old is not worried for her safety or even getting sick.
In the beginning, Rebecka's mother, Ginger, almost didn't let her go - a restriction that has since changed.
"She would not let me go at first, and I said, 'Mom, I'm going to be 18,'" she said.
Her birthday is May 29.
And while Rebecka awaits for her birthday and graduation - while she fights off senior-itis - she's unsure about plans post-Africa, but is OK with it.
"It's hard to explain," Rebecka said. "Who knows what God has in store for me."