Veterinary Fieldworker: A Day in the Life Overseas

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM) equips and encourages veterinary professionals and students to build relationships with others through the use of their veterinary knowledge and skills so that lives are transformed. (Get to know them at their Meet an Agency post here!)

Peek into a day in the life of a vet’s career overseas.

Asian morning for a veterinary fieldworker

Rising with the sun in Asia, our veterinary fieldworker has a few precious minutes of quiet time.

Quiet, that is, save temple bells and religious chanting audible outside her window. She seizes the moment to pray for those trapped in fatalistic belief systems without hope. As suggested in her orientation, she’s found it critical not to neglect spiritual nurture in the midst of ministry demands.

After breakfast, she heads over to the clinic.

She greets the national staff and notices that Maya seems tense and on edge. She arranges time to sit with Maya and talk. Mentoring Maya in her new leadership role, using biblically-based principles of servant leadership and biblically-based counseling, is one of fieldworkers’ most important roles.

As she encourages Maya, she feels confident, prepared–hopeful.

Animals, tugged by their respective owners, are arriving outside the clinic. The day promises to be full, exhausting, and with never a dull moment.

veterinary professional

African mid-day

By now, the sun is up in Africa as well.

Our CVM fieldworker jostles down a dusty path filled with people headed to market day. He’s excited: Today is opening day of the refresher training for the community animal health workers in this area.

He looks forward to meeting his old friends as they walk in from the countryside, full of stories of the cases they’ve treated–those they’ve shared Christ with.

It seems like just yesterday he met with this group of farmers. They were curious and eager to learn, but lacked confidence. Many were only semi-literate.

Now, thanks to their participatory training methodologies, these farmers are skilled in animal care. Respected by their communities. Confident in both livestock skills and sharing the gospel through Bible storytelling.

As he arrives at the training site, he sees one of the newer missionaries and one of his staff in a heated discussion. He listens and asks a few questions.

Tempers calm. He recognizes what was thought to be deceit and disrespect is really a cross-cultural misunderstanding, aggravated by the language barrier.

After some extended time to explain and gently guide, the fieldworker is relieved when both colleagues are able to genuinely apologize and move on to work together.

It’s not always this easy.

The veterinary fieldworker laughs to himself as he remembers how exaggerated those role plays seemed in the cross-cultural training before he came. Mild compared to the real thing…! he thinks.

Latin American Afternoon

By the time our African worker has finished his training, our Latin American veterinary fieldworker is busy too.

Meetings fill today’s agenda. She started off at a strategy meeting with staff of a partner missions agency. As different staff members question the pros and cons of various approaches to mission, she feels a sense of relief able to bring these points of view together.

It doesn’t always happen, though the Perspectives course definitely helped.

Following the meeting, she heads off to the airport to meet a team of short-term vets and vet students.

On the way back from the airport, the group encounters a poor family begging by the side of the road. One of the short termers asks, “How can you live here and see such poverty every day? How can you not give up in frustration at what little one person can do?”

The fieldworker exhales, knowing this question so well–and now, with so many complexities–in her own heart. How can she encapsulate what she’s experienced, what she’s learned through the “When Helping Hurts” training…?

Maneuvering through traffic, she begins to articulate the true holistic nature of the roots of poverty. How her work addresses those complex issues. About sustainability and basic ways we begin to affect the realities of poverty through wise, compassionate responses in our every day.

With a new team in tow, there is a lot to see and do. It’s late in the day when our fieldworker finally heads home.

…Becomes Latin American Evening

On her porch, she finds the church elders waiting for her. A financial and moral controversy divides them, fissures reaching through the church. Our worker invites them into her living room–weary, yet willing–to pray and to talk through biblical conflict management.

By the time the lights blink out in the living room in Latin America, the temple bells are again starting to ring outside our Asian worker’s apartment.

Another day in the life of a veterinary fieldworker begins.

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