For the past six years, Vickie Cox has traveled to volunteer in countries ravaged by poverty where she works as a medical missionary.
TMOM: Why Haiti?
VICKIE COX: It just always felt right to me. I felt like God was telling me that this was my place. I took other missionary trips – Ecuador, Panama, Thailand, Myanmar. But somehow I kept returning to Haiti.
TMOM: In addition to your work as a nurse, I understand you have another passion, working with youth?
VICKIE COX: Yes. I love to work with high school and college-age students. Groups of them come to Haiti for a few weeks at a time looking to be of service. If they are interested in the medical field, I let them accompany me as I do my work. Give them a taste of what it’s like to live and work in a third-world country.
TMOM: We hear all the time how dangerous it is in Haiti. Have you ever been afraid for your safety?
VICKIE COX: Not at all. I live in the far northwest – a long way off from the violence that can affect places like Port au Prince. People think I’m crazy for living in Haiti, but I try to explain that it’s not as bad as the media makes it out to be. If it were a violent location, I’d never allow my son to come and visit.
TMOM: How old was your son the first time you went to Haiti?
VICKIE COX: Cody was 15 when he went on his first mission trip and 21 when he went to Haiti for the first time..
TMOM: Was it hard being away from your son when he was younger?
VICKIE COX: At times it was very hard. I’d be gone for two or three week stretches, so sometimes I would miss important things. I remember this one basketball game – Cody played basketball his freshman year in college and he played this great game where he won the whole thing with a last second three-point shot. And I missed it.
TMOM: How did you feel about missing it?
VICKIE COX: I cried. I thought to myself, what are you doing here in Burma? That’s where I was at the time – Burma. I thought, “Go home and be a mom.” And it was even worse the time he got very sick during college and had to be rushed to the ER for surgery. I felt horrible that I wasn’t there. But the calling to do this missionary work is so strong that sometimes I have to leave my son in the hands of God and the many other people who love him.
TMOM: How do you feel that your time in Haiti has affected Cody?
VICKIE COX: I think there have been a lot of positives. People tend to focus on what Cody’s missing with his mom being far away, but look at what he’s gaining. His visits to Haiti have given my son some real perspective. Helped him realize how little people in countries like this have and how materialistic we are in the United States.
TMOM: Have you been criticized regarding your parenting?
VICKIE COX: Some people in my life were surprised that I moved to Haiti while my son was still a student. But he was fine with it and besides, he’s an adult. And the fact is, God was calling me now.
TMOM: How can you be sure that God has called you to live in Haiti?
VICKIE COX: Because of the overwhelming feeling of peace that comes over me whenever I’m there. Think about it – if I didn’t feel that God was calling me to this place, this life, why would I be there? In my previous life, I made good money, had phenomenal benefits, was surrounded by friends and family. In Haiti, I can’t even take a hot shower, and I regularly see poverty, illness, and death. God is definitely what is keeping me there.
TMOM: How often do you get to come back to the States?
VICKIE COX: The mission encourages us to return quarterly to make sure we don’t get burned out on all that we see and do in Haiti. It’s a chance to get refreshed and to see family and friends.
TMOM: What is your must pack item when returning to Haiti?
VICKIE COX: I’d have to say my Bible and my iPhone. What a combo – the best of the spiritual and technological worlds.
TMOM: Is it hard to say goodbye when you have to go back?
VICKIE COX: It’s very hard. Especially with Cody.
TMOM: All the traveling that you’ve done as a missionary – have you viewed it as an opportunity to see the world?
VICKIE COX: Yes and no. I’ve certainly seen parts of the world I never would have if not for my job as a missionary, but they’re not the parts of the world I would’ve chosen if it were just a matter of wanting to travel.
TMOM: What advice can you offer to other moms who travel to volunteer?
VICKIE COX: I’d tell them not to see the time they have with their kids as limited, but as even more special than it would be if they were around all the time. Beyond that, I’d tell them to spend a lot of time in prayer and trust in God’s plan for their lives. It’s what I do every single day.