“I didn’t choose missionary work. It chose me,” says Latieia Key. She’s been to Haiti four times (twice in 2013); she’s also been to Zimbabwe and the Dominican Republic. And she’s going to go back to Haiti again this year. Latieia Key says in her own words that she’s “fallen in love with missionary work.” She sees it as doing God’s work here on earth, and she’s not scared to travel to some of the world’s most deprived areas.
In Texas, Latieia is a Registered Nurse; she has a Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Texas (Arlington). She’s a devoted wife and loving mother. She’s a member of Christ Gospel Church of Dallas, and there, she’s the Bible Quiz director, working with the youth to compete in learning the Word of God.
But in addition to being a good American citizen, she explains why she feels like missionary work is a divine calling for her. “God has blessed me with knowledge, skill, and experience. I’m honored and humbled to be able to serve Him and do His work in some of the most impoverished places on earth.” Latieia works primarily with pediatrics, which is critical as so many children in developing countries contract diseases that can often be fatal. Her area of expertise is helping sick children immediately before and after they undergo major surgery. This means she has a lot of contact with patients and their families.
She’s been happily using her own vacation days to help assist other healthcare professionals help those in need for over five years. “I don’t need my time off – what am I going to do with it anyway?” She says that these mission trips require very long hours and that participants don’t get much sleep. “It’s not a vacation, but it’s so rewarding that you keep going back. I love it every time I go.”
She went on to explain that one of the doctors she works with in Texas had regularly been performing missionary work abroad for many years, and he invited her to come along five years ago. The visit opened her eyes to the immense blessings Americans have and to the tremendous difficulties and hardships that people in other countries face. It awakened a calling inside her to help people who otherwise might not have any other opportunity to receive good quality medical care. She says, in her own words, that she “immediately fell in love with doing missionary work.”
“Americans are so blessed in so many ways – particularly when you look at the standards of medical care and good food available.” She explained that some Americans might be annoyed if they had to wait in a doctor’s office for more than an hour. But it’s not uncommon for people in Haiti and other countries to wait for days to be seen by a doctor. Moreover, the hospitals do not supply food or drinking water for patients. Families must supply this for their loved ones who are in the hospital. If patients can’t get food and water from their families, they are often put in side rooms and left on their own – some of whom die of complications. Also, the hospitals in these countries have very limited facilities and lack modern equipment one would find in the West. But she and her colleagues make do with whatever’s available.
She also informed us that many people in Africa and Haiti look down on children who are born with deformities, such as cleft palates or other facial tumors. Some people in the community shun these people, and sometimes parents may even abandon these children. A major part of work that these doctors perform is correcting cleft palates, which not only fixes the health-related aspects, but it gives the patients a shot at a relatively normal life that they otherwise never would have had. Latieia describes how the mothers of these children come up to her, throw their arms around her, and weep. They pray for her, and bless her and the doctors. Mothers say, “My child is beautiful now. She’s beautiful.” And in these moments, Latieia is hit with a profound sense of gratitude and humility. There aren’t many opportunities that someone can make such a profound and tremendous impact on someone else’s life, but she’s able to do that every time she goes abroad to help others.
In fact, her husband, moved by his wife’s tremendous and inspiring stories, has started going on these missionary trips as well. Bruce Key is a respiratory therapist and holds a degree in cardiopulmonary science. During missionary trips, he helps make sure that people are breathing properly during and after surgery, and often manages the anesthesia equipment. Continually managing the equipment and monitoring patients’ breathing means that Bruce doesn’t get to spend much time with the patients he serves. But he did get to feed one infant who had been suffering from breathing problems after surgery.
Latieia will be traveling again to Haiti next month, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. We look forward to hearing more inspiring and amazing stories.