Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - Since 2006, Dr. Tim Fischer, a family medicine specialist in Lincoln and member of St. Peter Parish, has been leading groups of men on humanitarian mission trips to Mexico.
From May 30 to June 6, he and the group will spend a week in Puebla, Mexico helping build homes for needy families.
Before Dr. Fischer began leading humanitarian missions, he helped with medical missions. One year, when another man brought his daughter along with him, Dr. Fischer was inspired and brought his own daughter the next year.
Dr. Fischer said that while his daughter loved her experience, his son was not interested in the idea at all. This motivated him to find a mission trip that his son would enjoy, and led him to the labor-based events that he organizes today.
Dr. Fischer and his son ended up going on four mission trips together.
“There’s nothing like working with your son or daughter on a mission trip,” Dr. Fischer said. “It’s so outstanding.”
Ted Sasse of St. Michael Parish in Lincoln went on a mission trip with his son Alec, who is now in his sixth year as a seminarian for the Diocese of Lincoln.
“It was an experience with my son, Alec, that I will always remember and treasure,” he said.
Sasse said he hopes to do the same mission again in the future after the experience that he was able to have.
“Experiencing the week with my son and being able to have such an impact on a family, was truly an experience I will never forget,” he said.
Dr. Fischer continues to encourage fathers to go to Mexico with their sons as he leads the trip every year. While most of the groups include at least one father/son pair every year, this year’s group has three.
Each year that Dr. Fischer takes groups of men to Mexico, he is able to see the lives of the volunteers change as their eyes are opened to the conditions people live in outside the United States.
“We live in ‘the Shire,’” he said. “We have everything we need at our fingertips. Most of the world does not live like we do.”
Dr. Fischer said he sees two results for those who go with him to Mexico. The first is that people can experience the conditions that other people live in and share their suffering.
“The second is that it’s good for you to see what other people live with. You realize that for these people, it’s their day to day life,” he said.
Each year, Dr. Fischer takes a group of around 15 people, and he likes having the smaller number. It helps everyone to get to know each other better, he said, and it allows him to see the results of the work on the men who go.
“You can tell that people are different when they leave,” he said. “They can see that doing what they did has made an impact not only on their life but the lives of the people they’ve helped.”
The mission trips while rewarding, aren’t easy, and Dr. Fischer makes sure to warn everybody up front. He wants everyone to experience a hard, manual labor job. At the end of the trip, the volunteers are exhausted, but feel refreshed and exhilarated at the same time.
Sasse too mentioned both the hard work and benefits of being involved in such a trip.
He said, “Each day we worked very hard as a team, working on the house. It was hard work, and everyone pitched in and was exhausted each night. There was a lot of bonding and camaraderie. Each night we had a campfire, prayer and laughter.”
For him, seeing the difference that their group made in the life of the family that they built a house for had a significant impact.
“On the day we finished the house, the family wanted to thank us. So, they bought a lamb in the village and cooked it in a pit in the ground as a large meal for us. It was a very unique meal, but one that I will never forget. For people who had so little, this was a great honor to be fed such a great meal,” Sasse said.
Each mission trip ends with a stop at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to view the tilma of St. Juan Diego and attend Mass.
“The experience of seeing the tilma and getting to attend Mass in the basilica is magnificent,” Dr. Fischer said.
Dr. Fischer said he would like to thank all of the nuns and school administrators who accepted his invitation to pray for the missionaries.
“Their response and the success of their intercessory prayers were beyond my hopes,” he said.
So far, 12 people have signed up for the mission trip, and most of them are under 25, a fact that excites Dr. Fischer. There is still room for more people to sign up, and those interested may contact Dr. Fischer at 402-484-3738.