Colleen Farrington, RN, leads a double life.

Colleen Farrington, RN, leads a double life.
She’s a staff nurse in the Cardiac Step-Down Unit at Mt. Carmel Medical Center, working with patients who have suffered heart attacks, undergone heart cauterizations or who have other heart-related issues. Previously she worked in a cardiac rehabilitation unit at Lake Regional Health System, Osage Beach, Mo.
She moved to Pittsburg 18 months ago to be near her son and his family.
“I have three grandchildren, and what a joy they are,” she said. “One of them is in high school, and I watch him play ball. The other two are pre-school  age.”
That’s half her story. The other half is that since 1986 she has been taking regular mission trips to St. Louis Du Nord, located on the northwest coast of Haiti.
Actually, the mission work led her into nursing. She formerly lived in Hume, Mo., where her husband, who died three years ago, ministered at a church. Through the church she and her husband became involved with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.
“I had gone on four mission trips, and each time worked with a medical team,” Farrington said. “Then I felt God was calling me to nursing, so I would be able to work with the team on a whole different level. I went to nursing school and got my diploma.”
She makes at least one mission trip to Haiti a year, and sometimes goes twice.
“I completed my 23rd trip in March,” Farrington said.
She was blessed to make her first trips with her beloved husband, and they became close to a Haitian family.
“I’ve supported the family for 14 years now,” Farrington said. “The first child in the family was in our mission nutrition program, so I supported him, and the next year I found out he had a little brother. Now there are four children in the family, and I’m putting them through school.”
She cherishes the memory of a “special year” when she and her husband built a home for this family. Before they had lived in a house with a dirt floor and thatched roof.
“I play games with the children, I learn Creole from them and they learn English from me,” Farrington said. “They’re my family away from home. It’s fun to get off the bus and see their faces light up.”
In her most recent trip, she met another special child, a 15-month-old boy who weighed eight pounds, 14 ounces.
“His mother was in good shape, but we couldn’t seem to make her understand that her child was starving,” Farrington said. “Finally, she gave us permission to raise him in the orphanage that is part of our mission, where she can come and see him any time she wants.”
However, the orphanage wouldn’t take the baby for two weeks, to be sure that he didn’t have any infectious diseases he could spread to the other children.
“I took care of him for those two weeks, and fed him every two hours,” Farrington said. “When he came in, he was virtually lifeless, but after five days after we got him, he started smiling. I got an e-mail recently, and he now weighs 14 pounds.”
Her medical team does classes, brings in medications and does medical clinics.
“In March, a surgical team was coming in after our team, and we were able to refer people to them so they could be seen,” Farrington said.
However, the medical care is only part of what the mission teams provide.
“Helping people physically doesn’t meet their needs in the long run,”  Farrington said. “It’s the relationship with Jesus that matters.”
She said that she would encourage everyone to go on a mission trip.
“It’s a life-changing experience,” Farrington said. “You don’t have to be a medical person — we all have different talents.”