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LDS siblings, nurses serve in Liberia

Family trips with siblings LouAnn, Leon and Lynn Randall don’t include much leisure time because when these siblings get a chance to reunite, they meet up on service missions in third-world countries.

All three are graduates of BYU's nursing program and work as registered nurses. LouAnn, 55, of Pocatello, Idaho, works as a recovery room nurse; Leon, 57, of Chico, Calif., is director of surgery at his hospital; and Lynn, 53, of Maplewood, Minn., is a CRN anesthetist.

Together, the siblings travel across the globe on service missions for Children’s Surgery International, a nonprofit that provides medical services to children in underprivileged areas. Lynn is on the board of directors for the organization and got his siblings “hooked” on service, LouAnn says.

The siblings’ most recent trip was a 10-day mission to Liberia in January.

“It’s fun because we never work together as we all live in separate states,” said LouAnn. “I don’t think I’d seen Leon for two years before we got to Liberia. I enjoy seeing everyone at work.”

The most recent trip included five days of surgery at Firestone Hospital in Duside, with two operating rooms, three surgeons and four surgical tables on the go. The team of volunteers completed 193 operations, fixing cleft palates and lips, hernias and other urological maladies. LouAnn screened patients for surgery, while Leon and Lynn set up the operating rooms.

“We try to get in as much as we can, knowing that there is going to be somebody that gets turned away at the end of it all,” Leon said. “That is the hardest part — to think we could’ve helped one more person if we’d stayed two more hours or three more hours. But the other side of it is that you come home absolutely exhausted.”

While there, the siblings made time to connect with members of the LDS branches in Duside, Liberia. Leon was even able to baptize two young women he met on his first trip to Liberia in 2010.

“My wife and I have sponsored the girls in school, and I took them to church with me last July,” Leon said. “They asked me to baptize them, and now their dad is taking the discussions from the missionaries.”

Leon also received another honor on the trip. He was made a chief in a special tribal ceremony for his work gathering donations of unused medical equipment for the hospital. Since his first visit in 2010, Leon has coordinated the donation and shipment of nine containers of medical goods and equipment. He went to Africa twice last year to unpack equipment and train medical personnel.

“It was very touching to see him receive such a high honor, and he was so surprised,” LouAnn said.

The siblings plan on volunteering for future mission trips, even though they use most of their annual vacation time for the trips and pay a portion of the cost themselves, too.

“It is so rewarding to share this experience with people you grow up with and that you love,” Lynn said. “Just the chance to read scriptures and have family prayer together is special.”

“It really is life changing,” LouAnn adds. “You just come back and you’re so appreciative. We don’t realize everything that we have.”

Natalie Hollingshead is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Orem, Utah, with her husband and two children.