My Volunteer Story: Alyson Rockhold
Alyson Rockhold’s passion to serve others began at an early age, guiding her to a career as a physician assistant. It also led her to her husband, Brian Rockhold – someone who shares the same passion to serve. Together, they will volunteer at the Mwandi Mission Hospital in Zambia.
A while ago, I was at my nephew’s preschool graduation and when their teacher introduced each child, she also shared what they wanted to be when they grew up. I loved their answers – space ninja, unicorn, superman, a teacher, a mommy, a firefighter.
You could see how their choices were influenced by both the people around them and their imaginations. As I sat in the audience, I realized that I was not too much older than those preschoolers when I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up – a missionary serving in Africa.
This career choice started after hearing exciting stories from George Vinton, a neighbor who grew up as a missionary kid in the Congo. I loved George and his wife, Dawn, and over the years they came to be something like my adopted grandparents. I admired their faith and loved how their stories opened me up to a world much bigger than the one I lived in.
The Vinton family continued to shape my calling when I took a semester off from college to teach English in Tanzania, at a school started by their son and daughter-in-law. It was during those few months that my childish dreams began to fade away and a true sense of calling started to emerge. Thanks to my students and new friends in the village, I discovered a passion to alleviate physical suffering and serve the medically under-served.
So, I returned to college with a new major in biology and a slightly altered career path – an international health worker!
The next big step in my journey came in the final year of my physician assistant and public health masters program. I had reached a point where the stress of the program seemed nearly unbearable. In fact, my own parents suggested that I might need to quit in order to keep my sanity.
Late one night, I realized that I was truly at the end of my own strength. In desperation, I prayed for God to help me and promised that if I was able to successfully finish the program, then the degree was God’s and not mine. That moment of deep humility and need has been a touchstone for me throughout my career. It has made it easy to leave high paying jobs in the states to volunteer in developing countries. It has kept me free from entanglements of pride and reminded me to ask at every crossroad, “God, how do you want me to use what you’ve given me?”
The answer to that question led me to complete an internship in Uganda, volunteer for two years in Tanzania, and spend four months at a malnutrition clinic in Haiti. On each assignment, God has proven faithful to shine His strength into my weaknesses and fill what I lack.
God has also brought me wonderful gifts of cross-cultural friendships and a broader worldview. In 2017, God gave me His best gift yet, my wonderful husband. At the very center of our marriage is a deep desire to live out our faith in service to others and to share the love that God so selflessly pours out on us with both each other and the world.
So when we read about CMMB’s commitment to providing healthcare with dignity, respect, and love to communities affected by poverty, we knew that God was opening a new door and we are so excited to be walking through it!