A Shining Spirit- Kayla Mueller

Soon after I started this blog a news story caught my attention and my heart.

A young woman volunteer, Kayla Jean Mueller, was abducted following a visit to a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders


Soon after I started this blog a news story caught my attention and my heart.

A young woman volunteer, Kayla Jean Mueller, was abducted following a visit to a hospital operated by the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Aleppo, Syria.

She was held in captivity by the Islamic State for 18 horrific months with three other American hostages.  Kayla died on February 6, 2015, reportedly following the bombing of a location where she was being held captive.

God hasn't called me to be successful, but to be faithful. quote Mother Teresa



After reading  and watching the news reports about the life-and death- of Kayla, I wrote this.


I cannot think of anything else worth saying today other than to express my sadness  for and sympathy to the family of Kayla Mueller. On  the evening news last night I heard Kayla’s aunt describe her as “noble beyond her years.”

I had never heard of Kayla until a few days ago, but her story touches my heart. I have a son about the same age; and like her, his work and passions take him all over the world. I cannot imagine getting an email like the one her parents received confirming her death.

At only 26 years old, Kayla had already traveled to India, Israel, Palestine and Syria on humanitarian endeavors and in Arizona worked at a women’s shelter and with AIDS patients.

In a letter  to her family from captivity, she expressed regret that she was causing them pain. I hope the memory of this beautiful young woman brings some comfort to their grieving hearts.




Recently while reviewing my older posts, I wondered what happened to Kayla’s family after her death; perhaps someone had written about her, or established a memorial of some sort.

I am pleased to see that Kayla was not  forgotten, and her work was not in vain. I want to let you know what has happened since her capture and murder in 2015.

A Shining Spirit-Kayla Mueller-watercresswords.com





FOR KAYLA is a website devoted to  her  humanitarian projects, including quotes from her blog and the touching letter she wrote to her family from captivity.

Her are just a few of the quotes from her blog and letter.

This really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering. I suppose, like us all, I’m learning how to deal with the suffering of the world inside myself… to deal with my own pain and most importantly to still have the ability to be proactive.


Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. LEWIS





The gardener knows how to turn garbage into compost. Therefore our anger, sadness, and fear is the best compost for our compassion.


merciful God, release us from the time of trial that we may witness grief becoming joy and life rising from death. amen



I have been shown in darkness, light and have learned that even in prison, one can be free.


True liberation is freeing people from bonds that prevent them from giving their gifts to others.






There are links to many news reports about Kayla which you may have seen,  including this moving video by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley

A Reflection on Kayla Muella’s Shining Spirit

angel statue in a cemetery
photo source- Lightstock.com , an affiliate link

Kayla’s Hands


Kayla’s family did indeed establish a foundation in Kayla’s name, which they called Kayla’s Hands  a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation “to further her humanitarian efforts both locally and internationally.” On the website they write this about their daughter-

Kayla devoted her life to helping others. Kayla’s heart was for the innocent children thrown into a life they should never be in; for moms trying to raise them alone and for families that needed help to stay as one; and for the soldiers, reporters and humanitarian workers who have seen such horror as well.

She wanted to help heal wounded hearts, minds and bodies bringing happiness and joy to all she could. It was this commitment that drove her to help victims in shelters near our home in Prescott, Arizona and to leave home for far away places she felt called to help.

She spent her life working for those who needed it most, using her voice to amplify those of others, and standing in solidarity with people as they struggle for their own rights and dignity. Even in captivity, she gave comfort to the Yazidi girls held with her and others suffering around her. If there was work to be done in service to others, she did it.


you cannot love without giving. Amy Carmichael



On the second anniversary of Kayla’s death, her family dissolved the foundation and donated $120,000 to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) an organization Kayla believed in and had worked with.

The foundation also donated funds to

  • Iraqi Bridge/Dr. Mirza , for  work on behalf of the Yazidi victims of genocide,
  • Save the Children , for  work to save the Syrian children and children throughout the world,
  • Syrian American Medical Society/SAMS who continue to work on behalf of Syria’s war victims,
  • Folds of Honor to provide educational scholarships to the families of America’s fallen and disabled service members
  •  Kiwanis Club of Prescott  Arizona who faithfully work “for the kids”.


Kayla Mueller Memorial Endowment Fund

Doctors Without Borders used the donation to establish an endowment fund in her memory. From their website-

“The endowment will be used to support medical and humanitarian aid programs operating in nearly 70 countries and providing care to more than 8 million people every year affected by armed conflicts, epidemics, as well as natural and man-made disasters.”

“By donating to Doctors Without Borders” noted her parents Marsha and Carl, “we can ensure Kayla’s spirit and her legacy of healing is continued in the world.”


Doctors Without Borders map of activities
map showing sites where Doctors Without Borders works, from a recent mailing


Your turn to explore

I invite you to browse the links above to learn more about these organizations and the work they do to bring the HEART of health to people around the world, work that I and this blog consider much needed and worthy of support.

(This blog is not compensated for listing this organizations here.)





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Thank you for exploring the HEART of health with me, please share and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha 

Blessed to be a kid

Blessed to be a kid #Jesus#Matthew19#NLT#TyndaleHouse

Jesus Blesses the Children

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This post featured photos from our volunteer trips  to VietNam, El Salvador, Zanzibar, and Mexico.

Another post for you to consider

Touching lives in Panama-Tuesday Travels

a man making faces at a little girl

Share the HEART of health

Please share this post and follow this blog  for more –

Weekend Words of  faith, hope, and love

(1 Corinthians 13:1)

1 Corinthians 13:13, photo from the Lightstock.com collection (affiliate link)

Have a blessed week. Dr. Aletha 

Voluntourism – Helpful Aid Or Just A Warm Fuzzie?

What to know before you volunteer#volunteer#humanitarianaid#relieforganizations

Master of Something Yet   posted an interesting piece about the value of volunteering  while travelling in other cultures.

Voluntourism – Helpful Aid Or Just A Warm Fuzzie?.

I’ve written here about some of my volunteer trips; based on my experiences I agree with this blogger’s observations that all volunteer trips are not created equal. Some do more good for the volunteer than for those being helped, although that may not always be a bad thing. If you come home more compassionate and passionate about helping others, then maybe it was worthwhile.

Some of the groups I worked with met the criteria  this blogger suggests better than others; those are the ones I worked with a second time.

I encourage you to volunteer, either abroad or in your community.

a basic construction site with bricks
volunteers helping locals to build a medical clinic


a well in a remote site
a community well built and donated by a relief agency and donated



Interested in voluntourism? Here’s what to look for

(summary of points in the article)

  • Is the company offering the project a reputable, well-established company?
  •  Has the project been established in consultation with the local community?
  • Is the project of lasting benefit?
  •  Is the project sustainable?
  • Does the project employ local people?
  •  Where is your money going?




If the opportunity doesn’t measure up, look for something else. There are plenty out there that  need your help.

A local nurse assisted me with a patient encounter in Thailand
A local nurse assisted me with a patient encounter in Thailand

And how often do doctors volunteer their knowledge and skills? Find out here.


Wherever you go, thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me here.

           Dr. Aletha WATERCRESSWORDS.COM-exploring the HEART of health

The doctor will NOT see you NOW

Why doctors run behind-could it be their patients? #WhyIsMyDoctorAlwaysLate

Among the things about medical practice that both patients and physicians dislike, probably the most annoying is tardiness. We have all (and I mean me also) waited much too long in doctors’ waiting rooms and/or exam rooms. Sometimes I don’t mind waiting, at a doctor’s office or anywhere else. It may be the only few minutes of the day I get to sit, relax, read a magazine, or catch up on Words With Friends on my phone. But no one likes having their time wasted.

There are probably as many reasons why doctors run late as there are doctors. Sometimes it’s patient load, practice style, support staff, interruptions, electronic medical records, hospital rounds, emergencies, scheduling pattern.

In this engaging article , Dr. Sanaz Majd describes  a typical family physician’s day- running late of course.

via House Call Doctor : Why Is My Doctor Always Late? :: Quick and Dirty Tips ™.


I once worked with a physician who was habitually late; but his patients didn’t seem to mind, they were loyal, and he always had a full schedule. He took his time and patients knew that when it was their turn, they had his full attention for however long it took.

Ultimately you have to decide how important punctuality is to you and choose your physician accordingly. And if your usually prompt doctor occasionally runs behind, I hope you will be understanding, knowing next time you may be the patient who caused the delay.

Some of the Vietnamese people who waited to see our medical team who travelled there  as volunteers with Vets with a Mission 

Touching lives in Panama-a medical mission trip

I have volunteered on several teams with CompassionLink, an organization that serves to provide


One of the privileges of being a health care professional is travelling to other countries to provide care to under served people. So, I have volunteered on several teams with CompassionLink, an organization that serves to provide


Our team giving medical consultations, dental care, and vision exams for eyeglasses.

two health care professionals, one in a native costume
Dr. Aletha with a local healthcare worker
a makeshift pharmacy at a rural clinic
our team pharmacy
a man making faces at a little girl
one of our nurses entertaining children (he is now a physician)

Visiting the famous Panama Canal

And one of the pleasures of travelling is when our hosts express their appreciation by showing us the local sites and culture. In Panama, of course, that meant a visit to the Panama Canal, an engineering marvel. The landscape and people of Panama are also captivating. Add to that a warm and usually sunny climate, made for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Miraflores Lockes-Panama Canal
Panama Canal ship
cows in a pasture

enjoying a dance performance at our last group dinner before heading home

dancing ladies in native dresses of Panama

How you can touch lives with Compassion

CompassionLink welcomes volunteers for their projects  on either short or long term assignments.

Use their free resource Compassion Link Journal,an international journal of theory and practice in compassion ministries produced by Assemblies of God World Missions.

Buy earrings or a necklace at Jewelry for Hope.

Listen to a free webinar-

Conversation on Compassion Ministry

Thanks for exploring Panama and the HEART of health with me . Please share this post and follow Watercress Words. I appreciate your interest and welcome your comments about this post or just to say hello.

                  Dr. Aletha 
Raymond and Dr. Aletha standing at the Panama Canal