International medical mission trips a calling for Oakmont nurse
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of an occasional series featuring Alle-Kiski Valley residents and the notable things they do.
Laurel Houck uses medicine and faith to help heal the bodies and souls of people overseas.
“The main thing is, medicine is a hook to bring people in so we can pray for them,” Houck, 69, of Oakmont said. “We just really want to introduce them to Jesus. It’s very interesting because we see things that are common with the human condition.”
Houck, a 1968 Gateway High School graduate, has served as medical liaison for the South East Asia Prayer Center in Oakmont the past 10 years.
It is a Christian-based global organization founded by resident Mark Geppert that is dedicated to changing lives through prayer.
Houck learned about SEAPC from Geppert while at Riverside Community Church in Oakmont.
“This is God’s call in my life,” Houck said. “It’s about building relationships with people and by building relationships we’re able to sustain those (connections).”
Houck and her husband, Harry Mundorff — both registered nurses — go on medical mission trips for SEAPC. They’ve been to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, Haiti, Kashmir and other places in hopes of healing the sick.
“We go where the need is,” Houck said. “Sometimes we serve in villages, sometimes we serve in prisons. We traveled internationally before God called us into missions. I have absolutely no desire to take a vacation. I just want to do this for as long as I can.”
Houck has been a nurse for 49 years with work experience from places like Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, UPMC Presbyterian hospital and South Miami Hospital in Miami.
She studied nursing at the former Columbia Hospital in Wilkinsburg in 1971. It’s now part of Allegheny Health Network. Houck graduated from La Roche College in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The North Hills area school recently changed its name to La Roche University.
Houck’s original love was writing. She has put pen to paper since age 6 and recently published a young adult novel called “The Girl With Chameleon Eyes.”
It is inspired by her granddaughter, Mischa Wiesemann, 22, of New Kensington. Her eyes change colors.
The story is about Summer, a teenage ghost searching for closure for something she did in a past life. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book outlets.
A talk with her high-school guidance counselor put Houck on the path to nursing. She credits her parents for instilling a strong work ethic.
“They raised me to be an independent woman,” she said. “My parents were very hard workers. My mother’s still alive and likes to get things done.”
Houck also helps establish funding streams for SEAPC medical initiatives. Her latest project is rebuilding the John Bishop Memorial Hospital’s School of Nursing in Kashmir, India. The project’s estimated to cost $185,000.
People who want to donate to the project or learn more about the organization can go online to seapc.org.
Those interested in medical mission trips can email Houck at [email protected].
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .