Yesterday we went to Panimaquep. I'm not sure if I spelled it correctly but it is pronounced Panimawkeep. We worked in very croweded conditions and the greeter, nurses, pharmacy and one doctor were actually outdoors. The other two docs were in a small room.
Our transportation was pretty interesting. We were crowded into a 10 passenger van. That included 16 people, 5 large suitcases of medicines and supplies, 12 backpacks and yet there was plenty of room for smiles! I did think it reminded me in a good way of how tightly the folks here pack the Church!
The terrain was particularly steep with intermittent bumps and many sharp turns. On the return trip the van was like the "Little Engine That Could" except for a while it couldn't! Actually, with our weight it couldn't make the climb and the driver had to gingerly back down a steep curvy spot. He reved it up and took a run at it and we suceeded.
We set up the clinic in a rather primative area and were forced to explore creative bathroom opportunities. I guess that's all I will say about that. Nick and Teri were playing soccer with some of the kids and the ball went over the hill. They pursued it and gave up since it went into a jungle like area.
We only served 35 people but for those people we did our very best. I am always deeply moved to see how each member of the team shows such respect and sincerity to those they help and serve on this journey. I stood near Dr. Cathy for a while (partly to get out of the sun, since I was getting a bit burned) and I marveled at the connection she and Lia made with the patients. There were smiles galore and an occasional tickle for a small one. She was often on her knees at eye level with the moms or kids and was truly their servant. Beyond the medical help, the genuine care and sense of dignity that we really care is perhaps as important.
I am reminded of a story Fr. Russell shared years ago about a man who was walking along a seashore. There were many, many starfish that had washed up on the beach. He was walking along and tossing the starfish back into the ocean one by one. Another person came along and asked why he was doing that since he would never get them all back into the water. The man kept tossing them back and simply said, "Well, it made a difference for that one." And that is how we must think. If we can make a difference for even one person it is worth the effort. And we know it also makes a difference in our hearts. It is a good journey. Thanks for sharing this medical mission with us!
By the way, I got out of doing dishes this morning to write the blog. Thanks Susan! The rest of the team worked hard doing dishes for about 50 people who ate breakfast at the parish center.