What a trip! This was a wonderful gift for all of us, wasn't it, Dream Team? We had the privilege of leaving the work, worries and obligations of our daily responsibilities, to go experience, understand and appreciate a completely different way of life. (We thank our families from the bottoms of our hearts for letting us do so.) Not only did we step into the lives of our Guatemalan friends, but we stepped into each other's as well. By leaving our busy, self-focused lives at home, we were able to walk beside, aid and learn from the precious Maya. We were also able to learn, from a collection of talented, kind, wise and unique gringos, things that we wouldn't have taken time to learn at home. We had tremendous interpreters!
One was Carol, a seasoned, humble jack of all trades, frequent MDP flier, excellent communicator, fun/ny, smiley, and wise. She was he backbone our our communication strategy. Pamela was our other interpreter. We got to share with her the fulfillment of the dream of coming down to work in Latin America. She herself was a Chilean, and deep down had a connection with them as she does with us. She offered us great perspective of a loving, Latino heart among us. It's an awfully warm and big heart, at that, and it was special to us to have that connection.
We had a terrific, hard-working nurse Leah bringing in a different medical perspective than the doctors, and because we were such a true team with no pretenses, she was able to offer good and wise perspective that may not be as readily heard on a typical day at work at home. Her motherly kindness was a sweet witness as well, and her irreverence, a comic relief.
Our pharmacists were highly educated, very experienced non-medical people, named Trisha and Dick. They were like mom and dad. They offered all sorts of wisdom in story, as well as example. They're sweet temperaments and wisdom both came from the years of experience between them. We must learn ourselves to be wise and to listen to their carefully offered teaching so that we can do better our time around.
Then there are those doctors. Interesting how they cover stress with humor. Much humor. The guys laughed to the point of tears almost every night. Cathy took the people head-on at intake. Always available for Pediatric consultation, she was our our point person. With her exceptionally deep passion and commitment to these people, that was right where she belonged. She questioned her ability to lead us well, and our resounding answer was, "yes!" John, a hilarious stand up comedian on the side, could not hide from us the fact that he has a deep, compassionate heart, and highly analytical mind, and he refreshingly questioned whether what and how we are doing things is the best way. We are wise to take time and review that. And lastly, Rich was our team and spiritual leader. Besides his known excellent medical talents, he shined too in his leadership. I have known well this fine man for 26 years, and he has become the fatherly leader and friend that anyone, certainly I, would want going into battle. As for me, it was my third trip. It's incredible every time! Thanks everybody for all the impact! Johann
April 23,2012 - Pampojila
Today was our last clinic together. As usual we finally get things going smoothly just as we are finishing up. A well-oiled machine. Tricia and Dick set up the pharmacy and get “help” from everyone but never get upset from our “input." We were in a small clinic with 3 rooms. John and Patricia were in one, Jo in another and the pharmacy in the last. Carol and I were in a small hall outside the bathroom.
We saw about 45 people and had to leave early to have a tour of the parish and the activities it supports to help the Mayan people help themselves. The day was beautifully sunny with a perfect temperature.
Our group has come together so well. As Carol put it, we started as acquaintances and finish as friends. Jo and John have not let anyone get away without playful teasing – both patients and teammates alike. It has kept things wonderfully loose and has allowed us to get to know each other better. They even got Jesus Antonio (the stoic medical coordinator from the parish) to smile and giggle a little. A feat rarely accomplished by MDP members. We did get him to play some soccer some soccer on Saturday.
The word that has continually come to me this week is Faith:
Faith in our MDP leaders – who did a great job making sure we had everything we needed.
Faith in each other.
Faith in following our call to come here.
Faith from the people who come to see us that we will help them and they are incredibly thankful for anything we can do.
Faith in our Lord who has given us the opportunity to show His work through us.
Thank you to all of you who have helped this week become a reality by your thoughts and prayers and your Faith in us. We will see you soon
- Rich Peller
MDP would like to express a special thanks to the Mankato Clinic Foundation for the $2000 grant which greatly helped in our ability to buy medicines for our three medical mission trips this year. We also would like to thank everyone else who has donated towards this mission to provide free medical care to those in need. It really helps people and we are grateful!
I always feel rather ill-qualified for the work of an interpreter for MDP and their Guatemalan patients; they deserve the best, but they welcome me in spite of my limitations. Basically, I like to get things right…but that doesn’t always happen.
Today, for example, my confusing-but-quickly rectified mistake was to tell a woman that her darling 3-year-old son had and ailment that I described in Spanish as “gossip.” Surprisingly enough, she hadn’t heard of that malady. As recently as last November, I actually knew the Spanish term for “heart murmur” (“soplo”), but today my memory failed me and I had to turn to technology, which, understandably, translated the English “murmur” into the Spanish “murmura.” Yup, that little kid simply had a case of “gossip.”
While the mom and the boy were still being examined by Dr. Cathy Davis, I told Jesus Antonio, the parish health coordinator that Cathy had asked if the boy could be scheduled for an ultrasound. Fortunately, I learned that Jesus Antonio and the mother were well aware of the boy’s heart murmur and, in fact, he is on a list to have a small surgery to help him out.
Now this was a sort of humorous story up until this point. But here’s the pathetic part: This child won’t be able to have the surgery until his family can afford to get him a ride to the hospital and back.
All of a sudden, my limitations seem few compared to this innocent and deserving little guy,
Lord, I truly don’t understand the inequities of our human lives. Please teach me to be grateful for what I have, while at the same time to do what I can for others.
So, for new readers of the blog, what’s it like here? On the outside, we see small villages, narrow roads with holes and ruts and broken cobblestone. Tiny homes are made of the most meager materials, with stray dogs and cats that run uncontrolled. Constant cooking-fires burning in the homes make sooty buildings everywhere, and cover the smells of the flowers and the rest of the wild. Busy markets clamber for business, with hope and hopelessness ever present everywhere. Hard-working women and men toil with endless days and fatigued, aching bodies and minds. All this they have in and among a wide array of the most vivid colors of the rainbow in the midst of a gorgeous forest.
Oh, but you’d like what’s on the inside! Those rutted roads are lined with endless activity, noise and laughter, with beautiful children everywhere and faces eager to smile and say, “Buenos dias.” Their homes are filled with love and faith, enough to hold up any weaker exterior, with reverence and humility as a strong foundation. The endless fires indicate the hard work the women are doing to cook and care for the family, the smell a constant sign of their tireless work and love. The men beam with pride as you acknowledge simply their hardworking nature. Families are still number one here, a close-knit unit, with faith as bricks and love as mortar. We see thankful smiles and hear thoughtful blessings, as we see Jesus in their eyes. Poverty has not triumphed over everything.
We have a wonderful team of missionaries eager to demonstrate the Gospel, equipped with love and care, each one clearly bringing unique gifts that are a blessing to the team and the people alike. We laugh and some sing (beautifully, I might add, Carol) and we make sunshine even in the rain. No doubt this mission is every bit from God to us, as it is God to them.
With big smiles and hearty laughs, as we drive down the little, broken highway, in the mountains and valleys of the most beautiful forest, we celebrate to have found a new group of brothers and sisters among us—Gringos and Guatemalans alike. Wish you were here!
- Johann Peikert
Today we went to the village of “Porvenir.” Our clinic’s location was one of the most comfortable. We had enough room for everything. People started coming slowly but come they did. 42 people were seen by our clinic by the end of the day. There were slow moments so some of us started playing with the children that hang around the clinic which is a fantastic way to rejuvenate and lift the spirit. One thing I have seen is how grateful and appreciative the people are when we show up. Dr. Benson and I—Pamela—made a house call to a lady that just had a biopsy. Her incision was checked and band aid replaced. The lady was grateful and extremely appreciative of our visit. It puts you in such a humble and graceful place when you visit a person who lives in a two-bedroom home with no windows or doors. Three generations living in this home but yet she has such a peaceful and loving spirit.
When it was time to pack up it started raining - raining hard. We travel in the back of an open pickup with the suitcases full of medicine. So all nine of us jumped into the back of the pickup and held on as we drove away with the rain falling on us, wind blowing on us and Carol Diethelm telling jokes! An adventure you have to experience to understand. There is tremendous love and compassion that flows from this group of volunteers. I watch and admire the gentle and caring way they care for each patient and it is an honor to be part of this mission trip. Tomorrow is another day and another adventure awaiting us.
April 19, 2012
Day 2 of clinic at the village of Xejuyu* brought us many patients and some new friends. We saw about 85 people and surprisingly enough only one of those patients was an adult male—the rest were all women and children.
The day started out a little slow but picked up greatly after lunch and we were able to see all the patients that came to the clinic. I (Leah) am actually starting to speak and even understand some Spanish and was able to give instructions to mothers re: lice treatments for their children—although after about 8 treatments it was beginning to become second nature.
As this is the first mission trip for me, I am enjoying the beautiful countryside and all of the different challenges the days bring. I have greatly enjoyed the different culture and learning about the different villages throughout the trip thus far. I am moved to serve and happy to be here! I am so glad that I have made this trip and thank my family and those that helped make it possible for me to be here… I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
*Xejuyu is pronounced like “shay-who-you”
Carol adds - As an aside...As Jesus Antonio, our coordinator from the parish ushered in our last patient yesterday--a gal who had been helping out--he said, "She has pain in her head, shoulders, knees and toes" -- an overt/successful attempt at humor! (Of course, John Benson and I responded by singing it...) Big smiles!
April 17, 2012
Our group of nine MDP volunteers arrived Tuesday afternoon with a surprising amount of ease. We didn’t have the all-important “red stamp” in hand but made it through customs without incident. Enjoyed a brisk 3-hour ride to San Lucas, where we were greeted by Lauren, the short-term long-term volunteer; she had just arrived herself for the gig 3 days prior. We ate at the parish and settled in Hotel Iquitiu for a welcome rest.
April 18, 2012
San Juan Mirador
Wednesday morning broke into sunshine early, and we met for prayer and information-sharing before going to a breakfast of oatmeal, omnipresent (but lovely) frijoles (black beans), bread and freshly made strawberry preserves. We embarked on our adventure to San Juan Mirador—about 30 minutes away—and set up in a small school room, complete with mini tables and benches, which served us well.
As we set up the pharmacy, we noticed that we had left one of the pharmacy bags back at the hotel. Major OOPS! So we sent Dick and the local health promoter on a microbus to the hotel and back. Consequently, we got a slow start, but were able to see 40 appreciative and patient patients. We topped off the day with a visit to Parma, MDP’s favorite ice-cream shop…and a bit later, a Gallo before dinner.
Thanks for the support of our families, friends, contributors and all of the people who are praying for us! We couldn't do this work without YOU!
Cathy Davis, M.D., Co-leader & Intake