THREE LINKS TO CHECK OUT FROM OUR LATEST TRIP TO GUATEMALA -
(Guatemala 2014 Youtube video by Emily Hendel) www.elizabethnora.weebly.com
(A website by Elizabeth Peller & Nora Coughlan)
(A blog by Katie Wallyn of Friends of San Lucas).
This week was amazing and I felt the need to share my thoughts. I think we all can agree that yesterday was a happy day, a fun-filled day. As I began to reflect, my heart was happy, but it began to grow sad. Not because of how anything was going. But it was that word. Going. Leaving. Departing. However you say it, the action is always the same. I felt sad because we have to leave. We can't stay in this wonderful land forever. God put us down here together for a reason. Whether we know it or not. He has assembled this group of 12 according to His liking.
Because I am a nerd I'm throwing in a quote from Wicked: - "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good." I don't think that could be more true. Each and everyone on this trip has touched me, changed me.
I would just like to say a few things about everyone in our group individually.
1.) Sarah - You are a wonderful foreign mom. You are very kind in your ways and what you do. So very caring and gentle.
2.) Emily - I still marvel at how well you can speak Spanish. You would think that after this week I would be able to comprehend it. You're always ready to help and you take your time and make sure your ears are open to whatever needs to be done.
3.) Jen - You can find bandages quickly and wrap them. Your sense of humor is great. I would gladly be your patient any day.
4.) Laura - I wouldn't mind being your patient either. Always ready to check people in and play with the kids.
5.) Dad - You are the reason I am here. Without you I wouldn't have been able to come. Thank You!
6.) Dave - Your dedicating to learning and interpreting Spanish is amazing. Your voice and songs are wonderful too. Especially, "Friends of My Heart" from last night.
7.) Kelli - You certainly are a whiz in the pharmacy. You came right in and started without a doubt. And you were kind enough to always help me when asked.
8.) Emma - You are ever so patient. Especially when you were teaching me how to order food and drinks in Spanish.
9.) Cathy - You are a wonderful shopping buddy. And a wonderful leader. Without you I don't know if we would even be down here.
10.) Helen - The same goes for you. I think you are the most selfless person I have ever met. Always volunteering to do the jobs no one else wants to.
11.) Nora - I'm so glad you were here with me to share this experience. I have a special quote for you - "Much Friend. Such Love!"
I am going to miss all of you dearly. I have to say that I get attached to people easily. I will be giving everyone hugs after this whether they want one or not. Soon some of our group will leave us, as others journey on to Tikal. Either way,, we are going to be thrown back into our lives. I expect it will be hard. But we'll have to manage. We can all rejoice today. For we have served the Lord. And had a great time frankly.
- Elizabeth Peller
Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery. Today is a Gift. That's Why We Call It the Present!
"Buenos dias, buenos dias," was heard every morning from this or that Guatemalan, known or unknown to us gringos. Women with more mouths to feed than they can afford, laughing harder and longer than I feel I ever have. A twice-widowed elderly woman, struggling to walk, always offering a smile and a handshake. These are the people of Guatemala. They are kind-hearted, they are joyful and they are without much - some struggling to survive. So what is their secret? How can they be so kind in a world that has seemingly dismissed them? Well, I wish I had some magical Guatemalan equation to happiness but I do not. Although I have some ideas: SIMPLICITY. Through my close observations, the Guatemalans I have met have three different aspects of their lives: Catholicism, family , and hard work. All three of these values carry such meaning and worth, unlike that which American society sometimes values. There is no "Keeping Up With The Kardashians," no trying always to have the latest Iphone or car or fashion statement. Catholicism has been around since the time of Jesus Christ, family is family and hard work is a value passed down from generation to generation and taught to even the smallest children, who know just how to get your attention through pokes and big brown eyes so you will buy their bracelets. Their values are timeless for sure. And that is what matters.
These are just all thoughts and the truth is I really cannot comprehend how or why they are so full of life and joy. They simply are. All I know is I will be bringing some of that joy back with me tomorrow to good Ol` Minnesota!
- Emma Kind
Today we gave scabicide to a mother and her 6 month old baby boy with the worst case of scabies I have ever seen. We gave Tylenol and amoxicillin to a mother and her 2 daughters with ear infections and strep throat. They had no shoes and the mother asked me with a pained expression what I paid for my shoes and my watch. Caught off guard by her question, I faltered and then not knowing what else to do, I told her: $75 for the shoes and $20 for the watch. She gasped and crossed herself. I felt horrible. Ridiculous. Frivelous. Wasteful.
What are we doing here helping a comparitive few of many very poor people in rural areas near San Lucas with minor ailments: rashes, parasites, infections, aches and pains. Make no mistake, we provide them with help that they need - treatment for a week, maybe a month. It will make a difference in their lives, but then we will be gone. So, how are we making a lasting difference in the lives of these beautiful and proud but heartbreakingly poor people?
I pray that the difference we make is in being here - being present. Seeing. Learning. Recognizing that not as much as we thought seperates the people of San Lucas, from us. We make a difference holding the stories of the people we have encountered close to our hearts and by sharing them with our families and friends at home by continuing to support thte local health efforts that have beeen happening and continue to go on here over the course of decades.
It is amazing and humbling to see all of the work being done by the mission in San Lucas and the many ways that lives of these people are being changed for the better. Our group is a very tiny piece of these efforts but we make up a part of a much greater whole tht has done some very powerful work. It is work that I want to continue to support and be involved in because I, too, have also been changed for the better and will never be the same.
Watch for information soon on the blog about how you can learn about Father Greg and the Friends of San Lucas.
- Emily Hendel
Hola from the intake nurses Jen and Laura. As we prepared for our first mission trip we were clear on many things....do not drink the water, do not pet the dogs, do not use the sink water to brush your teeth. What we were not clear on was that we would be taking more than we are giving. We are blessed to have this opportunity to serve the people of Guatemala and be with such a wonderful team. It was our second clinic day and we were already feeling the routine. Wake up, meet for prayer, eat breakfast at the parish, pile our suitcases in the back of the pickup, pile in ourselves, and hang on for the bumpy ride to our village. We are able to feel the fresh air and observe the culture. The sites of stray dogs and roosters already seem common to us. The roads are narrow and more than once we bumped mirrors passing another vehicle. Most people are seen walking by foot, some without shoes. People welcome us with smiles and waves as we travel through the villages. The children appear most excited to see us coming. Today our destination was Pompojila. Once we arrived we realized the building we would hold clinic in was much smaller than yesterday. We set up the nurses station outside the clinic on a narrow side walk. There were three rooms the size of closets that we used for our exam rooms. The waiting room would only hold about 5-6 people so many had to stand or wait on the stairs leading out to the nurses station. We were able to set up with quick efficency. There were three people already patiently waiting before we arrived We quickly moved around them and opened our suitcases of supplies. We saw 64 patients today. Many of them mothers with children. A couple women were pregnant and one woman came for a pregnancy test and left with a smile as her test was positive. During our slow times we were able to play soccer with the children in the streets and visit as best we can, not knowing Spanish. The children loved any attention we gave them and loved to sit by our table and watch us work. When we had a chance we let them try on our stethoscope and listen to their heartbeat. They beamed from ear to ear. One little boy named Oscar seemed to be outside with us all day. When we were not looking he took a glove and blew it up. We giggled by his mischievous creativity. We gladly tied it at the end for him and let him draw on it with a Sharpie. He turned to show us what he drew, it was a big smiley face. It did not matter that his clothes were ripped, shoes torn, and face covered in dirt.....he was a happy boy. There appears to be many hardships in Guatemala but we do not have to look far to see the smiles of hardworking people. We often see men, women, and sometimes children carrying large heavy piles of wood staked on their back. They will use this to cook and heat their home. Mothers carry their children on their chest or back wrapped in fabric so their hands are free to carry baskets of food. They work so hard for what they have. It is no wonder that so many of the people we see in clinic have aches and pains. As we left clinic today and watched our buddy Oscar run along the side of our truck yelling "Adios," we reflected on the many ways we are serving the people of Guatemala. It is more than meeting the medical needs of the people we present to the clinic, it is serving the needs of anyone we encounter. Somtimes it is just a simple Hola or smile.
Catherine Davis, M.D., Team Co-leader and Medical Provider