April 8, 201
Hola from San Lucas Toliman! Our group of 8 is having a wonderful time here in San Lucas. We are experiencing cooler than normal temperatures and a few cloudy days, but today was FANTASTICO; and I think there were a few slight sunburns in the group. A highlight of our trip overall is the fortune to have Sarah Peller as our volunteer contact down here, and a nice reunion for Susan and her daughter! Our days have been busy, but delightful. We have three providers with us and our clinic days have been consistently busy and a nice pace. We have enjoyed the partnerships we are making with the Guatemalan people, as well as the community health promoters. I feel we are involving them much more in our clinical decisions than on my past trips, and this means that our partnerships are growing. This is a positive in knowing that the people are increasing their trust in us and growing respect for the hard work of the health promoters in each community we visit.
The majority of the health conditions we are seeing are coughs, colds, rashes, obstetrical issues, and some poor nutrition concerns. The Guatemalans are very positive and are welcoming in the recommendations offered for medical care. We treat approximately 50-65 patients per day of clinic. We have made a few house calls and a few referrals to the hospital and the providers have been awesome to work with.
Not only are we here to offer medical advice, but also to further our partnerships with those we serve and continue to expand the trust they have in us as visitors. I was fortunate to have my 17 year old son come along. He is working in the pharmacy and he is also assisting in fellowship with the Guatemalan youth. A game of futbol breaks out at each clinic and the children come running when the “pelota” (soccer ball) hits the field. The field is typically a dirt area with 2 soccer goals, no nets, and lots of dust. If there are no nets, then 2 large rocks are laid down for goals and the game begins. The kids simply love playing and they especially love playing with Colin. He is twice their height and has some good soccer skills and someone new to play the game with.
Tomorrow is our last clinic day. I plan on separating from the group to work at the hospital in San Lucas in the Physical Therapy department. They have been without a physical therapist for a few weeks so patients have been missing their programs. Colin is also going to check out some of the construction projects with some of the other mission volunteers, simply to see what other service is being done through the Friends of San Lucas Mission. Should be another great day!
Today was our day off, Sunday, but I’ll just call it a day of adventure. After mass and breakfast we headed out on the lake. Our first stop was Panajachel and the extreme zip lining at the nature reserve!! Not all of us chose to zip line but several did. It was definitely extreme with breathtaking views of the lake!
Afterwards we went to an awesome lunch spot recommended by Alejandro. He is a former Stanford student who has set up an EMR (electronic medical record) that we have been using. It is very easy to use and will be much more efficient for continuity of care than the index cards. Tomorrow is our last clinic day and that always brings a bit of sadness.
Thank you for all the prayers and support back home.
We had our second clinic today in Xejuyu, a village we have visited several times before. Our team is running smoothly. Everyone works together well and there are many smiles and laughs throughout the day. We had the opportunity to serve 57 patients today and 63 yesterday in San Andres.
One vision which has stuck with me all day is that of one of my patients from this morning. She was a small 70 lb. 63 y/o woman who had headaches and was dizzy. Her real problem was she was hungry and couldn’t afford any food to eat. Her husband was ill and couldn’t work and her daughter had died. It sounded like most of their food came from a neighbor on occasion. My thought was how is my acetaminophen going to help her? And yet she expressed such deep appreciation for the visit and the acetaminophen. Yet what she desperately needs and we couldn’t provide is a steady source of food. And so again at the end of the day I am reminded of the difficulties of poverty but I will not be indifferent.
Being down here opens our eyes to the challenges many people face.
Tonight we had the opportunity to hear Andres speak about the Mayan people and life on the finca. His vest for life and the story of his past are truly inspirational.
Tomorrow in the afternoon we will do the "day in the life of the Mayan" class at the Women’s Center.
Good night for now.....
Early this morning amidst a few scattered snowflakes we left Mankato at 2 am and our adventure began. It was a long but uneventful day. We sailed through customs in Guatemala City and Adrian was waiting for us.
Our drive to the mission brought us past the familiar burning fields of sugar cane and the occasional not-so-pleasant smell of rubber trees burning. We are now settled in at the Iquitui. All of us need a good night sleep.
A bit about our team:
Katie and Samira will be working intake. Emily, Cathy, and myself are providers and we have 3 pharmacy specialists: Michele, Amy, and Colin. Michele is a physical therapist so she will also be treating many of our patients with muscle pain. Amy is also a nurse so she will, as usual, be wearing many hats.
We are all thankful for this opportunity and appreciate all the support back home.
Please keep us in your prayers. We are off to a great start!
Packed and ready to go!!
We are set and ready to go and as another snow approaches Minnesota. We are hoping to get out before too much of it flies.
We have packed up our supplies, received the red stamp, and are excited to head to the land of eternal spring.
Our team consists of 5 returnees and 3 travelers who have never been to Guatemala.
We look forward to serving the beautiful people. We will try to post pictures along the way.
Please keep us in your prayers!