This morning Lia led us in a beautiful prayer centering on compassion. Several team members added their thoughts. The Sisters provided a wonderful breakfast this morning at the convent. It was supposed to be simply coffee - but of course they provided homemade quesadillas, homemade marmalade, fresh fruit and coffee. Fr. Ricardo and the Sisters presented us each with a very special certificate of appreciation for the work we did. It made most of us a little teary-eyed as we gave them goodbye hugs. They truly serve God and all they encounter with great joy and boundless love. Their generous spirit made an impression on all of our hearts. And then we headed on to San Cristobal. The three hour ride was punctuated with bountiful inside jokes and medical humor galore. You would have to be there to understand. We are spending the afternoon walking around this beautiful city. Tomorrow we will start clinics in this area. I hope to have other team members share their impressions and also will try to add some photos. It is nice to have internet at the hotel. Last night I was sitting in a family's living room typing as they watched T.V. They were looking a little bleary eyed as it was past 10 p.m. but were very kind to let us have access. The people of Mexico have all been friendly, happy and helpful. We miss you and love you. God Bless.
A MESSAGE FROM DAWN MADSON - Hello to all of you reading this and thank you to my dear family and friends for your sweet posts - I must say they made me tear up. I can't even tell you how awesome of an experience this has been so far! Truly God's hand has been in every detail of this trip, starting late last summer to present! (And thank you Dr. C for your invite!! I will be forever grateful. But where were the cookies?) I really had no idea what to expect prior to this trip. I had thoughts of course on the potentials but I have been truly amazed this whole time. I don't even know what has been the best part - the people I am traveling with (oh the laughs we have shared!!!), the true love and appreciation of the people we are serving - we speak completely different languages but we are able to understand each other so well - praying together as a group many times has been so awesome as well, the "celebration" that was held in our honor on "main street" in San Juan Monday, or falling completely in love with "Nacho" yesterday at our clinic. A 7 year old little boy who captured my heart.... I guess as I write here it is all of that and just knowing full well that we are here doing what God has placed on all of our hearts to do and doing it with such joy and enthusiasm... yes, that might be my favorite part of this trip so far!
We began our day with prayer down by the beautiful lake a few blocks from our hotel. We reflected on seeing and feeling God’s presence in all of creation. Chef William made us breakfast at the convent featuring Mexican scrambled eggs, toast, tortillas, fruit and fresh juice, so we haven’t been roughing it too much. And it was off to San Juan again. It’s the same village we began our mission work at on Sunday. They also threw us a big celebration last night in which they set our chairs and tables in the middle of the street and the villagers came to honor us. The mayor hired a marimba band which was delivered in the back of the police pickup truck and we all moved to the happy sounds outdoors under the stars. Once in a while a little bit of cloud mist moved in and we felt the chill of the mountain. Everyone enjoyed watching two toddlers show off their dancing skills. To top it off they served us some chicken and specially prepared foods. We were a little nervous about eating the food worried that we might get sick as we are not used to their water – but we are all feeling well. Good is Good!
The clinic ran smoothly today. Everyone is comfortable and confident and a team player. The people we serve are so gentle and sweet. They patiently wait for hours and our doctors are so compassionate and caring. Pain, infections, allergies, and skin problems are probably the top reasons patients have been coming to us today. We are able to help most of them.
Did we mention the weather has been near perfect? Coming from the iceboxes of Minnesota and Wisconsin we should perhaps muster up a bit of guilt. We’ll have to work on that!
Luke Peikert is my pharmacy partner. He is a senior in high school and brings a lot of energy to our group. He is finding that putting his 6 years of Spanish classes to use is a fun challenge. Besides being an expert pharmacy tech already, he has helped to interpret, played soccer with the kids and assisted doctors with injections in joints and knees. He is thinking about being a doctor some day and by all accounts it’s a “two thumbs” up!
Luke’s dad Dr. Johann Peikert is a dermatologist. He majored in Spanish for his undergraduate degree and does his own interpreting. He has been stationed next to the pharmacy for the last two days and it is a joy hearing him speak to his patients with great kindness and wisdom.
I’ll talk more about the rest of our team members on future posts. Before I sign out for this entry, here are a few random thoughts… yesterday we stopped at a roadside gas station. The gas was in big yellow well worn plastic jugs which they brought it over to the van and poured from. I mentioned getting a receipt and the team members laughed as that would not be happening… The Sisters who are hosting us came to the area from Mexico City about ten years ago as missionaries. They are so sweet and lovely. The people highly respect and love them. … The four doctors on the trip all were friends in college. Cathy Davis and Johann Peikert attended Gustavus at the same time. Rich Peller, Patrick O’Reilly, Johann and Cathy all attended the University of Minnesota at the same time. The guys were all in medical school and Cathy who went on to Mayo Medical School was in graduate school at the U at the time, so they have been long time friends. In fact Drs. O’Reilly, Peller and Peikert were all next to each other alphabetically in their class at the U and their lockers were right in a row. Being good friends we have certainly been enjoying an extra dose of their humor!
Well it’s time to sign off. We served 119 patients today working from9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the people were pleased. Luke, Cathy and Dawn made some great friends with the children. One little boy cried when it was time to go home. As you may imagine we are a bit tired. The Missionary Sisters of the Heart of the Eucharist of Jesus Christ the KIng served us a tasty Mexican Taquito meal for supper. We thank you all for your prayers and love!
From Tuxtla to San Juan and on to Copillia
This posting is being typed on Sunday evening. I’m sorry it won’t be on the blog until tomorrow at the earliest. We have just finished our day and there is no internet café open. But rest assured that all is well with our MDP team!
After our Morning Prayer, we left our hotel in Tuxtla at about 7 a.m. The van is loaded with suitcases stacked up to the ceiling. Our driver is very good. We stopped to purchase a few more medicines which actually were needed by patients today. Our drive up into and even in a tunnel through the mountain was spectacular. This area of the Chiapas region supplies about 30% of Mexico’s electricity. We saw a huge hydroelectric dam and very pretty mountain views.
Arriving at our destination in San Juan, we were greeted by a lovely and sweet nun “Hermana Mary.” She is a very tiny little lady with a beautiful smile. We worked out of the village school today, People lined up in long lines for numbers and stayed as long as we stayed anxiously waiting to been seen by the doctors.
It was a very peaceful town and the people are gentle and happy. Many of them deal with severe pain throughout their whole bodies as a result of difficult physical labor and it is good that we can give them some relief. We took information from 107 people and were able to see and help 92. We had even more folks in line who were disappointed when we had to close up our clinic and head back for our 2 hour drive back to Copilla where we are staying. We will return to San Juan for a celebration they are having in our honor tomorrow night after our clinic in another town. Then we will work in San Juan again on Tuesday. It is difficult to have to turn people away but at least we can know that we are doing our best to help as many as we can.
We had supper at the Convent of the Sister of the Sacred Eucharist tonight with Fr. Ricardo of the local parish. The team is working hard and enjoying each other’s company. More later…
The crowing roosters and barking dogs greeted us in the early morning hours. We began with morning prayer on the rooftop of our hotel and reflected on words by Mother Teresa thinking especially about the importance of doing more than talking and thinking about helping those in need. We prayed about serving them and being with them. After a wonderful breakfast at the convent we headed through the mountain for a small community which rarely sees doctors. Our driver took a wrong turn and added some extra time to our trip but we were treated to amazing mountain views for 2 hours. We arrived in Patepec and there were 200 people who had come to the clinic we were setting up. We decided to work through lunch. Some had walked for 3 hours just to get there. The people were genuinely happy and everyone worked hard. The entire team has pitched in to accomplish a lot. We were able to help 83 people before we had to leave. We then traveled back to San Juan and were treated to a wonderful celebration. The entire town put on an appreciation dinner complete with a marrimba band. They even set our dinner table in the middle of the main street. I'm sure we will blog more about that later. After a stop at a pharmacy we came back to the convent in Coapilla and are now heading back to the hotel. I was able to blog tonight because the sisters found someone who brought a special wireless link to the convent just for us. Otherwise there would be no chance. A big hello to our friends and families. Thanks for all of your prayers and support. We love you and miss you!
Our team started gathering shortly after 3 a.m. this morning at the Davis home in Mankato. Johann and Luke Peikert, Stephanie Stokman and Patrick O'Reilly joined us at the airport. We flew to Houston then to Mexico City and finally to Tuxtla, Mexico . Lia's cousin who is a priest met us at the airport and had a van waiting to take us to the hotel which we arrived at about 9 p.m. All in all it was a good day. Everyone on the team is so helpful and excited to be heading out for the clinic in the morning! And yes, we must report that it is a bit warmer here for sure. Special thanks to Lia for her great leadership today. She has been working hard planning this for quite some time and all is well!