We have just returned to our hotel in San Cristobal after another busy clinic day. We are truly an exhausted bunch! Today we again traveled off the regular roads most people use and snaked around up and down the mountain to the town of Pajalton Bajo which was actually farther down the mountain from Pajalton Alto which we served two days ago. Several of you reading this blog have commented on our mountain experience yesterday which Patrick wrote about. I am happy to assure you that although we traveled to an extremely remote indigenous Tzotzil village enduring a steep, bumpy ride - we had no close calls or thrills of that sort today.
We were able to serve 75 patients and worked just outside of their church. People came in their wool clothing; women and girls in their skirts and the men in traditional dress - many wearing hats. The beauty of their smiles and gentle ways melts our hearts every time. Although I will be posting pictures soon from our past few days it is important that we share a little about these people. Many villagers do not look you in the eye. It is their sign of respect as passed down in their tradition. Also, they believe that if you take a photograph of them, it will take their spirit or soul. While many great National Geographic type of photo opportunities happened, we took very few pictures out of respect for them and even then only with their permission. Believe me the images of them will be imprinted on our hearts.
This is the third day in a row in which we worked either inside or outside of a church. It gave our team a sort of sureal feeling to be tucked far from civilization, in the midst of tremendous mountain beauty and face to face with these fellow human beings who barely eek out an existence. As our team has prayed together we have often shared the feeling of knowing that we see Christ in the eyes of those we are serving. In the United States our wait to see a doctor is usually not very long. In the remote regions of Mexico they may wait for months or years to have a doctor examine them. And so they lined up each day we held clinic and waited. Mothers and babies, old women and old men, children of the village. Young girls with babies on their backs. Some were dirty. Many wore tattered clothes and had poor teeth. They were often bare-footed and perhaps had walked for 3 or 4 hours. They came to stand patiently and wait. And they held their heads with a sense of dignity - their shoulders straight and although short by our standards they stood tall. Archbisop Desmond Tutu in his book "God Has A Dream" reflected on this feeling as he wrote - "Our world is better because of the life and witness of a Mahatma Gandi, of a Mother Teresa, of an Oscar Romero, of a Nelson Mandela. They are notable examples of the altruistic spirt that does good things... for the sake of others, for the sake of the world. But behind every Gandi, every Mother Teresa, every Romero, every Mandela, there are millions of people who are living lives of love and heroism. I have had the privilege to meet many of them around the world. The heroes are often poor and disenfranchised people whose nobility always amazes me. When you meet up with people in shacks who,living in such dehumanizing circumstances, you are expecting would have lost their sense of personhood, it's really always such an incredible experience. What you see is the humanity, the humaness, the dignity, the capacity to laugh, the capacity to love, to rear children, in circumstances that by rights out to make all that impossible". It was truly a privilege to serve these beautiful people alongside such marvelous team members. God has blessed us richly. Thanks for your love and prayers!