_I’m writing this at 37,000 feet, flying high above the tourist cities that dot the Mexican coastline. It would hard to overstate just how removed the people we served are from the sparkling beaches and resorts that most Americans think of when you tell them you are going to Mexico. I think I can also say, without question, that every one of us on this trip would gladly give of our time and resources, and gladly share our hearts and gifts with the people of Chiapas again. Since the bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver, then He must indeed be pleased with this team because this was a week marked more by joy than by anything else.For those of you at home who wish to know about the people that your friends and loved ones will come home talking about, allow me to attempt a short description of each team member:
· Lia is a beautiful, passionate, excitable woman. Her love for her country and its people are rivaled only by her sense of responsibility for those of us who have come to serve. Lia never rests, and after a long day of clinic, she still needs a brisk walk and a late-night cup of coffee! Lia is most likely to wipe away tears when filled with pride in the people of her home country and the respect and dignity we tried to bestow upon them.
· Thalia reminded us that we “can sleep when we are dead.” She radiates warmth, and was the team member that brought a smile to everyone just by being herself. Everyone feels better about themselves and the world after they have spent the day with her. Thalia has the energy and passion to rival people half her age, and an infectious, sweet spirit.
· We didn’t have internet access on much of this trip, so thank goodness we had Bob. Bob knows everything about everything! He has a kind, gentle and earnest concern for people and for MDP. Bob was the physician most likely to be concerned about preventative health and to ask the pharmacy if we might be able to give a patient a full year's worth of medication so they could stay healthy until MDPs return next year.
· Jodi finds humor and joy in everything. She loved to crack jokes and have the interpreters communicate them to the people, and especially to our driver, Vincente. Watching her do patient intake without knowing a word of Spanish was like a day-long, laughter-filled game of charades. She will never grow tired of telling the story about the blue lady - ask her when you get the chance.
· Seeing Chiapas through Jake's eyes was much like a visit to a farm. While he loved the children and played a lot of catch, tag and baseball, he was more likely to mention the dogs, chickens and sheep than anything else. Every morning, Jake analyzed the personalities of the team after morning devotionals - what a great kid. When you have Jake with you, you're traveling with a funny, lively, impulsive, Rich Peller clone.
· Nancy was our provider most likely to entertain the dinner table and van with stories of the day's adventures. If we were closing up clinic and patients still wanted to be seen, they would somehow know that Nancy would be the one who could never refuse their need. She was the provider who most needed to blink away tears, and literally gave one grandmother the clothes right out of her suitcase.
· When Curtis joined this group,he elevated the mood and attitude of everyone in it. There is no trace of negativity in him, and he radiates the joy of his faith. Curtis once said he felt like he had won the lottery when he was invited to serve on this trip, and more often than not, would either describe a long day of service as "fantastic" or a "blessing." Curtis seemed to be on a continual mission to stock up on cacahuates (peanuts) and good coffee, as well as to find brief moments of solitude to pray and process our experiences.
· Luke easily transitioned from being the "kid" on MDP trips to a full blown member of the team. He loves people, both the locals and team members, and is quick to engage in conversations with anyone. Luke had an entire "waiting room" cracking up when a local girl said he would be good to have babies with. Between playing peek-a-boo with little ones and claiming one day that he had "rocked a translation," we all could see that his passion for serving others in this capacity is just beginning. Anyone who watched me close enough would see me bursting with pride over Luke's growing faith, tender spirit and eagerness to learn.
· Helen was the quiet, moral and ethical compass of the team. When we had seen over 80 people one day and were tempted to complain about the ONE person who snuck into clinic without permission, Helen reminded us to never focus on the negative. When we were all frustrated with poor service in a restaurant, Helen woke up that night reminded that the people we serve would walk for miles and wait for an entire day to see the doctors, yet never complain. Helen never loses sight of our purpose, and her deep faith is at the core of everything she says and does.
· Aaron was like the Pied Piper for the young men on our team, with a rapid-fire sense of humor and a patience for everyone and everything. Aaron quietly and consistently took the worst seat in the van, riding in the "trunk" with the suitcases when necessary. He was just as likely to be seen leaning in and listening earnestly to patients as he would be using humor to break up the seriousness of their situation. Aaron barely needed the pharmacists, as he readily did his own work and the work of others with a quick smile and without complaint.
· Susan, el presidente, is a wonderful leader and encourager. She is quick to make necessary decisions, though never without care and concern for the people we serve. For a long while, I will be able to hear her in my mind saying: "Tome una pastilla en la manana, una en la tarde, una en la noche...." Susan stretched in her use of Spanish and lovingly watched and smiled as Jake amused us all. Her vision for MDP and work to make these trips happen is an inspiration.
· It's hard to write about myself, Karen, when you don't really know what others see. I will say that I often joked about having "no particularly useful skills whatsoever," but God, indeed, finds a way to use everyone and everything for His good purposes. Serving in Chiapas with my son will be remembered as one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced, and attempting to use Spanish which had laid dormant for 25 years was one of my greatest challenges. The people's fascination with my wild, curly hair was a standing joke, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to grow in my faith and passion for "the least among us."
A mission trip consists of those that go and those that send. For all of you that "sent" us, we thank you. To our families who selflessly released us from our responsibilities at home and lovingly trusted that the One who called us would be faithful to protect us, we thank you. And though you may not know it, those of you who prayed for us were a very real part of this mission. God heard your prayers! We continue to pray that there will be lasting impact in Chiapas and in the hearts of those of us that went that we all might grow closer to the heart of Jesus and join in His mission each and every day.