We are sorry that due to circumstances beyond our control we were unable to access the internet until today. The area we served in was so remote that there was not any internet available to tap into. We tried at the convent, our hotel and the stores in the town where we stayed were small. There wasn’t even an internet café. We apologize if you have been wondering or worried about us. We have arrived in San Cristobal and will now continue the second portion of our medical mission adventure. All is well!
- Helen Peterson & the team
Day 1 – Wednesday, January 18
It was a crisp, early morning for our team. The temperature was a chilly 3 degrees in Minnesota. Aaron woke at 3 a.m. He drove from Blue Earth to Nancy’s farm outside of Easton, from there they traveled to Jodi’s place near Mapleton and arrived in Mankato at 5 a.m. to join up with Susan, Bob, Jake, Lia and Helen. We stopped in St. Peter to pick up Thalia and enjoyed a quiet, uneventful ride to the Minneapolis Airport. Karen and Luke arrived from Wisconsin and like clockwork; Curtis appeared from Iowa promptly at 7 a.m. Our team was on schedule – perfectly. Off to a good start… well almost.
We sailed through the check-in and security checkpoint with lots of time to spare before our 9:05 a.m. flight, and then things slowed down considerably. After sitting on the plane for an hour and a half we had to de-plane. It was a mechanical issue and had to do with the gas tanks. We got in line to board another plane but it was overbooked. At noon we boarded the original plane and finally were on our way to Houston. Everyone took it in stride as we know that is all part of traveling. Luckily our original 6 hour layover in Houston enabled us to stay on schedule for the important connection to Tuxtla, Mexico. I write this as we are flying over the ocean.
Our co-leaders Susan and Lia are already doing a great job. It is interesting how teams come together, share in the mission and enjoy a certain kind of kinship. Although we all know someone on the team, many of us are meeting for the first time. Good people, God’s grace, a sense of adventure and the ability to have fun will help us to assemble into a medical team tomorrow. We are all anxious.
We will meet Lia’s cousin Pablo tonight. He is a priest and has been instrumental in helping to arrange the first part of our trip. And then it will be on to Coapilla in the morning and to our first day of clinic. We are all grateful for this opportunity. Thanks to our families and all who help to make this possible.
Day 2 – Thursday, January 19
We had a nice flight into Tuxtla. Everything went well through customs as we had all of our paperwork in order with our medical supplies for the mission. We stayed in a comfortable hotel near Lia’s cousin’s church and got a good night’s sleep. Refreshed and ready we climbed into our van. Vincente, our driver is a skillful and kind. We are delighted he will be driving us for the second year in a row.
People sometimes question how safe Mexico is. Lia, who was born in Mexico, has a deep love and passion for her country and people. One of the wonderful things which we quickly learn is that the country and people are indeed beautiful. The ride to Coapilla was about 3 hours long. In addition to the great scenery, interesting conversations began to percolate amongst team members. We always say that in order to come on an MDP trip one needs a sense of humor. There is no doubt that we will be greatly blessed in that area.
After arriving in Coapilla, a city of 8,000, we hit the ground running. We team up with the local sisters and Caritas who asked us to have a clinic there. We had little time to shake off the travel dust and first clinic day jitters. Eighty-four people had signed up to have an appointment with our MDP team. With three medical practitioners working in three stations with 3 interpreters, a friendly intake area and our crackerjack pharmacy team, we began at noon agreeing to work until about 8 p.m. People gathered, checked in and waited.
It’s always such a wonderful experience to watch each team member work with such care, diligence and compassion. “First days” are always the most stressful as people settle into their roles. At 9 p.m. having served 95 patients we finished our work. Everyone was truly exhausted and happy. It was dark and the two bare light bulbs that lit the building didn’t shed an overabundance of light – but we had all that we needed to do a really nice job of serving these people. Most suffered from pain; pain caused often from hard physical work. Many had stomach issues. They displayed a quiet, respectful presence and they were a joy.
The sisters served us a great meal. There was so much food. We were hungry and happy. We checked into our hotel about 11:00 p.m. It was a good day!