We are now all safely back in Minnesota. I feel so grateful for the team I had the opportunity to serve with in San Lucas this past week. They were hard working, compassionate and fun to be around. Seeing Guatemala again through their eyes was inspiring.
We saw many things...we couldn't help but sitting across from someone and demonstrating that you care about their situation matters.
I spoke with a woman who has frequent headaches because she worries that she can't adequately feed her children. I don't know those worries and most of us who live here don't have that fear. She lives with that fear everyday. The burden of poverty weighs on her.
I spoke with another woman who gets headaches when she argues with her husband. I explained to her that this is a universal problem which most women have regardless of what country they live in and we had a good laugh about it.
The people we serve are humble, thankful and kind. They bear their difficulties with grace. It has been my privilege to serve them.
And while I feel inadequate at times I believe they know I am trying my best and for them that is enough.
A final thank you to the team and specifically my co-leader Cathy. She always lightens the load and has been an incredible support to me.
I will miss waking up with the dogs, roosters and smells of smoke. In the meantime I will treasure the memories....until I see you again San Lucas.
Christ has no body now but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on this world; yours are the feet with which He walks to do good; Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.---Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila
Today was our last day of clinic. Saturday is generally a day off work in Guatemala, as it is in MN. We had good intentions of an early start, however our trusty driver for the week over slept. We ventured to the lowlands with anticipation of higher temperatures and the need to use insect repellant. The scent of the blooming coffee plants was sweet, much preferred over the smoke we have been trying to get used to over the week. Our final destination was Neuve Vida. We were surprised by the extremely steep paved path down and then across a sturdy bridge. Yes, we hauled all of our supplies. Dr Cathy Davis has grown attached to the Green Monster and insisted on taking him to the clinic site. The view was beautiful. The building was one large spacious area. The well oiled machine went to work and quickly set up as we were greeted by patiently waiting families eager for our team's care.
Barb Traxler, RN, along with Katie Masurka, paramedic, were busy triaging the patients they also found time to entertain all of the children today. Teaching them various songs and games, creating many smiles and giggles. As they would walk down the road,"the pied piper" came to mind.
Rosalinda Robertson, pediatrician who joined us this week from Ohio, discovered that 3 young children easily maneuvered her cell phone for photos and videos. Another young boy was busy playing on his mother's cell phone as he waited for their care..
Every day, one of the important questions was "do we have a bathroom? how is it?" We always traveled with our own toilet paper. Today was the first day that we had some MDP team members decline to use the outhouse. However, we were grateful every day to have the local community offer up their homes for our personal needs and use.
The young girls were excited to share their local treasure----a cashew tree! It was huge and amazing. Next to it in their yard was a huge mango tree. This part of the region is known for their fruit and according to our interpreters it is near harvest time.
We all agreed, today was very hot and we were glad to have insect repellent. There was a lovely breeze--by the nurses triage station.
Today we were able to serve 47 people in the community. The total patients that were seen by MDP this week was 276.. There were certainly some common themes in the complaints that we addressed, but there were very unique stories as well
Today was another reminder of how difficult a life in poverty can be.
Make us worthy Lord, to serve our fellow men Throughout the world Who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.---Mother Teresa.
As we all hesitantly grabbed an item to haul back up the steep steep paved path at the 5000 feet altitude, felt a bit guilty as we watched young men place large heavy speakers and cement blocks and piles of wood on their backs and walk without complaint. It was quite humbling and impressive.
Shared by Slava
"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may with for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."----Franciscan Blessing
Today started as our previous mornings--sitting in a circle, coffees in hand, visiting about our upcoming day, devotion, and prayer. Today we were encouraged by the sighting of the sun and blue skies. We caught sight of one of the 3 volcanoes around Lake Atitlan. It has been quite hazy (from smoke) and overcast skies. The weather has been lovely, as we are staying in the land of "eternal spring".
After breakfast at the mission, sandwiches made for lunch, we jumped into the back of the pick up truck for a quick ride to the hospital to pick up our "supplies" for clinic. This consists of 4 heavy suitcases (one has been named the Green Monster), stools, and tables--as well as 3 interpreters and 3 local community health promoters. So, yes, a total of 18 of us plus supplies are squeezed in to ride in the small pickup truck to our clinic site for the day. Our trustworthy leaders assure us it is all quite safe..... Each day we are curious and excited to experience the trip to the new town and clinic. Our drives are generally a fun adventure, full of laughter, stories,and always waves and smiles. Today we travelled a short distance to Totolya. This town was part of a community of 4 towns. As mentioned, we are now a well oiled machine. We are quickly able to assess the building, assign exam areas/rooms, check in, nursing station, and pharmacy.
Today we were able to serve about 40 patients of all ages. Dr Cathy Davis was able to make a home visit to follow up on a patient that she had seen earlier in the day. She was doing much better. Susan Peller, NP, was also able to make a home visit. A community health promoter told us about an 85 year old woman who had fallen a few days back and was in too much pain to walk down the dirt road to our clinic. She spoke Kaqchikel (pronounced catcheecal), so communication was slow and required 2 interpreters. She was extremely grateful for the medical care and free medication provided by our team.
Apparently along the way to the home visit, Cindy Olson, Really Nice LPN, was attacked by a turkey with all of his feathers displayed. As if that was not bad enough, she and Susan were given the evil eye by a stray dog. None of us would have believed this crazy story, but Cindy had pictures to prove the story and Susan backed it up.
Again at the end of our clinic day, the well oiled machine very quickly packed up and back to San Lucas we went.
It was explained to us (our interpreters are a wealth of knowledge for us) that every Friday during lent, a processional from the church begins at 5:00 Guatemalan time. They very slowly travel through the streets, past the central square, and back to the church--finishing between 9-10:00. It was beautiful to observe and a delight to be present for this celebration of faith. A pathway of flowers and plants were created in front of the church, incense preceded the procession, and a generator pushed in an old wheelbarrow followed behind. Two very old men were playing drums while music was played on a radio.
Our team was treated to dinner at a local restaurant, where again we shared stories and laughter. All extremely tired and over fed, we headed to bed with a plan for the next day.
"What I do you cannot do:but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."----Mother Teresa
A few thoughts from a provider that has not been on this trip with MDP.
I was unbelievably relieved when I finally realized that I could use my epocrates app on my phone--as I frequently refer to it as my brain. I really had no idea, even though our leaders tell us, what I would be seeing in our clinics. I have found that there are some unique visits, due to the region we are working in. However, I am finding many similarities as well. Gathering an accurate history is extremely difficult. Trying to decide what their real concern or current health problem may be, also difficult. They almost always have an additional concern or two, after we think the visit is completed They are needing education on diet, pregnancy, muscle tightness....it's all just a bit slower because I need an interpreter. They are now able to purchase antibiotics from the farmacia without a prescription, and they are not using them the way we would recommend. Charting/documentation has some redundancy, like at home---however, there is no dictation or signing charts, no EMR, no computers/internet. I have thoroughly enjoyed the teamwork of our providers. We are all sitting close to each other and will interrupt a visit with a question or consult. The patients and families are extremely patient as they wait for our consults and their visits in general. Our pharmacy is simple--no prescriptions written, we walk up and ask for the medication---or just take what we need from the table display. A sticker with basic instructions written in spanish is placed on the medication. It is not uncommon that we give a one time dose while the patient is with us. They are all extremely gracious and patient with us. I find that they are as curious of us as we are of them. Our interpreters are a wealth of information for us on the local community, their beliefs and customs, the typical illnesses or skin conditions.
I appreciate the above quote from Mother Teresa. There is so much work to do here in Guatemala. Our team, each of us, cannot fix it all. We cannot care for everyone. But, we each can do something, a small thing to us may be a much bigger something to someone we come across--a smile, a wave, a gesture, a home visit, a reassurance, some ibuprofen, a song and game, taking the time to visit.
shared by Slava
"There is no foot too
small that it cannot have an impact on the world"
Our theme for today is "Connecting two worlds as one team to care....just for the health of it!"
We woke this morning all wearing our shirts from the clinics we work at in Minnesota! We are now a "well oiled team machine" = working together better than ever. We have the setup/take down routine down to a science. Today we cared for 40 patients in San Andres', Guatemala. This was a village founded in 2006. All the homes were cement blocked homes. Our clinic was set up in an empty dwelling, which gave us an opportunity to see inside what a typical home looks like....usually 3 bedrooms (no closets), kitchen area, living room and outside wash area. There is sometimes a bathroom (toilet) inside a tiny room inside the house.
Clinic ran from 10am to 1pm today. Our providers with their interpreters, nurses and pharmacy staff looked forward to caring for and connecting with the patients. The topic of childhood nutrition is a common theme. Mothers expressed their concern that they worried that their children may not get enough food to eat. The local health promoter from Guatemala shared that there is continual efforts to monitor the growth of children in each village. This issue of "not enough to eat" tugs at our hearts. The local hospital here in San Lucas takes great measures to assist the people here.
Susan, our nurse practitioner, stated that some patients she cared for have common problems that she also sees when she cares for patients in Minnesota. For example one woman that came in today stated that she had "Delor de Cabeza" (a headache)....when asked what made this pain worse, the woman stated it worsens when she fights with her husband! A universal connection we all understand.
A connection with school children! We have all had the experience of going to school...and to hear the singing of the school children today at the church while we were eating breakfast opened our heart to the Divine Spirit that is so alive in these people. Also while some children waited in line today at our clinic, our MDP intake people (Katie and Barb) led the small children in the Spanish and English version of the song "Head, shoulders, knees and toes...etc."
The "connection of two worlds" from kids to kids in two different countries came today when Dr. Cathy walked to the local grade school in San Andres and presented two brand new soccer balls from the youth group at the First Presbyterian Church in Mankato. After hugging Dr. Cathy and posing for a photo.this group of grade school boys put the new balls to use on the playground!
At the close of clinic today a priceless moment came when three children peered through the pharmacy window to say good bye to Cindy, our MDP pharmacy crew member.
Our MDP group spent the later part of the afternoon touring the special projects of San Lucas Mission...the JuanAna coffee processing plant, the Women & Childrens Community Center and the San Lucas Hospital. Even though we may live miles apart from each other...connection through caring for "the health of it" makes our world a little kinder of a place for all of us!
The pictures of today are worth more than all the words we could possibly write! We hope you enjoy and feel our connection in caring!
God is so good all the time and we close this day recounting the blessings we have received! God is "The Great Connecter of Care" to all. Thanks for your prayers and support.
shared by Barb Traxler
Today was our second day of medical clinic. We traveled approximately 1 hour from San Lucas through the highlands to reach the village of Panimaqiup. The roads we traveled were very steep, narrow and curvy...but our trusted driver from the mission delivered us safely to our destination. As we reached this remote village the air was cool, the smell of woodstoves burning filled the air and you could hear the rooster's crow in the distance. There were a handful of village people awaiting our arrival. We cared for approximately 34 patients...mainly Mayan women and their children. Today's clinic ran very smoothly and was at a calm pace so we could take in this moment in time. Each member of our team will share today one "positive experience" from clinic for them:
That was our day #2! On our way down the mountain we were sprinkled with the cool mist of rain It felt like a blessing from above! Thanks for sharing this day with us and for your prayerful support. Buenos Noches!
Day 1 of clinic: we were excited to have our first day in clinic! A total of 77 patients were cared for...and two of those patients required referral to the hospital (due to the severity of their condition)
To name just a few highlights of today in 3 categories:
What touched my heart:
What inspired me:
What surprised me today:
My words just touch the "tip top" of this powerful day in clinic day#1. As I savor this day...I realize it is the prayers and support of people from home and those who support MDP who make this clinic possible, for people who would not have basic care, which we take for granted at home. Am grateful to our compassionate God for this opportunity to care!
It has been a long but successful day for our team. We left Mankato at 2:30 this morning and had an uneventful day of travel.
Thankfully we breezed through customs and arrived in San Lucas around 4pm. It is approaching the end of the dry season here and it is hot and dusty!
Heather met us at our hotel. We are staying at the Iquitui, which is an old favorite.
We spent some time organizing our meds and supplies and Cathy and I visited with Julio the administrator at the hospital. We are all set to start our clinics tomorrow.
We have turned in early tonight.
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
March 2017 San Lucas Toliman team is packed and ready to go! We will head out in the wee hours of the morning on Monday March 27th. Please keep the team in your prayers.
I am excited to see San Lucas through the eyes of many who have never been there before. Only 3 of our team members have traveled with MDP before and been to San Lucas.
I am also excited and quite nervous to work as a provider for the first time. For me this is a dream come true and my prayer is that God will guide me, grant me wisdom to do what is right for the people we serve, and steady my nerves.
Check back for pictures and stories of our adventure.
As always I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to serve.