Saturday 14th of November: We started our day going to the Women's Center to experience a day in the life of a Mayan. We started with the women making a fire then teaching us how to make tortillas. For all of us that complain about getting up early for work these women get up at 4 am to get fires started to make the 100 tortillas they will need for the day. As expected the women made the tortilla making look very easy. For us not so much. Lia's actually landed in the dirt. After a bunch, were made we ate them - Not Lia's. From there we learned how to wash clothes. And no you don't just dump them in a washer and push a button. I was working on a shirt and the young girl next to me became impatient and finished the work. Next on to men's work-Two to three times a week the men walk 1-1.5 hours in the mountain to get fire work. They cut down the trees, split the wood then carry it back to their home on their back 1- 1.5 hours. A light load is 50 lbs. Drew, he needs to stay in school ( see photo ). Once we were finished being humbled by the tough but efficient life of the Mayans we enjoyed the rest of the day on Lake Atilan. At the end of the day we enjoyed the music of Moises (an employee of the mission) and his mariachi band. We were delighted to say the least but I think the band member were even more delighted.
Sunday 15th of November: we said goodbye to San Lucas Toliman and headed out to Antigua. All of us are tired so we took a few hours to see the city and then rested. We have our final dinner tonight.
Today we served a community I had never been to before. We had to cross a suspended rope bridge to get to it. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful! The name of the community is Nueva Providencia. It is a smaller community than some of the others where we serve. We saw 32 patients. Some of the adults were complicated and quite ill. We saw a couple of machete wounds in children. The variety of illnesses and problems we see is always different.
We have had more rain this week than any time I have been in San Lucas and I have been acutely reminded of the suffering of the people. They are mostly trying to get through each day and have enough to feed their family. When it pours down rain most of everything they own becomes soaking wet, yet they approach the next day with a smile, happy that God has provided for them.
I am honored to have served with this team. They worked hard all week. It is incredible to see people come together to serve others. After Day 1 we operated like a well oiled machine.
Following clinic today we went on a tour of the parish projects. We were able to see the Women's Center up and running. I clearly remember when this was just an idea in Father Greg's head and now it is a functioning center where the women are learning skills to assist them in supporting their families. It was heart warming.
Thank you for all the support and prayers from home! We could not accomplish our work without them.
Enjoy the pictures!
Today I was fortunate enough to experience something a little different than our team’s daily rural outreach clinics. I had the opportunity to spend the day, away from our team, to experience the San Lucas Rehabilitation Center. We often get called to do different tasks in life and to utilize our talents; and today I had the opportunity to use my Physical Therapy skills and I became a teacher of physical therapy techniques to a young PT student and the team of physiotherapists right in San Lucas!
To summarize my day, IT WAS FANTASTICO!! I saw many young children with neurological disorders who needed advancement in challenging their core strength and trunk control in order to use their extremities more effectively. It was challenging and exciting to pull out of my brain all the knowledge of treating the neurological patients, while at the same time remembering my translation abilities. Thank goodness I brought Dana to assist in the interpretations, so we could teach not only the therapy students, but also the parents who have to daily work with their children in order to progress them through these challenging circumstances. In one day I was presented with so many challenging cases, which in the US, might take me a month to experience.
One example of the young children I saw was Jonathan, a young 3.5 year old suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He is unable to walk without assistance and his mother often carries him on her back in a traditional Mayan blanket. We worked on “purposeful play” activities on the mat, on the physio ball, and through variety of activities to reach outside his base of support. We had the chance to talk with mom on the variety of activities she could do at home, and have return demonstration to assure knowledge of the tasks. Many in Guatemala do not read Spanish, so it is very important that we see the return understanding of the activities as therapy is only done twice a week at the actual clinic.
I made a few house calls. One was to an elderly couple who has 46 grandchildren! The wife had incurred a stroke and the husband had some back issues. They knew their exercises to a tee and we were able to offer a few suggestions to progress their programs. Both were willing to work hard on their rehab to continue to participate in family activities within the home community.
It was a joy to work with the therapists and the families, including the variety of house calls, and see that PT is not that different in Guatemala than we see in the states, just harder to get to and perhaps not always available. I was able to share my talents today in a different way than I did the days prior. Not good or bad, just different. I felt that through the education I was able to offer both the therapists and the families some extra knowledge so that continued “good work” will be able to be done. I thank God for the opportunity and the talent that I was able to share today!
Michele, Physical Therapist!
We have had 3 busy and successful clinics. Day 1 we were in Tierra Santa and had the opportunity to serve about 75 patients. The 2nd clinic day we were in Pampojila and served around 50, and today we were in San Gregorrio and served 80 patients. The clinics have been well organized and have run smoothly. Vicente has done a great job of preparing the communities for our arrival.
November 11- Veterans Day....The group properly remembered its Veterans this morning. It was an auspicious start to the day. We were all properly moved. It should be so because Stan lead the meditation this morning. We plunged into our day. We were organized and on task. We were the perfect representatives of the ideals of MDP. We saw many beautiful children and enjoyed the incredible landscape around San Gregorrio.
The day ended on an extremely high note!!! The 11 decided they needed Parma (ice cream) after a long hard day of good work, and that is when the story changes. We got caught in a terrific rain storm on the way back to the hotel after the clinic. The lightening flashed, the thunder rumbled and the truck just stopped. We were all soaked like rats. We had to depend on the largesse of locals to shelter us from the driving rain. Serves us right as there was some resistance to saying the rosary this morning prior to our departure. Stan really tried to get all of his compradres to dedicate just 17 minutes to recite the rosary....but no, ....we ended up as wet as unwrung dishrags. Amen
Ok this is from Stan... Have fun! I have never been so soaked before.
We are having a great time!
Day 2 - From Cathy - On our second day in Guatemala we went to the village of Pampojila. It was a great day! I saw patients outside and the guys (Dr.'s John and Jim) were inside the clinic building. We made a few house calls too. Ashley and I did a minor dermatology surgery before the day even began! We hope you enjoy the pictures!
Day 1- by Susan
We spent today in a village called Tierra Santa. It is located about 15 minutes from San Lucas and it is near Porvenir which is a village we have served in the past. The first day of clinic always provides challenges, but today was just great! The team is full of people who are willing to work hard. It is such a blessing and a joy to be back in Guatemala!
We did not have any problems with customs or the trip here.
We are staying in a new hotel, not the familiar Iquitui but it is lovely and we are all doing great!
Vicente has prepared a busy week for us and we are looking forward to serving the people. Please keep us in your prayers!
More to follow...