Hello from Guatemala!!
Today was our fourth day of helping the beautiful people in Guatemala, going to a community that was once a plantation community (a finca) called Nueva Providencia. The impoverished people lived that way of life until Father Gregory Schafer came and changed their living conditons by providing them with houses. Our day was wonderful. It started out a little slow, which was a gift from God as the people who came into the clinic needed extra time and attention which the doctors were able to provide for them. As the day proceeded on, it became busier. We had two home visits also. The people continue to amaze us with their smiles and their gratitude..Hugs, handshakes, and words of muchas gracias made all of us feel we were in the right place at the right time!!
We went to the Women's Center which is Centro de Mujeres. This was started by Father Gregory to empower women to have autonomy outside of the home and be in the company of other women learning skills in a supportive environment. We learned how the Mayan culture made corn meal by grinding the corn with a stone roller then making tortillas. We also took turns trying to balance a bano, or basket, on our heads as the native women do, carrying up to 60 pounds while walking several blocks or miles. (No, we did not try the 60 pounds!!)
Tonight we dined as a rare treat at a local restaurant sharing conversation of the highlights of our day.
Buenas noches to our family and friends. We miss you all!!
We are having a wonderful time serving people here in San Lucas. Today we had a great clinic in San Jose Nueve Providencia. Dr. Dan Fulton and his wife Lois Oldham and their 3 children joined us in clinic today. It was a day full of laughter and joy! We were quite busy at clinic and were able to provide great care for 60+ people. The pharmacy run by MDP Board member Joan Wesely and son Michael ran smoothly. The doctors consulted with each other when questions arose. The healthcare promoters assisted us with interpreting Caciquel to Spanish and the rain held off until we were almost back to San Lucas.
The misión of San Lucas is a great partner in helping us fulfill our mission to serve the underprivileged.
All is well. I am grateful to be a part of MDP and to have the opportunity to walk with the people of Guatemala.
Today I got to go to the market and buy food for the charity program, which is run by Dr. Tun's wife, Emi. We went around the extremely busy market to buy corn, rice, black beans, sugar, soup mix, oil, and soap. We bought all of these things with donations from our group. As we shopped, we bought from several different vendors in order to contribute equally to different people in the community. Once we had gotten everything, we went back to the mission to pack the bags for the families that would come later that afternoon. When we came back to hand out the bags to the families, it was so humbling to see - and almost soul-crushing to see - how little they had. First we prayed over the food and over each other. Then we handed out the bags and as we did the women would get up and give us a hug and thank us. After we finished handing out the bags, all of the women wanted to thank us again by giving more hugs and saying prayers for us, for our families, and for our homes. Over all, this was a once in a life time experience that shows you just how fortunate you are.
When I came into this experience I had no idea what to expect but I was immersed into the culture right away and I am in awe. I spent my time today at the intake table; taking names and trying to understand each patient's "problemas." At first it was a bit scary trying to understand a different language from what I'm used to but as the day went along I became more and more familiar with the Spanish terms for cough, cold, and headache and felt more comfortable speaking with the patients. At the end of the day I had the opportunity to observe a house visit. An elderly woman sat on the bed and told us about the pain she had been having and that she wished her grandchildren could help her more but they couldn't. Her neighbor, who had been interpreting for us, graciously said that she would look after her and make sure she got the medications she needed from us. This moment made me stop to realize what a big part community plays in this culture and that people will care for others even when they aren't family. At the end of the visit the elderly woman blessed all of us in the room and explained how grateful she was for our willingness to help others in her country. I can definitely say that it was a successful first day in Guatemala and I hope that each of the following days have as many blessings as this one did.
MDP OCTOBER 2017