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I am just an ordinary person
When asked to be the “photojournalist/blogger” for this mission trip, I honestly did not give a lot of thought regarding the way I would recount the 8-day experience so that the reader could feel like they were present with the team.
Setting up a medical clinic in Jutiapa, Guatemala sounded like an experience that I was ready for! I had no idea how the name of the organization, Faith in Practice, would come into play on this journey for me.

I had no expectation of how each day would start. I did not ask in advance. I was somewhat surprised that on day 1 of clinic, and each subsequent day, we would start with “devotion” time beginning at 6:30 a.m.! I even jokingly said the first morning, I have not been anywhere this early in a very long time!

As I participated that first morning listing to the “devotion” thoughts for the day, the picture came to me very clearly. Listen intently to the message and then find the best example of that message in clinic – through the patients and the team serving them.

Day 1 devotion centered on the thoughts, “ask, and you shall receive”, “seek and you shall find”, “ask in prayer and God is in the prayer answering business”. The analogy used was that of a fast-food drive thru – you ask for what you want, you pay for it, and then you receive. A young mother came into the clinic that day with her child who was barely over 1 year old. The little girl had a terrible rash all over her body. She was not sleeping through the night, and the new mom was tired and more importantly scared for her daughter. She said that she knew her prayers would be answered by coming to the clinic to ask what was wrong with her child. She asked, she received, and her prayers were answered. (photo 1)

Day 2 devotion centered on the thoughts, “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years”, “the Lord has patience with you”, “trust in the Lord with all of your heart”, “trust that God will stand on his promises”, “while we wait on God, he is actually waiting on us”. Shortly after clinic started that morning, an elderly woman with a bright red bandana came in sporting a cane made of a branch from a tree. I immediately thought – wow – that took someone a very long time to carve. It was almost taller than she was and you could tell it was helping. This homemade cane was instrumental in her ability to stand and walk. It was clear that God was standing on his promise to bring her to the clinic so that she was able to leave with a proper cane. (photo 2)

Day 3 devotion centered on the thoughts, “I have sworn to keep you on your path”, “you restore my soul and lead me to righteousness”, “we are here to share our journey and God will bring us thru the obstacles”. Juana, a mother of 8, brought her daughter (#7), Vilma, to clinic for a wheelchair. Vilma had cerebral palsy. Juana’s husband was paralyzed from a stroke and Vilma, now 22, was getting too large for Juana to carry around. Only a plastic chair was in the home for Vilma to use. Juana was complaining to the mobility team that Vilma was making her side hurt terribly. After many questions, Juana was walked over to the gynecology team for an ultrasound and the mobility team looked after Vilma who now had the biggest smile on her face because of her new wheelchair ride! Juana was diagnosed with a severe gall bladder issue and referred for surgery. The wheelchair provided a path for Vilma that she had never experienced in her 22 years of life. And now, Juana, who was enduring so many obstacles in life, would get relief from her gall bladder issues by having surgery. (photo 3)

The last day of clinic, Day 4, arrived way too fast for me. The needs of the people are great. So much pain and suffering.

Day 4 devotion was so appropriate. “Here I am Lord,” “we are all called to do God’s work,” “God uses ordinary people to serve,” “there is kindness in your smile.” I am an ordinary person. I had no medical education or knowledge. Yet, on this last day, and like the 3 previous days, I started taking patient’s blood pressures at 8:00 a.m. and when I first looked up, it was 12:10 p.m. I did not speak their language however I greeted every patient with a smile and, in return, they smiled back at me. I had served others in a very personal way. I had done God’s work. And I am just an ordinary person.

Contemplate on this. Just as I did. I am an ordinary person. And God finally called me to serve others through Faith in Practice.

-Maureen Sanders