Skip to main content

77 surgeries in four days! Lives changed, theirs and ours. Treasured memories. This was all made possible by:
Our team of 40 dedicated doctors, nurses, interpreters, and support staff
Our generous donors who provided the financial support needed for these procedure
Our families and coworkers at home who filled in while we were gone
The amazing staff and volunteers with Faith in Practice
All of these people came together to impact lives in such a beautiful way.

We had the extra blessing this year of several new additions to our team. As some of our volunteers retire, we are excited to see the next generation stepping forward to fill their shoes.

Team 795 volunteers left their homes in TX, VA and FL on Saturday, February 17. The next day, Sunday, was our triage day. This is the time where the surgeons and anesthesiologists meet the prospective surgical patients.
We met several Faith in Practice volunteers who accompany patients from their villages to Antigua, take them to Casa de Fe where they receive housing and meals before and after their surgery, as well as accompanying them to the hospital for surgery. One volunteer, Amina, said she began volunteering for Faith in Practice after her uncle was treated for cancer by our doctors. She said that Faith in Practice opens doors to treatment patients otherwise could not afford.
We met Jose who had a motorcycle accident a year ago when a car brushed against him and injured his hand. He has a plate and screw in the hand that is loose.
Another patient, Sandra, fell on the street in Antigua two years ago. She has had 4 prior surgeries on her wrist.
We were excited to see several patients who returned for further care.

We begin each day with worship and a message by Pastor Dave. Pastor Dave prays for the patients before and after their procedures. Their deep faith is so moving. As he recites The Lord’s Prayer with them (translated to Spanish), tears slowly course down their cheeks. It is a reminder to us that God is present every step of the way.
Today was our first of four surgical days.
Drs. Apel and Peters operated on:
Andre, age 9, who returned for a third procedure to correct contracture of his thumbs. We saw him in 2018 and 2023, and he arrived all smiles and hugs for this last procedure. He should now have full use of both thumbs, giving him grip strength that he did not have before.
Esdras, age 3, received a Z-plasty procedure, a technique to improve the functional and cosmetic appearance of scars.
Christopher, age 13, underwent a procedure to release a tendon from adhesions.
Jervin, age 1, had a finger tenotomy, or tendon release.
Dr. Stehly treated patients with shoulder and knee complaints, and our gynecologists, Drs. Crable, Chhutani, Bailey and Fa, saw several ladies needing hysterectomies and related gynecological treatment.

Karla, age 9, returned for further syndactyly repair. We saw her in 2023, and it was sweet to see her beautiful smile again. She was born with a normal right hand, but her left hand had fingers that were attached together. The procedures performed by Drs. Apel and Peters separated the webbed fingers to provide her more normal grip and movement of her fingers.
We met Maria, a 61-year-old lady who had a cyst the size of a grapefruit that was removed by Drs. Crable and Chhutani. She referred to the cyst as her “baby” because she felt like she was pregnant.
Drs. Crable and Chhutani performed a hysterectomy on Erika, age 43, and found advanced endometriosis, a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. They were able to remove the tissue, giving Erika a better outcome and relief from pain.

We met Jonathan, age 14, who had torn his meniscus three years ago playing soccer. Although he was trying to be brave, he brushed back tears during the preop preparation. Dr. Stehly performed an arthroscopy and tendon repair, and Jonathan will be back on the soccer field soon.
Sophia, now age 5, was seen by our orthopedists, Drs. Apel and Peters, in 2020. At that time, they performed a pollicization, a hand surgery technique in which a thumb is created from the index finger. She came back in 2023, but surgery was postponed due to issues with her trachea. She had a procedure to correct this, and now returns for a similar procedure on her right hand. She was born with many challenges, and this is her 15th surgery. She was understandably very scared in preop, but her mom kept her comforted until the surgery commenced.

Sophia was discharged this morning but will return in late May for surgery on her ears with another Faith in Practice team. Dr. Apel plans to see her again in 2025 for repair of her left arm.
Ana Elena, 50 years old, had a grapefruit-sized tumor removed by Drs. Crable and Chhutani.
On Thursday at devotions, team members shared their impressions of this trip.
Eric Stehly shared that he has always seen Christ in the patients’ eyes, but this year he realized how he has been inspired seeing Christ through our team.
Daryl Greebon has enjoyed seeing the relationships forming with new additions to our team. He mentioned the “IT” factor, the spark that makes something special, and that our team has “IT.”
Felecia Bessman expressed thankfulness that God included her in this mission.
Sheila Chhutani discussed how the business and politics of medicine interfere back home, but in Guatemala we just get to take care of patients.
Dani Friedman Zietz is amazed at how organized Faith in Practice is.
Kathy Gomez said that it’s a blessing to be here and that it’s given her the spark that was missing in her life.

After four days of surgery, most of the team had a day off to explore Antigua. Our physicians rounded on their last patients, issuing discharge orders so the patients could return to their families. This was one last opportunity for hugs and big smiles.

We leave Guatemala experiencing contentment and joy that cannot be experienced at home.

-Therese Casterline

One Comment

  • Felicia Bessman says:

    I was truly blessed to be part of the Faith in Practice team and what God is doing throughout the globe. Pray to be back next year.