I could summarize our travel day with three phrases; seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and due to traffic and construction, a 6.5 hour bus ride through lush landscape, to Los Hostales de IRTRA in San Martin Zapotitlán, Retalhuleu. Being from Los Angeles, I forget there are parts of the world with untouched land. This is Guatemala. It’s my third time to accompany Faith In Practice, with the last trip being in 2012. I’m nervous, but excited about the work to be done here. Due to Covid and our location this year, we are a small (but fierce) team consisting of two Gynecologists, an ENT, three Anesthesiologists, two Scrub Nurses, two Post-Op Nurses and a Patient Advocate, two Audiologists, three Interpreters, a Team Leader, a Spiritual Leader, and a Photographer/Blogger. In addition, we have the unwavering Guatemalan Faith In Practice surgical/support team and volunteers that without them, none of this would be possible.
Today began with a devotional and a moment to pause and to remember why we are here and how blessed we are. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” – a great mantra to start the week as patients arrive with hope and a medical team prays for the Lord’s guidance.
We arrived early at the Hospital Hilario Galindo, our home for the next five days. After a hospital tour the team broke out and met with prospective patients and prepared the operating/recovery rooms for the coming week. The most inspiring part of the day (in this writer’s opinion) was learning this is the first time this hospital has had an audiology team. Years of untreated ear infections can lead to hearing loss and multiple hearing problems and there will be many people to help. Additionally, due to Covid, it’s been two years since a Gynecology team has been able to provide healthcare to women. This is crucially vital in a country where women often have multiple children, and where access to this care is limited. We know our work will be needed and appreciated by the grateful souls we met today.
Nos vemos mañana, amigos.
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.