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Birdsong at 5 AM.

While eating breakfast, clouds cleared to reveal the tip of Volcan Aqua rising above the hotel’s grounds.

Morning devotional using the volcanoes as a metaphor for the slow work of God and the slow work of setting up ORs, meeting patients, and the inventory work of today that sets the stage for life-changing surgeries to begin tomorrow.

We are eager to begin.This team has waited a long time to share their love, compassion, and expertise with the poor of Guatemala.

A walk through narrow cobblestone streets to the hospital, Las Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital – Antigua. Beautiful stucco walls and wooden gates, motorcycles bouncing on the cobbles, incredibly decorative buses full of people.

Antigua is full of twisting hallways and open courtyards filled with plants and fountains and sparrows.

Muffled hymns and the language of mass being said behind the closed doors of the church attached to the hospital. Franciscans founded and ran the hospital, so of course, a beautiful church is attached.

Father Guillermo, a Franciscan priest here at the church and one of the founding Guatemalan members of Faith in Practice sends greetings.

Today people are patiently waiting for their time to meet their doctor. Mothers with young children in laps play at their feet and strapped onto their backs, waiting for life-altering cleft lip and palate surgeries. Adults were waiting patiently and quietly but eager to wave and smile as we walked by.

An orientation meeting with Los Obros and Faith in Practice staff. Many oohs and ahhs over the new operating rooms and remodeled surgery wing from those who’ve come before and know how small and cramped the space once was. It is beautiful and open now.

Boxes brought from the warehouse and supplies unloaded and organized, operating rooms prepared, paperwork filled out, and the pharmacy set up.

After the set up, triage begins. Doctors meet their patients and assess their needs. Surgery schedules are made for the remainder of the week.

And now, waiting for dinner, the sounds of people mingling, laughing, building community. The stage is set for the week and, as Ivonne, a passionate Faith in Practice supporter and interpreter here in Guatemala, said before dinner, also for the “transformation of not only individuals but entire families.” May God’s long, slow work continue in the hearts of the Guatemalans we encounter, for each of us and for each of you.

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