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Day 1 started with a beautiful early morning devotional led by Karen, in which she reminded us to listen to the quiet voice within us and to ask ourselves what we are doing here in Petén. Everyone’s response may be distinct but the overarching theme of service to Guatemalans is the common thread. The majority of Team Thompson has been anticipating this week for nearly a year.

We arrived at the clinic location, a school in San Luis shortly after 7:30am with the first order of business being the setup of a fully functional clinic. The clinics are usually set up on Sunday afternoons in most locations, but as this is the most remote location that Faith in Practice serves, the long bus journey prevented us from setting up on Sunday.

Trunks were unpacked, exam rooms were created within the school’s classrooms, waiting areas sprung up under tents, and wheelchairs were put together. Most of the team has been on many of these village clinic weeks, so instead of chaos it’s a finely choreographed dance, performed by cheerful and excited volunteers. Within 90 minutes of our arrival, we were ready or listos, and the patient Guatemalans filed in.

Our busy doctors are divided into Pediatrics, Gynecology, Dermatology and General Medicine. Their work is supported by a lab, where blood pressure is taken, blood sugar and hemoglobin tests are performed as well as other lab functions. The ultrasound lab is relatively new, and a welcome addition to the village teams. Prescriptions are filled from the Pharmacy, along with any counseling required for some medications. Reading glasses and sunglasses are dispensed just outside the pharmacy.

Our mobility clinic was busy all day fitting patients with donated wheelchairs and offering physical therapy where required.

Dr. Irina met Johnny who works in a nursing facility and brought several patients to us who needed wheelchairs. One older man who came could not walk and had to be carried. Johnny said he was happy to carry the old man because some day he too will have to be carried.

Another wheelchair recipient, Harri, arrived with both his parents. He’s 19 years old and has cerebral palsy. In the last few years, he’s grown out of his old wheelchair leaving him with no mobility. Sarah and Bruce took extraordinary care to fit Harri’s wheelchair to him with some modifications and customizations. Before leaving the clinic, Harri’s parents shared how much they could now enjoy walks as a family.

A 9-year-old boy was seen by Dr. Carol today. He started having difficulty walking beginning around four years of age. He began to toe walk, fall frequently, and walk with a twisted appearance around the trunk. More recently he seems to be losing weight. We were able to provide a walker to support this very thin child who fell three times during the visit. He is now being referred to neurology for a neuromuscular disorder, likely muscular dystrophy.

These are just a handful of the hundreds of patients who filed through our clinic on our first day. Our day was very long, and we left the clinic site after dark, tired but satisfied.

To support this team and their commitment to our patient’s visit:

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