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Our first morning here in Retalhuleu began with a group devotional led by Dr. Gordon and then a breakfast served by the wonderful staff here at Los Hostales Del IRTRA. The staff and guests around the grounds of the hotel greeted us with smiles and kindness, it’s safe to assume that many of them recognize our shirts, reading ‘La Fe En Práctica’. Their warm welcome has kept our spirits high and solidified our reason for being here: to assist the people of Guatemala and provide the care many of them so desperately need.
The Volcán Santiaguito is visible through puffs of clouds as the team takes the short bus ride to the hospital. There we will meet the staff and learn the layout of the buildings and review the schedule for the week.
Today is triage day, the team will be setting up the operating rooms and speaking to patients in preparation for tomorrow. Monday marks the beginning of our reason for coming. Many of the people here have waited months if not years for the surgeries that will be performed this week. Thankfully many patients have been prepped by the assiduous hospital staff prior to our arrival, allowing the team to work efficiently with the short amount of time we have this week.
Upon arrival the hospital director welcomed us and said something that resonated with me. “You are not just making a difference in their lives, you are giving them life”. I remembered this as I met the women awaiting treatment, many of whom have been suffering far too long. This is their opportunity for the long-sought comfort and relief that we are privileged and honored to provide. I’m hopeful that these strong-willed women will leave here with a better quality of life and I’m so excited to be a part of this mission.

Andrea Freeman

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