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Buenas tardes! Today is a special day for Stephanie Aaronson, a CRNA on the team. She is celebrating her birthday! Stephanie says today is one of several birthdays she has spent abroad with Faith In Practice, and this is her twenty-third mission trip with the organization. Stephanie was even part of the original team during the opening of the Hospital Hilario Galindo. This week, she is traveling with her husband Christian Cleveland-Peck, also a CRNA. We are so thankful that Stephanie has chosen to spend her time with us in Guatemala; she says working here feels like what she was meant to do.

Breakfast this morning was another buffet, and volunteers rose bright and early to catch the bus to the hospital by seven. As we backed into the hospital’s driveway, the team sprang into action. Almost everyone changed into scrubs; nurses hurried to begin pre-op procedures and surgeons and anesthesiologists prepped the operating rooms alongside Guatemalan employees and volunteers.

Once Pastor Scott Higgins and I were changed into scrubs, we headed out to visit the pre-op patients. Gustavo, a Guatemalan volunteer, helped Scott translate as he reassured the patients about their procedures and offered prayer and encouragement. Although we needed to overcome a language barrier, the Holy Spirit was moving through the patients and volunteers as everyone prepared for the first case to commence.

Dr. Allison Higgins’s cases for the day consisted of mostly hysterectomies, with one case shared with Dr. Greg Sachs. As I watched Dr. Higgins work, I wondered why the procedure seemed to be taking longer than it should. Her nurses explained that she was working without a piece of equipment that would make it easier to finish the case. I was amazed at Dr. Higgins’s skill and dedication – how incredible that she has volunteered her time to work here, even when she doesn’t have the tools she normally has access to.

Dr. Sachs worked on repairing hernias and a few other assorted cases, while Dr. Wilson Hartz mostly operated on patients who needed their gallbladder removed. His first case, however, was a hernia repair on the mayor of San Felipe: the neighboring town to Retalhuleu (where Hilario Galindo is located). I visited with him in the PACU; he was so excited to be feeling better, and requested a picture with all the PACU nurses!

One obstacle the team overcame today was a delay in surgery. Although it was disappointing, Kareen, one of the PACU nurses, demonstrated a big heart for our patients (and for Christ!) as she spent a majority of her morning with the delayed patient, chatting and being a friend. Eventually the patient was able to have her surgery, and Kareen’s kindness was a huge blessing to the patient, the nurses, and the doctors.

Tomorrow, I look forward to checking on patients with the surgeons, visiting the Casa de Milagros, and interacting more with the people at Hilario Galindo.

Here’s to another beautiful day tomorrow: we want to continue to be Jesus’s hands and feet!

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