A day in the life of a village clinic.
Karen, a young woman of 27, came into the OB/GYN clinic with pains! Her head hurt, her stomach cramped, she carried with her a young son, but her face carried the weight of the world! As Robin and Twyla spoke with her, her story spilled out. Her young son receives monthly blood transfusions, but he’s in need of a bone marrow transplant. That is something that cannot be done in Guatemala. So, her husband got a Visa to work in Canada where he’s been the last 5 months. The hope is that eventually the family will be able to join him there. And that they will be able to have earned enough money to have the lifesaving procedure. What could we do but just wrap her and her son up in our arms, cry with her and pray. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Our doctors couldn’t offer the cure today, but as they shared in her grief, her load was lightened.
Dare I say the wheelchair assemblers are on a roll? (cue the laugh track!) The stories are as endless as the assembly line! The mobility volunteers have built 33 wheelchairs in the past 6 hours and they’re not at the finish line yet! Patients today ranged from 10 years old to 87 years!
“Seeing the smiles on their faces is worth all the hard work.”- David
“When they receive their wheelchairs, we’re all overcome with emotion.”- Tom
“Poder hacer esto para mi es gratitud y amor.”- Blanca
“The line was long, the elderly lady was dressed beautifully in a long silky dress and black lace sweater. She was waiting patiently. Finally her name was called and a beautiful blue wheelchair rolled up in front of her. With the help of her 3 family members she shuffled toward her chair, then hesitated! A rolling chair, was it sturdy? A strong chair, was it truly hers? Gently she lowered herself into the chair, her chair! Feet were placed on the pads, and ever so slowly she rolled forward. Look out world, Maria is on the move!”- Mary Leslie
Mary and Rebecca were beside themselves when they met a young girl in their clinic today who had left school after the 6th grade because her family couldn’t afford the 50 quetzales (approx. $6.40 USD) monthly to attend school. If she had been allowed to continue her education, today she would have been in the 11th grade. Our mind races to how frivolously we spend that small amount of money! But it’s a real dilemma to the poor of Guatemala. If school is something families are willing to sacrifice because of cost, think how often they turn away from seeking medical attention! Faith in Practice clinics never costs the patient even a penny! We can’t solve the educational system in a country where the poor lag behind, but I hope someday it will change. What we can do is come down and serve. What we can do is come down and care. Perhaps you are asking yourself what can you do? Pray…always! Join us…come! Participate….donate!
There’s nothing “general” about General Medicine! But Bernie was ready for whatever ailments the patients brought to him. One woman suffered greatly from varicose veins and a vascular disorder. She was in great pain from the intense throbbing due to such poor circulation. Medical education is such an incredible gift the doctors give each patient! They take the time to help them understand the root cause(s) of their problem and corrective measures to lessen the negative impact on their health. He talked with her about the importance of exercise and was able to put her on an aspirin regimen to open the blood vessels. He also gave her compression stockings to reduce the discomfort and swelling. She then gave him back a gift- the BIGGEST smile he’d ever seen! I think I’m noticing an added skip in Bernie’s walk today!
As our 2nd clinic day in the village of Jutiapa draws to a close, I can’t help but hear the echoes of the song Jesu, Jesu that we sang as a group yesterday morning. As you journey with us this week, may the echo carry also to your ears and heart.
Refrain (Ghanaian folk song)
Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.
These are the ones we should serve,
These are the ones we should love;
All these are neighbors to us and You.
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