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Yesterday was our second day of surgery, and Team Stempel felt ready for the day. The day went smoothly. There was still calm confidence that could be felt throughout the entire team. It was another long day, with 17 surgeries for 14 patients. We closed with another evening prayer from the hospital that reminded us that we’re living in God’s ideal state here in Guatemala. John, our spiritual leader, encouraged us to recognize the small moments that fill us up this week and think on how we can bring that back to our daily lives at home.

One of our patients today had tears in her eyes as she was prepped for surgery. She told us her father had passed away while in surgery, and she was so nervous heading into her operation. She was saying she was ready. She trusted us wholeheartedly.

Before going into surgery, she requested that they take a photo of the mass they removed. She said she had to know what had made her so miserable. This morning, about 16 hours after her surgery, Dr. Erickson and Dr. Stempel checked in with her in the ward. Dr. Erickson talked her through how things went and showed her the photo on his phone. I saw her try and sneak her phone up to take her own photo. Dr. Erickson laughed, asked for her info, and sent it to her over WhatsApp within the minute.

Dr. Stempel smiled and told me how incredible it is to connect with the patients this way. When he started making these trips 18 years ago, he couldn’t have imagined taking a photo to share with his patient like this.

In talking with our team members who work in healthcare in the US, it’s clear that this trip is a bit of a shock to the system. The working environment is different from what they’re used to, yet they can still accomplish the same quality of care in a simplified setting. The team is working together efficiently and effectively – and we get to interact with the patients in a way that is so impactful for them and us.

The work we’re doing feels genuine. We’re reminded how blessed we are to experience this way of life, and it helps us prioritize what’s important – today, the rest of this week, and when we get back home.

– Marian & Parker

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