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Today was the team’s third day of surgery, marking the passing of the half-way point of our surgeries. Through three days of surgery, the team has successfully completed 26 operations, and expect to have completed 31 in total over the course of four days here at Obras hospital.

Our morning schedule was the same today, with devotional after breakfast. Today’s devotional was led by team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nathan Polley, and centered on the culture clash we are experiencing as Americans in Guatemala. While being one of the most advanced countries in the world in metrics such as access to education and healthcare, infrastructure, and much more, too often the materialistic-capitalistic side of our culture can weaken our interaction as a society. Too often “things” replace the joy that people can provide, and Dr. Polley gave a prime manifestation of just that: how there is not one storage center in Antigua, a town of over 40,000 people- yet in the USA a town of similar size would be filled with them to fit the “things” which we think we need.

That drawback of our culture is something every team member has experienced in the field of healthcare through overrun under-staffed hospitals and practices in which transactional, “efficient” interaction can become the daily routine instead of the profound, bonding and cathartic experiences our team has had here at Obras hospital. That is what healthcare is at heart and that is what Dr. Polley experienced with his team at Casa de Fe when they visited yesterday, sharing in emotional prayer and embracing one another with patients and their families. That experience served as a reminder for how much of a gift it is for us to be a part of this team and that the beauty of service, faith and care is all we need- and that is something we should carry with us back to the states.

During morning rounds at the hospital patients were walking and excited in the ward, conversing with the teams about their improvement and soon-to-be departure. 11 patients were discharged today, and many more should be discharged tomorrow. 9 surgeries were successfully completed, and every patient has begun to walk! I felt that today our team and the hospital staff really operated on a high level as we have settled into our temporary workspace in Antigua, and we have made connections with Nurses, Anesthesiologists, Physical Therapists and more staff at Obras hospital itself. Many patients have experienced a remarkable post-op condition, improving from severe arthritis or fused bones to walking in just hours.

After saying goodbye to families and finishing up surgeries, the team did a final round in the ward to check on the patients and introduce ourselves officially outside of the OR. Over the past couple of days, those moments of bonding have been highly emotional for our surgery teams and patients alike, as when we express our tremendous gratitude and thankfulness to each other outside of the operating room or triage area we can really make connections and memories. In those moments it also comes to light just how critical every single person is to the operation and success of our trip, because we truly operate as one team.

We then left the hospital and walked back through the streets of Antigua, taking much care walking over the wet cobblestone streets and sidewalks back to Quinta de las Flores hotel for another night of relaxation and bonding, yet again, as a team.

Hasta mañana,

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