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So many amazing outward-focused people make this week thrive. Manuel is one of many heroes here. He’s a bus driver, pharmacy assistant, reading glasses fitter, water bottle opener (The caps are tough! Thank you, Manuel), all around What Needs Doing and I’ll Do It human. Always with a smile, an extended hand, and a kind heart. We appreciate his cheerful morning self who drives us safely to the clinic and his still cheerful evening self who delivers us safely back to the hotel. Brava, Manuel!

I was honored to share this morning’s devotional and read a favorite Ellen Bass poem on the importance of seeing people as they truly are and remembering memento mori, Latin for we all must die.

If You Knew

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

When Team Wells arrived at the clinic, we could hit the ground in Go! thanks to fabulous FIP people who started triage and, again, the incredible local volunteers, the Red Hats, who set up chairs and set us all up for another beautiful day, being of service.

Providers listened, asked questions, and listened some more. They gave counsel, suggested exercises, prescribed medication, and sent patients to the lab too. These providers are proof that the best medicine is often someone truly seeing you in your honey-soaked self.

Alison, aged five, received her shiny blue pediatric wheelchair today. She and her mama came from Amatitlan, about an hour and a half away. Alison’s been diagnosed with microcephaly and strabismus. And while her mama was offered a surgical referral, she wants to wait. There’s another child in their extended family with the same condition. Lilian, Alison’s mama, said maybe the two kids can get evaluated together and both have the surgery.

Alison shines from the inside out. She’s attentive, engaged, not overly sensitive to noise which is common with children in these cases. She’s healthy, and doesn’t have seizures. Her mama clearly adores her and takes beautiful care of her needs, physical and emotional. Mama Lilian is more light. So tender, with an oceanic heart. When she leaned into her daughter (The photo of mama and daughter is these two) as their foreheads tented, the love from mama to daughter, daughter to mama was electric.

After a day of the highest and deepest care, with providers problem solving, being creative, dispensing amazing care, Team Wells returned to the hotel. At dinner, Fausto, who works for the security company, is deeply committed to FIP, and has been on over 100 FIP mission trips told us: “Thank you again for coming to serve my people, the people of Guatemala. Thank you from my heart. Faith in Practice is my family. So now you’re my family.”

Team Wells has received far more from the people of Guatemala than we’ve given to them. Our gratitude is deep and wide. Our hearts are stretched and full, full, full.

-Annie Gudger

To support this team and their commitment to our patients visit

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