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For surgery teams in Antigua, Fridays are generally “free days” where the team members can explore Antigua and wind down a bit before returning home on Saturday. While I usually go home on Friday, because of the travel complexities brought about by all the COVID measures and because it makes things a bit less complex for FIP, I stayed today to go home with the team tomorrow. Consequently, I was able to join the team for breakfast and then the familiar and always-welcome walk over to the Obras with the surgery and PT teams to assist with translation the final morning of therapy for most of the patients before they go home (or transfer over to the Casa de Fe for a longer stay).

When we got to the hospital, I had the opportunity to share one last tear-filled “goodbye” made sweeter with a long “fuerte” (strong) hug with Cindy. While we both sobbed in the tight grip of our mutual “abrazo”, she repeated her gratitude for all that God had done to heal her hip through our team. Those shared moments of mutual affection and gratitude bring me back time and time again, and I suspect it’s what compels so many team members to come year after year. It’s truly amazing how God-ordained and orchestrated the fellowship between his children for HIS glory; when we participate in His work and will, it is indescribably and overwhelmingly fulfilling.

Soon after I found myself with Sebastian and our diminutive and long-time friend, Ana (I call her “Anita” for her size and out of affection for her) who had yet another surgery just yesterday to correct what I believe (not sure) was a stress fracture in one of her femurs that occurred between the last time the team operated on her and this week. Sebastian was just getting her started in physical therapy, so we paused to get another picture of her on the smallest (likely pediatric) crutches I’ve ever seen.

We said our “goodbyes,” and soon after, several of us headed to the Café Condessa, a very popular restaurant on the west side of the main town square. We would join our other team compadres for a walking tour with Elizabeth Bell. For the next 2+ hours, Elizabeth navigated in, around and through different historical structures near the town square, ending up at the Santo Domingo hotel, one of the largest (if not the largest) privately owned museums and ruins in all of Antigua. It also has a wonderful restaurant where we have held many prior FIP team celebration banquets; this year, because of COVID, it wasn’t considered practical or safe. Hopefully, we’ll return on the next trip for dinner at Santo Domingo. It is spectacular!

After the tour, our group split into two (or three) smaller groups to go have lunch. Four of us went back to the Café Condessa to join Kim, José (the lead PT at the Obras), and another Obras therapist (I don’t recall his name), where we enjoyed a wonderful, restful, and filling lunch and fellowship. While there, Kim shared that she had “run into” Joe and Vera Wyatt, the two founders of Faith In Practice at the Obras, which was really cool. I had never seen or met either of them before, but little did I know that would soon change.

Before we left, Kim went out to the front of the café to visit with Linda, one of her long-time Antiguan/Mayan friends. When we walked out, I took a couple of photos. You can see one of them in today’s blog.

From there, I walked a couple of blocks east to the Casa de Jade to buy my wife a 10mm jade “dona” for her necklace. As a tradition, every time I come with FIP to Guatemala, I buy her a jade donut. It’s my very small way of saying how grateful I am that she stays home and maintains the “home front” while I can serve abroad. Were it not for her patience and selflessness, none would be possible for me! Thank you, Sweetie!!

When I left the Casa de Jade, I crossed paths with several other team members who had just encountered Joe and Vera Wyatt at the Epicure restaurant. Since I had never met them before, I decided to walk the 2-1/2 blocks to see if I could catch them still there, and to my delight, I found them at the back of the restaurant finishing their lunch with Kathrine and Brian Parsley. I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to join them, which I did, of course, and a few minutes gained a quick appreciation for their fierce devotion to keeping the FIP mission centered on Christ at all levels the mission. It was a joy for me to finally meet the two people who started what has grown into such an impactful mission for God’s glory!

Our team is preparing to go out for dinner as I pen this. Some of the team members are going to Welton’s, while others are going to Tartines, among perhaps other popular dining spots in town. This will be a particular time of relaxed fellowship with new friends with whom we now share a special bond that will endure for many years to come. Praise Him!

This will be my last blog entry since we’ll be traveling all day tomorrow, Saturday. May God bless every team member in their return home, and may He be with their family members who anxiously await their arrival.

Until next year.


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