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On our bus ride to the final day at the clinic, marigold butterflies flitted in the grass-green grass, zigging and zagging, playful, vibrant, vital, alive. A lovely image to go along with Linda Hungerford’s devotion she offered this morning.

Linda started with the definition of a vocation: a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action.

The idea of vocation holds as central the belief that each person is created with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. In the broader sense vocation includes the use of one’s gifts in their profession, family life, religious and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.

She continued with the following quotes:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (CCC 2392).

“Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”
—Mother Teresa

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit. to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
1 Corinthians 12:4-24

Every member on Team Wells brought their talents and skills and heart this week, brought their belief in serving. Everyone left with their muscle hearts stretched even bigger. We all agree we received way beyond what we gave.

Elsa joined us for the first time, and we’re fingers crossed that she’ll come back.

“Look!” Elsa said, and pointed to a grasshopper resting on her jacket, the one in the picture. Grasshopper in Spanish is esperanza, which translates as hope. Because there’s always hope. We just need to look.

Elsa: bright, caring, kind human with mad skills for learning, for jumping in. This is her third medical mission, her second mission in Guatemala, and she was a part of a team that went to Peru with a foundation her uncle created 20 years ago for cleft and lip pallet surgeries. Missions have long been familiar to her, something we do to give back.

“I like to help people,” Elsa said, simple and clear, her smile lighting up the room even through a mask.

Elsa was born in Guatemala City. Her mom died suddenly of a heart attack when Elsa was 11, leaving her feeling helpless. At 13, she was adopted and moved to the U.S. Then her family became her mom and two older brothers.

While life is many layered, Elsa credits her early mother loss as a driver for her to pursue medicine (She’s been a medical assistant for 19 years), and for her profound desire to give back to the people of Guatemala, her birthland, her early roots. She’s passionate about bringing medical education to Guatemala.

“There’s not a lot of health education here,” she said. “And there’s a great need. Along with a huge amount of poverty, especially in rural area. People don’t get care. They don’t know who/how to ask.”

When asked what were her biggest take aways from the village trip, she said, “to see people eternally grateful. It’s a big deal to them. To us? This is what we do. We take care of people.” She thought for a moment and added: “Seeing how committed people are to the cause. That was huge.”

Giving back is in Elsa. It always has been. And she’s passing the importance of helping people to her two boys, ages 12 and 19. She says about her boys, “They’re lucky to be where they are. I want them to appreciate it.” Her message to them: “I tell them to do the best you can. Help where you can.”

Elsa’s helping heart, her outward focused perspective shines through her eyes, through the way she listens with her whole body. She’s someone who wears kindness glasses. See the world through kindness and you see a kind world.

Team Wells is lucky and blessed to have Elsa. She ran the lab smoothly, efficiently, always taking time to look patients in the eyes, greet them, make them comfortable. Being bilingual she spoke to everyone, switching from English to Spanish, from Spanish to English. She spoke with grace and kindness, leaning in, not back. When Domigo came to the lab—a 76-year-old man who squats instead of sitting or standing, his body sculpted in a perfect yoga pose, balanced on his toes—and said he wasn’t comfortable standing or sitting in a chair, Elsa came down to him, not him up to here (See photo).

Elsa gives selflessly, walking the path that the highest form of giving seeks nothing in return. Her deep desire to serve, to help touched so many lives this week. All the Guatemalans who came to the clinic, all of us on the team and FIP staff, and the local volunteers.

At the end of another day of being of service, tending to the Guatemalan people, being inspired by them, by their sky big hearts, by their gratitude, by their patience, Team Wells finished up and broke down the clinic, repacked the box truck and—snap—turned the community center back into a large empty room. All was accomplished with the amazing help of local volunteers, the Red Hats. As Bob Wells said to the Red Hats when we all gathered at the end: “We were concerned about the week because our team is small this time and the need is large. You all made it possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
—Mother Theresa

-Annie Gudger

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