Day 7 - Antigua

Posted on: 02/28/2020

Author: Therese Kiernan

We’re glad to report Pastor David is feeling much better and was able to lead devotions this morning.   

Our team has several members who have been working together for several years.   With that camaraderie comes traditions.   Every year on our last surgical day, during devotions, the team is invited to share their thoughts on what this particular trip has meant to them.  

Therese – I wanted to express how impressed I’ve been with the preparation that the medical teams put into each procedure and the special care given to each patient.   Dr. Perez, one of the Obras physicans, commented on how our medical providers go above and beyond in the care they give the patients.

Dr. Peters quoted Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  The story of meeting Dr. Apel is a great example of God’s purpose!  Dr. Peters went to an orthopedic surgeons’ conference and happened to sit next to Dr. Apel.  After hearing about Faith In Practice, Dr. Apel volunteered for our team, filling a need at the perfect time.

Dr. Apel responded that after meeting Dr. Peters at the conference, he went home, checked his calendar, and was able to schedule the trip.   Life as a doctor at home is pretty demanding, and we can forget the purity of what we do.   I have realized the “gift of doing.”  I will be going home rehabilitated and refreshed in ways I never expected.   He also talked about Eddy, our patient who rode 18 hours in the back of a truck, to come to Antigua to fix his elbow.  This experience has been humbling and has built perspective.

Melissa - This is my fourth year.   Each year continues to change my life more, is new and exciting, and restores me.   I remember during my first year crying every day.   I try to take back what I experience here, the humility, and share it with my family and patients.   I want to share the appreciation I’ve experienced with others.

Dr. Heaberlin – I see the fruit of the spirit, and I encourage everyone to see that fruit on both sides – providers and patients.

Dr. Stehly – Dr. Peters invited me on this trip 8 years ago, but I had a young family and wasn’t able to travel at that time.   It is an amazing process that got me here.   It wasn’t easy, but when I see Christ in the eyes of our patients and their families, I realize how special it is.

Dr. Gill added that when Dr. Harris was unable to come on the trip due to a medical complication, the Lord provided Eric on short notice.

Patty – I have realized we are all on a different path but on the same road to the same destination, with the same ultimate purpose.

Carrie – I love the heart of the Guatemalan people and the heart of the team.   It is truly a great group!

Gail – I feel very blessed to be a part of this.   I have heard about it from other team members for years.   I love walking down the halls of the hospital and seeing the smiles and exuberance.   I am in awe of the skill of the doctors in ways that they are not exposed to at home.

We then headed to the Obras for our 4th and last day of surgery.   As Gail expressed, it is such an experience to enter the hospital, to see people lined up down the halls, with “Buenos Dias” ringing out as we walk by.   I wish we could stop to hug each person and let them know how special they are.

Another tradition on the last surgical day is “Crazy Scrubs Day,” where everyone dons the most outlandish scrubs they can find.   It makes for some great photo ops.   While each team member takes their job and patient care very seriously, we throw in some humor too.

There were 9 orthopedic and 10 gynecological surgeries scheduled for the day.   Unfortunately, one young man, age 29, was afraid to have the scheduled three-hour surgery to correct a webbed hand and did not show up.   He lives 8 hours away and this was his third trip to Antigua.   This was a  disappointment to our team.   Especially for people in remote villages, surgical procedures are very daunting.

The orthopedic surgeries included a trigger thumb release, carpal tunnel release, osteotomy to remove bones in an arm, and several knee procedures.   The gynecological team was quite busy with 10 procedures, including hysterectomies, fibroid removal, and removal of ovaries/Fallopian tubes.   

During the week, I was introduced to Armando, a Faith In Practice village director in Guatemala.   He has had 5 surgeries to reconstruct his nose and face following removal of a cancerous tumor 13 years ago.  He went years with a gaping hole where his nose was but now has a beautiful nose and talks very well.  Some of his procedures were performed by Faith In Practice doctors, which led to him serving others as a director.  He brought to Antigua a patient who will be having surgery in a couple of weeks.

I also wanted to share something interesting thing I learned from our cooks.   Vilma, the lady who assists the cooking team, has a charity that supports children who live off a nearby landfill, scavenging for food and whatever else they can find.   She sells homemade Guatemalan products, using the money to provide backpacks and school supplies to these children.

Following a busy day of surgeries, the team gathered for a Team Appreciation Dinner at a local restaurant.



Debbie Jobe – For 11 years, Debbie has served as Team Administrator, helping plan the trip, scheduling day-to-day activities, checking in patients, keeping up with the surgery schedule, and, last, but not least, keeping track of all team members.   She is the Executive VP of training for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and recently celebrated her 40th year with FCA.

Kellie Boyd, LVN – At home in Dallas, Kellie works for Dr. Crable, MD, one of our team gynecologists, as an office manager, and assists with patient care.   She is helping as an admin assistant, training with Debbie Jobe.   This is her first mission trip.

Susan Carrillo – Susan is an office manager for GYN/OB Associates in Dallas, and works with Dr. Chhutani, another gynecological surgeon.   Like Kellie, this is her first mission trip, and she is serving as an admin assistant, training with Debbie Jobe.

Nan Peters - Nan oversees the finances for our Faith In Practice team and heads up our Share The Mission fund-raising.  She also serves in a pastoral role for the team, leading devotions and praying with patients and their families.  She has assisted our teams for 11 years.   

Dave Jobe – For 13 years, Pastor Dave has ministered to the needs of our patients and their families, as well as leading worship during our morning devotions.  He is now a retired pastor, enjoying his grandkids, fishing and golf, and serving God in other mission fields.


Richard Sanchez – Richard served in the US Air Force for 20 years, traveling all over the world.   He then worked in International Flight Operations for American Airlines.   Since retirement, he has volunteered his translation skills at GRACE Grapevine, where he met Nan Peters.   Nan invited him to join Faith in Practice, and we welcome him to the team.


Therese Kiernan – This is my 9th trip as the team photojournalist, and each opportunity to travel with these amazing caregivers and document the stories of the patients is as special as the last.  I am a freelance court reporter in DFW.


Mark Kiernan - Back home in Dallas/Fort Worth, Mark works in the Flight Operations Center for American Airlines.  One of his hobbies is cooking, and he has volunteered for a 4th year to help provide meals for our team.

Jim Litterer – Jim was the former owner of a dental laboratory and is now retired.   Along with his wife, Patty, our dental hygienist, Jim has assisted Faith In Practice teams as a cook for five years.   His last trip was 10 years ago, and it was great to have him back on the team.