Team #312, Day 1
Team #312 has safely arrived in Guatemala City airport on time and around 12:30 together, although a bumpy ride for those coming from Houston. It was very organized and smooth sailing to the van. Joanne from Faith in Practice had the team in the van and on the way to Antigua in no time. Dr. Pogodzinski and a few others stayed behind to get all the supplies through customs. A lot of the team is from Wisconsin, and many have worked together for several years. On the bus was great excitement – sandwiches and water for the ride. In the back of the van we all learned the best way to get to the front of a Hall and Oates concert is to dance your way to the front! The photojournalist also got a photo course on the way – gladly!
We hit big traffic just shy of Antigua, some had to make emergency potty breaks between traffic jams and some just simply needed too. The accident was from a concrete mixer truck, lost his concrete mixer, see photo page.
Dr. Laura Hammel provided a great overview of the surgical week ahead. Surgical supplies, ordering and organizing the medical supplies and patient types were discussed. There was a discussion about potentially less pediatric patients seen this year than previous years but looking at a potential of 44 surgeries planned. The team is excited and prepared for the hard and the rewarding work ahead.
Team Pogo #312 settled in Antigua at Hotel Santa Clara. Once we all got back together we walked through the beautiful town of Antigua to Casa De Fe (House of Faith) for an orientation. Laura, Joanne and Pogo gave us a great presentation and overview of faith in practice and how we can help and support the Guatemalan people.
Case De Fe is a refuge for patients of Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital. More than 10,000 Guatemalans will find refuge in this facility, it relies on the generosity of mission teams and individual donors to ensure that its guest recover from surgery and return to an active, productive life. Over 50% of the Guatemalans are in poverty and medical care is virtually nonexistent for the poor of Guatemala, which is where we come in! FIP is a faith based mission first and brings healing needs to Guatemala. Volunteers go out in the rural areas to discover needs throughout the country and bring in teams, one of which is the Corpus Christi hospital in Patzun. Faith in Practice sees over 20,000 patients over a year’s time in Guatemala.
Some of the team finished the night at dinner at Las Antorchas while others tried a different wonderful dinner La Comida de Guatemala. Our team will travel to Patzun tomorrow with the plan to begin triage and set up at 10am.
Team #312, Day 2
2/26 Team #312
We begin the day with breakfast and coffee at 6am in the courtyard of Hotel Santa Clara. The team quickly organized and loaded the bus for the excited transition to Patzun. Eagerly awaiting to get set up with triage and begin healing. On the way we had a small rain shower just as we passed out of Antigua, soon after we began the climb to the village of Patzun. Spoke with Glen from Faith in Practice who joined us this morning, Glen and his wife Neva live in Guatemala while getting a few weeks to travel back to Missouri. Glen spoke of the nice mild weather in the region specific to Antigua and Patzun. The rainy season begins in May and can last through September although not a consistent rain it is enough to cool and bring life to the area.
This is Dr. Pogo's 16th year doing a Mission Trip with FIP in Guatemala. I got an opportunity on the bus to ask Pogo about the impressive task of preparing inventory and supplies for a medical trip such as the one for team #312. Pogo actually packed/organized and brought 12 trunks of all types of medical supplies while Laura brought 3 trunks. This had to be prepared and co-ordinated with the surgeries and the inventory at FIP in Antigua and Patzun. Pogo sends a list item per trunk to customs while they also require medical supplies and medicines have an expiration date outside of 6 months on arrival. A company donates 40 to 45 surgical packs and sends them from DeRoyale to Glen to organize and coordinate in Guatemala. This would equal about 15 more trunks to pack and manage through customs. What a great coordination and work done to help the people of Guatemala.
We dropped our luggage at the hotel and walked up the cobble streets to the hospital, Clinica Corpus Christi. The families including several children were lined up outside the hospital waiting with smiles. This invited smiles to us as all. We had a brief orientation from Hermana Renyna in which Joanne translated. We ended our orientation with a prayer from Hermana Reyna followed by a team tour of Corpus Christi Hospital. Dr Pogo spoke to all the Guatemalans waiting for help in front of the hospital "you learn from us we and learn from you, gracious"
Team 312 kicked it into gear yet again unloading, unpacking all the trunks and bags under the direction of Pogo. The team immediately began prepping the pre-operative area - Neva and Barb, the OR for patient surgery - Renee, Kim, Deb and Edie, the post-operative room - Olga and Patty and testing the sterilization process - Glen and Will. Dr. Arrillaga and Dr. Seidel with Dan and Elisha assisting screened and scheduled patients for potential procedures for the week, while Olga assisted with translation. The anesthesia team Laura, Amy and Susan also screened patients for the weekly procedures. Jenny is meeting with patients and is giving pre-op instructions. Melissa and Joanne greeted and entered the Guatemalan patients into the Faith in Practice database to ensure all medical procedures were scheduled, addressed and tracked for any and all follow ups. The surgeons will use this database to have a record of all patients and all procedures throughout the week. Is there a more solid team?
Some of the team said this year’s process is more organized and a much better flow, and this year they have two units of blood compared without any units last year. This is a positive move for the team when going into surgery tomorrow.
Barry and Dan's surgical schedule for the week so far is as follow: Monday - 7 cases, Tuesday - 7 cases - pediatrics in the a.m., Wednesday - 7 cases, Thursday - 2 cases. With a great case variety of groin hernias, an infected LAP cholecystectomy and she works in the pharmacy at Corpus Christi hospital, excision breast biopsy, a ventral/incisional hernia after c-section, an eye lesion on a beautiful little girl and 3 inguinal hernias with undescended testicles. A ten year old with a mother very concerned with infertility, received relief she could be a grandmother some day!
The gallbladder patients from Santa Rosa had difficulty understanding laparoscopic procedure. They believed it was a laser procedure and they all requested to take their gallstones home and believe that each gallstone is removed one at a time.
Abe and Elisha's surgical schedule for the week so far is as follows: Monday – 6, Tuesday- 7, Wednesday – 6, Thursday – 3.The surgeries scheduled are excision of ganglion cysts, several hernias including pediatric and inguinal and vernal, and LAP cholecystectomy.
Great day from a strong, wonderful, collaborative team! Off to dinner and looking forward to faithful days of healing.
Team #312, Day 3
Team #312, Day 3 – Surgeries Begin
Prior to noting day 3, we completed day 2 by visiting Hogar de ninos San Francisco de asis – the orphanage behind Corpus Christi hospital. The children are so trusting, curious and joyful to interact with the FIP team -the beautiful children will be in our memories forever. Abe swinging children in the air, Dan giving piggy back rides, Patty covered with children while showing angry birds on her iPhone, Renee playing with children on the swing set, Elisha playing soccer and losing while Olga held several children in her arms. Barb, Deb, Jenny, Olga and Edie playing and holding the children. That evening a community church choir of 15 or so with accordion, guitar and dancing entertained us with beautiful indigenous music.
Our day started with coffee and a 6am devotion lead by Jenny. This is Jenny’s 12th year, she discussed yesterday as being the best triage day ever, the way it all flowed and how well we worked together, and how we are going to do beautiful things this week and how very proud she is to be a member of this group.
During the devotion we sang, “We All Bow down” and “Here I am” – Jenny read from John 15, The Vine and the Branches. Jenny related beautifully what the passage portrays, “a powerful message as to how we will live this week together. As we remain in the love of God we will accomplish many miracles each day. His command to love each other as I have loved you is shown through every action that comes from our heart. As we embark on this week’s mission remember we are serving God through our hands hearts and souls. Miracles can be seen all around us so stop and live in the present moment and you will experience tears of happiness as we alleviate pain that our patients have struggled with for so long.” The passage signified we are God’s branches and we are his vine, “remain in me and I will remain in you.” This relates to the message Pogo shared with all the patients on day one, as he said, “you learn from us and we learn from you, gracious.”
Following breakfast at Corpus Christi, the team mobilized quickly. All set and prepared for 8am surgery time, Abe and Barry started timely, more than I have ever seen in any US hospital system. This team has converted a small rural village hospital and made it into an efficient and smooth major hospital process.
Timoteo Reyes, had a large inguinal hernia successfully treated by Abe followed by another hernia repair on a 5 year old beautiful young girl named Miria Esmeralda. Her mother quickly joined her in the recovery room. Juan, who has joined the team again this year, is working with patients in the recovery room making the patients more comfortable. Dr Abe successfully repaired two more pediatric patients hernias Zucely 4 and Ingrid 2 years of age. Ingrid’s mother showed worry and fear for her child with tears rolling down her face. She wrapped Ingrid up in a blanket and put her on her back until surgery time as Barb lovingly consoled the two.
Barry’s first procedure he removed a gallbladder and several stones from Maria Antonia. I saw her soon after in recovery and was amazed of her recovery as she was already standing up peaking down the hallway. Juliana had a large ventral hernia successfully repaired. The third case of the day, Delfina had a lap cholecystectomy. A faulty anesthesia monitor challenged the team but Susan and the team were able to complete the surgery successfully. As OR #2 continued to have a few monitor issues the team pushed forward and completed their fourth case on Maria. Barry, Dan, Susan, Edie and Deb were still able to complete the next case, a hernia repair on Juan Jose without any complications. They completed their busy, challenging day with a recurrent right inguinal hernia on a 79 year old gentleman, Cacatzi. Will update his status tomorrow.
Due to quite a few equipment failures Team #312 pulled through on all of the procedures in exception to a Lap Cholecystectomy that was rescheduled as tomorrows first case. The patient, Odilia drove 12 hours away from Santa Rosa in search of relief for her pain. In total, there were 12 surgeries performed on Monday, most of which were hernia repairs (four pediatric) or gall bladder surgeries. The team has worked incredibly hard today with many obstacles thrown but we all pulled together and overcame – I think everyone will turn in early to prepare for an intense surgical schedule Tuesday.
It was very apparent the love these mothers have for their children. Miria age 5, Zucely age 4, Ingrid age 2 and Ana Liliana age 13 all had their mothers here with great concern but strength and trust for the medical team. The children were extremely brave while their mothers truly displayed unconditional love for their children. Photos of this can be seen on the link.
Team #312, Day 4
Team #312 - Day 4
The day began with coffee and devotion from Dr. Barry Seidel in our rooftop dining hall at Hotel Patzun Plaza. Barry read from the 2nd chapter of The Epistle of James, a favorite of Dr. Seidel’s. He spoke about the reading having two main messages, both of which this group of people demonstrates; do not to be partial to others and do not have prejudices toward others. “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, And you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, You sit here in a good place, or, Sit here at my footstool, Have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” Barry reminded us to not only avoid social distinctions between rich and poor but also per James exclude alienating yourself to partiality due to differences. What great words and insight for us to take with us into our spirited day.
We arrived at Corpus Christi for a quick breakfast and rounds and again the team went into action. After much of us stayed late yesterday due to some engineering failures, Glen Berkey (go-to guy) came in early to run tests and prepare the best he could for a demanding day ahead (14 surgeries posted). Glen in years past has proven to be an unequivocal value to this team, more less the entire Faith in Practice Mission.
During rounds I got a chance to walk with Dr. Arrillaga and Elisha. I was anxious to see how little Ingrid (2), Zucely (4), Ana Liliana (13), and Miria (5) were doing. As expected all the mothers had stayed the night and were sitting wide awake by their child. Abe and Elisha are outstanding, and too much relief all patients were doing great and smiles were plentiful.
I recently learned all of the young Guatemalans went home late morning feeling well and relieved to be heading to the comforts of home.
Some of the surgeries today include:
2 year old Kevin Rigoberto (photo) who was brought by his father to have an Orchidopexy (undescended testicle which can happen at birth due to an immature inguinal canal). He was in the pre-op with his father with tears rolling down his face. Barb and Neva were able to bring a smile to his face in their special way.
10 year old Jaime (photo) also has an Orchidopexy and a Herniaplasty. Jaime was triaged by Dr. Sediel and Dan Sunday, entered in a previous blog about the concern Jaime’s mother has for infertility. Both Barry and Dan feel comfortable with the surgery.
Wonderful and serene Odilia 32 from Santa Rosa, 12 hours from the hospital here at Chorpus Christi. As mentioned earlier Odilia had her surgery pushed to the morning due to some equipment failures from last evening. As all of the Guatemalan patients, she was just grateful and appreciative for the care from our team.
8 year old Jayron with a right inguinal hernia. He was very brave in pre-op as he had many pictures taken – he was fascinated looking at himself from the digital image. He laughed out loud every time he looked at the picture. Renee and Kim said he bravely walked into the surgical OR.
The last surgery from yesterday, 79 year old Cacatzi was discharged this afternoon. As mentioned yesterday he had a recurrent hernia with mesh. Dr. Seidel had the difficult task of removing the former mesh and manipulating the tissues plains to position new mesh. Dr. Seidel shook his hand as he discharged him, and Cacatzi showed his gratitude with a big smile (photo). He was walking out the door hand in hand with his wife before Jenny could discuss his discharge orders or give any pain meds. These patients truly exhibit low pain tolerance while expressing great trust and appreciation.
As the surgery day progressed the team continued to face electrical and equipment issues. Dr. Seidel was working with little Kevin when the surgical lights became uncooperative. Amy and Dan proposed a camping head lamp Amy had back at Hotel Patzun. I was able to retrieve her light and a head lamp I had as well. Dr. Seidel and Dr. Arrillaga used the head lamps until full electrical lighting returned. This team is obviously very flexible and calm in any type of challenge.
The early surgeries went well. Odilia’s Lap Cholecystectomy went well as Elisha and the team saved her gall stones as Odilia requested. Kevin Rigoberto’s (2) orchidopexy had its challenges but was successful in the end. Abe repaired Jayron’s hernia, the surgery went well and he is comfortable in recovery.
Yensy (3) was very upset in pre-op, and Barb interpreted from her mother that Yensy is quite the spit fire. Her mom told Barb she tends fight with her siblings and wins most often at the age of 3! Her surgery went well and Dr. Seidel believes she can easily be discharged today. Pictures of Yensy, Maria Magdalena (her mom) and Olga on the Photo Gallery.
Barb and Neva in pre-op were very touched by Francisca, 58 from outside of Patzun. She blessed them all and was very courageous prior to surgery. She opened up to them and shared a lot about her life stories, some happy times and some sad times. Dr. Arrilllage found a tumor during her gall bladder surgery and Team Abe did a great job removing it with limited equipment.
Today was a collective team effort as they all have been – the older hospital has offered its challenges but the team has worked through every challenge without skipping a beat. There were 14 surgeries today, 3 orchidopexy with hernias, several other inguinal hernias, and gall bladders.
Team #312, Day 5
Team #312- Day 5
We began the day at 6am on the rooftop dining hall with coffee and devotion from Melissa. Melissa’s devotion this morning centered on the team coming together from different areas of the country and filling many different roles, all working together as one to heal the poor of Guatemala. She read from 1 Corinthians, where the scripture says the body is made of many parts, each one as important as the other. So too the team is made up of many people, each one playing a necessary part to heal our patients. From pre-op to the wards and everything in between, we have come together, as the body of Christ, to serve.
We completed our devotion with two songs Shall we gather at the River and Here I am.
Yesterday Dan shared an interesting story about Chex Virginia (53) from Santa Rosa, their last case of the day. During triage on Sunday, Dan and Dr. Seidel located a hernia on Chex. Her surgery was randomly scheduled for the last case of the day Tuesday. When the team (Dr. Seidel, Dan, Edie, Susan, and Deb) began healing Chex they found that the hernia had become incarcerated and that the hematoma had turned purple. The bowel was fortunately not incarcerated but the hernia had doubled in size which had to have caused pain to Chex while she waited all day in pre-op. Chex remained quiet and calm throughout the day and never complained of her pain which must have increased as her hernia became incarcerated since triage. Her bravery, enduring of pain without complaint and thankfulness is consistent with the patients seen this week.
I was able to join rounds this morning with Dr. Seidel, Dr. Arrillaga, Dan, and Elisha, as they checked all the patients from yesterday’s procedures. It was a great day of healing today as Melissa so eloquently insinuated in her devotion, all working together as one to heal the people of Guatemala. Jaimie’s mother, Maria Fransita Xico Mejia, blessed Dan, “may god look over you and gracious for your help, may god bless you for your work and may your intelligence continue in your mission.” Yensy (3), Jamie (10), Melany (6), Francisca (58), Jayron (8), Kevin (2), Odilia (32), Maria (21) and others were discharged this morning. Little Kevin’s father came in beaming with a large bag of carrots for the team as gratitude for what they have done for his son (photo gallery). The mothers were ecstatic as Jenny caringly and meticulously went over discharge instructions and medicines provided. (See Photos) Jayron and Jaimie’s mothers in particular hugged and blessed everyone they could as tears of joy rolled down their faces.
Jaimie (10) who has touched many of the team this week with his wonderful and mature attitude will be in our memories. As he walked into his surgery yesterday he introduced himself with a handshake to Dr. Seidel, hola doctor Seidel, me llamo Jaime!
Today is another busy surgery day, some surgeries include:
4 year old Elida from outside of Patzun, is needing a lipoma mass removed from above her eye by Dr. Seidel. She had her doll tightly in her grasp while awaiting her surgery. The doll’s clothing was made by Elida’s mother as the Mayan women make their own beautiful dresses from silk, cotton and wool. The doll went to surgery with Elida for it had no choice. Barb carried the doll as Elida was carried by her mother to the OR. The doll became very popular as Dan proceeded to carry the doll to the recovery room for Olga and Patty to clear for an overnight stay. Elida’s surgery went well and I look forward to finding out her progress.
Maria (30) from the state of Chimaltenango had a ventral hernia repair from a previous c-section. It was fortunate that the ventral hernia was small and Dr. Arrillaga repaired it with no complications. She is currently in recovery doing well.
57 year old Alvaro from Casillas Ras, had a right inguinal hernia repair. Alvaro somewhat anxious held on to the stuffed penguin the pre-op team gave him that brought a smile to his face. He said his family could not make it because they had to work and the trip was too long for them.
Kim shared a story about 36 year old Gilberto that had hernioplasty in Dr. Arrillaga’s room. The patient was under spinal anesthesia and woke up during the procedure and asked when he can return to work. The patient was fine but the question fascinated the team, even though under sedation, Gilberto’s illustrated the need and desire to get back to work. Once the procedure was complete, Gilberto went to Kim and said god bless you and may you have many many more years.
In total the team had 13 surgeries completed today, most of which were inguinal hernia repairs, with one ventral and three gall bladder surgeries. The day was extremely efficient and successful.
Team #312, Day 6
Team #312 -Day 6
Again we started the day with coffee and devotion led beautifully by Deb. Consistent with the devotions this week it was uplifting and meaningful to the team, centering on the teams ability to work together to heal through Christ. Dan read from scripture Matthew 5:13-16. Deb shared that this passage reminded her of the song she sang as a child, “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, don’t let Satan blow it out, hide it under a bushel no, I am going to let it shine all the time.” Deb continued about how this team has let their light shine this week, each of us has a story, different backgrounds, and has faced challenges that have tested our faith, yet everyone made a commitment to come and help the people of Patzun – “you have let you light shine with your smiling eyes under a mask, holding a hand, using your each individual talents to make life easier for our patient.”
This morning rounds were done and all patients were discharged but Cristina Maria who had a ventral hernia/incisional hernia repair. She will stay as Dr. Arrillaga would like one more day of healing. Dan and Dr. Seidel released Maria, Rosa, Candelaria, and Vilma – all the patients that had a cholecystectomy requested their gall bladder stones and had them in hand as a memento of their surgery. It was great to hear Elida (4) with the eye lesion yesterday was well enough to go home yesterday. Alvaro from Casillas Ras finally had a family member able to get to Patzun to take him back home.
Today is the last day of surgeries, 8 surgeries scheduled but already 2 more have been added to make 10 for the day.
Katelin (9) was Dr. Abe’s first case, an excision left wrist ganglion cyst. Kim, Renee, Amy, Elisha and Dr. AA were able to complete a successful case and Katelin was able to leave before lunch. She was happily sitting in discharge while she got pictures and kisses from some of the team (Photo Gallery).
Jeronimo (59) from Popabaj had a large right inguinal hernia repair by Dr. Arrillaga and Elisha. They performed a plug and patch technique and will follow up on his progress tomorrow.
Basilia, an add on, has a large breast lipoma. She was referred by Francisca (58) a patient from Tuesday who had a gall bladder operation. Francisca touched many hearts and she continues by helping her friend Basilia. Francisca is concerned about her friend’s breast tumor and had asked if the team can help her. Francisca brought this to the attention of Neva while she opened up to her. Basilia is here today to be seen and taken care of out of sheer love from her friend, Francisca.
Xulu (65) from state of Chimaltenango had a hyrdrocelectomy, bilateral. Many of the team worked together on this procedure with Dr. Seidel; Edie assisted, Glen scrub tech, Dan and Deb circulated, Susan in anesthesia while Blanca scrubbed in the case as well. The case was a success and Xulu should be relieved of his pain and discomfort.
Today was the last surgery day; there were 10 surgeries today as 2 came in as walk-ins. The day was very smooth as the team completed all surgeries by the afternoon. Tomorrow will be rounds for all these patients followed by packing up medical supplies and equipment from the hospital and heading to Antigua while passing through Lake Atitlan. It will be difficult leaving the hospital and the patients and the people we met and healed in Patzun…as Pogo stated on a trip in the past, “We all receive much more in return than we expended in our effort.”
A fitting ending to today is focusing on Deb’s words in her devotional this morning, is it because of their faith that the people of Patzun trust us completely with their heart, soul and body. We can learn a lot from them about trust, love, faith and gratitude. This team is similar to a symphony orchestra playing a Mozart piece, each knowing their part playing in complete harmony. So let your light shine in all you do.
Team #312, Day 7 - Final Day
Team #312 – Day 7 – Closing Day
This morning was our final day of devotional and rounds in the hospital. Dr. Seidel and Dr. Pogo lead the devotional this morning which brought spirited tears and emotions to the team. Barry read from Mathew Chapter 22 and we sang ‘Joyful Joyful, We Adore Thee, and City Of Glory.’ He reflected many thoughts and emotions from Dr. Pogo’s words. I have ended the blog with some of those words in closing for this divine mission to Patzun.
Today is a day of packing and completing rounds.
Xulu has recovered from his hydrocelectomy and is feeling well. Dr. Seidel and Dan are glad to be sending him home today. Barry is amazed how quickly he has recovered and is amazed at Xulu’s toughness.
Basilia has also recovered beautifully from the large breast lipoma Dr. Seidel and his team removed yesterday afternoon. She will be returning home today and was all smiles this morning (photo gallery).
Dr. Arrillaga’s patient Maria with the ventral hernia will go home and Marion (13) is doing fine as well and will leave Corpus Christi this morning. All the other patients treated yesterday are well and will be ready to return home by mid-day. A lot of them will make the long trip back to Santa Rosa, 10 hours away, in a small crowded van, just a day after surgery.
A total of 48 surgeries were completed by the team this week with no complications, an amazing feat by the surgeons and the team.
As we leave Patzun and Corpus Christi I will share some information about the hospital and village of Patzun.
Patzun is a place in the region of Departamento de Chimaltenango, with a population of approximately 19,000. Despite living in difficult conditions, the people of Patzun have great pride and interest in their culture and community. The hospital, originally built by Sara Merdes-Judd, had fallen into serious disrepair. Notwithstanding those limited circumstances, the Franciscan sisters and Dr. Maxul, a family physician, provided a wide range of services to the community…the need was greater than the resources available.
To assist these steadfast individuals who were so committed to serving the poor, Faith In Practice entered into a partnership arrangement with Hospital Corpus Christi and renovated the hospital. Corpus Christi, a 12-bed hospital, now has two fully functioning OR’s. FIP’s first team performed surgeries at Corpus Christi in April 2007.
The team today will head to Antigua for the final night of our trip while passing through the beautiful Lake Atitlan spending time in the village of Panajachel. There are several volcanoes that surround the lake as their peaks rise towards the sky, Volcano San Pedro, Volcano Atitlan, and Volcano Toliman.
As the team has mentioned all week we couldn’t have done this without any one person – but as many individuals have critical roles, one un-sung hero, which must be mentioned is Glen Berkey, “go-to Glen.” Glen mentioned on day 4 for his consistent help has been instrumental in the re-establishing of equipment failures and being creative in an old and in-need of repair hospital, Corpus Christi, thanks Glen!
As this is our final day of being in the hospital and posting a blog, words cannot express the tremendous experience this has been with an astonishing team.
I will leave it in the words from a piece from Dr. Pogo’s devotional this morning, “This week will change us all and help us look at our neighbor from a different perspective here and when we return home. As those of us who have participated in mission trips previously have experienced, and you who are on your first trip will learn, these patients make it very easy for us to treat them, to ease their suffering or disability and allow them to function better in their daily lives. They are uncomplaining, tough, as nails and extraordinarily appreciative of our efforts. My son, who is an ENT surgeon, and will be in Antigua in three weeks, relates the story of a father brining a live chicken to him to help thank him for his work. Matt, of course, declined and advised the father to return home with chicken and to enjoy it with his family. As we complete our work here this week, we have to carry this new perspective forward and incorporate it into the fabric of our everyday lives, living the commandments actively day to day. It appears that the more we do, the more is demanded of us. It almost doesn’t seem fair. But conversely, the more we do, the easier it becomes to do more. Also, we work with these patients, their families and the people here at the hospital and orphanage, we do, indeed, learn how easy it is to do more. I thank you all for being here making this a very successful and productive week in so many ways. I ask for a moment of silence to reflect briefly and then we will get on with our work today.”
Dios te bendiga!