1:14pm: We are all getting settled in on the plane on our first leg of travel for the day. From Portland, we’ll travel to Houston, quickly sprint down the terminal in matching red Faith In Practice t-shirts to our transfer in Houston and then fly into Guatemala City.
We all arrived here at PDX this morning around 10:30am. We gathered as a team, going through security and then reconnected throughout the airport in the depatures area, at the United check-in and at our gate. Now here we are all are, scattered among the plane, wrapping our head around the week to come.
This day of travel takes lots of coordination by our incredible team leaders, Jim & Mary Stempel and Tim & Jen Kooistra. I arrived with the Stempels first thing at 10am to await the arrival of our trunks. We waved down the Kooistras’ truck and helped unload the 19 trunks full of the medical supplies our team has worked so hard to gather and pack for travel. As the team arrived, everyone helped get the trunks checked in and sent on their way to meet us down in Antigua.
The morning was full of warm interactions. Old friends seeing each other again another year later, catching up on what’s new, a new job, graduate school or the same old. Hugs were shared among colleagues who see each other regularly but are now traveling together and take their work abroad. There were lots of introductions too between the team and all of the newcomers who have not yet made this trip before.
A lifelong friend of the Stempel family, I grew up across the street from them with their youngest, Katie, as my childhood best friend. This is my first time joining their trip to Guatemala, and what an incredible experience it is to share in this with their family and friends. For years, I’ve grown up learning about and hearing the stories from Dr. Stempel’s trips to Guatemala. I’m honored and excited to be a part of the team this year and look forward to sharing more as the days unfold.
10:47pm: We’ve made it to Guatemala City! A sense of relief has overcome the team as we arrive at our hotel for the night for a short stay. We’re here! After grabbing a bite to eat, we’re all off to bed to rest up for the day ahead. It all feels real now as we’ve started to take in the sights and sounds of Guatemala, even if it was a brief bus ride from the airport to the hotel.
The people of Antigua have been saving these dates in anticipation of our surgical team’s arrival, and it’s crazy to think it’s finally here. For some, it feels like clockwork, but for a newcomer like me, this whirlwind of a day is only just the beginning. We’re excited to have finally arrived in country and to soon be giving care to the people of Guatemala. What’s more incredible to me though is to think of the excitement of the Guatemalans waiting to receive such special and personal care.