You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. Psalms 139:1-4
All week, Pastor Donald has reminded us God chose each and every one of us to be in Retalhuleu. He talked about the work God has planned to do through us and asked us to be mindful of miracles we encounter--spiritual and physical. Today, he read the entirety of Psalm 139 as we considered our relationship with God. As surgeons made their rounds this morning to talk to yesterday's patients, the women and men. smiled in relief when told they could go home today and their post-surgery soreness was normal.
The wheelchair clinic had a slow start, as the patients had yet to arrive. We waited in anticipation for the action of our last day in Retalhuleu to start. Once patients rolled up in vans, the wheelchair clinic started moving like a well-oiled machine. People moved efficiently from their wheelchair fittings with the occupational therapists to their examination with Dr. Jason Pizzola. The chair building team rapidly assembled frames to keep up with demand. As one woman settled into her chair, her daughter touched the interpreter's arm and quietly asked, "The wheelchair--is it being given to us as a gift, or...?" When the occupational therapist confirmed they didn't need to pay anything for it, her eyes brightened. "Gracias--may God bless you. Thank you." An uneventful day is a good day in surgery. As cases finished up, we began to pack and clean. We thanked the local staff in the Spanglish we had developed over the week.
Doctors and nurses exchanged stories and compared sizes of gallstones and masses extracted during the week. I can only imagine what patients felt in the wake of another day's work for the medical team. Hernias, digestive pain, and women's health challenges they had borne for years were repaired and healing. Joy balanced out the weariness of Day 5, as we celebrated the birthday of one of our anesthesiology providers, Melissa. Three cakes appeared out of somewhere, so we gathered, sang, and got our chocolate fix. I also had the opportunity to play with children at the preschool next door. We sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to each other in our respective languages. They rigged up a pinata outside and it was wonderful to watch them play and sing. Tonight, we look forward to our big week's end dinner. It's hard to believe how the time has slipped by; it feels simultaneously shorter than a blink and longer than an age.