9:21am: Today I am following our team of cooks to see what their daily schedule is like. Our team of five cooks wakes up at 4:30am to start breakfast for the group. Breakfast is ready by 6am every morning, so the team can gather as a group at 6:30am for morning devotion and prayer.
After the team is fed and on their way to the hospital around 7 to 7:30am, the cooks clean up. This year we even enlisted the help of additional hands from the staff at La Quinta de las Flores. A few of their staff work additional shifts to help our cooks. They help prep food items, helping to cut produce or make sauces, and they help wash all of the dishes after we eat. Forty people eating together leads to a lot of dirty dishes.
The cooks have a morning meeting each day before their taxi comes to take them to the market. Together, they plan dinner for the night and go over needs for breakfast the following morning. Recipes are planned in advance, and as a team, they go through the ingredients needed slowly. They check in on what we have from past meals, take into account any dietary restrictions or preferences of anyone, and most importantly, calculate appropriate portions.
Tonight it’s barbeque night, and our cooks have quite the menu planned. They are cooking chicken, sausage, and ribs alongside jalapeno mac and cheese plus mango and black bean salad. Now we’re off to bring food to Casa de Fe and then will head to the market to get all the items needed for our next couple of meals!
4:07pm: Every year, our Faith In Practice team comes down to Antigua to build relationships and our focus is on our surgeries. Our short stay in Guatemala though impacts people in ways that go beyond that. Among all of these relationships is the one our kitchen team shares with Gladys, her mother and her son. For the past 15 years (yes, I said 15 years!), our team has been purchasing produce from Gladys at the same stand at the same market. When they arrive back in town and first come to the market, a mutual feeling of friendship is felt and seen as they exchange hugs and catch up. It was really special to watch them all interact, especially to see Gladys’ son Jose come running around the corner to give our lead cook, Tim, a big hug.
This year, when our team of cooks was reunited with the family, they had a question for ask. Gladys’ daughter was having issues with her vision, and when she went to the doctor, they gave her glasses with prescriptions that didn’t match her needs. Now Gladys was asking the kitchen team if they knew anyone who could help, and within a couple of days, they were able to come back for the daily purchase with more information. Las Obras Sociales is involved in more than just surgeries, and through connections at the hospital, we were able to get her details as to when and where there would be an opportunity for her daughter to see a proper optometrist.
One of the taglines for Faith In Practice is “life-changing medical mission,” and for this team, I know this to be true. Despite being non-medical volunteers, our kitchen team acts as representatives of our group and of Faith In Practice within the community of Antigua. It is special to see the many ways in which this team works, and today felt like another beautiful example of our mission being fulfilled.