Last day of surgeries today as we head to Antigua tomorrow.
Instead of a devotional this morning we heard a few personal testimonies from volunteers from this trip.
On the first day a man came in to see us with a large hernia and he could no longer lift which means he could no longer work at his job. In order to just make basic ends meet his wife was working two jobs, but they had no money to send their daughter to college. She is really smart and they longed to support her dream but just couldn’t. His daughter cried for three days straight when he told her it wasn’t possible and it broke his heart. He told us he was angry with life and with God.
He wanted to get himself fixed and was willing to cross to Tijuana. Or risk even more and attempt a border crossing to California.
Then his friend told him about Faith In Practice and surgeries done in Retalhuleu.
He couldn’t believe it - that he could get a surgery for free right here in Guatemala. The world doesn’t work that way, he thought, and dismissed the idea.
But the friend insisted and packed him up in his car and drove him here to Hospital Galindo Hilario and on the drive his friend was telling him about Jesus and the redemption story. Now he tells us that after his surgery he can go back to work and get his daughter into college. He says God never left him even though he felt like it and that Faith In Practice is an answer to his prayers.
We were told the story of another young man, who had prayed and prayed for an answer to the problem of his hernia.
Then he heard a friend of a friend tell him about Faith In Practice.
His friend told him “Not only did God come through for you, but He sent the best for you. He waited until you could get the best care."
He woke up in recovery and shouted, “Thank you God!”
Rachel, the youngest of the Mirelez team, had been praying for missions that she could be a part of, and not having her degree yet and not knowing how to be a part of a team like this she wasn’t sure it was even possible. Just being here was an answer to prayer for her.
She never thought that God would be able to use her or for her to be good for anyone else.
But God set a fire in her heart like the song and she was determined.
Everyone talks about how people go on missions and how you are blessed so much by the people you’re serving and the team around you, but it’s so so true.
Jay shared how there had been some difficult hurdles planning the trip this year. But we are all here and working together so smoothly - both new people and veteran volunteers - and likened it to a well oiled machine.
If we hadn’t been here it would’ve been horrific for the lady who needed to go into emergency surgery last night (meaning she would probably have died) closing with “I haven’t told my wife this yet but we are coming back next year!”
Doing the rounds with the doctors this morning it amazes me how quiet everyone is in the wards. One of the rooms is full with 15 ladies, all the beds stacked in lines like parked cars. Yesterday the doctors saw 25 patients and did 36 procedures. All the patients are very ready to go home, but you can also tell how thankful they are that they are getting better and that they have a new lease on life because of the surgery.
Fun Fact: Today I learnt about a teratoma (the term comes from the Greek words for "monster" and "tumor”) and thankfully Google helped me put into words what the doctors shared with me:
A teratoma is a tumor made up of several different types of tissue, such as hair or muscle or teeth. They typically form in the ovaries or testicles which is why we are seeing a few of them here on this trip with the gynecologist's surgeries.
Symptoms may be minimal if the tumor is small, for example a testicular teratoma may present as a painless lump. Thankfully we didn’t have any complications.
We have electricity today which is wonderful for the wheelchair team who can at least have fans on them to cool down.
The day ended early (for us) after 20 patients and 25 procedures with ... wheelchairs given out. It's been an incredible week, and everyone is looking forward to the celebration dinner tonight and reflecting on these amazing stories together!
As this medical mission comes to a close, I count the blessing I have witnessed this week. I have learned the Guatemalan people are strong and resilient people who make things happen without making excuses for why something can't be done.