Day Six in Canton Chotacaj

Posted on: 01/31/2020

Author: Annie Gudger

The first step is an Albendazole treatment No words needed Last minute wheelchair build Gaining stregth with a standing board Loading up at the end of the day

For our last day in a village, Team Wells had a heartfelt start to the day with a devotional from Dick/translated by Fanny, musing on heaven, heaven on earth. “Our task is simply to embody heaven now. We cannot ‘get there’; we can only ‘be there’—which ironically is to ‘be here!’”—Richard Rohr

Bob shared that Team Wells treated 478 patients yesterday. Brought care and kindness through medicine for the body, medicine for the soul.

After some shares that touched on the team being team, John observed: “The unscheduled second stop is where the miracle happens.”

We bus rode back to the primary school. Clinics in classrooms, spread out in two areas with a playground in between and a basketball court on one end. Soon Juana, 62, arrived in a wheelchair at the mobility clinic. Dr. Deborah saw her first and quickly asked for support from gynecology. Then Dr. Angela from gynecology came to the mobility clinic and began her exam. Soon Scot raced out and returned with a speculum. Dr. Angela examined her and determined she had advanced uterine cancer, and likely has a few months to live. Scot ran to pharmacy for meds and tums. “She needs to go home. Not be here. Not wait,” Dr. Deborah said as volunteers dried tears. Without everyone pulling together, putting the patient first, Juana could have waited hours. In mobility. In gynecology. In pharmacy. While waiting goes with this care, there are times care requires skipping the waiting, jumping the line. And the other patients? They didn’t complain. We’re all in this together. When one hurts, all hurt. The entire community, village, worked quickly and kindly to get Juana some relief, to get her home with her family.

A younger Juana, just six years old, was fitted for a standing board. She likely has Downs Syndrome. She’ll never walk. And with the standing board that supports her to be upright, she can build muscle strength, bone strength. She can have some physical therapy. Once she was carefully fitted, Dr. Deborah gave her objects to manipulate (a plastic egg, a balloon). “Play with these things at home,” the mom was told. “Don’t overdue because she’ll get tired.” And young Juana smiled huge. This little girl in her princess dress who can stand on her board as she’s likely never stood before today.

At the end of the day when it was time to disassemble the clinics, one more wheelchair was built in the field near the open truck. While volunteers carried large bins of equipment, boxes of vitamins, exam tables, folding tables and more, others jumped in and soon, soon, there was the last shiny blue wheelchair of this mission, gifted to an elderly man. His smile lit the sky. At the same time in dental, the dentists were pulling last teeth in the midst of clinics turning back into classrooms—drapes down, duct tape untaped. 

We packed up. We took pictures with the fabulous Red Hats—the local volunteers—who are key in keeping the days flowing. We hugged and laughed. We were thanked over and over, blessed over and over by the patients who had teeth pulled and ultrasounds done, who had exams, who received walkers and canes and those sky blue wheelchairs. Patients expressed gratitude deeper than the ocean. With words, smiles, elbow bumps, hugs, cheek kisses. “Muchas Gracias” all day long. Gratitude beyond words. The universal swelling of hearts speaking their language. That love electricity that’s felt, not spoken. “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller.

Heaven on earth this week in Guatemala. Where care was given, through medicine, through words, through listening and seeing. Where hearts overflowed. Where all were touched by a love profound.