Tuesday & Wednesday flew by here in Antigua! Tuesday began at 6am for breakfast followed by devotional. Pastor Seth spoke about the appropriate name of Faith In Practice and the mission of the group. He encouraged us all to reflect on how we are putting our faith into practice through hope, healing, and prayer. How can we do that in increasing ways? He mentioned us all engaging in small steps including the simple prayer “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.
It had many me thinking – how many times have our team members heard these words from the patients and local Guatemalan people? The answer was simple, countless times. The patients have been constantly showering us with simple prayers and it’s evident in the love, hugs, smiles and conversations that are occurring all around the Obras. Their faith is in practice.
So what can we thank our patients for? Many members of Team #650 are returning volunteers and know the power of this life changing medical mission - this is why they keep coming back year after year. Now, many of our first time volunteers can also speak to the impact that this will have on their faith, life, perspective at home and choices going forward. We will continue to send those Thanks/Prayers to our patients and know that our time in Guatemala impacts us, just as much our time here changes them.
Both days were packed with orthopedic surgeries – knees, hips, feet and legs. Here are a few stories:
Verenia was a young woman in her early 30s who was in a motor vehicle accident 2.5 years ago. Since that time, Verenia has been in a wheelchair, unable to work and primarily been house bound. She came into the Faith In Practice system to meet with the doctors about fixing her leg. After x-rays and a meeting with the doctor, Verenia was told that her leg had an internal infection and that the doctors had two options – Option 1) try to remove the infection and fix her leg and that Verenia may still be in the wheelchair after the surgery for another 6+ months. There would be no guarantee that the infection may not return and if that was the case, she would need to have her foot amputated. or Option 2) she could choose to amputate her foot now, with a guarantee to eliminate the infection and then after she healed, Verenia would be fit for a prosthesis and able to walk again with physical therapy. The doctors spoke to her at length with gentleness and compassion about the options and answered all questions. They suggested Verenia think about it and they would need her answer on Tuesday, the day of the scheduled surgery. Verenia came in on Tuesday and opted for the amputation. The surgery was performed and all went very well. The next day after her surgery Sandra, one of our volunteer physical therapists, spoke with her family for more than an hour about the surgery, next steps and expectations going forward. Within a few hours of waking up, Sandra had Verenia up out of her bed, fit with crutches and moving up and down stairs. It was the first time Verenia has walked in over 2.5 years! Verenia was smiling ear to ear and was grateful and happy to be walking again!
Danny was a 12-year old boy that had severe leg deformity and walked on his feet, but in am extremely crouched position. He was referred to Faith In Practice for the orthopedic team, but after evaluation he was referred to the Wheelchair Program. When Danny arrived at the wheelchair program, he kept looking down and would not speak. His mother told the volunteers that he was no longer in school because the kids kept making fun of how he would walk and that he loved sport, particularly basketball. Volunteer Ray helped fit Danny with a new wheelchair, and instantly we could see the relief in both Danny and his mother’s eyes. He slowly started to speak and told Ray that he could now go back to school and also how much he loved sports. Ray shared with him that he knew he loved basketball, and that there it was possible to play basketball in a wheelchair. Danny was smiling ear to ear and looked sooo happy! It was a rewarding and a lovely experience for all volunteers to be a part of.
I know all of our volunteers are thankful for this experience, interaction with patients and the opportunity to give back to an amazing organization and to amazing people. These are only a few examples (of many) of our Faith IN Practice.