It Takes a Village

Posted on: 03/14/2019

Author: Anne Fretes

Remember in my first blog on March 7 when I was so stressed about getting ready and was needing to have faith? Wondering if I would be a good enough blogger? Wondering if I would I be able to handle the tech issues that would ultimately arise, as they always do with me? Wondering whether I would have the “right clothes” to wear? Well, I have indeed been an imperfect blogger, (could someone please invent another word for “blogger?” I haven't had the perfect wardrobe and was even affectionately made fun of by one of my husband's colleagues last night for my very casual outfit, and I've had at least one major, (at least major to me,) tech challenge per day since I arrived. However! I've gotten some compliments about my blogs from people I care about the most, I laughed at the wardrobe comments. AND I have had a village of people helping with my tech issues, especially Judi, our photographer, who has provided daily guidance, help and humor. Thank you to my village!


I am sharing all of the above because it is this same village of teamwork that I have witnessed in the operating rooms. I've spent hours observing surgeries during the last three days and I am so grateful to be permitted to be a witness to this work. (I did get squeamish a couple of times and had to excuse myself from the room in a HURRY, but only twice.) What I've experienced is not very much like what I've seen when I've occasionally watched the never ending dramas present in television doctor shows. In a real operating room, there are mostly many procedures that are laborious, tedious, slow-moving, and with a little luck, not too dramatic. Patience is required, but so is efficiency. It's as if there is a dance in the room with people moving and working towards the same goal of getting the job done and done well. There is some fun along the way, too, with music in the background, (that not everybody likes,) joking around and cajoling each other. There are surprises here and there and mostly not good ones, but everyone pitches in to help get through the challenges for the desired outcome. Sometimes it is just plain boring for some. But the team hangs in there together until the job is done.


In Guatemala everything is “bigger,” according to one of our surgeons. Many of the medical issues have been neglected for months or years because people here have no medical care and/or no money to seek it. The people who attend our clinics in the countryside arrive there as a last resort, by happenstance because they have heard “through the grapevine” of us, or by sheer luck. Often they are afraid, desperate and leery of strangers from a strange land. But they decide to take a chance on us. For the patients who are referred for surgery it is even more frightening. They are entrusting their care to even more strangers and more risk as they arrive. These patients are Faith...In Practice. Our team feels beholden to give them the best treatment they can, despite the extra chance of complications from difficult cases.


Faith In Practice volunteers run the gamut in age and experience. Some are young and still paying off student loans, some are putting kids through college or getting in their last savings before retirement, some are married and some are single. They arrive with a sense of purpose and with enthusiasm to serve. They pay for their own plane tickets and for their room and board at La Quinta. They use their vacation time to come here. They work in a hospital they are unfamiliar with and they arrive not knowing what shape the equipment they will be in or what kind of cases they will encounter. They are committed. They are Faith...In Practice.


It has been an extraordinary privilege to be part of this experience and to be a part of the team. We are a team along with the patients. We are all practicing Faith. Together. Thank you to all, patients and volunteers alike. It Takes a Village!!