Market Day and Operating Room

Posted on: 03/12/2019

Author: Anne Fretes

Tuesday – Market Day


It seemed to make sense to go to the market with our cooks Brenda, John, and Margaret both to see just how they begin every day in preparation for the amazing meals they serve us and also to see where the people of Antigua purchase the necessities of daily life. Our cooks begin their day at 4:30 a.m. and John even gets up an hour earlier than that to ensure that the enormous coffee pot is brewed and ready by at least 5:30. He related that the huge coffee urn is quite temperamental and has to be checked frequently since it tends to turn itself off from time to time. (It's a good thing he is willing to take on this task since there just might be a mutiny if the coffee is not ready to help our team wake up at such an early hour!)


The wait for the taxi that we were to take to the market turned out to be a long one for some unknown reason. Usually after the front office calls for a taxi it arrives within 15 minutes, but today it was 45, so we were already behind schedule. And then within 5 minutes of our journey our taxi drivers car began to make some rather threatening noises. Our driver turned the car off, got out and looked at the front wheels, and then eventually explained that he'd had a flat tire earlier and that the new tire that was put on had been too big for the rim. Another taxi was called by our driver and relatively soon we were on the road again.


It's hard to explain just how bumpy the charming streets of Antigua are. Although they are lovely to look at, the rides in vehicles here feels somewhat like riding a bucking bronco. Hold on to your seats and get out your Advil for your aching back after one of these rides!


We reached the market in about 15 minutes and to our amazement our driver took off straight into the market driving through the extremely narrow and crowded streets. We were the only car driving through and we hoped that we didn't run over anyone's feet in the process. There was stand after overflowing stand of an overwhelming abundance of items for sale. We were soon dropped off and entered into a large covered to head for the produce. I have to admit I felt a wave of relief when we found the food. The beautiful colors and smells of fresh produce were a welcome sight after what had felt like utter chaos to me beforehand. Food is something I can relate to!


Brenda has a favorite stand that she prefers to buy from. Within 10 minutes or so we had 20 limes, 5 pounds of green beans, several pounds of zucchini, 2 watermelons and a bag of onions. (I'm sure I'm forgetting something.) We lugged the items back to the taxi and took off for the bakery to pick up cakes for the evening's dessert treats, and then headed to the local grocery for eggs, butter, olive oil and a few other items. (I bought a bag of coffee of fabulous Guatemalan coffee to take home while I was there, too.)


Once back at La Quinta, I said farewell and thank you to our cooks and after I finish my writing I will head to the hospital to participate and learn more about how Faith In Practice is serving the people of Guatemala. But at this moment I am left with a new appreciation for the efforts that our cooks put in daily to feed and nourish 40 people for not only our delectable dinners but also for our morning breakfasts as well. As I am writing this, they are busily beginning the laborious task of triple washing our produce to ensure that no one becomes ill with “Montezuma's revenge” and they will soon be cutting, grilling and baking for tonight's delicacies. They will rest for about an hour in the afternoon and then finally, at about 9 p.m. will stumble back to their casitas before the whole process begins again tomorrow... at 3-4 am!


5:00 p.m. Post surgery


This afternoon I was an observer of two surgeries and also got to spend time in the post-operative room. One of the surgeries was particularly poignant for me. It was an abdominal surgery for a fibroid tumor the size of a small football. She had two other related procedures as well and was in the operating room for hours. The patient was 45 years old and has had nine children, seven of whom are living. Initially it was thought that the fibroid tumor would be benign, but on further observation it appeared that it might be cancerous. It will take about a week to get the results, at which time we will be gone.


I couldn't help but ponder a number of things after I had witnessed this surgery. Some of the things I wondered about were:


-How many months or years had she been uncomfortable with a tumor of that magnitude?

-What if the tumor is cancerous?

-How will her recovery go with so many children in her home?

-Will she get enough help from family or friends?

-Does she have a supportive partner? Or any partner?


As one might imagine, she was in terrible pain when I saw her in the recovery room. I remembered the depth of my own pain after a shoulder surgery I'd had two years ago following a terrible fall. As I saw her struggling with her pain I so related to her and I couldn't bring myself to leave her side until one of our anesthesiologists gave her a pain block to help get her through the long night ahead.


Whatever the outcome of her biopsy results, I know that with the care and the prayers of Faith In Practice that she is not alone. This kind of situation calls us to practice faith. All of this week during our morning devotions our pastor Beth has been speaking to us and with us about the 23rd Psalm, which is a Psalm about how we are guided and supported throughout our lives. I am called upon at this moment to practice this prayer and to remember that somehow, some way the woman I've spoken of will be cared for, as will we all will. It is beyond our understanding to know the reason for such suffering in our world, but it is comforting to know that our efforts in helping one person is something that we can do. It is in this spirit that Faith In Practice came into being 25 years ago and that it continues to this day.