Friends and Family,
DAY 1 Mesen Team 616. 3-30-19
This is the travel day for our mission team. Most of our team is from the Tampa area. A few come from Georgia, Michigan, Indiana and California. More about our team in future posts. We had a rendezvous at the airport in Guatemala City and then traveled by bus to Antigua where we will stay for the next week.
Antigua was the colonial capital of Spanish America in the 1600’s until a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused the government to move the capital to Guatemala City. There are still active volcanos in the area. You may recall that one eruption occurred last year. Antigua was not threatened by the lava flow but the ash did cause problems. Antigua maintains its colonial charm with its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. It attracts tourists from around the world. Underlying the charm however is significant poverty. More than half the population is under the poverty level. In the indigenous Mayan population the poverty level approaches 70%. Daily wages are often less than $10 per day. These people can not afford to pay for health care. There is no government program for the poor.
FAITH IN PRACTICE (FIP) is the charitable organization that we work with. This is the 25th year of work in Guatemala for FIP. It all started with one week for a mission team from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston lead by Vera and Joe Wiatt. Faith In Practice has evolved as teams have multiplied in number and expanded to come from multiple cities across the USA. Traditionally each team was relatively independent bringing its own supplies for each trip. Faith In Practice is now evolving into a more sophisticated comprehensive healthcare system to better serve our people of Guatemala. More about Faith In Practice in future posts. You can also the website for more information.
Last year there were over 1,300 volunteers from the USA and over 1,000 Guatemalan volunteers. There were over 21,000 patients treated last year by our medical and surgical teams. Our Mesen team did 117 surgical procedures including orthopedic, general and gynecology procedures in four operative days. We worked hard last year and anticipate working hard again this year. But it is so rewarding to do this work. The Guatemalan people are gentle and kind as well as being so appreciative of the work we do. This is truly a labor of love for our team members.
I will attempt to post some pictures of the staff and patients as well as share some of their stories through the week. Have patience with this inexperienced blogger however.
Blessings to all y’all.