Eye Surgery Report

Chocola, Guatemala

January 13-20, 2001

A team of ten people went to Guatemala for an Eye Surgery Clinic, January 13-20. The team consisted of the following people: Ophthalmologists Tom Bennett, MD, and Meredith Ezell, MD; Pediatric Endocrinologist Soja Bennett, MD; Nurses Joyce Bruno, Jurdean Reed and Laurie Lott; Team Chaplain was Doug Varnado; Non-Medical Carl and Martha Lancaster and Adam Lott (son of Laurie). Marco Diaz and Jim Gill, MD, joined us in Guatemala City and worked with us throughout the week. The plane was extremely late leaving Houston so the group did not arrive at the Seminary until after 11 p.m. However, we arrived in Chocola on schedule, after a 3-hour bus ride, around 8:15 on Sunday morning! It was a short night.

The group had some concerns about the reports of the earthquake off the coast of El Salvador before they left Houston, but after arriving in Guatemala they saw no damage at all. We did experience a clearly discernable tremor on Thursday night while we were all in the dining hall.

The doctors performed 24 eye surgeries. Nineteen of those were to remove cataracts.

Dr. Soja Bennett worked with Sergio and treated many children. In addition, she, Doug and Adam fitted many, many people with eyeglasses. It was an excellent team! They worked together beautifully! Without hesitation, everyone cheerfully helped out with anything that was needed. Every night the team spent a lot of time together singing. Different people would keep suggesting songs they wanted to sing until it looked at times like we would sing through the entire book! We were also fortunate in that no one got sick on this trip…to my knowledge.

As we drove back into the city on Friday, we went by the construction site at Montellano. We were all pleasantly surprised with the progress that has been made. A lot of work has been done both on the dorm and the surgical clinic. It looks like everything is moving along at the same pace. In a number of areas the walls were completed up to the full height that they will be. In many other areas they were 4-6 feet high. They also had the steel on hand for the trusses and were working on getting it ready to be put in place as soon as the walls are completed. I understand that around 70 people are working on the building and that many of them are members of the church in Chicacao. A bus brings the workers out each morning and takes them back at the end of the workday. Sergio tells me that many of the people in the area have been amazed at how fast the construction is going as it is so different from usual for that area. As I try to visualize how much will be completed by late April we the Health Talents’ board holds is Spring meeting there, I think everyone will be greatly surprised at the progress.

After we arrive back in Guatemala City, Meredith and I interviewed Marcos Lux and Alexander Gonzalez, prospective scholarship recipients for dental school. They are quite impressive young men.

We all felt richly blessed as a result of the work we did on this trip and they friendships we developed. God was very good to all of us.

by Carl Lancaster, HTI Board Member