HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
Montellano, Guatemala, Eye Surgical Trip
November 22-29, 2003

By...Gary Tabor

Participants: Dr. Brad Britton, Dr. Wade Joiner, Dr. Larry Patterson, Dr. Jason Moore, Jurdean Reed, Vickey Hawkins, Vicky Suggs, Suzanne Brooks, Jennifer Franson, Jonel Miller, Kathy Page, Clifford Tucker, Benjamin Britton, Michele Berger, Logan Joiner, Mary Patterson, Laura Sawyer, Kathy, Marlo and Terry Tollett, Ernest Maness, and Gary Tabor.

Cataracts are like "Beautiful Waterfalls”…Dr. Larry Patterson explained on Thursday evening after a great "Thanksgiving Dinner" in the Clinica Ezell dining room. (The word “cataract” actually means “waterfal.” in Spanish) He showed us a syringe with a cataract that was removed from one of the patients that day. It was at least 1/2" across and very brown in color and round. You could not see through it. He compared it to a clear waterfall when we see well and the eyes are clear. As time passes, the water gets murky and cloudy from old age, sun, and other age-related symptoms, a cataract is formed. It is the lens of the eye and is always there, but on some days it is more cloudy. God gave most of us great clear eyes, but as we get older, they can become cloudy with cataracts that block our vision.

Our week in Guatemala to perform eye surgery began on Sunday with a dedication service as part of the worship service at the Iglesia de Cristo, across the street from Clinica Ezell. The dedication service centered around the eye surgery clinic, and the team heard many heartfelt prayers for its success as well as expressions of gratitude to the team members for their service. Baldemar reported that he had baptized four men the week before. He and the community were very excited by our attendance.

Throughout the rest of the week, Drs. Larry Patterson, Dr. Brad Britton, and Wade Joiner performed eye surgeries. Each physician brought some of their own staff, and it was great to see them all working so well together. Jurdean Reed was the chief of the operating room and everyone obeyed her commands and assignments--and did not get in her way! She set up for each surgical day and prepared all the supplies and kept the room germ free. Suzanne Brooks, Jennifer Fransen, Vickey Hawkins, Vicky Suggs, and Jonel Miller all took turns assisting the doctors with the patients and kept records for each one. The teamwork was great! Dr. Patterson removed a cataract from a woman he had operated on last year. At that time, she was finally able to see her newborn child for the first time! She was excited to have surgery again to restore the other eye to good use. We all rejoiced with her, and she was thankful. Dr. Wade Joiner did surgery on an older man, totally blind in both eyes and deaf. We had a communica-tion problem with him the entire time. The next day when Dr. Joiner removed the patch, the man started to laugh at him and Clifford Tucker when he saw them.

Each morning as the doctors removed eye patches and applied eyedrops, they would perform some simple tests. You would see smiles and joy as the patients realized that they could see again. We even did surgery on both a mother and daughter. The mother was 82 years old.

Dr. Jason Moore assisted Dr. Walter Sierra on mobile clinics at the villages of San Francisco Sapotitlan, Samayac, and another village near the coast. They treated a total of 224 patients.

Kathy Page, a dental hygienist, conducted a VBS for the children at Montellano and Chicacao with the help of Baldemar, Alex, and Carlos. One hundred ten children attended. She was also the guest speaker at a ladies class at the Montellano church, with some fifty ladies present. She challenged them to be leaders for Christ and urged them to set goals for helping others.

Terry Tollet, Gary Tabor, and Earnest Maness repaired hospital beds, sterilizer equipment, dental equipment and what ever else needed to be repair. At the end of the week, the staff did inventory and cleaned out supply closets, readying the facility for the next clinic.

It was an excellent group. The children of visiting doctors and other staff members had a great time and were able to watch their parents work, too. The Lord was with us daily and he gave us his hand in healing and leading others to Christ by example. The Guatemalan staff fed us very well, and the devotionals lead by Clifford Tucker were very uplifting and showed us a purpose for each day.