HEALTH TALENTS INTERNATIONAL
Surgical Clinica at Clinica Ezell
Montellano, Suchitepequez, Guatemala
February 8-13, 2004

By Rick Harper

Trip Participants: Surgeons Drs. Michelle Federer, Judi Jehle, Roy Kellum, Philip Strawther; Anesthesia Drs. Jonathan Bennie, Jeff Bennie, and Lori Hart and Jo Ann Mayes, CRNA; Pediatrician: Dr. Carol Willis; Nurses: Lynette Alsobrooks, Serena Bryant, Pauline Little, Lisa Cantrell, Betsy Dowell, Rhonda Watson, Jan Harper; Nursing Students:Megan Nelms, Anna Raindl, Meghan Piercy; Translator: John White; Sterilization crew: Alfred Anderson, Bill Strawther, JoLee Thayer, Steve Cotter; Chaplain: Tom Perkins; Non-Medical Support Personnel: Barbara Bennie, Rebecca Bennie, Greg Grant, Jessica Grant, Julie Ann Harper, Doris Hendrix, Paul Little, Jesse Nelms, Marjorie Strawther and Rick Harper. There were fourteen newcomers with the remainder being were seasoned vets!

As on the last trip, everyone arrived on time with no travel complications as did our luggage. We even had Alfred Anderson arrive on the early flight and travel to Montellano that afternoon and get a head start on sterilization! Most of the team spent Saturday night at Seteca and arose early for the two and half hour trip to Clinica Ezell. After eating the breakfast that was waiting for us, we unpacked the supplies we had brought and organized them a bit, then walked across the road to worship with the Montellano Iglesia de Cristo. Carlos Baltodano delivered a message in Spanish and Tom Perkins framed the week for us with a message focusing on the beatitudes.

Since this was gyn and plastics trip, we immediately noticed the small children who needed repair on cleft lips and cleft palates and felt the emotional pull that children always bring. What a blessing to have an anesthesiol-ogist, Dr. Jonathan Bennie, who specializes in pediatrics among our number. It only took one day for the ladies in for hysterectomies to bond with our resident cheerleader, Marjorie Strawther. She had them up and marching around the recovery room the day after surgery in an effort to hasten their healing. Throughout the week, every patient’s departure for home was an opportunity for photos, hugs and tears by our nurses. Falling in love is easy and a common occurrence at Clinica Ezell.

Dr. Carol Willis and other team members traveled each day various locations such as La Ceiba, San Basilio and other communities while working with Dr. Walter Sierra. We took advantage of Dr. Willis’ pediatric skills as this small team treated dozens of children. Dr. Willis noted the marked difference in the health of children who are part of the ABC Program and those who were not. It is amazing what a tube of toothpaste, vitamins and shoes can do for these children.

Highlights for the week include the return of Fredy, who had cleft lip repair in February of 2003 and returned this year for work on his palate. He had grown from a frail 8-9 pound baby unable to nurse and eat into solid little man over 20 pounds with bundles of energy. Maria was also a patient from last year who became frightened and left before any surgery was done in 2003. It seems that some years back, she had undergone treatment in Mazatenango and gone into cardiac arrest while under anesthesia. Marjorie Strawther had been praying faithfully for Maria the entire year and when Maria did not appear for surgery on Wednesday, we went to find her. Enlisting the help of Jeny, sister to Baldemar Ruiz, we found Maria’s home in Chicacao and spoke to her mother before going to the local school and getting Maria. Once we arrived at Clinica Ezell, both mother and daughter were counseled before consent was given and the following day, Dr. Philip Strawther performed his surgical magic.

As usual, the assistance from the non-medical folks was outstanding. Alfred Anderson, Bill Strawther, Steve Cotter and JoLee Thayer kept the autoclaves humming and instruments coming. Paul Little repaired anything sitting still and his wife, Pauline, herself an RN, organized and sorted our storerooms along with Barbara Bennie, Rebecca Bennie and Jessica Grant.

A special thanks goes to Greg Grant who took more than 600 photos and printed several hundred during the week. Greg is preparing a video and DVD to support our ministry from both video footage and still shots, so be looking for this in the near future.

We can’t end without thanking our mission interns, Zack Self and Aaron Towler or our ABC children’s advocate, Aubry Burr Benavente. And most of all, for God "who is working in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13