|Participants: Drs. Lawrence Freund, Danny Minor, George Robertson, Monica Taylor, Kendle Yates; PA Doug Steele; CRNA Eddie Milam, Nurses; Nancy Carlisle, Geraldine Bagshaw, Belva Gettings, Leslie Mallard, Shana Merrick, Martha Oyston, Bonnie Spinks, Teresa Steele; Surgery Tech Richard Yates; Pharmacy Tech Starla Beaman; Ancillary Personnel Brian Balloon, John Bentley, Lloyd Coppedge, Mary Ann Hornbuckle, McKaila Klugh, Karen Morrison, Leslie Minor, Bina Sanchez, Linda Robertson, Willis Sanders, Roy Taylor, JoLee Thayer, Dice Wright, Carmen Yates and Rick Harper.
Our team consisted of thirty-two from Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Saskatoon, Canada. Two in our number, Richard Yates and Eddie Milam, traveled to Clinica Ezell on an earlier flight to begin preparation for the surgical clinic. The remaining thirty members arrived late on Saturday evening with all luggage and safe passage.
We departed Guatemala City at 6:00 AM on Sunday morning and arrived in the aldea Montellano, San Miguel Panan, Suchitepequez in time to have breakfast, unload and join the Montellano Church of Christ family in time for a Spanish worship service. Following worship, we began seeing patients for their final screening and by 2:00 the first of six patients was prepped and ready for surgery.
This trip saw a new activity as HTI was able to purchase a video projector to use in training and evangelism. We set up the projector in the waiting room on Sunday night showed the Jesus Film Project in Spanish to patients scheduled for surgery the next day along with their visiting family members. Alex Gonzales, a Guatemalan employee of Health Talents and graduate of our ABC child sponsorship program delivered a lesson following the presentation.
Monday turned out to be our busiest day, though Sunday remained the longest. We saw fourteen patients that day and completed seventeen surgical procedures. The youngest was less than one year old and the eldest in her seventies. The small children who come in for surgery always attract special attention by the entire team and each day brings a healthy dose of reliance on God. Due to the dangers of general anesthesia and the natural compassion for helpless children we are prompted to deepen our outpouring of prayer. Our mobile medical team component with this group traveled to the community of Las Margaritas, cared for a dozen villagers and identified one eighty-five year old man who will be screened for our April surgical team. We once again showed the Jesus Film to waiting patients with a lesson delivered by our Director of Evangelism, Baldemar Ruiz. Baldemar took the time to pause the film and elaborate on various points throughout the viewing.
We began Tuesday morning with eleven patients on the docket and surgery did not end until 7:00 that evening. Surgeries ranged from hernia, removal of a breast mass, sebaceous cysts and placing children under general anesthesia for dental work. We added a dental group to our mobile team and they traveled to Samayac and treated sixty patients. One child, Manuel Lopez, required multiple tests only available in Mazatenango. Baldemar Ruiz made three round trips to Mazatenango and took the opportunity to teach Manuel’s father as they drove back and forth. More study will continue in coming weeks.
This was a special evening as we moved the projector to the Montellano church and showed The Passion of the Christ. Most in attendance had never seen the movie and the outpouring of emotion insured future use and study opportunities. Before the movie ended, visitors from throughout the community began to appear.
Wednesday turned out to be lighter than we expected with only ten patients in for surgery. We were finished with surgery by five that afternoon and this allowed ample time for everyone to cater to the darling of the day, Ingrid. Eight years old with a smile that captured every heart on our team.
This was the second day for our mobile dental team to travel out and they went to the community of La Ceiba. Our visiting dentist, Monica Taylor, pulled so many teeth she developed blisters and Alex Gonzalez had to pull the last ten. Once again we showed the Jesus Film and our lab technician, Diego Gomez, made plans to show the films in the Mayan community of Maxanija. In all likelihood, this will mean projecting on the side of a building to allow for the two to three hundred who will attend the showing.
Xeyejup was the mobile clinic site for the day as we treated around thirty patients and another eight patients received surgical care. Nine-year-old Cruz received the greatest attention on Thursday as we took a biopsy and sent it off for testing. All indications point to lymphoma, and this preliminary diagnosis prompted nonstop displays of affection and compassion.
Thursday evening is the traditional time for everyone on the team to share their special memories from the week. Following Lloyd Coppedge’s devotional, we went around the room and took turns laughing, crying and saying, thank you, to all who came to serve. The phrase "listen to my heart" seemed to best sum up the week. From the small children calling out to the doctor, "eschuche a mi corozan" to our attempts to reflect Christ as his sacrifice and love for us seems to say "listen to my heart."