God has once again proved himself faithful, allowing me to participate in and witness service to the people of Guatemala. Drs. Jim Haller, David Hilliard, Glenn Owen, Jim Morrison, Tony Rector, John Wray and myself; nurse practitioners Janice Bingham and Susan Kehl; and 17 Pre-Health students from ACU were blessed to serve in Chocola, Pensamiento, and Patsite' during the week of March 12.
Over 1,100 patients were served in the medical and dental clinics. The students were exposed to Christian health care providers showing the love of Christ through their talents. All of us were once again blessed by Sergio and Veronica's commitment to this work and their love for the Lord. Thanks to Jim Gill and Sylvia for their logistical support.
In my experience, there is always at least one event that stands out on each of my trips. I would like to share one with you.
I have often pictured what the scene must have been like when Jesus entered a small village. Children running around him, some adults wanting to be close, some standing at a distance observing the whole scene. Dirty feet, dusty roads, and open windows. What I witnessed will probably be as close to that scene as I will ever get. It wasn't Jesus himself who entered this village. In fact it wasn't even a person who entered this village...it was simply a wheelchair.
As my friend, Dr. John wheeled that chair into Paxite', the children ran ahead, around, and behind it. Some adults wanted to get a better look, others held back. They had never seen a wheelchair before. In this village no one owns a car, they don't see many outsiders, much less a chair on wheels. The previous year John had met a family on our medical mission trip to this same village, and their son was crippled. John was not able to do anything medically for this child, but that didn't stop him. They had prayed over him last year, and this year God brought something else...this seemingly simple gift.
This young man had sat in the dirt and mud of his village all of his life. His only mobility is when he is physically carried by his loving father, Don Pasqual, from one place to another. When I saw this young man, I thought of the outcast among outcasts found in the New Testament. It seems that Jesus could not stay away from these people. I think that if Jesus came to Paxite', He would find his way to this house, giving hope and love.
This boy had been on John's heart for a year. He would ask, "Do you think we can go to that same village next year?", or "Do you think that boy is still there?". As the months continued so did John's questions, "Do you think we can find a wheelchair that can get down those streets?". As the leader of the trip, I was too busy with the more "important things" making sure we had all our instruments, supplies, and making sure the ACU students going with us had their vaccinations, passports, tickets, etc. I casually went on with my business, blind to what God was in the process of doing.
As we approached this young man, a big smile came across his face. All the people of the village and all of these strangers were surrounding him. With tears in his father's eyes, he helped John life his son into that chair. As they strapped him in, I caught my breath...tears filled my eyes, and my mouth was filled with the Doxology..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow!" There was so much joy on his face...I was witnessing the love of God. As soon as he was secure, John just couldn't wait to wheel him around. He was grinning and looking down at the ground as it sped past him.
The most telling words were from his mother. The Quiche are a quiet, private people, but the mother put her hands together in praise saying, "Matyosh, Matyosh, Matyosh!"...Thank you, thank you, thank you. She looked up into his face and said, "You are a big man...and so you must have a big heart...in your heart is love for us...you have changed my boy's life."
It was such a simple thing. It didn't take much. It didn't require any of John's medical skill. It didn't take much money. It didn't take a lot of time. In my feeble efforts over the "more important" matters of the trip, God was working to make something special out of this gift. To this young and his family it meant so much. Everytime the village of Paxite' sees him in his contraption, they will remember us. And hopefully not so much us, but who came with us in the form of a simple gift.
Jesus came to Paxite' that day and gave a simple gift of his hope and his love.