Participants: Cindi Ashmore, Karen Ashmore, Shannon Baker, Dr. David Coon, Allison Graddy, Nic Hammond, Glen & Kathy Henton, Deb Lincoln, Jason Martin, Ashley McBride, Wes Parker, Deborah and Molly Shivers, Lathan Watts, Valarie Weedman, and June Turner
Members of the Oxford Church of Christ and Christian students of the University of Mississippi joined forces with Health Talents during spring break this year. The group went to Chocola, Guatemala. The purpose of the trip was both medical and evangelistic. It began on March 4 from Memphis, Tennessee, and ended there on March 10.
Taking with us a medical doctor, Dr. David Coon, a paramedic, Shannon Baker and a registered nurse, Deborah Shivers, along with four or five suitcases of medicine, the group felt prepared to assist efforts there in a small way. Also in our group were students whose majors were pre-med or pharmacology. They were Deb Lincoln, Nic Hammond, Karen Ashmore, Ashley McBride, and Valarie Weedman. Serving as translators were Glen and Kathy Henton and June Turner. The rest of our group were not specifically trained in one of these areas but did everything from taking blood pressure to teaching children's classes to painting a "screen" on the outside wall of the clinic for our video presentation at night. They were Jason Martin, Lathan Watts, Molly Shivers, Wes Parker, Cindi Ashmore and Allison Graddy.
We arrived in Guatemala City about ten o'clock p.m. on Saturday night and were met by Marco Diaz, a brother in Christ whose job it is to escort groups such as ours. He stayed with us the entire time we were there until we were safely back on the plane.
The next morning we were blessed to attend the worship service with the Zona Once (Eleventh Zone) congregation. These brethren know how to sing with gusto and greeted us warmly and in various ways while we were there. We also got to witness a baptism that morning. After a wonderful lunch at the "Sizzler", we boarded our bus for the three and one half hour trip to Chocola, our destination.
On arrival, we were met by a host of little children who had been greeting us as we bounced over the last bit of road to the clinic. Almost immediately, a soccer game ensued between the Guatemalan children and the tall, white Gringos. You may well imagine who won. We were so pleased to meet Dr. Sergio Castillo and his sweet wife, Veronica. This young couple were members of the Zona Once church and have been serving as medical missionaries there in Chocola for the past three years. The light of Christ's spirit truly shines out of them as they patiently work with their staff of about six or seven people, as well as with the scores of sick who pass before them on a daily basis.
We were able to spend three days working with Sergio, Veronica, and their staff. We decided that they had deliberately organized the days so that the level of difficulty increased gradually. On the first day, we stayed there for "clinic" and the people began to gather shortly after six a.m. They stood or sat all day long patiently waiting their turn. Some of us assisted in the two doctors' offices, some dispensed medicines. Others took blood pressure, kept order or played with the children. At the end of the day, these two doctors had seen approximately one hundred and ninety patients. We had taken with us a VCR and projector for the big screen. We were able to show a video of the life of Christ from the book of Matthew each night that we were in Chocola.
On the next day, we traveled by pick-up truck to a village called Montellano where Health Talents owns a beautiful piece of land that will serve as the site of their new surgical facility. This property has a building that now serves as a clinic. We saw only ninety patients that day, but we taught Bible classes and passed out coloring pages of Bible stories to the many children present. Some of our students enjoyed drinking fresh coconut milk prepared for them by Pedro, the caretaker.
Our third day was the most impressive for our group. We traveled to a Mayan village far back off the main roads where we found a whole village waiting for us. The leader of these people had found out about Health Talents while sharing a taxi with someone. Now he offers his house made of wooden boards with a dirt floor as the clinic site whenever Sergio can go there.
While we were there, we had an opportunity to visit the elementary school there and share with them stories of the life of Jesus and songs in Spanish. They, in turn, sang some songs for us! Some of our young men played soccer with them and one of our ladies blew soap bubbles for them. We were saddened by some of the serious conditions the patients had, such as tuberculosis or spina bifida. However, we were so glad to have brought as many medicines as we did and wished we had brought a lot more.
We praise God for having given us this beautiful opportunity. We were able to leave behind the VCR and projector for the showing of videos to these people whose literacy rate is low. Sergio and Veronica were especially excited about showing a similar video in Quiche that they have on the life of Christ to people in remote and primitive places.
All of us in our group felt that our lives had been affected in significant ways. We are anxious to go again!