Today was another busy day at the clinic, caring for around 124 patients. Most of the patients we saw today are from the community and do not attend the local church. These days are great opportunities for the pastors of the local church to make connections with these families and for us to share Christ’s love with them. In the morning there was a constant flow of patients of all ages. I was very excited to get the opportunity to do some ear wax removals for several patients. One lady in particular took four people and almost two hours to get all the wax removed. But we persevered and the lady’s hearing increased substantially. Thank you, God! Additionally, throughout the day I was able to play with some of the children. One time when I was walking through the playground area, three children out of nowhere came up to me and gave me hugs. Also, I was able to bond with this little girl when I was taking her vitals. When I could, I played with her throughout the day and the girl and her sister insisted that I kept their bracelet. It just melts my heart the way that these children give us hugs and that even in their poverty the girl would take off the bracelet from her own wrist and give it to me. I was amazed with how they desire to be loved, as well as how they show their love for others. They are all so adorable!
P.S. Happy birthday, mom!
“By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
This verse came alive for me this evening when I was reconnected with a previous patient. A year and a half ago, I and 2 other practitioners had the privilege of seeing the son of one of Tono’s friends who was suffering from a condition called molluscum. This is a form of warts that covered his trunk and arms and the parents had been treating it with a medication which caused burning and scarring. They had tried several treatments which had failed and were very frustrated. I suggested a natural treatment which they were willing to try. We then gathered around the little boy and prayed for God to heal him. Tonight, the family was in town and Tono brought them to meet with me to see that the treatment had been effective and he was completely free of disease. I was moved by what the father told us several times: “We are grateful for my son’s healing but we are also most grateful for the love that you all showed to us.”It was a blessing to see how God had used the treatment I suggested but it meant more to me that this family was moved by the love they saw and felt. I am reminded that even if we don’t have the answer for a patient, we always have love to give and God can shine through that love. It’s such a blessing to be part of this mission!
I have greatly enjoyed this mission trip specifically, because of the way it infuses medical care with providing spiritual care as well. Though we as a team are only here for a week, and have opportunities to help alleviate pain, restore hearing and sight through ear lavages and glasses, give medications, teach about basic hygiene and healthy lifestyles, these things are only temporary. Eventually medications will run out, earwax will build up again, and vision will worsen. But what leaves a more lasting impact is what these opportunities provide spiritually. These opportunities keep the doors open and allows the church community to continue to minister to families that they wouldn’t normally be able to meet and connect with. Deeper healing, mixed with hope and love, are felt and seen. The Kingdom of Heaven is proclaimed and in a way that is it is not in our abilities or in our own strength, but through the hands and feet, and light and love of King Jesus inside of us! A medical trip that provides medical care only, is one full of pride and accomplishment and leaves behind a sense of hopelessness and futility. But a medical trip with spiritual care, is one full of life and love, in which all glory is given to the God who has done everything, and leaves behind hope and joy.
During this trip, God has convicted me of my pride. These Guatemalan people, some might say, are “poor.” But I think we are “poor” in the USA and these Guatemalan people are “rich.” Not in the material sense but in the character sense and in what matters more. A lot of these people are rich in love, caring for each other, “rich” in relationships, asking for help, humility, gratitude, service. They are eager to help, quick to come along side, friendly, and remember and cherish each moment you spend with them. A lot of us are “poor” in our culture, because we don’t like caring for one another, don’t like to ask for help, would rather be independent and do things on our own, want to make ourselves look good, are self focused, full of pride, envious instead of thankful, impatient and self absorbed. I repent of this and confess I struggle with this quite frequently but am inspired by the beauty and healthiness of learning from these “rich” Guatemalan people. I am frequently reminded, throughout this trip, of the verses “my grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and “apart from me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5b). Through spending time in Guatemala, I have been able to meet these people and see how they live. They depend on each other and the community for their life and well being. This has made me more aware of the dependence that I should have on God every day.
From Dana: 5 members of the team were able to travel to a nearby community this morning to meet with a local missionary nurse and consult about 2 patients. The first boy is 5 and has a suspected brain tumor and the second boy is 15 and is suffering from complications from a gunshot wound and terrible care at the public hospital. Please pray for these boys to be healed and to know Christ, it was a difficult visit, but it was a blessing our team got to encourage Anita, the nurse who lives in this community, and show love and compassion to these two families.