In April, 2016, 18 persons traveled to Cunen Guatemala to provide medical clinics in neighboring villages. Linda Brewster provided daily reports back to family and friends at home. This is her travelog.
We survived our first clinical day! We were set up and triaging patients before 10am and at the end of the day we had seen 85 patients! It was a good first day.
I love seeing teams come together like they have known each other for years. I am so thankful tonight for their flexibility in moving around in the afternoon as we tweaked the process in the pharmacy area.
Most of the patients today spoke Quiche’ which meant translation from English to Spanish to Quiche’ and back. Our translators are great! We saw a lot of sick children and adults. Lots of fever, “gastritis”, and upper respiratory things as well as knee pain, back pain, a bit of scabies and eczema, and parasites…. To name a few.
Our clinic was a bit of a hike from the bus today. It was in a good size community building that was airy (not too hot) and already set up with some rustic wooden tables and chairs. We hung sheets to define the exam rooms and each room had a square table and some chairs. Not exactly the comfort of home exam rooms but we had everything we needed. After people were given numbers they waited for their number to be called to have their vital signs taken. Once that happened, they sat in chairs and waited for a provider. At some point they might have found themselves at the lab having a urine checked or a blood sugar. After they saw the provider they went to the pharmacy to wait for their directions and medications if needed. We gave every person who came through vitamins for themselves and for their family. And many received toothbrushes and tooth paste as well.
So let’ see – Marilyn learned how to check blood sugars and give nebulizer treatments and what HCG meant. She rocked it in the lab! Sally stepped it up as she stepped in to help out with dispensing medications and working with an interpreter to give patients their directions. She and Peter did an awesome job! Britney was awesome in doing vital signs and working in the triage area. Carole helped out in triage getting patient histories, doing a great job! Sue, Terry and I saw patients all day – diagnosing and treating ailments. Brandy worked with me in seeing patients. She is an NP student doing her clinical! Why didn’t I think of this when I was a student?
And then Melissa, Meredith, Lorie, Laurie Beth, Savannah, Ben, Roger, Jim, and Chris all worked in the pharmacy in varying jobs. The pharmacy is by far the most complex area to be and day 1 is always a day of working out kinks. Meds need to be counted out and bagged as well as labeled. They then need to be dispensed and instructions given. That is no easy task! These folks did a great job today!
Honestly – every member of this team shined today. They stepped outside their comfort zone to offer people they didn’t know a bit of kindness, love, and care they would not have otherwise. I am forever grateful. The Cunen area sees 3 medical teams per year. The rest of the time their access to care is very limited. Today we made a difference in the lives of 85 people and we felt blessed.
As I write this, it is very quiet here. Not a peep from the rooms. I think folks were tired after a day that was physical (setting up things) and emotional (seeing sick people all day). Spirits are high and we are all looking forward to a new day tomorrow caring for another 80+ patients!
Thanks for your prayers today! Tomorrow we return to Chiul. It is a small town that generally has a large turnout. The folks we turned away tonight are first to be seen tomorrow.
I hope your day was as blessed as ours. Please continue to hold us and the people of Chiul in your prayers.
Blessings on your rest.
Sent from my iPhone
Dear family and friends,
This was last nights note but I have been trouble getting an email out so… I am texting it to my son to email to you.
Today we spent a second day in Chiul and saw 106 patients! The building where we held the clinic was off the beaten path – down a hill, through a back yard, up an incline, then down a dirt road. Easy in the morning but a bit more difficult at the end of the day with heavy suitcases filled with medications. I thought folks would be exhausted but there was a spirit in the air tonight that was fun and lively.
Today was a busy day and a day filled with kids everywhere! Oh.my.gosh. I think every kid in town came to play at the clinic today. I don’t always get to see what goes on outside the exam room, but I hear they had the parachute out 3 times and played with the kids! The kids always love the parachute. I also know I came out of the exam room to see a “swarm of kids” in a circle and upon closer inspection I found Lorie in the midst of them all teaching them how to brush their teeth! The kids were fascinated with her demonstration and were really paying attention !
The clinic ran so smoothly today. We have an amazing team that is working so well together. It feels like I have known everyone for years and years! I think the team bonding is one of the things I look forward to on every team. It always happens and I am always amazed and thankful. We do have an awesome God!
Today I saw a 19 month old girl who was there because she had knee pain. I wasn’t sure how mom knew she had knee pain until I examined her. Both knees had fluid on the knees. They weren’t tender. She seemed to be comfortable until she stood up. When she stood it became apparent that the left leg was considerably longer than the right. And she was in pain. She started crying and didn’t stop until she was picked up. She had to bend the left knee to stand. When she walked she had a limp. Further exam revealed nearly a one inch discrepancy with the right hip higher than the left. The right knee was also higher than the left. And when she laid down the legs immediately dropped into an external rotation of the hip. All this to say that she needed to see an orthopedic doc who could do tests and determine the proper course of action for this beautiful little girl. And it turns out there is a podiatrist a little distance away who screens patients and books them for a group of orthopedic surgeons who come to Guatemala to do surgery on children twice a year. What a gift! I will be praying for this little girl – Ashley – that things work out for her to be seen and treatment allows her to be whole and healthy..
Terry saw a patient who was having significant gallbladder pain. The woman had spent all her money going to the national hospital and being worked up only to be told that she had stones but she could not have surgery. She has been in increasing pain x 6 months and was sitting at the clinic in obvious pain. Evidently it is not unusual for patients to be turned away at the national hospital (where care is free). So many systems are very corrupt in this country. Health care is one of them.
Our team talked tonight and we will take a love offering in the am and provide this woman with the transportation she needs to go to the hospital in Shela for another opinion and the testing that she will need. She will go by ambulance in the morning.
Please hold these patients and so many others we have seen in prayer.
God showed up today and blessed patients but also blessed each one of us. It is a powerful blessing to hold the calloused dirty painful feet of someone who walks miles each day and doesn’t have the means to have adequate footwear. It is a powerful blessing to meet shy children who soon are hanging off your back because they want to be with you and play. It is a powerful blessing to hold babies whiles moms are being weighed. It is a powerful blessing to be able to provide some relief of an ailment – even if only for a short time. It is a powerful blessing to be in Guatemala on this team, sharing these experiences together and loving one another through the highs and the lows.
Tomorrow we head to the village of Trigalles. I look forward to sharing more experiences.
The team is healthy and well. As I have been writing to you, I am listening to the laughter of others who are still in the “dining area” playing cards, sharing stories and having a great time.
Thank you for going on this journey with us. Perhaps some day you will find yourself in Guatemala sharing your stories and love with others.
Blessings on your night!
Perhaps it is morning by the time you open this as it is bedtime here in Guatemala. Today was a travel day and we are now in Panachajel. This is a wonderful town to be in. The beauty of the lake, the people, the culture… I really do love Pana.On the way here we stopped at a school in the village of Chulumal. We were able to go into the classrooms and see the kids work as well as interact with the children. They loved showing us their work and they were learning English so they could say a few words here and there. We met with the superintendent who talked with us about the school. They take first students who can’t afford the public school in Chichi.Then they take anyone else. It is grades 1-9. Grades 1-5 meet in the morning and then grades 6-9 meet in the afternoon. They share the space.We then went to visit a family of 11 children and a mom. It was a hike from the road to get to the house – up dirt roads and then paths. The father died one year ago from alcoholism which is a huge problem in Guatemala. The team got to see first hand how many of these families live. The house was made up of 2 bedrooms with a total of 6 beds and a tiny kitchen. The beds were boards with blankets on top. The mom talked about how 5 of their children had finished 9th grade before dad died and she was working to keep the rest of the children in school. Public school costs money in Guatemala. Most children in these villages do not attend school. We had taken food with us to the home and we left that with some money. Before leaving the home we prayed with the family asking God for blessings on the family and the home.We.arrived in Pana on schedule and went to dinner. Everyone is now in bed (I hope). We plan to take the boat across Lake Atitlan to have breakfast in Santiago which means an early morning!So as I head to bed I will finish this with pictures and send it off with our blessings to you.
Short note tonight as we leave early in the morning for the 3 hour drive to the airport.Today we took a boat to Santiago on the other side of the lake for breakfast at Los Posado. We all have a great breakfast!After breakfast we walked to the church in Santiago where Father Rothner was killed during the civil war in 1981. He was a catholic priest from Oklahoma who helped the Mayans during the war and ultimately lost his life. They have restored the chapel in which he was killed. It is a heartbreaking story of the war.We then worked our way to the boat via the shops. Lots of great things were bought by all. Let’s say the economy was helped out here!We then took the boat to San Antonio Polopo where we saw weaving and had an opportunity to buy some pottery. It is the one place on Lake Atitlan that has pottery.After leaving San Antonio we went back to Pana. Terry and Sue went zip lining while the rest of the crew rested or shopped. I’m not much of a shopper but I walked with others who were, until I was significantly worn out. Today was an overcast muggy day. So by the time we got back to the hotel we were all hot and sweaty And tired.Tonight we went to dinner and after dinner Clarissa from Salud Y Paz came and talked with us – showing a video. We made do with the furniture from our rooms.I think everyone had a great trip and felt their hearts expand a bit. I know I did. I am eternally grateful to the entire team for their commitment and hard work as well as the love they gave to the Mayans. They made a difference this week! And as a result found the blessings to be 100 fold.
Thank you for traveling with us.
Sent from my iPhone