FUMC has travelled to Guatemala on medical and construction missions in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011. Our mission trips help to provide desperately needed medical and dental care to the people in small villages. We have helped build three of the five medical clinics run by Salud y Paz.
Letters from our 2011 Guatemala Mission Trip
On May 7, a team of medical professionals and lay people made their way to Guatemala to provide medical care for rural indigenous people in tow small communities, San Francisco and Candelaria, near the city of Xela (Shay-la). Our team consisted of both Christians and Jews and our tasks were many, however, our purpose was singular. We were there to spread the love of God in the world and to build relationships with people we were about to meet.
We took with us nearly 50lbs of medicines and other supplies, and over the course of the week our doctors treated 237 patients. Our dentist saw 85 patients and our pharmacy dispensed much needed medicines, vitamins, toothpaste, and other health care items. Some of the people treated had never been to a doctor or dentist before, and many had not seen either in years.
During our stay we touched many lives and everyone we saw was extremely grateful for our sacrifice. But it was the team that was blessed in countless ways. In particular, I am thinking of two patients we treated.
The first was a young woman who was developmentally delayed and suffered from seizures every night. Her mother had to sleep with her to help with those attacks and in 22 years had probably not gotten a full night’s sleep. You could plainly see on the mother’s face the concern for her daughter and the love she had for her. At one point the young woman needed to be carried from triage to the doctor because she could not walk very well. One team member, Larry Hjalmarson, knelt down and gently lifted the young woman and carried her to the waiting physician. The look on her face was incredible, it was as if she were flying and she began to chuckle. Her mood changed from one of fear and apprehension to one of happiness. After the two left the doctor, the mother was in tears thanking everyone for the help they received. It was an episode I’ll never forget and it is my prayer that every parent love their children like this mother loves hers.
The second patient was a 15 year old boy named Santos. He had been previously diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and was suffering from headaches and partial vision loss. The pediatrician spent a long time with him and we helped the best we could to treat his symptoms. He was referred to a clinic in Xela for follow up care, and he will need better, more expensive testing and treatment. As we left Candelaria I said goodbye to Santos. We exchanged a hand slap followed by a fist bump just like any cool teenager would do with a “trying to be cool” middle-aged man. I stated to cry. I don’t know what will happen to Santos. Maybe it’s because I have a son his age that I feel the way I do. All I know is he and his family touched my heart and the hearts of the entire team. Every time I think of Santos I will pray to God to protect him and allow him to have a full life.
So you see we were blessed in many ways. We came to give and in doing so miraculously were given so much more. All of this was made possible in part because of your love and support. On behalf of the mission team, Jessica and I want to thank the entire congregation at FUMC. Your donations, your kind words, and your prayers lifted us up and enabled us to love our neighbors in this far away land.
Rev. Eun-sang Lee, pastor at FUMC wrote:
“Life changing.” “I am hooked.” Those are some of the words I heard the members of the recent Guatemala medical mission team – five from FUMC, one from Christ UMC , one from Wasatch Presbyterian Church, a Jewish couple from Park City and a non-frequent-church-goer from Colorado – describe their experience. The work was hard and intense, and at the end of a long day we were tired. “ A good tired,” we would say. We slept soundly and by the next morning we felt refreshed and were ready for another day’s work.
The lack of material resources we saw was real, the want of medical services was real and enormous, and we knew that what we could offer was small and temporary. Yes, there’s joy and satisfaction when you give, human beings are born to be generous, and the expressions of appreciation on the part of those who received our service were aplenty and genuine, but what I felt was happening inside us was something much deeper and mysterious.
Part of it was the human connection with the people we were treating and among the team members. Part of it was the prayer that constantly sprang up from within, prayers for the person in front of you, for the village we were called to that day, for Guatemala, for the world of which we are only a part. Part of it was the sense of being guided by God as we were journeying into the unknown, having gone outside the comfort and security of the familiar. Yet there was something still that defied human words – the overwhelming realization that God is up to something with me, with us, and with the world.
Mother Teresa said something like there’s nothing small in God; when you give something to God it becomes infinite. The difference the people of Guatemala – who do not have much in terms of earthly goods compared to us, Americans – have made in us was beyond measure. We learned once again that a person’s worth is measured not by how much one makes but by the difference one makes in others and in the world. Thanks you, team. Thank you, the people of FUMC. Thank you, the people of Guatemala. Thank you, God.
For future trips, we are looking for additional team members who are doctors, nurses, pharmacist, dentists, dental assistants, physician assistants and any other medical personnel interested in volunteering.
We are reaching out to the congregations of our team members as well as the community at large to help supply us with the things we will need to provide care. If you feel called to help support this humanitarian mission we would welcome your donations of money or any of the following supplies:
* Ziplocs (snack, sandwich, and gallon size)
* Bandaids and gauze pads; Ace wraps
* Advil (or generic), tablets or liquid
* Tylenol (or generic), tablets or liquid
* Cough syrup (adult or children)
* Benadryl (or generic), tablets or liquid
* Sudafed (or generic)
* Visine eye drops
* Nasal spray
* Throat lozenges
* Tums and Rolaids
* Simethicone (eg. Gas-X, Phazyme)
* Mylanta or Maalox
* Preparation H* Pepto-Bismol (tablets)
* Colace, Fibercon, Senekot, or other laxatives
* Antibiotic ointment (eg. Bacitracin, Neosporin)
* Diaper rash cream
* Hydrocortisone cream
* Hotel-size toiletries (especially soaps, lotions)
* Vitamins for adults and children
We will also need a large supply of prescription medications. If you are a physician and are able to donate any prescription medications or other critical items (blood pressure cuffs, glucometer, otoscopes, etc.) you would be assisting us greatly. Please contact team leaders Scott and Jessica Patton at firstname.lastname@example.org for details about what types of donations we need.