This has been an awesome trip so far. Everyone has come from such various backgrounds and ages and professions. But, the spirit and enthusiasm and servant attitude amongst each other has carried us through the long days.
As a quick recap of the week so far, Friday was a day of organizing and seeing which patients would be seen. But, in the process over 140 patients were evaluated while some 25 dental patients were seen in the dental trailer. People were wall to wall in the hospital as normal clinics and operations were also going on and our team was trying to work on top and in the midst. The construction team met the home owner, Alicia Ramirez, who is a single mom with a 16 year old and 13 year old daughter. She had worked at the airport 2 hours away to save money for her home, but now sells food to try to support her two girls. She has supported them since her husband abandoned her years ago. It has been great that she has been present to help hammer and nail with the team. Onn Friday the pharmacy and non medical support staff from the village team were counting medicines down to patient size dosages and putting labels on and getting the pharmacy organized.
Saturday was the first surgery day, the first village clinic, the second day of construction and the second day for the dental team to perform operations in their trailer. The team felt as though God miraculously intervened after a morning prayer that healed a sick loved one back home at the very moment of the prayer and paved the way for a blessed day on the teams. Normally, Saturday is the day to iron out wrinkles and the teams all get back late for dinner late, and a bit beaten up and discouraged. That was not so this year. The surgery team at the hospital had over 15 cases done by noon and were finished by 5 PM, their earliest departure in our years here (for any day, not just Saturday). The hospital staff was better prepared and more efficient than ever and everything just hummed along.
Saturday, the village team went to Carmelita and saw nearly 150 patients. That was a lot for each doctor as we have 5 in total. Our pharmacist, Dr. John Bosch, who has come for three years to run the pharmacy, amazed the new staff on his team with his systems and efficiency in the midst of this makeshift location. Our physical therapy team of four, saw 50 of the patients before they left. One interesting patient that appeared was a 16 year old boy who has 80% of his body covered with burns. He has been to Galveston Burns Center in Texas. His mother of 8 children cannot afford to bring him back for follow up surgery, so he is in pain and cannot lift his arms due to the need for a skin graft revision surgery. Our plastic surgeon, David Ettinger, was able to evaluate him and contact the plastic surgeon, Devinder Mangat, arriving with the Horizon team on February 7th. This young man will have the surgery he needs due to the advance awareness of the specialty items needed for his surgery. Another patient that came to the clinic will have surgery on Monday. In general, those who came left with worm pills for their family, to kill parasites, vitamins, and hundreds of medicines they needed for their needs. Dr. Schwieterman went with a nurse in training, Anne Marie Bergeleen, and Natalie Hernandez to make a house call. This was for a woman who was too ill to come to the village clinic. Dr. Schwieterman explained to her and her family that she was in the end days for the cancer she had and she would need to prepare that her days are few. There were lots of tears at that home from our team and the family and every time the story was retold including after dinner, tears returned.
The construction team had to get materials but they made great progress, and hope to be finished today and move to the next home. Dedication is planned for Tuesday morning ( the last work day) when the whole team will gather to pray for the home.
The dental team saw 51 patients. They had their electricity fixed which has caused all the machines to go on the blink in various ways on Friday. The team is working in a 48 foot trailer, with patients sitting outside under a car canopy on benches waiting for their turn. If you walk in, you will see all four chairs filled with patients, as Dr. Tim Followell of Columbus, Dr. Bubba Womack from Beavercreek, and Dr. Andrew Smith from Klamath Falls Oregon and Nurse Practioner Maureen Womack operate. Courtney Evans is the sole support staff and stays quite busy. The dental patients, surgery patients and village patients all have one common trait: they wait patiently for hours on end and then are the most grateful appreciative patients these practitioners have ever experienced. Over 50 patients seen with many major procedures done.
The village team headed to August Pine Ridge this Sunday morning, which is a half hour beyond the 45 minute drive south to Orange Walk. This will be their most remote village. Many teams do not wish to go this far, so the team has tried to take these villages that are under served.
The sun comes up at 6 AM in Belize and sets at 6 PM. The team meets for breakfast in the open air breakfast room which just barely seats all 60 of us. The wonderful staff at Tony’s brings a breakfast that is plated up and coffee and juice. Some team members have already been on bike rides or jogs when breakfast begins at 6:30 AM. At 7 AM the chairs are move just outside to the patio where Jim Zartman plays worthip songs and a devotional thought is shared. The theme for the week is the Lord’s Prayer. Friday was a day to focus on God’s greatness and set Him apart (hallowed be thy name). Saturday was a focus on bringing “His kingdom and His will” here on earth, while today was a reminder to accept God’s daily provision and trust that he will take care of tomorrow. Give us this day our daily bread. The teams all pull out in their 6 large 15 passenger vans between 7:45 and 8 AM to return at days end as the sun sets. Dinner is at 7 PM in the open air bay side banquet area. After dinner their is a brief general sharing of the day and all go to a 12 person “small group” for the week to hear from new and old and various teams as to what happened that day. By 9 PM many are heading to bed with a few stragglers staying up till 11 or later.