As our team of 60 arrives on Feb 8th and 9th we are completing 170 volunteer member weeks in this third week of three weeks. After a team of 60 and a team of 50 serving from the last two weeks. This is massive as we look back to 2004 when our number was 23.
We have six vans, so it is hard to blend in as we drive up the road from the airport. We actually are missing 9 of us, some by design and six had flight delays that will bring the last nine to us to complete our 60 as of Friday with the arrival of United and Delta and Southwest flights. We have a two hour drive north from Belize International Airport to the town of Corozal on the border of Mexico. Most of the travelers started at 3:30 at the airport in the US and arrive a bit tired. There was lots of talk last night of riding some of the five bikes we own to the border at 5 AM, but a rain storm caused us all to sleep in until 6:30 breakfast when the sunshine broke over the clouds and glistened off the Carribean bay waters at the breakfast room.
At breakfast this morning, we stood and introduced ourselves and our home towns and role. Bozeman Montana, Vail Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Charleston South Carolina, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston, Troy Michigan, Denver Colorado and on the list goes. Some are from Cincinnati and moved, and others found the mission on the internet. We also heard from Vitalino Reyes, a local outfitter, who told us about the fun day options of Cave Tubing/Zip Lining or Mayan Ruins via a river ride, or San Pedro Island to snorkel and snuba , or scuba and walking the beach and shopping the shops. We refer to San Pedro as the “Gatlnburg of the Caribbean,” with 7,000 golf carts and lots of tee shirt shops and hotels galore. This is where most fly immediately upon arrival to Belize. We drive where most tourists do not venture into the plains where sugar cane has grown since British colonial days.
Our theme this week is the Lord’s Prayer. We talked about how audacious it would be to have things on earth be like things in heaven. Each of us came with a stirring that we wanted to make things better, or make things right. We have a stirring that it is not fair to have children who cannot get access to health care and grow up struggling in school with ears that cannot hear and eyes that cannot see or lacking consistent health to thrive. “Thy Kingdom Come , Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” captures this stirring in the words of Christ. We discussed the need for “daily bread” as well, such as last week when we awoke to find 13 endoscopy patients ready for surgery, but no doctor (ours was very sick). God gave us the “daily bread” needed via another one of our doctors who happened to have past experience with endoscopy daily in her general surgery practice. She and Dr. Logeman performed their general surgery and then in between managed to perform 26 colonoscopy procedures over two days.
We come ready to experience the unknown. Last week, our team met the unexpected, and found the joy of seeing God get us through, and we come this week knowing the same will happen. Today half of our ten Village Team Doctors and four of our nurses from that team, went to Corozal while another half traveled to Orange Walk. These two hospitals serve two populations of 46,000 plus people. By going to both, embedded as part of the large ENT and Plastic Surgery Team, we can find the patients who will be the source of nearly 100 surgeries in the next few days. Ears tubes in children, tonsils that are chronic and overgrown in children and adults removed, scars and cleft palates and various cancer and thyroid removals and repairs. We have five surgeons and a huge team of anesthesia and nursing support with us this week.
A group of 13 are back at the hotel organizing medicines for the four villages and student gift bags for our party tonight with students. Another group is up at the Corozal Hospital, making supplies ready for the first cases on Saturday morning. Our logistics team is getting ice and drinks and refilling five gallon water jugs and heading to the airport to pick up the last nine arriving today.