Keep It Under 40#

The team prepares to head back to the Midwest. It is presently 86 degrees in Cartagena and -11 degrees in Stevens Point, WI. It will be good to get back to our families and friends despite the cold.

Day 5 Concludes

Across the 5 days of clinic, over 1,400 patients have been seen and treated. This is a record number across the 5 years this team has been serving in Cartagena.

The final day wrap-up included a walking tour of the neighborhood. Pastor Holman told us that the children in this community are now attending school. By working through the church, God provided a school in this neighborhood. There is no financial gain; the only intent is to help families. Because of this, people are able to move beyond drug addiction, marriages are staying together, families are staying whole; the people are now good community contributors. As Pastor Holman said, "We are reaching goals God put in our hearts."

During our time in Cartagena many new friendships were formed, both within the American team and cross-culturally. Each one of us left the clinic today richer than when we arrived. God is good!

A New Perspective

All I can say is WOW! When Dr. Caldwell asked me if I still had interest in going on the Colombia Medical Missions trip it was an easy, YES! I had always wanted to do something like this, but never knew where to go or how it all actually worked. Although, when starting this journey I had no idea what to expect, my friends have done medical missions trips in Africa and when I told them I was heading to Colombia they told me that it will be life changing; and boy, were they right!

On Wednesday an older gentleman came to us with an open wound that needed some debriding, the proper ointments and bandages, and a little TLC and it should heal up just fine. The gentleman, who later told us his name was Fabio, said he had been a very healthy man all his life until now. We told him we would be able to clean up the wound and get it bandaged, but we would need to use a little local anesthetic. He said he would like it done, but he was just so nervous and kept telling us over and over again how nervous he was. Dr. Nick then asked him, "How did you live this long if you are so nervous?" The gentleman replied, "Because The Lord is my best friend. He is always with me and I pray every minute of everyday. I love The Lord." I instantly had tears in my eyes. The sweetest man; all he wants is to be healthy and keep on living life through The Lord. He made it sound like life is so easy.

Meeting this gentlemen was just what I needed. Although, three years ago, when my best friend passed away, I realized that I couldn't take life for granted anymore and to make sure I live everyday to the fullest, this gentleman did just that, yet again! All he wants in life is to be happy and healthy. I wish all people could be just like him and have the same mindset.

I'm leaving Colombia with a different perspective than when I came; to make sure I always help those in need, show them kindness and love, live each day to the fullest, live each day through The Lord, and if there are questions or problems troubling me throughout life, all I need to do is pray. God can always find answers for us as to why we are put into certain situations.

I will forever remember this journey I started, my first medical mission trip. I will remember the strangers I took this journey with, who are now like family. I will remember all the wonderful helpers that got us through the week of clinic. And I will forever remember that gentleman; who just wanted to be healed. This is an experience I won't ever forget. I'm so thankful God has put me here to help all these wonderful people and truly try to help make the world a better place.

Jackie

A New Perspective

All I can say is WOW! When Dr. Caldwell asked me if I still had interest in going on the Colombia Medical Missions trip it was an easy, YES! I had always wanted to do something like this, but never knew where to go or how it all actually worked. Although, when starting this journey I had no idea what to expect, my friends have done medical missions trips in Africa and when I told them I was heading to Colombia they told me that it will be life changing; and boy, were they right!

On Wednesday an older gentleman came to us with an open wound that needed some debriding, the proper ointments and bandages, and a little TLC and it should heal up just fine. The gentleman, who later told us his name was Fabio, said he had been a very healthy man all his life until now. We told him we would be able to clean up the wound and get it bandaged, but we would need to use a little local anesthetic. He said he would like it done, but he was just so nervous and kept telling us over and over again how nervous he was. Dr. Nick then asked him, "How did you live this long if you are so nervous?" The gentleman replied, "Because The Lord is my best friend. He is always with me and I pray every minute of everyday. I love The Lord." I instantly had tears in my eyes. The sweetest man; all he wants is to be healthy and keep on living life through The Lord. He made it sound like life is so easy.

Meeting this gentlemen was just what I needed. Although, three years ago, when my best friend passed away, I realized that I couldn't take life for granted anymore and to make sure I live everyday to the fullest, this gentleman did just that, yet again! All he wants in life is to be happy and healthy. I wish all people could be just like him and have the same mindset.

I'm leaving Colombia with a different perspective than when I came; to make sure I always help those in need, show them kindness and love, live each day to the fullest, live each day through The Lord, and if there are questions or problems troubling me throughout life, all I need to do is pray. God can always find answers for us as to why we are put into certain situations.

I will forever remember this journey I started, my first medical mission trip. I will remember the strangers I took this journey with, who are now like family. I will remember all the wonderful helpers that got us through the week of clinic. And I will forever remember that gentleman; who just wanted to be healed. This is an experience I won't ever forget. I'm so thankful God has put me here to help all these wonderful people and truly try to help make the world a better place.

Jackie

Special Children

On Thursday, I came across a young 11 year old girl, who had basically fallen through the cracks in the education system. She was mentally handicapped and mom was unable to get her into school or any other programs to help her. For 11 years mom had carried around the guilt of thinking she had caused this because she had a fever while pregnant. She had never seen a doctor and no one had ever told her this was not her fault. Mom was trying her best to educate the daughter in her home.

I was so grateful to be able to tell her that she did not have to be guilty for this---it was neither her nor the daughter's fault. I was worried the daughter was falling into the wrong crowd as she had mentioned that. I was very active in trying to get her into a program for special needs children by asking Giovanni for his assistance. We prayed together and Giovanni gave her names of programs to look into and invited her into the church community.

I hope from all of this the daughter will be put into a program where she will be educated and socialized with other children her age. It is such a touching story to be involved in. I am thankful for Giovanni for his continued efforts to work with the family.

Elayne

Day 4 Ends / Day 5 Begins

It was another day of joy and heart-break. Over 300 people were seen and treated yesterday. So many people have been relieved of the pain they've been enduring....even if it's only for a little while.

We've seen severely malnourished children and adults. How do we help with this? How do we help without hurting? We can't just run down to the corner market and get them groceries. How will they provide once we are gone? These are the questions almost everyone asks themselves after having witnessed living in a poor community. The poverty you see on TV is real life.

But we can help today.....and we are helping today. God has a bigger plan...a plan for eternity.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭34‬ NIV)

Fantastic Fabulous Farmacia

A successful mission trip from a pharmacy standpoint is when you can look back and say, "we provided the best solutions to the therapeutic problems we faced given the resources available." I can say that we did that. I can also say I had fun in the process.

Great team and lots of memories.

Tom

Day 3 Ends / Day 4 Begins

Optical seems to be our most popular department. The waiting area is usually overflowing with people in need of eye wear, and you can often hear laughter coming from inside the room. Dr. Steve had a patient yesterday with advanced pterygium (a wing of tissue growing across the cornea). It induced a stigmatism of 9 diopters with resultant vision of 2200, or legal blindness. The pterygium was approx 3mm from the visual axis and was very irritated. Surgery went perfectly with Nancy and Kelsey's assistance. The patient will be back on Friday for a follow up visit to see how this has improved her vision. It's been 57 years since Nancy was in surgery....such a wonderful opportunity to be part of something so important for this patient.

Pharmacy has been running very well. They are not experiencing bottlenecks like previous years. Bill may be lingually and medically challenged (lol) but he can count to 30.

Ped-Meds had a quiet day on Wednesday....much of the common and routine situations (and lots of it) were all done for the glory of God. "It's the small common things that make a big difference; not the dramatic, but the common," said Jeff M.

Orthopedics continues to do many steroid injections to give relief. For many patients, this is the only time each year that they are able to have an injection.

Dental had a patient on Wednesday with 12-13 rotten teeth. The pain he endured every day was so horrible that he used battery acid and some other chemicals on his teeth to take away the pain.

Surgical was visited by a special patient on Wednesday and Thursday. This patient comes a great distance from an island and has been returning to the clinic for 4 years. She has large growths on her ear lobes. The first year she visited the clinic we were unable to help her. When she returned year 2 the surgeons agreed to remove the growths on her right lobe and the growths on her left year would be removed year 3. Because these growths often recur, this year we removed another growth on her right year. It is such a blessing to be able to help someone. As Angelina has said many times, "To (whom) much has been given, much is required."

Our Day 4 morning devotional was about giving back to our Father all that He has given us. As Dr. Milan stated, "He is calling us to greater faith. He wants us 'all in', and this is way out of my comfort zone. One thing I have learned is that when you go 'all in' with Jesus, extraordinary forces are mobilized to your aid. He called us ALL together in a very special way to serve the poor of Cartagena, Colombia, and what a week of grace this has been."

Baby Love

Angie gets a little break from triage to love on this adorable baby girl. This is the best part of our day.

Life Changing

I was told prior to coming on this trip that it would be life changing, but how life changing it truly was has been is amazing. Tuesday morning's devotion from Mr. Twinky (lol) talked about God choosing the most unlikely people to be His hands and feet and to represent Him and that God puts the most unexpected people in the most unexpected situations.

As the clinic started out that morning, I was assessing a beautiful little baby as Laurie (team mate/photographer) walked by with tears in her eyes she said, "The identical twin of holiness is love and that is what I see when I watch you care for that little baby, Kandise." That got me thinking more and more about God's purpose for us.

Shortly after this, I brought back a Mom and her 7yr old little girl. Mom had concerns about the little girl grinding her teeth at night, afraid to sleep in her room and afraid to be in the dark. After talking with Mom more she told me something terrible had recently happened with their family but she didn't want to say what. After talking more to Mom, she explained to me that the little girl's cousin was murdered in front of them in their home and since then the other family has been throwing rocks through their windows and threatening to kill them wanting to get revenge for the murder. My heart dropped as I felt this overwhelming sense of sadness. I couldn't imagine at 7 years old watching a family member murdered in your home and how Mom felt trying to protect her family. This was way beyond anything a nurse could help with. All I could think about was the devotion from the morning bus ride. God puts unexpected people in unexpected places to be His hands and feet.

I felt this sense of peace as I knew this was my time to spread the love of the Lord and pray with this family asking for God to send his guardian angels to watch over them. As tears filled both of our eyes, I knew this was God's plan for me today. It was God who put this family in my exam room today and it was God's plan for me to be their nurse!

Today was filled with laughter, smiles and tears, and for the first time in my life I followed my heart, followed God's will and felt like I truly was a child of God.

Kandise

Connecting With People

For me, this Medical Mission is about connecting with people. To that end, it already been successful. I am humbled by my good fortune to work with colleagues of whose expertise I am in awe. They are compassionate and sensitive to the variable issues facing our patients. While providing care to our Colombian community of patients, I have been in awe of them as well. Their love of life in the face of adversity and challenges certainly gives me pause to consider how I face my own personal challenges; I am learning so much from them about how to do this with grace and humor. They have been so kind, welcoming, and patient with my attempts at speaking Spanish. This week is a gift in so many ways.

Cindy

Day 2 Ends / Day 3 Begins

As we reflected of the days events over dinner, Twinky shared a letter received from a local neighborhood committee. The letter applauded the social sensitivity and good health campaigns that now exist in this community. This mission team has touched the needs of health services of children and older adults for the past 5 years. The committee formally requested us to help provide for a permanent healthcare facility for their community. How we respond to this request has yet to be determined. Please pray for wisdom in doing the will of our Father.

Twinky also reminded us that, "what God brought us here to do may have far reaching affects, and we may never know."

Michael addressed the concern about the reduced number of people visiting the clinic on Tuesday. It was thought that the prescreening may have deterred some people from going to the clinic because they weren't on the prescreen list. Pastor Giovanni personally went into the community to invite everyone to come to the clinic if they had a need. Wednesday morning when we arrived, there were more than 100 people waiting outside the clinic.

Tuesday was a roller-coaster of emotion for the team. There was joy, laughter, excitement, fatigue, sadness and heart-break. These stories are best told by those directly involved. Watch for them in an upcoming post.

Wednesday morning began with a devotion from Omar. Omar is the local Reach Global coordinator who helped set the ground work for this mission team in Colombia 5 years ago.

Omar reminded us that it's all too easy to have preconceived thoughts of who people are. Regardless if we just met someone or have known them for years, we think we know who someone is based on our thoughts. The same thing happened to Jesus. People thought they knew who He was, but they didn't. The best way to know who Jesus is, is to let Him tell us. Ask Jesus to reveal to you who He is.

Part of Something Extraordinary

Everybody thinks their god is the best god...and everybody is right. I feel blessed to be a member of this mission team and being a part of something this good is extraordinary. Thank you to all who help me help others. One day, you will just be a memory to some people. Do your best to be a good one.

Jeff A

So Much Need

It's never easy to tell someone that there is nothing you can do for them. And if that person waited in line in the hot sun all day just to have the opportunity to see a physician for some medical relief, it is even harder to tell them there is nothing that can be done today. That's just the situation Jack encountered today. A man in need of insulin, with no means of obtaining it due to his financial situation, could not be helped.

There are so many people in need of medical attention, yet it is often something we take for granted in the United States. When I asked Jack why he has been serving on medical mission teams for the past 10 years, he said, "I want to help make a difference for people that don't have the opportunity."

Pepinillo

I was given the nickname of "pepinillo" by the translator and eye patients due to my last name (Pickl), which means cucumber. The translator and patients thought it was funny. Upon leaving, the patient said, "gracias pepinillo". It was hilarious!

I also has a patient who did an Arnold Schwartzenhager impression---"hasta la vista, baby!" I also was requested to have my picture taken 3 times: once with the patient, then with the patient, the translator and the pastor, and another time with the pastor and a little girl. It was so sweet. The woman was so happy we were able to find her glasses to see.

Kelsey

Power Down

When working, the power went out cutting off our light and AC. Not once did we think "it's over for the day--pack it up". We were innovative and used our cell phone lights for flashlights and anything possible to continue seeing patients. This was a perfect example of our dedication to our mission here. With a line out the door we were determined to move on and continue to see as many patients as possible.

Jasmine

A Different Point of View....Optical

Everything about this trip so far has been an incredible experience. I am blessed to be with an amazing group of people who get along and work so well together. Today, orthopedics was fairly slow so I stopped by optical to see if they could use any help. The optical team was so welcoming and showed me what they did so that I could help patients if needed. The entire room was full of positive energy and laughter. It was just a great place to spend time. I was able to help by reorganizing some boxes of glasses and by translating to the best of my ability.

In the waiting area, just outside the optical room, I was assisting Mary Beth in determining the specific needs of each patient so that they could immediately be taken care of when they were called into the room. As I was struggling to understand what one man was telling me, two or three other ladies who were also sitting in the waiting area stepped in to help him get his story across to Mary Beth and I. It basically turned into a game of charades before we finally got the basic information that we needed from the patient. Who knew translating could be such physical work!?

The people here in Cartagena possess so much kindness and gratitude. The ladies who spend their days cooking and cleaning for us, and the translators who volunteer their time are all such a pleasure to work with. I never expected to laugh as much as I do during clinic. So far this has been an amazing and humbling experience. I look forward to what the remainder of our time here has to offer and I hope to continue to participate in these mission trips in the future.

PS - the food and juice here are simply incredible!!!

Lauren

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