The October 2014 medical mission began early Saturday morning at the Milwaukee Airport. We departed at 6 am arriving in Atlanta for our connecting flight. The team had about an hour lay over before we boarded our flight to Guatemala City. During the layover, team members grabbed lunch and stretched their legs. We were surprised to find another medical group would be serving in San Lucas Toliman. A team of Doctors and surgeons out of Detroit told us about their plans to perform surgeries at the local hospital. This group would also be staying at the Hotel Toliman.

After a safe takeoff and landing, we arrived at the Guatemala City. The team was prepared of a potential hold-up at customs, so we tried to be inconspicuous as each team member passed security and claimed their bags. The team was in high spirits for getting to our destination country without a hitch. Trip leaders Don and Julie agreed that all things went smoothly.

It wasn't until we boarded our Chicken bus, that the real adventure began. Local Missionaries, Carla and Rueben greeted us outside the airport. The plan was to load up a highly decorated bus, stop for lunch at a nice restaurant, stop briefly in Sumpango, and drive to our final destination. The bus did not have enough room to accommodate all belongings and medical supplies, we were forced to load the top of the bus with a good portion of the teams' belongings. We didn't mind the tight quarters.

The skies darkened shortly before our half hour drive to lunch. We originally thought a tarp was available to cover the stuff on top of the bus. Turns out we did not have a tarp. It hadn't started raining yet so we thought we could chance it and get a tarp in Sumpango when we dropped off Carla and Rueben. Just few minutes after leaving the airport when it began to downpour. Narrow, crowded streets made things a little more stressful, but we made it to the restaurant. Our driver, Carla and Rueben all came through to get us to our destination.

After a delicious lunch of steak, chicken, sausage, baked potato, garlic bread and cheesy dipping sauce. We also were treated to desert that resembled tiramisu. After lunch the rain had subsided. We boarded the bus to Sumpango. Driving uphill on narrow, winding roads made for an interesting bus ride.

We will find out if anything is damaged when we arrive at our final

Some observations: Guatemalan people seem to be friendly and family oriented. It's been evident that these people value relationships. I was surprised at how busy the roads were even outside of the big city. It seemed like rush hour at times with vehicles squeezing together as they share the road. Our chicken bus is a sight to see even for the Guatemalans; many watch as we go by, some wave, some laugh. I think I speak for the group when I say, I very much look forward to serving and getting to know the Guatemalans.

More updates and pictures to come. Stay tuned!

-Tom Hoeft

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