Final Post

Good morning from Antigua!

As we return home we're both excited and hesitant. We've thoroughly loved this week of missions work here in Guatemala and it's certainly touched our hearts, but more than that, we've touched the hearts of many people here in Guatemala and established new relationships that are entirely invaluable.

No missions work should ever be about feeling good. Yes, feeling good can be a byproduct of well done short-term missions, but for it to be the intent of going on a trip is simply wrong. This week was most definitely not about feeling good, as leaving the people of Guatemala doesn't feel good at all. There were moments of not feeling good scattered throughout the week as well. But our intent was to serve the people of Guatemala by providing them the right to necessary medical care and the joy of hearing the Gospel of Jesus.

We wrap up this week by saying that we saw 10 commitments to Christ (5 new, and 5 recommitments) come from the clinic. Thanks for all that you, the reader, have done for us leading up to and within this week whether financially, prayerfully, or both.

We'll see you soon!

-- Matthew Wilhelm Pastor of Worship Arts/College Ministries Woodlands Church (715)341-0800 (715)216-4972 mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org

Last Morning in San Lucas

It's our final morning here in San Lucas, and really it's not much of a morning, per se, as we depart for Antigua an hour after breakfast. Despite the short goodbye to San Lucas, it's worth spending some time in reflection.

It's almost a certainty that our team - if granted unlimited supplies and resources - would simply stay here for an undisclosed amount of time. We've loved serving the people of San Lucas, but more than that we've loved serving alongside the people of San Lucas as well. Despite the supplies we brought and the doctors that treated patients, this clinic is mostly the brainchild of Iglesia Mundial Extendido and its united people...and they brought a new meaning to united.

A healthy multi-generational church is a seemingly coveted thing in our US evangelical culture (fortunately Woodlands is such), yet Mundial Extendido has clearly achieved this with ease. Volunteers from their church - aged 10 to 60 or higher - worked immensely hard to prepare for this week, make this week run smoothly, and close out the week well. People in blue pullover vests signified help to both our team and the patients we were treating. Because of the language barrier, the "people in the blue vests" were often the ones to direct the almost 900 patients we saw throughout the clinic...900 patients (888 to be exact)! They worked tirelessly with a united heart toward serving God and their community; we were along for the ride. These people, despite their limited resources, dreamt big and prayed that God would allow them some way to reach their community for His name.

They indeed owned this cause, but owned it with the utmost of humility in allowing a bunch of English speaking gringos to come into their church and take the lead for a week. I can honestly say that the humility of Mundial Extendido's leadership has impacted us. We owe them a great thanks.

One of our team members mentioned that, though Mundial Extendido's building wasn't the "nicest" of buildings, the people made the building more comfortable through their hearts and service. Wow. The church is truly not a building, but found in the hearts of men and women who faithfully follow God.

So with that we regretfully say good bye to San Lucas Toliman and to our dear friends and family in Christ. Until next time....

Heading Into the Final Day

Well, today was officially the busiest day so far. Fortunately, our team was beating like a healthy heart and managed to effectively and carefully treat 307 patients. This puts our 3 day patient total *to a whopping 697 people!*

We're so excited to see differences being made in peoples' lives. In our optical clinic, many of the cases we're treating are basic but would have otherwise caused severe loss of vision or blindness if not treated. In pediatrics, we identified four heart murmurs, built relationships with children, and picked up where we left off in other relationships from previous years. With the help of our Guatemalan medical students, our general medicine doctors treated an incredible amount of people in the span of 9 hours.

With all the discussion of health care in the United States, we should never take for granted the ease of which we can be treated for basic health problems, many of which would eventually result in serious issues in the long term. This is true of virtually every one of the 697 patients we've treated this week. The truth of the matter is that we live in a country that is unique in the entirety of the world; this trip is a prime example of the contrast of care that exists in our world. At first glance, the issues treated may not seem like a big deal, but on second thought those issues weren't a big deal because we had easy access to treatment.

Even though our clinic was capable of treating many things, we often found ourselves writing referrals for surgeries or procedures that we simply couldn't have performed in our make-shift office. A major prayer request *is that these referrals, by the grace of God, truly become available to our patients and that God would provide affordable health care options to those who we couldn't fully help.* This tension is very much a microcosm of the tension we live with daily as believers in Christ; we are commanded to strive for the kingdom of God, showing a taste of it wherever we go, yet we cannot fully bring the kingdom to fruition on our own and must rely on Christ to finish the good work that He started.

On our final day of clinic we're expecting our largest turnout. The word of mouth that has been spreading in the community has been overwhelmingly positive as most of our patients today heard about the clinic by word of mouth. Please pray that God bring people to us who have been previously hesitating or unable to come. Pray for wisdom in treatment and wisdom in long term solutions from a short term trip.

Most of all, pray that God's name be honored in all that we say and do; pray that His kingdom come and His will be done. Until tomorrow, good night!

-- Matthew Wilhelm Pastor of Worship Arts/College Ministries Woodlands Church (715)341-0800 (715)216-4972 mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org

Treating More and More

Throughout the trip we've reminded ourselves that it's not about the numbers because, well, it's true. Numbers are a great metric for seeing what kind of success this weeks' clinic is producing, but in the end we would still run this clinic for 200 or 2,000. San Lucas Toliman is a poor community while Guatemala has an unreliable healthcare system at best for the middle and lower class citizens; anything we can do is worth it to enact change - albeit a slow change - in the way people are valued.

Though numbers aren't the sum of our goal, we are pleased to announce that our numbers thus far have blown away that of the previous year. Last year, heading into day 3, we had seen 297 people; this year, through two days, we've seen 390 people! That's a pretty massive increase, especially if you consider that each person walks through numerous stations within the clinic from general medicine, to pediatrics, to orthopedics, to ophthalmology, to gynecology, and to a spiritual clinic in which laypeople from our partner church (Mundial Extendido) share the Gospel.

Last night we had an incredible time debriefing as a team, singing worship songs, hearing testimonies from team members, encouraging one another, and challenging one another. Many of our doctors on the trip challenged the Guatemalan medical students that have joined us for the week to continue to return here and enact change that we hope to see; to change the current order of things in San Lucas Toliman.

This trip is an expressly spiritual venture; it is faith in action. God never intended the world He made to be plagued with sickness, debilitating injury, life-threatening disease, or death, but through the power of Jesus working in and through us God is seeking to eradicate those things. Whether through bilingual and multicultural worship or through partnership in a medical clinic, our heart and our hope is that we grant San Lucas Toliman a foretaste of the kingdom of God to come.

Day 3 begins in about two hours (Guatemalan time). Pray that, though we are broken and imperfect, God would work mightily through us for the sake of His name and His glory, bringing little tastes of His coming kingdom throughout the day today and tomorrow. We expect even more patients throughout the next two days as word gets out more and more in the community and surrounding area. Also pray for energy, patience, and joy in our work.

God bless!

-- Matthew Wilhelm Pastor of Worship Arts/College Ministries Woodlands Church (715)341-0800 (715)216-4972 mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org mwilhelm@woodlandschurch.org

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