Hello Friends and Family:

We are all well and enjoying the wonderful weather in Guatemala.  We arrived Sunday morning around 6:30 and began our journey.  Sunday started with an amazing breakfast in Guatemala City.  After our fun adventure on our chicken bus, we arrived in Sumpango.  It was market day, so we all took to the streets and explored.  It was amazing!!! The orphanage was expecting our arrival so we headed back for a wonderful meal and we all crashed of exhaustion.  The medical clinic was starting Monday and we were all excited.  Things went really smoothly and we all worked together so well.  The people of Sumpango have really touched my heart.  I was surprised to hear the medical students I met a few years back were going to visit.  I was so excited.  I was working with Dr. Arnold who is a wonderful person to work with and to learn from.  We were blessed enough to have two Sumpango volunteers helping with the pap staining.  This is day two of the clinic and I have seen and heard so many touching stories from everyone about people they have treated.   I’m so lucky to have been on this mission trip!  God has really been with us on this trip.

I’m so glad to be here!!!

Love you all back home and miss you!!!


A Cookie Monster Sweater & A Cowboy Hat

It is surprising the moments that can catch your heart’s attention.  A family came to the clinic today to receive dental care.  A mom, dad and a 6 year old boy wearing a cookie monster sweater were sitting there waiting when I sat down near them.  Knowing that my Spanish vocabulary is about as big as El Mezcal’s menu, I pointed to my teeth to try to communicate with the boy and ask if he had come to see the dentist.  With a toothy grin he shook his head and as he smiled a priceless smile it became incredibly evident that he would be seeing the dentist and he would be getting a lot of attention from him.  We continued to play our game of charades in our attempt to communicate it really touched my heart to contrast this young fellow’s joy in the moment while knowing he was in for a painful afternoon.  His attitude reflected so many we have seen over this week.  So many situations and conditions have pulled at our hearts already this week but those who own those stories have incredible joy in spite of the challenges and heartaches that they face.  The grace of the people of Sumpango in the midst of surroundings that are often trying is a testimony to me and a challenge to not allow the trials in my surroundings to dictate my attitude.

Also this afternoon, I was doing a simple little task of moving some chairs around when I encountered the man with the cowboy hat.  He wasn’t Curious George’s friend but was a kindly looking elderly gentleman who walked with a cane and a stoop.  He slowly shuffled toward where I was gathering up my load of chairs and started speaking to me.  My first impulse was to blurt out that I didn’t speak Spanish and that his half of the conversation would undoubtedly be met with a less than spectacular response since I didn’t understand more than a couple of words he spoke.  But instead of that, I just listened.  The chairs could wait.  My knowledge (or lack thereof) of Spanish didn’t matter.  He just needed to be heard.  It no doubt had been a long day for him and as he shared what he needed to share he pointed to his throat a couple of times.  Eventually he asked me a question to discover that our “conversation” had flown mostly over my head.  He graciously smiled a knowing smile recognizing my inability to answer his query and shuffled back to his seat.  I put those chairs in their new destination and headed to a water cooler across the room.  I was going on a hunch that the pointing to his throat was calling my attention to a need he had.  I filled a cup of water and walked back over to where the man with the cowboy hat was seated and offered it to him.  He stood up and accepted the water.  He had a pleasant smile of appreciation spread across his face.  I couldn’t shorten his wait today or make his trip home any shorter or relieve the pain that motivated him to come to the clinic today, but I could listen and extend a hand to comfort.

A glass of water to a thirsty man is a small thing.  Chatting with a 6 year-old in a cookie monster sweater is small, too.  Yet God gives us moments to touch the hearts of others and to be touched by them, and I am thankful for this day to be slinging chairs in a place where God could remind me again of His love for people like these two I encountered today.  It is a treasure to serve the people here.

Thanks for your prayers – we have enjoyed the blessing of being under the care of God’s love and protection and the support of your prayers.  Love to the Miller gang and thanks again to all who are praying for us and sharing in our time in Guatemala.

Rob Miller

PS- Just a quick post as a follow up about this kind gentleman who received the water from Pastor Rob. He came back to the clinic today (Wed.) looking for the doctor who had given a shot of medicine in his knee. He woke up this morning with no knee pain. This man, though stooped and moving slowly made his way to the clinic to express his gratitude and appreciation. (no easy thing in this city) In appreciation, Dr. Dan was given a bag of bananas. I happened to be up in optical as he is getting his eyes checked and he remembered that I was in the room yesterday taking pictures as his knee was injected. I have no idea what he said to me but his eyes where shining and he gave me a big hug.

So many of us have been touched in a powerful way. The people of Sumpago have captured our hearts.


Birthdays the Guatemalan Way


I had an awesome birthday yesterday.  Everyone sang Happy Birthday in the morning and again at night.  That was better than two years ago when a Guatemalan waiter at the restaurant we ate breakfast at starting pounding cymbals behind me to surprise me, a Guatemalan tradition I guess!

Then the love of my life and my daughter Leah and Jon Cronce conspired to get me a birthday cake and candles, and we enjoyed it last night.

Also, the opthamology department all gave me a handwritten birthday card (Hello, where was the love from all the other departments?).

We had great weather and a great day in clinic and saw lots more beautiful Guatemalan people.

We had a very nice young lady who had obvious gallstone disease, and Dr. Oscar told me that there was hospital that would do her surgery for free (she had no money and I didn’t know what I was going to do with her). The trouble is that she would get the surgery in 6 months; people in Wisconsin would never stand for that!

One of the best thing about this trip for an old doctor like me is watching all these brilliant doctor and nurse wannabees who are so eager learn tricks and knowledge from us old dogs.  As smart as they all are, it reminds me how much I didn’t know when I was their age, and how much God has blessed me with learning since then.  I pray that they all get the chance to serve in the careers that they are hoping for.

So as Edward R. Murrow said, “Good night and good luck! (Even though it’s morning now)

Bill Benn

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