I don’t believe that I have ever done my only post to the blog on our medical mission trip after it was over. But that was the uniqueness of our first trip to Jalapa (pronounced Halapa). From the very beginning, we knew it would be different. We have never done a medical mission out in the countryside before. We have never had 42 members from the US and a total team of 61 individuals in-country before either. We were so fortunate to have such a wonderful team of medical and dental providers, ancillary team members, and students. And we could not have even begun to realize this adventure without all that Oscar and Edwardo did for us in their home country.
There was so much behind-the-scenes work that had to be done well to pull this trip off as well as it ran. For us here, there were women like Ruth Glodowski, RN who made sure we had all of the supplies we needed, KC Limbach, our Pharmacy Purchasing Specialist at Saint Michael’s Hospital who made sure we had all the meds we needed including all of the Penicillin for the dentists that had to be trucked from Clear Lake, Iowa the Friday afternoon we left, and Whitney Swenson at Woodlands Church who does everything we need behind the scenes so we can be successful. This year Jonilee, our long-time travel consultant for AIG moved on after 30 years and in stepped Cindy Kirchner. As we were challenged with a number of last month and last minute changes, she stepped up to the plate. She was even able to do a last minute name change so an interpreter could take the place of a student who could not go on the day we left. I called her at 4:30 on Friday, the day we left, and she stayed around at work until after six to make the changes with American Airlines for Jose to travel. Many months of preparation paid off as the trip was both fulfilling and very successful. There were not any major glitches and close to 1,400 Guatemalan people were able to receive medical, dental, or optical care and over 1,000 individuals were presented with the good news of Jesus Christ through the spiritual clinic.
We had one dentist and four physicians who joined us for the first time in the thirteenth year of Woodland’s medical missions. We added four Spanish speaking teammates in the last two months and boy were they needed. Jose had been with us in 2016 and I literally called him at 4 pm on Friday. He had just retired and being ex-military, he simply responded with; “It’s like a deployment, I can be ready in 30 minutes.” He drove over from Arcadia and off we went. It is amazing to look back now and see how God works. Not that it is easy to wait on God’s timing, but the older I become the easier it is to relax more and just trust in His words. He is in control and guides us through each day and each challenge.
As I look back on this trip and think of how many new challenges we had and yet how smoothly it all ran, I am forever grateful to my team members who worked hard and brought their A-game. We had many members with years of experience on the mission field. For a group of 60 people who have never all worked together to come together, set up on Sunday and run a complex clinic with 13 providers seeing over 300 patients per day is incredible. To see it in motion is something special and truly amazing. We had five couples on our team, another first. That too was special. We also had eleven wonderful students from Wisconsin who had a life-changing experience that I trust will have a positive influence on their future medical careers. So I end with a big thank you to the team, the beautiful people of Guatemala, and our Lord Jesus who made it all possible.