Crazy how life can seem so surreal at times. Today, when I visited the clinic construction, I thought about all the meetings, debates and great planning that went into it. I remembered the young architect, Jonathan Zee who so generously came with us to Guatemala and designed this wonderful place.
Five “trabajadores” were busily working away – installing the steel beams in preparation for the roof. The heat surely wasn’t slowing them down at all (nor the minimal tools they had to use. Every space, every window, every column was laid out exactly as planned – and the best part is that all the thought that went into it seems to have been so worth it! A lovely breeze and lots of natural sunlight is present in EVERY room! The building is laid out so beautifully on the 2 acres – It seems to welcome you and says “hi” as you approach in your car! There is plenty of space for the patients to wait and the design is really perfect for great patient flow. I think of all the years that we thought about it and here it is!
So we brought the children from our after-school program over there so they could see their new classrooms (on the other side of the clinic). They were so delighted! Then, Camillo, the owner of the Construction Company came and spoke with the children. He talked to them about the importance of knowing math when you are doing construction. He told them a bit about his life (he didn’t even learn to read until he was 18!)and all he had to overcome to get to a point where he could direct a job like this. He even talked to them about being an architect or an engineer – what inspiration for them considering that they never heard of such jobs in the past!
Then we returned to the clinic and I gave the children some books that were sent from the Ottawa Hills school system. They were so overjoyed at the thought of a new book to bring home tonight! I also gave them each a bracelet made by the family of one of my friends. You would have thought I was giving them gold and diamonds! Once again, I am reminded of how lives can be so changed when we all share our gifts! I can’t thank all of you enough – today was just an example of all that can be done when we work together to make it a bit better world for those that God puts in our path.
Things that are better about being in a “poor” country such as Guatemala (enjoy the pictures below that show some of them!)
1. You get to see your patients riding ahead of you on the way to the clinic in the back of a pick-up truck as you yourself are on the way to “work”!
2. It is so wonderful taking care of patients who are so very, very grateful for all you do! Today and yesterday were awfully busy - and sometimes when we are so busy, I worry that I have enough time to make the patients feel valued. In the middle of my very busy day today, one of the patients actually started crying as she hugged me and told me that everyone was so grateful that we were there. She said they are so desperate for medical care and they can’t believe that we are taking the time to care for them. How often do you get that in the U.S.??
3. There is such little waste. People here find ways to use all the things that you and I would normally throw out. Hanssel, (our agriculture project director) cuts large plastic pop bottles in half and hangs them on strings so that they can be hung up one on top of the other. He fills them with dirt and plants seeds in them. Pretty soon there are plant seedlings that can be transplanted into the ground. He even uses the trays that my pap containers come in to do the same thing!
4. Families and neighbors TRULY care for each other.
Yesterday, we were asked to go to the home of a woman who was very sick. Turned out that she had uncontrolled diabetes as well as uterine fibroids that were causing her to massively hemorrhage. When we arrived, there were at least 40 people standing outside her house praying for her! We gave her some medications and IV fluids and then got an ambulance to bring her to the hospital. Everyone was so grateful and I was just happy that she had something we could treat – and not another terrible diagnosis of cervical cancer.
5. The dogs here are so much better controlled! This may seem silly but actually, it is so cool to be able to run here and not have dogs threatening you! Mostly, they just ignore me as I run past them! And if a dog is walking with it’s “master”, there is no need for a leash – they just follow along. I love watching the “Dog Whisperer” at home. But here, I think there are lots of Dog Whisperers. The difference is that they know how to treat dogs like dogs....
6. People here have FAR BETTER immune systems! Honestly, it is incredible. Yesterday, I ate lunch in the home of a very poor person who so graciously shared all that she had with us. While all the Guatemalans had no problem, I spent the night with diarrhea and vomiting. What has happened to us in the U.S. that our systems are so very fragile???
7. There is not the constant barrage of consumerism. This morning, I saw a great sign that someone wrote on a wall outside a relatively big store here (of course, nothing like our big stores!). It read “If you don’t buy it, we won’t desire it….” I’m going to remember that one!