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Mission to San Lucas — By the Numbers and From the Heart

Ashley Bennett and Pepper Card in surgeryWe returned from Guatemala two weeks ago, which has given me time to reflect on our week in San Lucas Toliman.


The achievements are impressive — 81 surgical procedures performed on 69 patients, 70 water filters distributed, countless medical consults by cardiologist Charlie Porter and the clinical staff, training (both informal and formal) of the local hospital team.


The numbers tell only part of the story. More relevant is the impact a mission has on the participants, patients and local community. Lives are transformed. Hope is restored. Special bonds are forged. Tears are shed — usually of joy, sometimes of sadness.


As I think back on my first trip with Medical Missions Foundation, three words come to mind:

  1. Teamwork — among the mission participants, with the local hospital staff and with the local community. Cultural and professional barriers are erased by a common goal of improving the lives of underserved people in San Lucas. Egos are checked at the door.

    Mission Coordinator Mike Rudolph and Medical Director John Alley

    Mission Coordinator Mike Rudolph and Medical Director John Alley

  2. Commitment. These people work hard. The local staff volunteers without pay for the extra shifts needed to serve the patients that stream to the hospital during the week we are in town. Other community members contribute their time for transport, food, translation and all the logistics required for a complex surgical mission. And, of course, the MedMissions team contributes their time and money, leaving their families for the long journey to Guatemala.
  3. Compassion. I saw this countless times. The small gestures that bridged language barriers to reassure a small child. The delicate touch and soothing words of a nurse. The dignity and care provided by the operating room teams. The American and local medical teams give from the heart, contributing more than medical skills.


I returned more committed to the work we do, reminded of the tremendous need for medical services in places like San Lucas and recognizing the vital role Medical Missions Foundation can play in meeting that need. It was a wonderful journey.


photos by Charles Porter

photos by Charles Porter

2016 San Lucas Toliman mission participants:

Noe Aguilar, John Alley, Chuck Battey, Ashley Bennett, Pepper Card, Donna Dunn, Kelly Dunn, Kelly Fenton, Carmen Gramajo-Moser, Rachel Gunderson, Carol Gurba, Shawn Mojahedi, Denny Moser, Charlie Porter, Susan Porter, Becky Quesenberry, Mallory Quesenberry, Dee Reed, Cindy Rudolph, Mike Rudolph, Joyce Sheehan, Terry Sontheimer, Kate Weber.