San Lucas 2018 – Blessings

Introduction by Carmen Gramajo-Moser   For the last nine years, one thing has been a guarantee for Dr. Tun, the hospital, Medical Missions Foundation, and San Lucas: Dr. John Alley will be your surgeon.   For those of us who know him, we know that Guatemala has become his second home.  I personally believe that his heart was stolen by this little girl Sucely; he operated on her cystic hygroma during our first trip and has followed up every year since then. Sucely is the same age as his daughter Caroline, both are 12 years old now.   I've ...

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San Lucas 2018 – Laughter Heals

As a volunteer sometimes our work is never done, even when we are not on location with the team, there is work to be done. Many of us have been lucky enough to encounter other volunteers that have shared their compassion and work practices, and have ultimately made us better human beings and better volunteers.   As I said in a post earlier this week, some of my best friends have come from the last ten years of traveling to Guatemala with Med Missions, and one person, in particular, has had a strong impact on me and has contributed to those “lessons of ...

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San Lucas 2018 – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Today is an exciting day for the surgical team; a rarity lies before them.   Dr. Alley, surgeon and longtime San Lucas mission veteran, was quite surprised; “This is special, I have only seen this in a picture in a book!” One patient’s appendix was found in his hernia sack! In medical terms, we call this an Amyand´s hernia, after the French surgeon who discovered it. “He had to have been very uncomfortable, the right side of his colon was in his scrotum,” Dr. Alley adds.   The patient, Felipe, is an 82-year-old father of 12 with 4 ...

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San Lucas 2018 – #HealthforGuatemala

We are here as a team to bring #HealthforSanLucas, but after nine years of missions, our reach has grown to the communities surrounding Lake Atitlan. We meet patients who have traveled long distances to see us. Today we met quite a few of those patients including Juana, a 50-year-old who traveled from Quiche, a small town 114 miles, or 5 hours and two bus rides away so she could get help for a bladder prolapse procedure. Maria, 55, traveled from Chimaltenango for a hernia repair. Her journey of 42 miles took over two hours to complete. We also met Mendon, an 18-year-old ...

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San Lucas 2018 – Why I Return

Through 12 years of volunteering with Med Missions, I have met some of my favorite people, some of my best friends. I have met amazing people who have dedicated their lives to caring and serving others.  Their passion, commitment, humility, and selflessness have inspired me, given me direction and appreciation for the work that needs to be done in the world.   One of those amazing people is my good friend Dee Reed. I honestly look forward to the time I get to share with her every year in that PACU area, and every year I get to know, discover and learn things ...

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2018 San Lucas – And So It Begins

It was a long day today.   12.5 hours at the hospital. Nine hernias, three gallbladders, one hygroma and three gynecological procedures.   The first patient of the day was Oscar, a four-month-old little one with a bilateral hernia, who would also become our last patient of the day. After his initial surgery, he could not stop crying, and as a result, he busted his hernia! But by the end, he was all smiles. Not only did he stop crying, but he will also start feeling better and will grow up without pain or any impediment that would prevent him from ...

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San Lucas 2018 – Setting Up For Success

All hands on deck today as we got ready for a week of success!   From unpacking, organizing, furniture moving, machine testing, machine fixing - thanks to our “honorary Chapin,” Noe Aguilar from KU Med, to errand running, we are ready and eager for a week of life-changing work, and not just for the patients. As volunteers, we will get to experience a change inside of us too.   It amazes me, as a non-medical participant, that after nine years everything falls into place so easily, or so it seems, with so many parts coming together. Each group gets ...

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San Lucas 2018 – Looking Ahead

After 12 hours of travel, our San Lucas Toliman team has arrived!   Their journey began at 4 am this morning by gathering at the Kansas City airport for an early 6 am departure to Guatemala. It's always good news when they can go through customs with no issues and depart for our destination at a good time.   Around 1 pm they departed on what should be a 4-hour car ride, but the traffic getting out of Guatemala City put them behind almost two hours. No worries, as the advanced team of coordinators in country made sure that their vans were stocked with ...

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San Lucas 2018 – Homecoming

It’s that time again, that time when I get to go home to Guatemala, but not to visit and catch up, to work with a group of friends and, yes, family. After all these years, Medical Missions Foundation and the people of San Lucas Toliman have become family to me.   This is a special trip, ten years of Med Missions traveling to San Lucas and providing #healthforguatemala. It has been an honor for me to have been a part of this from the beginning. It all begins with a group of like-minded people, medical and nonmedical coming together with their talents and their ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – I wish I was back

It has been three weeks since I returned from Guatemala and I still wake up wishing I was back. I do not know if it's the peacefulness of the lake in early morning, the walk to the hospital encountering all kinds of smiling faces, the good full days of work, the people you meet, the stories you hear, the friends you—all together for me, it's what I long for.   I was asked recently after returning from this trip, “Where was home for me anymore?”   “Home” is Kansas City, that is where I feel I belong now. But Guatemala is “my country”. I ...

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