San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Meet Mayra “Master of Languages”

Even though Spanish is recognized as the official language in Guatemala, 21 different Mayan languages are spoken, especially in rural areas.   Kiche and Kaqchikel are predominant in the San Lucas and surrounding areas. A town of 17,000 people and 90-95% predominantly Mayan. US Spanish translators sometimes have to have our own translators, as a majority of our patients are Mayan.   Meet Mayra, our Kaqchikel translator. A nurse of 11-years at the hospital In San Lucas and a native of the town. She was asked to return to the hospital in 2006, after a ...

Read More


San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Meet Pablo Benedicto

Since 1994 Pablo has served his community with much care, humility, and a lot of energy, as the hospital care taker.   When Pablo was a 12-year-old child suffered from tetanus. After this discouraging diagnosis, it was an unheard of when he did recover. Pablo said he felt “it was a miracle.” Because of this, he promised to serve in the hospital, as an offering to do his part, caring for those that needed it like him. Sixty-eight years old now, he is still proudly serving.   He is the first one in, and that last one to go every day. He will open ...

Read More


San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – We are one

There is a certain feeling when you see the sign “Bienvenidos a San Lucas Tolimán” after the four-hour ride through bumpy roads, potholes and speed bumps. After hours of massive walls of vegetation and rocks from the mountains that surround you on each side. After scenes like an accident between a “camioneta” (chicken bus) and a semi-truck which causes traffic to stand still. We see that sign and we know, “We are here!”   As we hit the main road of this small town we run into a traffic stoplight and then a second one, and we realize, “this is ...

Read More


San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – How it all started

As I depart on my 9th trip to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala with Medical Missions Foundation, I decided to write this blog as reflection on how it all started. Overall, two words immediately come to my mind. “Humility Lesson.”       My first experience with Medical Missions was when I encountered a group that was participating in a medical mission to Antigua, Guatemala. As a Guatemalan local myself (born and raised), but a transplant to Kansas City over two decades ago, I had the pleasure to be introduced to this organization as I was ...

Read More


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

We 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 ...

Read More


El Jefe de Agua

While Medical Missions Foundation’s core mission always will be to provide surgical and clinical services, we sometimes add complementary health programs. These programs are designed to address root causes of the medical cases we encounter. Missions to Uganda and Romania have added programs on burn prevention and women’s hygiene, for example.   In San Lucas Toliman, Denny Moser has spearheaded a multi-faceted effort to address clean water issues -- a common challenge throughout the developing world and a root cause for many of the clinical cases we encount...

Read More


Like Father, Like Son

I met Daniel Castro (age 53) and his son Juan Danilo (age 18) on Thursday. Danilo was prepping for surgery that would remove a lipoma from his belly.   The father was no stranger to the MedMissions’ team. Daniel had a double hernia repaired during last year’s mission. For Daniel, it had truly been a life-changing event. Before the surgery, he had been in constant pain and was forced to reduce the time he worked on his farm. Because of Daniel’s disability, Juan Danilo had to pick up a larger portion of the farm work, which, in turn, reduced his time in ...

Read More


Not Every Story is a Fairy Tale

I struggled with how (or whether) I should write this story…   On Wednesday, a 4-day-old boy was rushed to the Hospital Obras Sociales. He was not breathing and had turned blue. Members of our medical team joined Dr. Tun and his staff as they tried in vain to revive the infant boy.   As with any death, especially an infant, the team was devastated. The boy had been born by C-section in the nearest hospital with surgical capabilities -- in Solola, about 1 ½ hours away by car. He was released two days later and returned to San Lucas Toliman. &n...

Read More


Reflections on World Health Day

As I sit in Guatemala, nearing the end of our mission to San Lucas Toliman, I am taking a break from my daily blogs to reflect on the small, but significant impact Medical Missions Foundation has on World Health.   We can’t solve all the health issues in the developing world; that is for sure. However, we can take pride in the tremendous benefits we deliver to the individuals and communities that we visit year after year.   Among the galaxy of organizations providing medical services in the developing world, MedMissions has developed the rare ...

Read More


Scouting a new location in Quetzaltenango

While the rest of the team stayed in San Lucas Toliman to provide another full day of surgery and clinical services, a four-person scouting team went on a road trip on Tuesday.   Led by Carmen Gramajo-Moser, we drove three hours to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city, with a population 225,000. Located at 7,800 feet in the Guatemalan highlands, Quetzaltenango (also known as Xela) is an interesting colonial-era city surrounded by widely-scattered ethnic Mayan villages. For such a large city, Xela has a surprising shortage of medical services. &...

Read More