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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San Lucas Tolimán – More than just a Medical Doctor

Dr. Tun, a gentle man, soft spoken, very gracious, hardworking, and the most humble person I have met in my life.   Dr. Tun’s story began at the hospital in San Lucas Tolimán 19 years ago, he had been sent to medical school after his older brother, who was the one studying to be a doctor, passed away in a car accident. He originally wanted to go to law school, but his brother’s goal to help others was an inspiration for him to change careers and figure out how to do the same. And he has been working hard since then.   As the only physician ...

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San Lucas Tolimán – First Timer

It is sometimes hard for those of us that are non-medical mission participants, to feel that we are providing the same amount of service that our amazing doctors and nurses provide on these missions. But what we quickly realize is we all play a crucial role, and on top of that, you recognize how much you have been changed because of the experience.   I asked Marta Salinas, as a non-medical participant (a "first- timer" for that matter) to share how figuring out what you can do for others changes your life in the process.  - Carmen   As I packed for my ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Women’s health for San Lucas

It was close to 3pm and I noticed two women sitting in waiting area almost ready for surgery. I had noticed them earlier in the that morning sitting next two each other. I found out that one of them was Juana, 73-years-old, and getting ready to have surgery with Dr. Annie.     Juana’s daughter-in-law, was the woman sitting next to her. She had accompanied Juana from Godinez, a community about an hour away by car. It is common for generations to live together, Juana’s daughter-in-law shared, "I have been in the family for 31 years and I will bring ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – A life-changing experience for all

One of the rewards of coming back to the same mission location year after year, is seeing how patients who received a life-changing surgery are doing.   We have seen Suzely, a now 13-year-old girl that came to the team on the first year of the mission. Then 4 years old with a mass on the side of her face. For couple of years our team would work to remove more and more of the mass, it now finally gone!   We have a young man that cut his finger with a machete while working in the fields. Dr. Alley, (an original member from the first San Lucas ...

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San Lucas Tolimán 2017 – Weaving an Imprint

As I said in my first blog, there were some characters and stories in the life of the San Lucas mission that I had left out on purpose. Josie and her husband Josh Uecker, CRNA were the founding mission coordinators for the San Lucas Tolimán medical mission in Guatemala.   I had the honor to have Josie Uecker, CRNA as my "Mission Coordinator Mentor". Everything I know about coordinating a trip and medical mission group came from her teachings and experience. Yes, we do need to have organizational skills, resourcefulness and creative attributes to make things ...

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