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 definitely new.” We have seen this little town evolve from sleepy and quiet, to a busy town with growing commerce. They now have three or four ATM machines in the town’s square and now two stop lights. It is exciting to see how things have transformed.
The same excitement as we make the .69 mile walk over a couple of hills and cobblestone streets to the Hospital. You see Pablo, the hospital caretaker, ready to greet you with a smile as he unlocks the hospital gate. Now, “We are here!”
As we walk in to the hospital we see Dr. Tun waiting on top of the side stairs ready to get to work, but first Pablo is so excited to show us a “surprise”. A new anesthesia machine has arrived, donated by a Canadian group and we will be the first group to use it.
We see more of the familiar faces as we make our way through the hospital– Walter in reception, Julio in the office, and Teresa at the nurse’s station. They all greet us with a hug, like friends do.
Our medical teams immediately start to assemble their areas and work spaces, getting ready for a week of 80 surgeries so far scheduled. You hear laughs, music playing, the unpacking of boxes and suitcases. You hear a team coming together, and that nostalgic feeling is felt again. This is second nature for this team of medical volunteers. Many are returning mission participants, and the few newbies just jump in ready to go. It’s like our mission coordinator, Rachel Gunderson describes it, “It’s a well-oiled machine, and we can only serve this community better.” She also describes how she feels humbled by following the footsteps from such amazing coordinators since the inception of this mission. “It has been so well done,” she said.
There is a feeling, impossible to describe, we wish you could all come and experience it, it is the only way you will know what we mean… One thing we all agree on is that at this time, this moment, when we are here, the feeling is one, the same for all. We want to make an impact, we want to make a difference, we are all here to serve.
In the eve of our first day serving this community there is excitement, there is an energy, there is a feeling that we are one! #HealthforSanLucas