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 happen…but the most valuable lesson I got from her was her humility and just wanting to do good for others. Josie sees pass the immediate need and solution. Her focus goes beyond, making sure there is lasting effect and impact with the work that is being done. The sustainability of the programs is part of the initial blue print because she genuinely cares.
I am honored to have started this journey with such a great woman by my side. Ten years later, Josie and her husband Josh, or as my Uncle Ariel would call him, “El Mago de los Suenos”–The Wizard of Dreams (hence anesthesia), have left a solid blue print for our mission team to follow, and a lasting imprint for Dr Tun, his team, and the community of San Lucas. I reached out to Josie and asked her to share what San Lucas meant to her. She wrote some beautiful words about the local Mayan weavers and how they have captured her heart as a former mission coordinator. I hope you enjoy her unique perspective! -Carmen
For centuries Mayan women have communicated through weaving designs that encoded the Mayan vision of the world. In this manner, they have expressed their culture, respect for their community, their creativity, and their heritage.
Through this art form, that is also a very practical medium, they weave the characteristically Mayan ‘huipil’, not coincidentally the very shirt on their back. However, a casual passerby, a person on the “outside”, could never imagine the countless hours of planning and deliberate handiwork that go into the creation of such a piece. It is only the weaver who truly understands the story that the huipil tells. As she sits and weaves, she ponders the concerns of her family, of her people, and her world. She prays for their wellbeing, for their future, and hopes she is able to capture the enduring love she possesses into her weaving. She incorporates all of this into her work, and as she does, she tells a story of who she is. She realizes, slowly, that she will need to pass her skill along to her daughters, because her hands will soon become tired and the fruit of labor is, after all, greater than who she is as an individual.
Her weaving is a personal creation, a way of making her imprint on the world.
The creation of a medical mission is vastly different, but it is, in a sense, one and the same…
A Medical Missions Foundation mission coordinator has been equipped with a particular set of skills that may seem to some a bit perfunctory—but they have learned their trade and spent countless hours honing it…studying, working, creating business plans, caring for patients, passing medications.
But when called to the labor that needs to be done to create the ‘mission week’, a greater purpose, a creative outlet, and a means to leave her imprint in the world, is accessed.
Nobody can deny, the making of a medical mission certainly does occupy the entire person and her time for the year of planning that is required— recruiting volunteers, accessing supplies, going to meetings, attending to details, learning the unique relationships that exist among the various players, and filling out government paperwork. That’s the part that passersby can see.
But like the weaver who sits at her loom, it is much more than this—the mission is the instrument through which her thoughts, concerns, prayers, and emotions are expressed, it is a pass-through of her love for her community, her friends, and her world. It is a reflection of who she is, and it changes her as she weaves the mission together. Her hope is that the mission will be the expression of her enduring love for her people, and that it will be far greater than who she is as an individual.
I am the unique person I am today because I have served in San Lucas Toliman, alongside some of you. Others may not even know who I am, but still the mission continues. As I read the updates I recall so many vivid and precious memories of past missions, and I try to imagine what it would be like to be in San Lucas Toliman with you all this week. But like the weaver, my hands have become tired. I rest knowing that our work has been passed along to your very capable hands, that this mission continues, and in a more intricate and beautiful pattern than what I could have ever created alone. Each person has a unique contribution that creates this beautiful fabric that is now a greater, shared, and complete mission experience. Relationships continue to be made, friendships continue to develop, lives are being touched- by all of you! We are forever bound together through our time in San Lucas Toliman.
I am grateful to share this labor of love.
Josie Uecker, CRNA
Founder Mission Coordinator of San Lucas Toliman Mission