Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guatemala, Day Six

Our last clinic day. It's always a little bittersweet - it has been a great experience and we've helped a lot of people so it's a little sad to see it end, but we are so ready to be home and see our family. And no more communal showers! 

For a mission trip, accommodations have been really nice. We have hot showers (even if there is very little privacy). We sleep in dorm rooms, one for women and one for men. Bunk beds, no a/c or heat but there are ceiling fans and blankets. We've already raved about the food. And there is dessert with both lunch and dinner. 

The hospital where we are working is not your typical American hospital. It is only open when there are groups coming to serve. I've never been in a hospital in a third world country, but this one has sinks that leak, dust all over the place (as in we have to clean off surfaces in the rooms every morning because they have a layer of dirt/dust), lights that spark when you plug them in, no x-ray equipment, no a/c (except in the Operating Room). But people come from miles and miles away to get care when there is a group here. We know of one lady who walked 4 hours with 5 of her neighborhood kids to get dental care. One family drove 8 hours for a member to get surgery.

When a patient has surgery and is unable to return home, they are able to stay overnight. There have been hysterectomies, gall bladder surgeries, hernia repairs, some orthopedic cases, and a burn case.  The work the medical team has done has been amazing.

We had a half-day of clinic today, then packed up our supplies. Tomorrow morning we head to Antigua, an ancient city with ruins and cobblestone streets. And shopping! We're staying in a hotel, and if wif-fi is available I'll try to upload some pictures.

Thanks for following our journey! It has been a trip we've been blessed to be a part of. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guatemala, Day Five

Loooooooong day today! We started at 8:00 this morning, stopped briefly for lunch, then finished up about 6:00.  We saw a total of 53 patients, and several of those were difficult cases.  David is getting some experience as a pediatric oral surgeon - he did another case with the anesthesiologist! This makes 3 total so far. 

We also once again made use of the Dremel tool yesterday. We worked on our interpreter, and he was missing a front tooth so David decided to make him a provisional partial. To make this, you need equipment that shakes the stone you use to make a model. We did not have that, so we improvised with the all-purpose Dremel. Success! This afternoon we needed to make another partial, and the Dremel was not available. So we used the compressor that runs some of the dental equipment. The ability to improvise is a must on the mission field!

When Dr. Mike (an oral surgeon) was planning on coming, he was bringing his two assistants with him. Even though he did not get to come, Jamey and Brenda came with us. Though they are dental, they have both been recruited to the O.R. and we have not seen much of them, they stay so busy in surgery. 

Tomorrow, we have a half-day of clinic, then will begin packing up. It has been interesting seeing the people of Guatemala, and we hope to see more of the country when we leave for Antigua on Friday. God has truly blessed us with new friendships on this trip, and though we have had a great time, it will be good to get back home!

Keep praying for us!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Guatemala, Day Four

Wow, what a day! Once again, there was a line of patients waiting for us. We had quite a few interesting patients today. One of the first patients we saw was a 3 year old girl that needed several extractions. The really good thing about this venue is the availability of anesthesia and operating rooms. The little girl was taken to surgery (after a several-hour wait). This was a first for David - extractions in an operating room! He took out 10 teeth. 

One high point of the day was the huge difference David made in a 13-year old girl's smile. She was missing one of her central incisors, and her lateral (the tooth to the side of the center one) shifted, so she had a side-ways tooth and a big gap. After David finished with her, she looked amazing and was so happy to be smiling! 

We are all healthy, eating *really* well, and sleeping well. Lights are out at 10 PM and on at 6 AM. Breakfast follows, and clinic starts quickly after. Lunch is whenever we can get a break, and then we get going again, stopping around 6. Then we sterilize instruments, have dinner, and visit with others.

Tomorrow, the photojournalism group from Cal State Fullerton is leaving early in the morning. We will miss them - but one thing we will *not* miss is the constant photo-taking while we're trying to work. Now we know how celebrities feel!

Keep praying for us - two more clinic days. Pray as we minister to those we see tomorrow and the next day. We love you! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guatemala, Day Three

It's been a full day! This morning we hit the ground running. There was a line already formed of patients waiting to be seen. We have all agreed that the high of the day was being able to help a 14 year old who needed a lot of dental work done, but was so scared she started crying when she got in the chair. 

Because we are working with surgeons and a hospital staff, we were able to have an anesthesiologist sedate her so we could work on her. Without the anesthesia, we would not have been able to do much work on her. 

We saw about the same number of patients today that we did yesterday, but it sure seemed as if we saw a LOT more. We started at 7:45 this morning and finished at 6:20, taking a break only for lunch. Long day, but really good!

Patients travel from a long way to be seen here. One patient was 3 hours away. Another patient walked one hour to be seen. Some of them wait almost all day for us to treat them. 

Weather here has been beautiful. Highs in the 70's, lows in the 50's. We don't get to see much of the outside during the day, but get to enjoy the nice breezes coming through the windows. Food has been wonderful, prepared by the same Guatemalan chef that was here last year.  We are enjoying getting to know some of the other volunteers who are serving here. 

Pray for rest for us tonight, and renewed energy and strength tomorrow. We love you!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Guatemala Day Two

First Clinic day!  Our day started out really well because Laverne made it to the compound in time for breakfast. As we ate, we could see several patients already waiting. It took us a few minutes to get our clinic rooms organized and ready to see patients. Since our cases of instruments and supplies had still not arrived, we had to improvise. Several of the patients we treated needed fillings. We needed to mix the filling material, which comes in individual carpules, at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, the machine we normally use was in one of those crates that we did not have. 

There is a man at the compound named Joe who is responsible for keeping the machines and instruments up and going. He's a Canadian who moved his family to Guatemala several years ago. He's also very ingenious when it comes to fixing things with limited materials. He rigged a Dremel tool to shake our little carpules with the filling material - and it worked! This enabled us to save teeth we would have had to take out if we could not fill them. 

There is a photo-journalism team on this trip from Cal State Fullerton. I don't think any of us have ever been photographed as much as we have been today. It's been interesting, to say the least. The students have also been very helpful, working as interpreters at times. 

The best news of the day? Mid-afternoon, our crates arrived! It was a blessing to get to work with instruments and equipment we were familiar with. We did fillings or extractions on 29 patients and cleaned the teeth on 24. The medical team has been doing surgeries all day long. It is 8 PM as I'm writing this, and there are still 2 patients in the operating room. 

It's been a busy, full day. It is interesting hearing the stories of the people we are working with, who have come from all over the U.S. to serve here. God is blessing us by allowing us to hear many interesting stories, and meeting new friends. 

See you here tomorrow!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Guatemala, Day One

We're here! Well, most of us, anyway. Dr. Mike was not able to come, and one of our team members accidentally grabbed the wrong passport so she is currently still in Houston. She'll be catching a late flight tonight and join us in the morning. 

Two of our trunks also did not make the trip, and will come on the same flight as our missing team member. Those trunks contained all of the instruments we use for extractions (which will probably be the biggest bulk of our work), some of our anesthesia, and the equipment we will be using to clean teeth. It was discouraging - but another example of how God provides, because we found a drawer full of instruments left here from another dental team! It's not everything we need, but will help hold us over until our supplies come. God is so good!

We are staying at the same compound we visited last year, outside the town of San Raymundo. This time, we are traveling with a group called Refuge International. Refuge International provides medical and surgical care to 4 different, remote areas in Guatemala. We are the first dental team they have had with them.  They are excited about us being here, and we are excited about being able to help. There are already patients waiting to be seen, so we will start early tomorrow. 

There have been so many challenges we have faced in preparing for this trip, and for some of us it's been really hard to leave home. With supplies late or not coming in,  a missed flight, luggage missing - it's been easy to get discouraged. But I know those challenges are only going to make us more aware of how God is going to work on this trip.  Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

We love you, and miss you but we're glad we are here!

PS - Jody Schibi, the duct tape held up.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Guatemala, here we come!

This Saturday we will be leaving Houston and headed to Guatemala! We're taking a dental team of 7 (three from Heights) back to the same compound where we were last March, but this time we will be ministering to the local community instead of the school kids. No worries - the school kids will be taken care of next month when another group comes! 
We'll be blogging daily as long as we have access to the internet! 
As preparations are underway, please be praying that all our supplies come in, that our team remain healthy, and we are able to focus on the ministry we are called for. Several of our team members are leaving loved ones fighting illness and/or preparing for a final trip Home. We will need your prayers to keep our eyes on our mission.
Our team members are Dr. David, Brenda S., Laverne, Dr. Mike, Jamie, Brenda and me, Jody.  Our flight out is Saturday, Feb. 22. Scheduled arrival is about 12 noon in Guatemala City, then an hour and a half bus ride to San Raymundo and the village a little beyond. Pray we clear customs with no problems!