Our last clinic day was on Friday. We returned to the church at Xepocol in the morning to find the area packed with women and children waiting to get in.
None of our group missed the trip this day. There had been some sort of 24-hour virus that affected a few people on the team, including our dentist and physician, but everyone had recovered and we all were there for our last work day.
Both offices found themselves tested throughout the day. Bill Brewer, our dentist, had with several wisdom tooth extractions. Some parents brought their children to him wanting permanent teeth pulled. He saved the ones he could and advised others that the teeth only needed fillings in town. I was with him for much of the morning, but fortunately I didn´t find myself nauseous like I was before. I even managed to help him pull one of the teeth.
Matt Crespo, our physician, saw a teenager with a heart murmur that he knew he couldn’t help. He knew they needed to see a specialist, but said when a family has problems seeing a regular physician, they´re not likely to see a cardiologist. Another young girl had jaundice and an enlarged liver. He talked to the pastor about trying to get her into a specialist in town. A woman came to him with congestive heart failure. He prescribed her some medicaiton, but she´ll need to try to see a specialist.
Outside, the children descended on the toys like ants on a dropped piece of food as soon as they were handed out. If there is something I’ve learned about Guatemalan children, it’s that they are usually very happy. If there is something else I’ve learned about Guatemalan children, it’s that they can be rather sly.
I imagine that’s why Guatemalan children are out in full force trying to sell things to in markets in the country. I imagine they are pretty successful at it. Whenever we passed out toys, children would run off to hide the toys they had and get back in line, pretending that they hadn’t received any.
Still, there were plenty of toys handed out and children weren’t left wanting.
At lunch time I sat in the van in the heat and pulled some food out of the cooler. As I made myself a sandwich a small Guatemalan boy approached us. He was one of the many who had crowded around the toys when we began passing them out earlier in the day. At first, he just sat there, watching us. I smiled at him and asked him his name. He asked me mine and I told him.
With my limited Spanish we were only able to have the briefest of conversations, but as we spoke I began to figure out why he had approached us in the van instead of waiting around the toys like the other children.
I made him a ham and cheese sandwich.
He smiled and thanked me, taking the sandwich. I don’t know why, of all the things that happened throughout the trip, that moment stuck out to me, but it did.
Everyone was exhausted when it was time to leave. After five days of waking up at 6 a.m. and long bus rides on bumpy dirt roads to villages where hot dust filled the air, it was hard not to wear on you. But no matter how tired anyone was, there was still sadness. Dog tired or not, everyone had enjoyed the trip. While the days may have seemed long, time seems to have a way of going by faster after the fact.
We make arrangements for what to do with the left over toys and medicine. The medicine will be given to a local clinic near Chichicastenango while the toys will be given to a local church and the children at Hogar Del Niño.
Tomorrow we leave Chichicastenango to travel to Atitlan for our last full day in Guatemala. While there, we will try to visit the site where Father Stanley Rother, a missionary from Okarche, Oklahoma, was killed in 1981. We fly out of Guatemala early Sunday, back for Oklahoma.