I am an EMS helicopter pilot out of Cheyenne, Wyoming and, while I had been on many missions trips before, I wanted to go on a medical trip. However, I was hesitant to go because I don’t provide direct patient care as a pilot. I was reassured that training would be provided and that all that was needed were individuals who cared about others because God would work out the rest. So, I signed up for the ten day mission trip to Guatemala and joined a team of 24 including 17 from Timberline Church.
Our first sign that God was with us happened upon arriving at the airport in Guatemala City when we tried to pass through customs. The Guatemalan customs agents let everyone and everything through … except all of the crates containing medication. (I am sure you can understand the importance of medication on a medical mission!) Then, God started to move. The group formed a circle and prayed while our team leader and a Spanish-speaking team member spoke to the customs agents. Long story short, we left an hour and a half later with all of our supplies, including the medications, and our team member earned the nickname “Silver Tongue.”
One of my most memorable moments of the trip came on the first day when we spent half of the day in an orphanage. The plan was for the team doctors to set up a clinic for the children and senior citizens while the rest of us divided up the medications into smaller containers. Before we began our work, one of the children led the rest of the orphans in a prayer for our team. Imagine an eight-year-old boy belting out a prayer at the top of his lungs, echoed by 20 or so other youngsters, thanking God for us and asking Him to help us on our journey. The moment was simply amazing and totally filled with God’s presence.
We then drove to Los Amates and were based there for the following four days hosting clinics for the local villagers. While there are many stories from the dental and medical clinics, I worked in the optical clinic. On the first day, we helped an older gentleman that really wanted to be able to read his Bible again. I scanned his eyes to get a starting point and then had him put on the “funny glasses” to get a more precise idea of what he needed. We fitted him for glasses and he immediately sat down and started to read.
We also met several professional drivers who could only read the top line on the eye chart (if that). We were able to get them glasses and the roads of Guatemala are now that much safer! Overall, we served roughly 275 people in the optical portion of the clinics, built 106 pairs of glasses, gave out 174 pairs of reading glasses, and gave away over 300 pairs of sunglasses. For the first time in possibly years, people could see to read, sew, and cook. Their eyesight is now protected from cataracts and other eye problems caused or aggravated by too much sunlight and many were given back the means to go out and work in the fields to bring home enough money to feed their families.
Guatemala is a very poor country. I was reminded of the time in Matthew when Jesus said it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to get into heaven. He was speaking about me…and you. We need to be good stewards of what is given to us and use it for him.
(Thanks to Storyteller Donnie Crouch for sharing his experiences.)