June 6th started really back in June of 2007 when Brother Tim vowed to the folks of Santa Marta that he would return with a medical team for the area. The work in earnest started in November of 08 to make that happen. And happen it did! Not exactly how we all thought it would, but it happened just as God had in mind, and His plan is always best (we should know that by now, right?) The preparations for a medical campaign are enormous and quite critical to its success. Co-ordination on many fronts is a must, and Tim did a great job of getting us all on task. With God as the boss, and Doyne as right-hand man, how could he not?
For our part, we were responsible for translators, purchasing team foods, and benevolent foods, as well as transportation and accommodations. These preparations, combined with preparing for the first team, the third team, and taking care of the church here made me a little stressed at times. Because of that, and a few other minor problems, I have not written in some time. I apologize.
Now, as for the work in Santa Marta, we left here on Saturday morning @6:00 with Team 1, dropped them at the bus station in David, along with part of team 2 that was from here (Yari, Eric, Rachel, Kirvyn, Marta), then headed to Cocle Province. It is a 6 hour drive from our house. So we said goodbye to one group and hello to the next just 24 hours later. Bittersweet.
Along with those mentioned above, there were 6 others who came from our province – Gilberto, who preached, Ana, who taught the children’s class, Kathy, their daughter, Brux, who led singing, Ponce, who also preached and evangelized, and Urian, who translated.
From the States came Doyne, his lovely (and smart) wife, Margaret, one of the hardest workers I know, LaJeana, with her most beautiful daughter, inside and out, Hannah, and son, Perry. Matt stepped out and made his first mission trip as our only pharmacist, and was, absolutely perfect for this type of work. Dr. Bill Coutts from Lakeview, and Stephony Robinson from Tennessee completed the team. I have to tell you, only God could have brought this group together. There were so many ways we could have not meshed - we were all overworked, tired, hot, stinky, and I know personally that most of us have the potential to be…cranky, but God put things together just right, and we worked well together all week, without incident, other than much shared love and respect for each other. It was truly an amazing team and I would love the opportunity to work with any of them again.
We saw 729 patients according to my records, but Doyne was doctoring at the gate some (when we could not see another patient for the day), and there were house-calls, so that my count could be as much as 30 or so off. Each of those patients was able to see a doctor, be checked for reading glasses, and given a pair if needed, received medications as needed, as well as vitamins and parasite medicine, then sent to the church building for a bag of foods that would feed them for about a week, and invited to evening meetings. This was the first time that our beloved community of Santa Marta had ever had a medical clinic, and this one in the name of our Lord and Savior! What an evangelism tool!
While every member of the team was perfectly fit for the job, I have to say how impressed I was with Perry Chapman’s heart and attitude. He never quit smiling – even while he cleaned the ‘outhouse-type’ toilets. He spoke little Spanish but needed little as his smile spoke volumes about his faith. He was quite an inspiration to me, and to many others. I will pat my self on the back at least to say I chose (or rather God chose) perfect translators for this difficult trip. They were super! The week was tough, but wonderful. I am certain that God was glorified by the way in which we worked, and no-one should ask for more than that!
Thank you to all who sacrificed and helped to make this trip happen. There are too many to mention, but you know who you are.
I will be moving on to our trip to Arkansas, and the third group when I return…
Love you all!