26 May 2009
Looking back at Guatemala
Posted by admin under: Guatemala 2009.
A few days ago I came across a little blurb I wrote about a trip OnCall made to Guatemala in June 2008. I thought it would be neat to post it for you to get a glimpse of what an OnCall trip is really like…
I’m ready. After weeks of planning, re-planning, booking, packing, and praying, I am boarding my flight. A flight that will take me to a city. A city where I will be picked up and driven to a rural town. A town I will leave by boat and be taken 3 hours down a remote tributary. I will get out of the boat and into a old, white pick up truck that will drive me as far as the make-shift dirt road goes. This is where my journey begins. I stare forward into an open field and see the mountains in the distance. “That mountain?” I ask. “No, the one behind it” our interpreter tell me. This is the mountains of the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. No outsiders have ever come this far. I can’t help but wonder what awaits us in the middle of these jungles. “Watch out for Tigers!” one of our guides looks over and smiles, I can’t tell if he’s joking or not and I begin to silently wonder if they can climb trees.
It is the most breathtaking journey I have been on yet. We hike for hours carrying bags of medical and dental supplies, water, even our dental chair. As we enter the mouth of the jungle, it suddenly transforms into a scene from Jurassic Park. It is incredible. A mountain and a half later when I think I can’t possibly move another step, it appears. Out of the midst of an endless sea of vines and trees as if it was simply dropped there – a village. One of the few remaining indigenous tribes of this area, they are almost completely cut off from civilization. We heard of their existence from a neighboring tribe and reluctantly came out half expecting not to find anything at all. But here they are. The team is thirsty, exhausted, exhilarated. We are met with a mix of curiosity and surprise from the village children as we are lead to the area we will set up. I am told the people of this area have experienced several life threatening breakouts of disease over the past few years and are often worried for the survival of their tribe. They have felt largely forgotten by the rest of the world knowing that they would never have access to the simplest of medical care. It suddenly dawns on me how incredible this moment is. I look over and watch as a mother points to her child’s swollen belly and describes her symptoms. Worms. We have the medicine for that. We came thousands of miles, travelling by plane, truck, boat, and foot to hand her the one dose pill that will cure her. Suddenly it all makes sense. This is pure religion. This is medical missions. God did not forget.