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For most people, the melodic sound of a blaring alarm clock at 4:00 a.m. is not something to look forward to. But for the Western Washington Surgical Team, it was the welcome signal that finally—after months of anticipation—our journey to Guatemala was about to begin. Arriving at SeaTac Airport bright and early at 6:00 a.m., I saw as many enthusiastic smiles as I saw venti lattes. One by one, the members of our team arrived, donning their distinctively red Faith In Practice t-shirts.
Our first task was to meet the truck that carried the surgical supplies and medications we’d need. Unloading the trunks from the truck one by one, we looked like a little army of red ants transporting our treasures. When all was said and done (and unloaded), we counted 67 trunks of supplies. Math isn’t my forte, but a quick calculation shows that’s about one trunk of supplies per patient. Seeing them stacked in a huge pile five high in front of the check-in counter gave me a new appreciation for Michelle James, Sheri Giragosian, and the others who spent months of meticulous planning to determine exactly what what we’d need.
After an amazingly smooth check-in process and a trip through the TSA screeners, we arrived at our gate, anxious to board the American Airlines flight that would finally have us on our way. Our flight to Dallas was uneventful, save for a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains below. After an hour or so in the Dallas airport, we boarded flight number two to Guatemala City. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jose Ruven, a 19-year-old originally from Guatemala City, who moved to Oklahoma a year ago. Jose was the first Guatemalan I met on the trip, and he was a wonderful ambassador for his native country. When I asked him what he loved most about Guatemala, he replied “the amazing culture, and the wonderful people.”
After landing in Guatemala City and clearing customs, we boarded a bus painted in red flames (I tried not to think it carried any hidden meaning!), and headed for Antigua, our final destination for the night. Exhausted after about 16 hours of travel, but elated to finally be at our first destination, we arrived at our hotel, Casa de Los Bucaros. It was a lush oasis for us weary travelers. After a few quick photos from our rooftop of the beautiful full moon and a stunning church in the distance, I called it a night, thankful to God for our safe travels, and being one day closer to those we came to serve.
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