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I cried. It wasn’t the first time this week, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. When our bus pulled into Hilario Galindo Hospital at 7:00 this morning, there were already 50 patients there, eagerly awaiting our arrival. Many had been here since the day before, having traveled eight or more hours to reach the hospital. They greeted us with warm smiles. They didn’t know us, but they knew why we were here. They hugged us, gave us kisses, and asked God to bless us. And they were so happy. How could we not shed a tear at their simple, yet overwhelming gratitude?
Today was the day we prepared for the upcoming week of surgery, which starts bright and early tomorrow morning. We began with a round of introductions between our team and the Hilario Galindo Hospital nurses and staff, than quickly sprang into action.... Our surgeons and translators set up a triage clinic, and spent the entire day meeting one-on-one with each of the approximately 70 patients who had been referred for surgery. In the first few hours,
I met Axel, a sweet little three year-old with a suspected hernia. And Manuela, a 34-year-old woman suffering from a very large abdominal growth. And Albertina, a 47-year-old woman whose lypoma has been growing uncontrolled for 25 years with no treatment. They each had a story, and they were hoping Hilario Galindo Hospital would write the final chapter.
Outside the three triage rooms, other members of our team were busy at work unpacking trunks of supplies and setting up the operating rooms. Overnight, the ORs went from virtually vacant vaults to fully-functioning medical miracles.Still other team members were preparing the pre- and post- op areas, setting up shelves upon shelves of supplies, and creating a make-shift pharmacy. There was a constant buzz of activity, as the hospital underwent a metamorphosis. After months of preparation and planning, everything was finally coming together.I decided to take a break to walk outside and get some fresh air. I was surprised that the number of patients and family members seemed to have doubled in only a few hours. As I looked around at all the people waiting, it struck me—I was looking at God’s Guatemala Garden. Everywhere I looked I saw Guatemalans dressed in bright, colorful clothing. A magenta shirt here. An azul skirt there. Men in green work shirts. Children running around in bright yellow t-shirts. It was if there was a living, breathing garden of beautiful Guatemalan flowers right here, gracing the grounds of Hilario Galindo Hospital. It was a beautiful sight, and I can’t wait to see it again tomorrow.
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