JD is a senior Xavier student from West Carrollton, OH majoring in biology.
December 31, 2011 was my first experience with the beautiful country of Guatemala. The hotel in Antigua was amazing and I have one of the best roommates in David. The camaraderie has been great and we have gotten extremely close. I have also gotten to know the ladies of the group better and, as a whole, we have just become much closer. I am loving every minute of it. Bringing in the New Year with the new family I just gained in the beautiful city of Antigua was a special experience. I love Mouhamed, Christian, David, Mike, Lia, Annie, Anna, Micayla, Meagan, Mary, Jenn, Carmen and Rabbi.
January 2nd, 2012 was our first in the field exploring Patanatic and performing many different tasks. One of our first joys on this busy day was bringing all of our medicines into the clinic and setting up the pharmacy. I helped Dr. Lauri and the medical staff organize and move medicines that will improve the lives of so many people. From there, we set up a prayer room, which was amazing and essential to me, complete with the many rosaries donated to our mission. Prayer can bring the world together if people allow faith to reign and appreciate the similarities and the love that come through when we show honest Godly love to everyone. Our next step was to organize the donated eyeglasses according to their prescription strengths. I completely agree with Rabbi that changing the eyesight of a person - even just a bit – may allow them to see and work and support their families and enhance their happiness. Thomas Jefferson spoke of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That pursuit is much easier when you can see and interact with the world around you. I am really looking forward to the teeth-brushing station that we set up and will use tomorrow at the clinic. It will help improve dental care for children who will be given a toothbrush and toothpaste to take home. We will give each personal instruction so they can take care of their own teeth themselves.
During our break, we went up the hill from the clinic and met people around the town, including a man who wanted to take a picture “solamente con” [with only] a pretty girl in our group. We all joked that they were getting married (lol). The next part of our day after lunch was to go on house calls throughout the village with Nurse Cathy from LA, and follow up on patients who were seen by this group last year. We met an older midwife who was fatigued and felt weak. Her blood pressure was normal but her blood sugar level was very high and she was diabetic. There was no way she could get down the mountain in her condition because it is incredibly steep, but we took note. Later on that day, Dr. Richard and Nurse Cathy went back up to her home and tended to her needs. I was very happy because she reminded me of my grandmother and I didn’t want her to be stuck in her home alone or sick without any help. I was also very happy to learn she has family all over and friends who will help her. It means the world to the elderly for people to take time and care for them in respect of their place in society. We also visited a home where I had a very interesting conversation with an older gentleman while I took his vital signs. His blood pressure was normal as he asked me in Spanish if he was well or strong. At first, I was confused - he was making boxing motions with his fists, which made me thing he was a boxer. The translator told me he was asking if he was strong and after laughing at myself, I assured him he is indeed very strong and healthy, with blood pressure rivaling my own.