Sunday, December 30, 2012
Redefining wealth – Dr. Lauri Pramuk
I find it ironic to be leaving the United States on the eve of the fiscal cliff en route to humble Guatemala. This is my third year as medical director and pediatrician for the trip. Each year it seems to serve as a reset button for me, reminding me of what life is really about and why it is that I choose to practice medicine for my vocation. This morning I find myself already full and reset and I have not even seen one patient.
After a full day of travel yesterday leaving snowy Cincinnati and arriving in 80 degree Guatemala, the medical team finished our night by sitting down in the restaurant run by our interpreters' father. Our two wonderful interpreters for these last three years are two beautiful sisters in their early 20's, Diana and Michel. Richard, our internal medicine doctor and I joked with each other after our first day of clinic the first year that Diana and Michel are smarter than most medical students we have ever worked with in the states. The girls easily move between three languages: Spanish, English and Katchichel (the Mayan dialect in the village we serve). They very easily memorized every question Richard and I ask in our histories. They are little knowledge sponges. After they finish working with us all day they spend the evenings playing in a fantastic traditional Mayan marimba band in their father's restaurant.
So the trip feels real for us when we get to see Diana and Michel with their father, Miguel. Miguel has had a very difficult last year of his life. He shared with us last night how it was his community, both here in Guatemala, and people he knows around the world of all different faiths who prayed for him and lifted him through this difficult time, including our group and Rabbi Abie. He spoke in metaphors like a poet about needing to send love to your enemies. Now that he is through some of his hardship of the past year he is looking to the next way to help his village where he was born. He said he knows he is not a wealthy man, but the love of his community and his family make him more wealthy than the stars. Miguel understands real wealth. Thank God for Guatemala. Thanks for the reset button, now only if the rest of the United States could have been sitting at that table last night, the fiscal cliff would not be so domineering.