Friday, May 24, 2013
A United Methodist Congregation
Global Connection - Mexico
Munsey has partnered with Mexico missions of the Holston Conference, developed and co-lead by Munsey’s Dr. Paul Brown, Jr. and Rev. Jim Dougherty of Holston Conference. The mission program began in 1987. This year’s team of 51 cared for more than 2000 patients in five remote central Mexico villages. This mission statement is written by one of the participants:
My name is LoriJean Woodson. I am a Registered Nurse and a Spanish language interpreter. I learned about the Medical Mission trip to Mexico from my friend, Rosa Nieves, a Munsey member. I was grateful for an opportunity to serve with the medical mission team that provided health care to the remote villages of Tatoxcac and Ixtepec in the state of Puebla, Mexico.
The villages are small, the people, too. You would have been a giant among them. The need was great, but their respect and appreciation even greater. I was paired with a nurse practitioner who was new to the mission trip also. I acted as an interpreter all day every day. It was the most gratifying work I have ever done. We worked very long days, well into the evenings; I was so tired by the end of the day. The next day always began as had the day before, with long lines of people who had already been waiting hours to be seen; waiting with patience, grace, and calm anticipation of help.
Some events are incredibly meaningful to me: the placid two year old little boy with liquid coffee colored eyes with a gentle, lovingly attentive older brother who shared everything he had. The wee boy was diagnosed as likely having had a stroke and now the mother was finally able to understand why he had not been developing the same as his gentle older brother. She learned that there are avenues she can pursue to help her little boy grow and develop in the best way possible. Or another event such as the woman who presented with sudden vision loss in her left eye, and was diagnosed with an acute complication of glaucoma. Sad, yes, but now she knows why she lost her vision in her eye, and she gained the chance to preserve the sight in the other eye. Or the moving event of observing the painfully shy 32 year old woman with a proud and loving father. She never took her eyes away from her feet, and it wasn’t because she had new shoes that were bought special for the visit to see the American doctor. She never knew the cause of her generalized weakness which had left her dependent and ashamed. Through a gifted interpreter and kind physician, they were lovingly told her condition was due to a neurological illness that had occurred years ago. Again, very sad, but the diagnosis helped to lift the shade of shame that had enveloped her for decades and kept her inside her home, too shy and embarrassed to go out of doors. They gained knowledge of how the illness was the fault of no one, and hope that orthotic braces along with physical therapy might help to stabilize and strengthen her limbs. Or the witnessing of heartfelt and sincere care with which a specialized child’s wheelchair was hand carried from North Carolina to the mountain village, destined to become the independence of a four year old little girl with cerebral palsy who until the day she was gifted with her chair, had been carried by her father every day, all day.
The powerful care, love, and emotion that was conveyed from provider to patient, patient to provider, and care giver to care giver, was palpable in the air and in the heart. Many times tears were shed by all because the circumstances were so tender. The impact the experience has had on all our lives will be something that flavors everything we do from now on; the words we speak, the decisions we make, the things we buy.
There were instances of low points among the caregivers; some of these were with the patients that couldn’t be cured. I witnessed one of these cases involving Dr. Vance Shaw. Dr. Shaw is an E.R. doc, accustomed to a setting where patients are evaluated, diagnosed, and treated very quickly, then moving on to the next patient. In this particular case, Dr. Shaw spent over an hour with an elderly gentleman who had an incurable cancer. We had no medicines that would help this man, but Dr. Shaw gave this patient, and the patients’ wife, an extra layer of quality care and shared time. It was extremely rewarding to watch the providers give that level of care in spite of a language barrier. The entire room, including a patient that my nurse practitioner and I were treating, was in tears when we heard the emotional tone and grave sincerity of the gentleman speaking to Dr. Shaw, saying “El doctor, me encanta, me encanta”. Or loosely translated to mean, “Doctor, I am enchanted by you, I adore you”. Dr. Shaw couldn’t provide a medicine to cure to this man, but he did provide him with a balm of Christian comfort and understanding.
The trip was beyond any words that I can conjure up to do it justice. To the reader of this story, I would like to add: I missed you and I wish you had been there with me. It was you who remained behind that carried the team in your heart and in your prayers. This was a journey that began in faith and hope many years ago, fostered by the people who remained at home, helping through preparation, support, and prayer. I am very grateful to each of you for the support you have given to all the members of the mission team.