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Guatemala (Med-Coban) Spring Break 2024 - Cayden's Story

March 20, 2024

Med-Coban 2024

We traveled to the village of Las Flores, Guatemala and set up both a medical and dental clinic for 4.5 days. Along with our team leaders, Dr. Steve Sherman, Mrs. Magdalena Sherman, and Mrs. Karen Bradfield, eight providers traveled along with us. Each day, our team saw patients from two Mayan villages that traveled together to see us, including one village in the morning and one village in the afternoon. The students rotated through different clinical rotations each shift to foster as much learning as possible. In every single patient interaction, God worked through us to bring healing, relief from pain, and most importantly His peace, comfort, joy, and love to the members of the villages that we were serving. A couple of moments stood out to me specifically in which God worked through our team and me, teaching me more about His character, His love, and His admiration for His creation. Furthermore, through interaction with the members of the community we were serving, I was taught by them and through God new depths to the words patience and gratitude. 

One day in the dental clinic, a young girl was in dire need of dental work, and if left untreated, she was at risk of developing a severe, possibly life-threatening infection. She was terrified of getting treated, which made it difficult for our team to address her severe dental need. However, our team showed such persistence and love for this patient. While being on the chair for the third time of the day, a group of my classmates held her during the procedure while comforting her, amidst her fear and reluctance. After the procedure, they hugged her, high-fived her, and danced with her. It was a beautiful display of the love of God being poured out on her, and her tears dried up as the actions of my classmates facilitated the peace of God falling upon her. What a gift that moment was to that young girl and our team.

The children and young kids of this village, who we spent lots of time with before and after the clinic each day, taught me so much about learning to love each other and to have appreciation for the gift of living life on a daily basis. I saw absolutely no greed, jealousy, impatience, or hostility in these children, only care and appreciation for each other and a deep desire to make the most of each day. As we were hiking down from the top of the Sherman tank one day, I began asking how to say some words in Q’eqchi’, the Mayan language that the community of Las Flores spoke. I would point to the church, the corn, the mountain, the clouds, etc., asking how to say these words in Q'eqchi. After telling me, the kids would then guide me through the pronunciation of them. I would then do the same for them in English, and we continued this until we got back to the school, which was serving as our campsite for the week. On the way down, one of the young adults, Kevin, and I had the idea of writing a couple of these words down in my notebook in order to practice each other’s languages. So he started and wrote about two pages of Spanish words and phrases to their Q’echi’ translations, and after that I wrote about two pages of Spanish words and phrases to their English translations, tearing these pages out for him to keep. That night, a group of the village community and I spent about an hour teaching each other and practicing Q’echi’ and English pronunciations with each other. There was so much laughter as we all struggled with the pronunciations of each other’s languages. We were finally able to articulate the gratitude and adoration we had for each other. These were such joyful moments as we embraced learning, clear communication of our love for each other, and laughter amidst struggle. God’s joy and peace overflowed within us as he gave us the gift of communication. 

From the people of Guatemala that we served, I learned what love, joy, patience, gratitude, and enthusiasm truly look like. I discovered that living out the Great Commission can happen through action, even with a verbal barrier as great as two languages. I discovered how powerful disconnecting from technology and instead using that time to get to know my peers can be. Through engaging in intentional and even sometimes vulnerable conversation with members of our team all week, I grew so much closer to these individuals and developed incredibly deep friendships that I could never have imagined would have developed in as little as nine days. I learned that mutual understanding of failure is freeing. As my friends from the village of Las Flores started to learn some phrases from each other’s languages, we couldn’t stop laughing as we struggled to pronounce these phrases. As we worked towards expressing the appreciation we had towards each other, we recognized failure as a necessary piece of working to eliminate a barrier. Lastly, I learned that you may never know when the Holy Spirit may be working. God uses every moment for the good of His kingdom, and for that reason, He calls us to focus on being fully present and intentional in each moment that He gives us. He could be using that moment to make His presence known to someone who doesn’t know Him, to save a life. 

Coban Team 2024

Our host partner was ADICAY, a group of individuals within Guatemala passionate about serving and empowering rural communities in Guatemala. With a vision of meeting the basic needs of water, sanitation, and food security for the development of rural communities, they perform comprehensive and innovative projects that allow for the socio-economic development of these rural communities within Guatemala. Dr. Steve Sherman has worked within ADICAY for decades to bring clean water to villages within Guatemala through engineering projects. Together they have supplied clean water to twenty different villages. For our trip specifically, a group from ADICAY served as Spanish to Q’echi translators as well as assisted with the intake of patients. They helped us tremendously to clearly communicate the healthcare needs of each patient and provided us with the resources that we needed to set up the clinics that we did. Thank you to the individuals of the ADICAY organization for all of the work that you guys have done serving the people of Guatemala and for your incredible and selfless assistance to us on this trip. 

I want to thank Dr. Steve Sherman and Mrs. Magdalena Sherman. They have spent decades in communities within Guatemala, serving and loving their neighbors and developing lifetime relationships with these communities. Without them, a level of trust necessary to set up a clinic and live alongside the community of Las Flores would not have been possible. Furthermore, they work unrelentingly each year to work out the logistics of this trip out of a love for serving, for these communities, and for us students. They model the heart of a servant of God through their years of missionary work and through their actions and words on a daily basis. I want to thank Mrs. Karen Bradfield for her assistance with the logistics of this trip and through her steadfast devotion to loving the communities of Guatemala through making sure we give them the best possible care. She leads the dental clinic, and through her organization and attention to details both before and during the trip, she makes sure we give the best dental care possible in order to serve and love to the best of our ability. I want to thank the eight providers that traveled alongside us, which include Dr. Youssef Sabet, Dr. Brian Leeper, Nurse Julie Barnes, Nurse Sydney Mayer, Dr. Lizzie Torres, Dr. Eiriny Meshreky, Dr. Rosales, and Dr. Sylvia. They brought the best medical and dental care possible to the members of these villages and meanwhile eagerly helped us students to learn as much as we could about medicine and dentistry throughout the whole week. They taught us through their tireless attention to detail and devotion to making sure each patient received the exact care needed to enable them to live life to its fullest extent. Furthermore, they encouraged us to ask as many questions as we wanted the whole week to make sure we understood each patient’s case and treatment. They are some of the best healthcare providers I have ever met, and from their example, inspired us all to continue to work to become the best healthcare providers that we can be. Thank you to Samira, Andrea, and Abraham, our Spanish to English translators, who traveled and worked alongside us. Communication would not have been possible without you guys, and I’m so thankful for your friendship and inspiration to our team to improve our Spanish. Thank you to those who worked so hard to cook for us throughout the whole week, providing us with delicious and nourishing food every meal. You guys were an integral part of our trip, and we would not have been able to serve without you. Lastly, I want to thank all of my classmates on this trip. You guys taught me how to serve, how to love, and how to work relentlessly for a common goal. You guys taught me the power of friendship and the necessity of smiling and laughing through it all. 

Without each of these individuals, this trip would not have been possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this opportunity.

To my team, this was one of the greatest honors of my life to serve alongside you guys. To everyone in Guatemala that we had the honor of serving, thank you for welcoming us with open arms, allowing us to serve you guys, and for teaching us so much about living life to its fullest. 

With so much love, 

Cayden Durrough

Not a Trip
Tags: lipscomb missions, missions, Guatemala, medical mission trip