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Guatemala (Med) Spring Break 2024 - Zoe Shah's Story

March 27, 2024

Guatemala (Med) Spring Break 2024

In Guatemala, our team worked with Health Talents for one of their thirteen surgery weeks that they bring in volunteers for throughout the year. Working with volunteer American eye and orthopedic surgeons, we literally helped make the blind see and the lame walk providing medical care in the name of Jesus! As student caregivers working with licensed medical providers, we learned to not say that we were "just" students, but to say that we were each there to be an important piece of God's Kingdom work. In one of the photos, you will see a picture of a group of us on silly scrub day with a sign in the background saying, "preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words." This quickly became a lived out anthem of our week. Every night, our team would meet together for worship and devotion, and the biggest part of this time was spent sharing where we saw Jesus moving that day. Above all, people would share stories of how they saw Jesus moving through one of their fellow team members that day in the way they provided care to a person or patient around them. In the clinic, there was a painting of Christ standing behind a nurse as she gave care, and we tangibly lived that out. Many of our patients said that they came to Hospital Ezell for care (some walking up to four hours to get there) because Jesus was there. Our nightly stories were also filled with times that team members saw Jesus move through the prayers we would pray with patients throughout the week. Before patients went into surgery and many times after surgery as they were seeing for the first time in a long time, different students and staff would pray with patients. In the beginning of the week, I would ask if I could pray for a patient. By the end of the week, I was asking if I could pray with a patient. I began to see how the Guatemalan patients would always be praying out loud with you in contrast to prayer I have experienced in America in which only one person's voice is heard. Many of us were excited to learn more Spanish in Guatemala. Above all, we could not have done that week without our student translators, and many of us saw Christ in the patience and joy they displayed in their work. One way that we learned Spanish was through memorizing prayers and worship songs in Spanish so that we could speak them over our patients. God led us to the song "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord" at the beginning of the week, and in Spanish you say "abre mis ojos son Christo, yo quiero ver te", which means, "open my eyes to Christ, I want to see you." We found significance in singing this with our patients before they went into surgery because they were about to be able to see for the first time in a long time! 

Guatemala Med 2024

With one particular patient, we saw God move through prayer to provide healing through medical care. My nurse and I were assessing a patient as she had just arrived back from cataract eye surgery, and we asked her if she had any pain. She said that she had no pain in her eye, but she told us of how she was suffering from right arm pain that she had had for the past three years because of her work as a baker. She was a mom of ten children and could no longer function to the point of not being able to even put her clothes on without crying. We asked if we could pray with her, and she explained how she had been praying for so long and would continue to do so with us now. As we prayed, one of the directors of the hospital came up behind us and laid her hand on me. She asked why we were praying and when I told her, she told me that the orthopedic doctor was about to leave and that I needed to find him and bring him here. When I came back with him, he thoroughly assessed her and determined that he could give her two shots to relieve her pain right now for a couple months until she could come back for another surgery. Within ten minutes of that prayer, the shots were given and her pain was nearly gone. As she raised her arm in the air (an action she could not do for the past two years), she immediately began crying out to praise God. One of our American nurses looked at the patient and said, "thank you for your faith." It reminded me of the story of Jesus healing the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years as He looked at her and said, "daughter, your faith has healed you, go in peace." In that moment, I realized that Jesus moved through the hands of medical providers, putting the exact people in the exact place He wanted them to be for this healing to take place. I realized that Jesus heals through medicine now just as He healed when He lived on earth.

Another one of our team members saw Jesus healing that week and explained that "compassion heals what medicine can not." We had a patient that could not go to surgery because his blood pressure was too high. These patients are on the waitlist for months and sometimes a year for these surgeries, and this patient was rightfully upset at this moment. A few team members sat to listen, be, pray, and talk with him, and through this compassion, we saw him walk out content and thankful to God despite his circumstances. Our team walked away impacted and changed from this week because of the patients and the staff. We witnessed patients rely on Jesus for healing, never complain, thank and hug every single staff member as they were discharged, and encourage one another through their surgeries. We met American staff members who sold everything they had in America, moved to Guatemala, and lived to serve God's Kingdom. We were mentored by American surgeons who gave us each opportunities to be their scrub techs in the surgery room while actively sharing their life stories and getting to know ours. We were drawn away from the American dream of "building up your own medical practice" and brought into a place of humble service towards other. We gained perspective on how people live when we went into the community to set up medical clinics in local villages and to simply meet people where they are.  

Zoe Shah

Not a Trip
Category: Student Life
Tags: "lipscomb missions, missions, Honduras, medical mission trip"