At home today many are receiving cards, flowers, candy and perhaps even rings for Valentine's Day, but this is turning out to be one of my most memorable. It has nothing to do with material things, but everything to do with love and compassion.
Today I boarded the bus with the medical team bound for a small, remote village called Nuevo Concepcion. As we traveled three and a half hours through the countryside, I felt like a little girl taking her first trip to Disney World. I nearly got whiplash trying to take all of the scenery in. As I looked out of the windows on both sides of the bus, I saw mountains, volcanoes and lush fields. In this part of Guatemala, farmers grow coconut, bananas, pineapples, and coffee beans. They have so many natural resources.
We could feel the temperature climbing as we got closer to the village. It was 110 degrees there. As we pulled up to the small village medical clinic, a small crowd had already gathered. They were waiting on us. I stood in the distance taking it all in. There were people of all ages, from the tiniest babies to the elderly. They all stood in the scorching heat waiting for their chance to be seen by the doctor.
The older that I get, the more I realize how small the world is. In the crowd of people waiting at the clinic, I literally bumped into a stranger from Georgia. I backed into him as a I stood on the porch. I apologized and made small talk in the broken Spanish language that I know. I was so relieved when he responded in English.
He thought that I was a doctor. I quickly told him that I was not a doctor. Then I explained that I was a journalist from America working this week with the mission. I told him about the great people from the Savannah area who were there to take care of him and the other people in the village. He then told me that he lived in Douglas, Georgia, for three years working and sending money back to his family who lived in this village. He had recently moved back home to Nuevo Concepcion. He was so grateful to the volunteers for coming to his village to treat the sick.
I cannot believe that I came all the way to Guatemala to bump into this kind man who had once lived less than an hour from me. I truly believe as citizens of the world we are connected. We just have to know where to look or who to bump into.
The medical team in the village worked very hard. They and the surgical teams have truly answered a higher calling. Each one is making a tremendous sacrifice to be here.
The days are long and physically challenging. We begin as early as 5am and many nights the last group of volunteers do not get in until nearly 9pm, just to do it all over again the next day. While you can see that they are worn out from their body language and the look on their faces, especially during our 5am devotion, I have never heard any of them complain. In fact, their conversations are about how they can do more to help the people of Guatemala.
I believe that is unconditional love and it is what Valentine's Day and every day should be about. We should find ways to show our love to not only our family members, but also extend our love to those in need.