Last night I interviewed several of the volunteers. It was perhaps one of the easiest jobs that I have ever done. After all you cannot find a more dedicated, loving group of people. They are all here because they realize how important it is to help others. Dr. Lawrence Ruf was among them. We shared our impressions of this week in the hospital and in the village. My photographer, Bob Wells, and I also watched him perform one of many procedures to repair a Cleft Lip this week. He has a way of making even the most complicated procedure look simple. While he is a talented surgeon, I will not think of that when I look back on this trip, I will remember how much this gentle, kind man thought enough to ask me to wish his wife, Patricia, a Happy Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, he asked me last night. I could not think of any way of making that happened for him on WTOC, but I sure hope that Patricia is reading my blog. Happy Valentine's Day, Patricia! I hope that you know how much you are truly loved. We should all be so lucky.
As for the mission, I have found a couple of very special groups of volunteers who are absolutely key to making the work of Faith In Practice a success. You will never guess who I am talking about. I'll give you a hint. They are working everyday and they do not have any medical training. These dedicated volunteers are members of the kitchen crew - affectionately known as "Basil Hazel and the Spice Girls" and the translators.
Jim Hazel is serving as the team leader this week. He and his crew have done an amazing job. They are in the kitchen long before the sun comes up. They report to work around 4 A.M. and don't really stop working until after all of the other volunteers have eaten and the kitchen is clean. Many nights they have been on the job as late as 10:00pm. Then, they come back to the kitchen and prepare breakfast for the rest of the team about six hours later.
Without the translators, many on the medical teams would not be able to perform their often times life-saving medical procedures. Translators are assigned to every doctor. They are many times in situations where they have to translate the doctor's questions to another Spanish speaking translator who speaks the same dialect as the patient. In this area, many of the patients are Mayans. They speak as many as thirty different languages. A large portion of them do not read or write so it is crucial that they understand the orders from the doctors.
The members are these two groups are often unsung heroes. Let's face, when most of us think about a medical mission, we think about medical professionals. They don't have any medical training, but they are saving lives in their own special way. These volunteers come with only a willing heart and a desire to help in any way that they can. Tonight, I would like to personally say, "Thank You."