Thursday, March 06, 2008

san pedro

"do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." matt. 6: 19-21

this past weekend we did a clinic in san pedro, a little town in the zona reina made up of about 250 people. and i wish i could paint for you a better picture of this little isolated area where the nearest road was a three hour walk over a mountain pass. it took four trips by plane to bring our entire team - duane, leslie, hannah, rachel, bev (you may remember my "roomate" from one of my first posts who saved me from a cockroach) heidi, matt, and isaac, charlie and beth (a resident and med student working with us), armando and tomas (two guatemalans who have amazing hearts for evangelism), and me - into this hot, humid jungle, and we made the fifteen minute flight over mountains green with lush trees, passing over a few towns, a couple waterfalls, and other areas where houses dotted the seemingly otherwise barren area. as we neared a wide river filled with beautiful turquiose water, we swooped to the left and the tiny strip of grass slanted up the side of the mountain that we were to land on came into view. as duane brought the plane down, making an extremely difficult landing seem easy, my mind was already racing ahead to hannah and leslie unpacking in the "clinic" and the people that were waiting there. we were greeted by about 50 smiling guatemalans excited to bring us to their community center, the building that would be our home for the next day and a half. we followed our guides as we all made our way down the narrow path, passing a tienda, a couple houses, and using a small log that served as a stepping stone and a way for us to remain mud-free as we crossed over the puddle of mud and onto the grass that made up the side yard of our destination. it was a small room built with narrow wooden slats on all sides, held together by a small stick beam and some wire, and a dirt floor; they were so proud to offer us the best that they had.

we started clinic shortly after arriving, quickly realizing that we would need more medicine. so, duane and i got back in the plane (where the thermometer now read 120 degrees fahrenheit) and made another trip back home to gather some more supplies, returning in time to treat a few more patients before the day ended. we took advantage of the few hours of daylight that we had left to wash up in the little river not far away, set some food out for dinner, our sleeping gear out for the night, and the projector and sheet for the jesus film that we were able to show in their native language (kek'chi) on the side of the catholic church where we had about 150 very attentive people who came to watch. we pray that seeds were planted as god moved among their hearts as most of them watched the story of jesus (or any film) for the first time in their language.

but, of course the most beautiful sight was the people themselves. it was not a weekend of amazing numbers - we saw about 300 people over the day and a half of clinic - but it gave us an opportunity to spend more time with the patients and translators, something that i miss in the craziness that often defines the other jornadas that we have done as we try to see 1000 people in two days of clinic. and how i would love to hear more about these gentle peoples' lives... people that still live in an area ONLY accessible by plane, with the nearest road being a three hour walk over a mountain pass... a road that still requires an 8 hour drive to the nearest hospital, one worse than the government hospital in quiche. people that are used to dying being the most likely option when one gets sick or a problem occurs during pregnancy or delivery... people that have an emergency center comprised of one house that has cell phone reception where a call can be made to an "ambulance" (aka, a car) waiting for them on the road at the end of their three hour walk. people that cling hard to their catholic roots, as it seems to be all they have in the way of faith and fiestas... people that cling so hard to their catholic roots that they are willing to persecute a new christian to the point of death over his beliefs and desire to lead them to the freedom that christ can offer. (catholism here is usually quite different than in the states as it is mixed with a lot of the ancient mayan beliefs and practices.) people that need the love of christ that can reach them right at the point of their need, the only love that can reach beyond just the physical to touch the heart as well.

and as we were thanking God later that night for a safe trip and one where we remembered the important things in life, i was reminded of the verse at the top of this post. in a place where there are few things of material value, what a reminder it was of the important things in life... that they are not treasures that we can find on this earth, but treasures that are instead found in the kingdom of heaven... a warm smile during a consulta, ears that listen to more than just the physical needs being presented, and a simple prayer that can make the difference between a life spent with christ or a life spent in bondage. may these be the treasures that we store up in our hearts.

and so i hope that we will soon be returning to these people and this area. please keep them and us in your prayers as we continue to seek out God's plan for our work there and that their hearts will indeed be opened for the "treasures in heaven."

here's some pics, and you can also go to rachel's website and matt and heidi bell's website for more pics, writings, and even a video of the plane landing (this is on matt and heidi's blogspot)! the top picture is of beth surrounded by some patients. the bottom picture is of the runway :)