Sunday, February 15, 2009

Last day....

Today was our medical mission's last day in El Salvador, a relaxed and joyful day that featured a visit to Suchitoto, a beautiful old town about 50 minutes drive from San Salvador. We ate at La Balanza, then went to visit Sister Peggy O'Neill and the Centro Arte para la Paz. Peggy told us about some of the many projects that are starting at the Centro Arte, and shared stories from her 23 years in El Salvador, stories about the generosity and passion of the people - a generosity and passion all our volunteers recognized from our Comasagua experience. She talked about the gift Eleanor has been in her years in El Salvador and reminded us to take good care of her as she returns to the United States. It was a wonderful and reflective close to our time together. Tomorrow in the very early morning we all go to the airport together and our great volunteers fly home.

I want to share two photos from the week - one is of our great pharmacy crew - Kathy Garcia, Dra. Silvia Pleitez, Ellen Toman and Judy Dupont. They worked fast and meticulously all week in our tiny pharmacy room to fill the prescriptions for each patient. Silvia, especially, was a tower of strength and clarity as she carefully explained to each patient - in good Salvadoran Spanish - just what medications they had and how to use them (including toothbrushing and flossing demonstrations with the kids). Silvia has been with us as a local physician for many medical missions, but this year is different in two ways: she now lives in Los Angeles with her mother (and is studying to become licensed in the U.S. as a doctor) and she has just recently recovered from a serious illness. It was a joy to see her working with such energy all week long!

The second photo is of two of our patients during the week, a lame woman sitting next to a blind man - the lame and the blind, the ones we'd have liked to heal as Jesus did. In a short week, with limited resources, there is much we could not do, and perhaps that's as it should be. In our attempts to help and in our helplessness we gave the gift of ourselves, and we received so much more from the beautiful people of Comasagua.

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