Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Check-ups with Dr. Bob

Dr. Bob Rea, who was one of our ophthalmologists for the April surgery mission, was back in El Salvador this past weekend, taking part in a seminar organized by FUDEM - a local non-profit - to teach Salvadoran ophthalmologists a new technique for cataract surgery. Bob also wanted to visit a couple of the patients he had been most concerned about, to see how they were doing post-surgery, so I picked him up at his hotel on Monday and we (Bob, me, and my guest, Patti Moore) went driving out to Sonsonate where we connected with Armando and his son Fidel. Bob had brought Armando some medications, and in turn the family showered us with gifts - I took home a huge bottle of organic honey, which will give us and our guests much delight. Fidel came to lunch with us in Juayua, high up in the mountains above Sonsonate, and showed us some spectacular viewpoints.

Then we drove out to El Paisnal, about two hours away, where we connected with Emilio, another patient who'd had a complicated case. Emilio was surrounded by family and by a varied group of fowl that included chicken, geese, and turkeys. After the successful check-up, Emilio's daughter-in-law told us the painful story of what it had been like in El Paisnal during the war years, when almost everyone left, for Honduras or for the mountains. "I cried for a year," she said "after it was over," crying for the family and friends who had died, and for the guitar player who once made music for their Christian base community.

For me, as for Bob, it was a special joy to see these two men in their own homes. Earlier in the year, they had been the patients and we had been the providers of care. Now they were the hosts, we the guests.

This morning I took my two guests, Patti Moore and Dr. Bob Rea, to the airport for their flights home. It's been lovely having Patti here for two weeks, and Bob's day of check-ups was grand. It's good, too, to return to ordinary work and to build community with Margaret Jane.

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