Friday, March 26, 2010

What I do....

I'm often asked by people in our mission teams just what I do when they're not around. There's no predictable pattern to my days, but this week is a good example of the mix.

Monday Peggy O'Neill picked me up at the airport. I went home and unpacked and slept long and late.

Tuesday I made up a depressingly long to-do list for the week and wrote a formal report about our mission in San Juan Opico for the Medical Board (Junta Vigilancia de la Profesión Médica) and a formal request for permission to hold our cataract surgery week at San Rafael Hospital in May. Sounds simple, but because it all had to be written in Spanish - and, it's to be hoped, in proper Spanish - it took all the morning. In the afternoon I drove to the little community of Huisisilapa, about an hour east from Suchitoto, to give a pass-through donation to Ylda and her family, and then drove west and north to El Paraiso, where I talked with Rosita, who receives a regular donation from friends in PeaceHealth.

Wednesday I got up early to get to the Mass for Archbishop Romero in San Salvador, which was supposed to start at 7 AM. I took a wrong turn on the way and got outrageously lost, didn't arrive until almost 8 AM, but the liturgical readings were just beginning, so I was there for most of the Mass and part of the march. After that I went to the Loyola Center, a Jesuit retreat house, to make reservations for our May eye surgery group during the week, and to the Hotel Novo to make reservations for the weekend. I drove out to Santa Tecla to visit with Doctora Ana Vilma de Burgos, an ophthalmologist and our sponsor for the eye surgery group. Asked her to write the formal sponsorship letter for SEE, International, the group that provides the inter-ocular lenses and all the surgery materials for us. I also showed her our cataract surgery video, in which she stars. Somewhere in there, I managed to eat lunch, pay the internet/phone/cable bill and get a haircut.

Thursday I worked at our office at the Centro Arte para la Paz in the morning, catching up on e-mails and on everyone's goings-on. In the afternoon I had a visit from Maira, who was our major coordinator for a mission three years ago in Tamanique, and Mercedes who coordinated our Comasagua mission last year. Maira had asked me if PazSalud could help a man in her community who had lost his leg in an accident and needed a prosthesis to keep on working. Half of the cost will be carried by FUNTER, La Fundación Teletón Pro Rehabilitación, but he had to find the other half, and that was difficult, because he was out of work. We agreed to contribute a part of his cost, and he was able to put together the rest. Maira and Mercedes were here to get our check for FUNTER. Next week I'll be able to meet Alex and his new leg - I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday was the Feast of the Annunciation - and in addition to attending Mass at Santa Lucia at 5 PM, I watched the video of Oscar Alvaro's ordination as a priest, which his sister Martha left for me. Both were beautiful celebrations.

Today I drove up to Comasagua, almost two hours from Suchitoto, where I met with Nubia to deliver some assistance to her very poor family and then with Rosa, our great local volunteer during our missions in Comasagua and San Juan Opico (Rosa is now our best expert on organizing the eyes clinic). Rosa had asked me to bring back a wheelchair for a woman in the small Comasagua community of El Rosario, and thanks to the Bellingham Lions Club, it was part of my baggage on the flight to El Salvador. Rosa and two helpers from the Alcaldia in Comasagua and I bumped very slowly down about 10 kilometers of rocky road to El Rosario and delivered the wheelchair to Rosa Anelida, who has been bed bound for some time. The chair is going to allow her to get around in her small house and to sit on on the veranda where she can watch what's going on in her world. Then we bounced slowly back to Comasagua, giving Daniel and his mother a ride (that's a story for another post...tomorrow). I drove back down the gorgeous mountain road from Comasagua to Santa Tecla, where I had an errand in Hospital San Rafael. The Director's secretary was supposed to have Dra. de Burgos' sponsorship letter ready for me - but she hadn't been able to find last year's letter, and I hadn't thought to bring a copy. That letter is a key part of the application to the Medical Board for the cataract surgery mission. So instead of taking them the report on the medical mission and the application, I just took the report. Since the Medical Board is located on one of the most impossibly complicated corners in San Salvador, that took a bit of time. And the office was filled with doctors getting or renewing their licenses, which took a bit more time. Finally I was free to head over to the Archdiocese, where I returned an ice chest that had gotten mixed up with our bins and boxes to Dina, who will get it to its proper owner. And I headed for home.

That will teach you all to ask me what I do when mission groups aren't around! I admit, this week was extra heavy, crunched in between my getting home and Holy Week, when every office that can possibly be closed is closed. But it's not unusual. There's a lot of travel to offices, a lot of meetings, frequent times of waiting around or coming back the next day - but most important, there are many people whose lives I'm able to help a bit because of the generosity of our donors. Thank you!

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