One Slice of Guatemala: Update #2 by Kate Kotfila

Women Pray Guatemala

Working in the Dental Clinic

Two dentists, an oral surgeon and two hygienists are supported by an educational materials salesman, a retired organist, a diet tech, college students and professors in the back room of the local Pentecostal church. Two light bulbs hang from wires and electrical tape barely illuminating the room. There’s a kind of controlled chaos as more than 90 fillings, extractions and cleanings are performed. The clinic opens around 8am and the team is on their feet until 6pm.

Offering medical assistance, doing the best we can

On the other side of the building in a storage closet a midwife meets with women for whom the kind of questions she asks are startling. Other villagers come for more general medical assistance and some are in acute need but too poor or too scared to see a doctor. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Little in her life prepared the Spanish teacher as she translates for a woman with a likely ectopic pregnancy. The husband won’t take her to the hospital – they’ve been there and have no more money. A battered woman and her daughter come for help with their wounds yet yearn for so much more than the team can provide.

Good work is happening. People are being served. The pain of extraction provides hope for long-term freedom from pain. Children are receiving fluoride treatments in an attempt to protect their teeth from the sugar water drinks that are rotting teeth.

Sharing God’s love in practical ways

We host a women’s retreat for thirty. We give them a day to be pampered by reminding them that God’s love for them includes the call to Sabbath rest. The day begins with new sweaters and hats for each of them. Several different kinds of prayer are introduced. Our bible study reminds us that Jesus was a busy man who regularly went off to be alone and pray. At the end of the day we gather around a table of tortillas and juice to celebrate God’s salvation for everyone. They left with bag filled with self-care items and gratitude for experiencing God’s love practically.

In the midst of our service, we are served and inspired

Much of the good work though is happening to us not through us. Three teenagers, given responsibility, step up without complaint to get the work done. They reinvent themselves for the week and perhaps beyond. Tenderhearted people who have not been aware of the number of preventable diseases that take lives are seeing with new eyes brimming with tears. Inconveniences are taken in stride. Water is only available for a few hours a day, the buildings are not heated, scheduled times are never met. At home we would gripe and complain. Here we watch the villagers make due creatively time and again. Their strength physically and resilience of spirit continues to inspire and make us begin planning for the next trip.

Kate Kotfila blogKate Kotfila is pastor at the United Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, NY. An important spiritual discipline for Kate is traveling in places where life is very different than in Cambridge. You can reach her at [email protected]and learn more about the United Presbyterian Church in Cambridge at www.cambridgenyupc.org.