Ginger Hart, Luke Gilbert, Fr. Michael McCain, Ed Parker, and Janet Woodell joined 20 other volunteers from St. Peter’s, St. Michael’s and other local churches, to go on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. Marrianne Welch, from St. Peter’s Episcopal church in Conway, has been leading these medical missions to Guatemala for 8 years. She has developed relationships in villages and hospitals that allowed this group of medical professionals and volunteers to offer medical care to Guatemalan citizens who otherwise have little to no means to seek treatment. There were two teams. One team traveled to a different village each day to host clinics. The surgical team traveled each day to a hospital, run by Franciscan Nuns, which funds an attached orphanage. During the trip, around 425 patients were given care, and 15 surgeries performed.
It was evident to the missioners that the people of Guatemala are still recovering from their Civil War, which ran from 1960-1996. They are proud people, who very much appreciate the help from missionary groups like this one. Most of the medical issues they face could be solved by having access to better infrastructure and clean running water, things that western culture often takes for granted.
The trip also provided the missioners the opportunity to experience the beauty that Guatemala provides. Mayan culture permeates contemporary Guatemala, where two dozen Mayan languages are spoken by more than 4 million people. The country is home to some of the most fertile soil and beautiful foliage due to healthy rainfall and stable climate. This is partly due to the fact that Guatemala has the highest density of active volcanos anywhere on earth. Some of the places they were able to visit were the Mayan ruins, Pana, Lake Atitlán, San Juan, Tecpan, and Antigua.
All who went on the trip, called it fulfilling and an amazing experience. It was incredible to be able to share God’s love with the people they met in Guatemala. Next year’s trip is tentatively set to begin April 6, 2018, the week following Easter.