MEDICAL MISSION in Guatemala: UNMERCENARIES NEEDED. Ανάγκη δημιουργίας κλινικής για την Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία της Γουατεμάλας.

On May 29th, Robert Kirschner representing Surgicorps, Maxwell Dotson the CEO of the newly formed NGO- One World, One Community- and I traveled to the remote village of Aguacate, Guatemala, located a short distance below the southern border of Mexico. Our purpose was to explore the possibility of building a health clinic to serve the needs of this village of 4,000 and other nearby villages, all of which have no ready access to medical care.

OCMC music team members in village of Aguacate

As part of our outreach we met with the village elders and mothers to catalogue the most commonly reported illnesses requiring treatment. This information would be used to help recruit the appropriate health care professionals needed to both heal and prevent their infirmities. Among the most commonly noted conditions were asthma, gastritis, headaches, miscarriages, uterine cancer and bleeding, breast cancer, arthritis and prostatitis.

Of course, there is no screening to diagnose or prevent any of these conditions, nor is there prenatal care. The only health care in the community is offered by a young volunteer name Juana, who receives government sponsored training three days a month. She knows how to extract teeth, give injections, take blood pressure, stitch wounds and administer intravenous solutions. Beyond this, there is little else that she can do, hence the need for a clinic.

The nearest hospital is two hours away in Mexico, without ambulance service, and even when treated, the people cannot afford the medicine, much less the bus fare to get to the hospital. Against the backdrop of this lamentable dearth of care is the fact that 80 percent of Guatemala’s physicians are in Guatemala City, leaving only 20 percent for the rest of the country.

Given this hard reality, it is our hope, with the blessing of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico, to begin building the clinic soon and staffing it with the proper health care personnel. Supporting us in this effort is Father Evangelos Pata, the village priest in Aguacate. The clinic will be attached to the church and be equipped with examination rooms, a dispensary, sleeping quarters for visiting doctors, dentists and nurses, a laboratory, diagnostic machines and waiting rooms. The benefit to this fast growing community will be immense, there being more than 300 births a year. In planning this project, we are sustained by the example of holy, healing unmercenary physicians Cosmas and Damian, who offered their services free of charge. As the Holy Scriptures inspired them, “freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10: 8), so may we also be inspired.

On the day of Pentecost many foreign languages were ecstatically uttered by the apostles, but instead of dividing the multitude in attendance, it united them in a bond of love. Such was the experience of the five member OCMC catechetical team that came to teach the music of the Orthodox Church to the faithful in a number of Mayan villages. The team members had the benefit of the previous choral training offered by OCMC mission specialists Matushka Rozanne and Fr. David Rucker to build upon.

Presenting a blend of many sacred Orthodox compositions, especially those of the Divine Liturgy and selected feast days, the team members were able to vocally convey a sense of the holiness of the church in a number of languages and music styles. We sang melodies for them in Russian, Greek, English, Arabic and Spanish, and they reciprocated in the local dialects of their village, such as Chuj and Popti. In the village of Aguacate, where Chuj is the predominant language, the team members learned to sing a hymn in Chuj, to the surprise and delight of the congregation. As team members we learned how important music is to our Mayan brothers and sisters, especially in the context of worship. They express their deep faith in God with every fiber of their being, singing with an intensity rarely seen in Orthodox communal worship. Even after our teaching sessions were over, they stayed on and asked for more. The spiritual joy was palpable as we sang on with them in various tongues.

As the Orthodox Church reaches out to other people groups in missions, we have come to realize that every country down to its smallest village has a tradition of its own that must be respected and celebrated. No one expression of Orthodoxy can suffice for all. The divided flame on each apostles head reminds us that in our diversity we can still experience unity in the faith and and fellowship in the Holy Spirit. In Guatemala the inspiration of Pentecost lives on through the vibrant strains of its music. As members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, may we make melody in hymns and spiritual songs with our newly received Mayan brothers and sisters. Together let us make real the words of Jesus, who said: “I have other sheep that are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd” (John 10:16).

This entry was posted in Guatemala, Γουατεμάλα- Guatemala, Λατινική Αμερική ( Central and South America ), Μεξικό-Mexico, Orthodox Christian Mission Center and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


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