For the first time since our arrival in Cobán, I am able to reflect just exactly how I have arrived at this moment. It has been almost 10 years since the first time I came to Guatemala with Dr. Lauri and Dr. Richard.
When the opportunity to return first presented itself, something deep within me immediately said, “you must go.” Over the past year, there was a lot of uncertainty with the pandemic whether this trip would be possible at all, but in the blink of and eye, here we are in Cobán after our first day in clinic.
It is amazing to be here with such a special team. To work alongside others with the same intention. A similar desire to go, to do; whatever that may be. When two or more individuals are gathered with a common purpose, that is when the magic happens. The first day of clinic presented many challenges trying to organize supplies, establish patient flow, all while doing so in the midst of a pandemic that is still at it’s peak here in Guatemala. It was remarkable to witness every team member proceed without hesitation to face those challenges and provide great care while also keeping volunteers and community members safe.
Early in the morning, myself and one of our interpreters, Mishel, were filling bags with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss to give to our patients. As we were chatting to pass the time, she said to me how happy she was that we were here because it was rare for many people to have the opportunity to see a dentist for fillings, or a cleaning, or extractions. She explained that many do not take care of their teeth, not because they don’t want to, but because they may have never been shown how. It broke me to hear this, but selfishly, made me feel like I had a purpose. And so I moved forward through the day with a mission objective. We were able to complete many fillings, cleanings, and extractions today and hopefully provide some needed relief.
As we close day one, I can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude to be able to return to a place that gave so much to me ten years ago. To thank whatever circumstances brought me here again. And in the spirit of serving together with all of the wonderful people here,