March 2019 – Dental Team – Update #2

By: Josh Walters

I can hardly believe it’s already Thursday morning! If you are familiar with the trip timeline you know the group started this journey at an airport the previous Thursday. The first few days seem to fly by and always seems to cement the relationships and comradery of the group. Hours long layovers and communal suffering on the red-eye from LA to Guatemala City is a rite of passage for the Proyecto Fe volunteers, especially the newbies among us!  The early morning bus ride through the sugar cane fields provided a new perspective for me as we took a different route this year. The ferry ride was as I remembered it a few years ago although I noticed the Guatemalan flag had been wind-whipped to nothing more than the original hem with a few zip-ties holding what remained. The rest of the time here since that Friday afternoon has move along right on schedule: clinic set up on Saturday followed by a half day of patients, Sunday’s home visits and evening church service and a few days dedicated solely to patient care. 

The team and interpreters singing at the church service

Throughout this well-planned and smartly choreographed routine there have been significant moments filled with emotion, compassion and God’s love. Once again, the home visits left an indelible mark on my soul and this time I was blessed to share it with my Mom as part of the team. I am so excited to be able to start sponsoring a child! I have also begun to understand the significant scope of the effort and consistent faith of Pastor Emilio and his family and have seen the impact of literally decades of giving from Proyecto Fe and those that support the ministry. The school was created to educate children academically, spiritually and biblically but with sponsorship and by the grace of God it has begun to break the cycle of poverty for a small portion of the next generation of Mayan descendants long held back by cultural stigma, superstition, poverty and ineffective governments. The school has been lauded nationally and through steadfast determination is now able to support a student all the way through the University level. Doctors, lawyers, engineers and all manner of professionals are returning to these communities and bolstering the towns throughout the area. This is a true to results-driven solution worthy of both the time and effort of any volunteer, church or organization willing to give and wanting to be part of the process.

As we finish out today, organizing and prepping for future visits, I hope to find time to visit our sponsor family again before we leave. I will be praying for this family and their son whose education I am sponsoring as the father and uncle have both traveled to America in hopes of finding a better opportunity. The sad truth is many of these folks are looked at negatively, taken advantage of and misrepresented by media and politicians. The family will be indebted to a “coyote” (a person who is paid to lead the someone across the border illegally) for years to come with very little hope of repayment. The “coyotes” are truly savvy and capitalize on the promise of a better life that they have no ability to deliver and usually abandon people with no hope or support, many times never reaching their destination. In the example I have witnessed, the 14-year-old son is working full time along with one of his uncles to support a large family and pay these debts in the range of 60,000 Quetzales per person approximately $7800.  While we cannot solve these issues or pay their debts we can support the youngest in the family in hopes of educating him out of this level of poverty. The immigration conversation in the U.S. in contrast with the faces of the family I am visiting in person are truly unsettling to my spirit and will rest heavily on my mind for quite some time. I know that my prayers, time and effort are for a worthwhile cause and I pray in faith that God will allow me to continue my support of this mission and these families.

Josh and his mom, Tamera, with their recently sponsored children