The Guatemala service learning trip returned to Malone on March 12. They served with missionaries Tim and Doris Spurrier at the Shalom hospital, as well as at a government-run hospital in the Paten region of Guatemala.
“I saw two hospitals there, one of which was a government run hospital, so it’s free to the Guatemalans to a certain point, and most of the Guatemalans go there because of the free health care. The second I saw and worked primarily at was a private hospital, which gives better care,” said Kayla Lindgren, junior nursing major. “The government hospital had an infection rate of 80 percent, and funeral homes were purposely across the street because so many people died there.”
Lindgren said her faith influenced her while she was in both hospitals.
“There’s such a difference between when God is the center of your life and the reason for why you want to give good health care and holistic care,” said Lindgren. “First of all, the culture is so different, in a good way. I learned so much about being hospitable, about putting others first instead of my needs.”
Lindgren said she went on the Guatemala trip because she fell in love with the culture of Central America when she went to Nicaragua with her youth group three years ago. She said she wanted to see what medical missions looks like before she graduated.
“I love the hospitality of the people. I’ve always wanted to do medical missions, so this was a way I could see what that looked like,” said Lindgren.
The group also went into a few indigenous villages to conduct health assessments because local leaders in the villages would not let their people leave to get health care.
“One of [the missionaries’] dreams was to provide a hospital that could provide good care to the Guatemalans,” said Kris Biss, one of the leaders of the Guatemala trip.
“I’m a nurse, so obviously my passion is nursing. Also, I have a passion for missions, so that’s a wonderful combination. What I would really love is to be able to expose some people who are slightly younger to missions and have them experience the culture and be able to appreciate differences in the different cultures,” said Biss.
Biss said the trip was phenomenal and every team member soaked up the culture and jumped right into what they were doing. She said the team members were invested and excited and all were loving, kind and compassionate.
“The students are just top notch. All of the missionaries are just so complimentary to every single team member down there. It’s a great team to take down. They’re well received and they blessed everyone they came in contact with,” said Biss.
Last year Rachel King, senior biology premed major, went and said it solidified her idea of what she wanted to do with her life. King returned with the team in 2017.
“I feel like God is calling me back to Guatemala. Eventually, I think I’ll do longer term missions there, if I can, and volunteer down in the hospital down there. I went back to help take a new group down. I served as one of their leaders this time. It was great experience. [I’m] so blessed that I got to do it,” said King.
King said the chance to apply what she has learned as a student was invaluable.
“In a lot of ways you can’t learn how to do something without just being able to do it. They can tell you all they want about how you are supposed to do something, but you won’t actually know if you can do it until you do it. That’s their philosophy down there,” King said.
Cathy Weyand is a staff writer for The Aviso