Missions of Hope–Who We Are/What We Do
St. Williams Medical Missionary Team: Austin, Texas
Where we go:
Mexico: Arteaga, Los Llanos, Huachichil, Saltillo, Jame, El Tunal, Mesa De Las Tablas
The parish of San Isidro the Laborer in Arteaga, Mexico is the adopted spiritual mission of the Diocese of Austin. The municipality of Arteaga, located halfway between Monterey and Saltillo, is widely dispersed over a large mountainous area in which are about fifty rancho settlements containing about 40,000 people. Most of the area is remote to the facilities and comforts of modern life. The inhabitants are farm laborers, and earn meager wages for a dayi’s work. The relative remoteness and isolation, and the non-availability of health care services creates human need. Government resources are sparse, and inadequate to deal with the problem. The people themselves are victims of circumstances of life which they are powerless to change. They are poverty stricken of material goods, but a gentle, faithful, proud people with personal dignity and with a gracious, hospitable spirit. This parish/municipality has become the target of medical missions emanating from Austin, Texas. Having successfully accomplished the missions since 1994, we are ready to continue the medical mission effort.
The pastor of San Isidro serves as host and provides us with meals and accomodations at the parish hall. The facilities are spartan, with dormitory style sleeping. Men and women have separate areas on bunk beds, mattresses or on the floor. Plan to bring your own bedding or sleeping bag and pillow, and your own towels. Bathroom facilities have flush toilets and showers. From our base at the church the team ventures out daily to different sites in the nearby mountains to see groups of people in a clinic type situation or homebound individuals in their homes. We have operated out of a single room school, a chapel, homes, social hall and out in the open.
Honduras: Nueva Palestina, Cerro De Vejia, Catacamas
Medical Missionairies of Divine Mercy : St. Laurence Parish, 3100 Sweetwater Blvd., Sugar Land, Texas 77479-1929
Where we go: Laredo, Texas
Past trips: Mexico
” I slept and dreamt that life was joy, I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
Missions of Hope was created as a way to share my personal medical mission experiences and those of my fellow missionaries with the World. But beyond that it is a portal to allow others to view what we do and be inspired to reach out and help others; to know that each one of us plays a role in shaping the world. That one hand extended to another with love regardless of religious affiliations, ethnicity, political ideologies, cultural boundaries, geographical boundaries, or language barriers can and will not only change one life but eventually the world. We are our brother’s keepers. None of us know how close we are to possibly needing the help of others. So those of us who can should use our resources and our gifts to help whenever and whoever we can. Missions of hope should serve as an inspiration to know that there is hope for us, hope for humanity by serving others. Hope for the people who are less fortunate and look to those who have the ability and the means to provide aid.
On a recent medical mission to Honduras, Father Pedro Garcia gave a mass for the people of a town that we served. It was our last day there and after the mass he introduced everyone to share their feelings and past mission experiences in Mexico and other parts of Honduras. We had people from different faiths and team members from Texas and Mexico helping the Hondurans. One Honduran woman got up and spoke about her previous impression. She was told and believed that Mexico, the United States and the neighbors of Honduras were always fighting and had bad relations, that they did not like one another. But now she knew they were all lies because we were there to help and she saw what we did for them! Is there hope for the impoverished people of the World? Is there hope for people who have more than enough? Is there hope for the World? I believe there is. It takes one person stepping outside the comfort of their own world, into anothers. Experiencing their reality and saying I will help you. Yes, there is hope. My hope is that this site inspires, moves, and touches you. That it creates a hunger that you can only quench by becoming involved in the process of providing hope for another.
The medical mission experience is a collection of images in the mind and body that includes all the senses; sights, sounds, feelings, the smells, and the emotions. It is defined by many things but there is always one moment, a moment that is different, separate and complete from each and every other team member. As we collectively experience that same trip we individually are touched in many ways. But there is a defining moment that stands out, that touches not only our hearts but boroughs beyond that to the essence of our humanities to the part of us that is not form and structure, flesh and blood but that which is the link to our creator…our souls, our spirit.
One such moment might be a man on his first trip with no medical experience who doesn’t speak Spanish and unsure of his role and ability to contribute is offered a piece of gum by a small Mexican child. A child who is accustomed to not having much of anything, a child who we are all there to help, a child who was given the gum by a mission team member but was compelled to share his prize with this man. This is the defining moments I am speaking on. Years later, this man still carries not only the memory, the love and the message from that small child but he carries that gum wrapper in his wallet.
The moment might be from the dentist who stepped in to relieve another dentist on an unbelievably difficult extraction. After one hour the first dentist had no strength to continue; asking for help, the second dentist spent another grueling hour to remove this poor woman’s tooth! When it was over the dentist exhausted and sprayed with blood, the woman so thankful hugged the dentist! This is the moment! Maybe this doesn’t sound like much to you, but how many people ever hug and appreciate their dentist-rarely. So for this dentist the moment of exchange of love, of connection was beyond words to describe. How can you describe with feeling a sensation that will live with you forever?
For me, a chiropractor, I have had so many wonderful moments over the years. On my first mission over ten years ago, I treated a woman with a small baby several months old. Dr. Phil, an anesthesiologist from Bryan College Station checked vitals on the baby. Though the baby was several months old the mother had yet to name him. The following day she returned and wanted to see us. She was so overwhelmed by what we had done for her that she wanted to tell us she finally named her baby Felipe Ricardo in honor of the two doctors that helped her and her baby. This is the moment you never forget. I am blessed to provide a service to people that allows me to place my hands on them. To say a prayer as I do. For many of these people it is the first time in a long time that anyone has touched them in a kind way. For many I bring instant relief of their pains. Some have lived in pain for years, others have had recent traumas.
But each person I treat I see the hope in their eyes and faces that they can be helped. These people that we come to help, come to serve, are the most genuine and trusting people. They suffer through their daily lives, living each day with bodily pains, parasites, poor vision, cancers, fractured bones, and infections of all kinds.
Then we arrive, they come to us perhaps after walking for days.
They come to us with hope; they come to us with total trust. They never question anything we do to help them. They come to us with the trust and love of a child. It is truly a humbling experience and a lesson in humility. We go to them to provide help, to serve and in hope of our own salvation.