Guatemala Missions Trip 2010

On Sunday we leave for Guatemala City, Guatemala for the 2010 Guatemala Missions Trip. There is a total of 32 people going this year in a variety of fields such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and nursing. For a handful of students going, it will be their first time out of the U.S. We are excited for this wonderful opportunity to serve others and we appreciate all of the support and prayers as we travel almost 1500 miles.

Safely Home

The Team arrived back in Nashville safe and sound in the early hours of Sunday morning. We had a fabulous trip. We are grateful for all the prayers and support and well wishes throughout the trip. We were so blessed by the experience and hope that we were able to contribute to the people of Guatemala in some small way.

Saying Hasta Luega

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We went back to the hospital on Friday morning to say goodbye to the staff. We had the opportunity to see the children again and help with their treatments. The OTs had an interesting experience. In Guatemala, when it is someone’s birthday, they set off firecrackers. So, Friday must have been someone’s birthday because firecrackers went off close to the OT room, but the OT students thought it was gun fire and they all “hit the deck”. After they realized that it was firecrackers, the staff and the students all had a good laugh! After that, the OT students and staff discussed the similarities and differences in their schooling and professional careers. They talked about using their resources and being creative to make whatever they need for therapy without funding.

The PTs treated some of the patients again, and then had a “goodbye” party with their new amigas and colleagues. They made traditional Guatemalan snack for us: tostadas. Our speech therapist, Gwen, fed a baby who was usually taking an hour and a half to eat. With Gwen’s help, the baby was eating in 20 minutes. The mother was so grateful! It was a great morning.

In the afternoon, we went to Antigua for “retail therapy” (tourism). Finally, we went to the Casa Santa Domingo for dinner. This restaurant is inside the monastery and hotel, where you must make reservations a year in advance to stay there. It was a perfect end to a beautiful week!

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Thursday’s Adventures

PTs Connecting



Thursday, March 12, 2009 – One group went to the school. We talked and played with the children. Then we talked with the 10th graders about making goals (spiritual and educational), PT and OT, Health (how to stay clean and abstinence), and the benefits of exercise. We had them answer questions and tried to get them to practice some of the exercises we taught, but they were shy.

The other group went to work at the hospital with the physical and occupational therapists. We got to see several precious children during occupational therapy treatments. We also had the opportunity to make a splint for one of the kids. The physical therapists and students were able to see great progress with one of the kiddos that is really trying so hard to learn to walk. It is really hard to see so many kids with such severe disabilities. The therapists here really do the best they can with what they have.

Then we went to the hospital with the rest of the group for lunch and informative talks. This time, the Guatemalans taught us about some genetic disorders that they’ve seen (one of these genetic disorder babies came in, having no left pectoral muscles, club left hand and both feet, and no facial expression even when he cries). Our OTs taught about sensory integration and the huge importance of intertwining the multiple fields of therapy (PT with OT with speech therapy).

After that, we went to the soup kitchen for the last time. I think that we all have stories about how the people at the soup kitchen have touched our lives, but last night some people were especially touched by how 4 or 5 of our team members worked together to make a sling for a young lady with a broken arm out of a t-shirt from one of our members because that was all we had with us at the time. We just wanted to stabilize it until she could go to the doctor.

Today was a breakthrough day in connecting with people and seeing God’s hand at work in us and them.
-Nicole Causey, Rachel Enlow, Linnea Jordan, Betsy Codington

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A Day of Change

Today the group that has been going to the hospital in the morning instead went to the university to take a tour and get more information about the physical therapy program. The other group that was at the Shalom School yesterday went to the hospital this morning. The group that went to the hospital was able to see some great collaboration between our PT’s and PT students and the Guatemalan PT’s and PT students. Today Judi, a PT from Vanderbilt, assisted a blind young child in walking. This patient was walking before we came to Guatemala but the PT’s were having a hard time figuring out the best way to assist him. With some great collaboration between all people involved he was able to walk.
Then there was a young boy that was using a walker incorrectly and again we were able to help the therapist by correcting the height of the walker and helping to improve his posture. Then we were able to experience and assist in a dance therapy class with patients in wheelchairs. We learned some dance moves and were spinning the children around in their chairs. It was a powerful, inspirational experience where we were able to see the children truly happy. There was a part of the class where we closed our eyes and just held the hand of the patient that we were dancing with and tried to connect just by touch, it was an amazing experience that touched all of us more than we could have expected. After the dance class we attended a lecture on malnutrition where we learned that over 80% of children in Guatemala are malnourished. The time today at the hospital was exciting and very encouraging because the knowledge that we have can be shared with others.
Our group was able to go and visit the university again. I was really impressed with their program that sends them t o rural areas in Guatemala. This experience challenges them as a PT and helps them grow as a person. Many of them have to travel through the countryside to help fellow countrymen that have never had PT before in their life. We were also able to go to the soup kitchen again and we served over 500 people last night. Our group felt more comfortable working with the staff and talking to the people that came through the door. Each time we have worked there I am touched by the faces of the people. As we were leaving, our bus driver was able to talk to two women who had come out of the kitchen. He started to talk to them about Jesus and God used him to lead them to Christ. We were all very excited about this news. One of the women was 80 years old.
Sarah Jo and Rachel S.

From Jack Turner

Team Members Serving in GuatemalaYesterday,there was a woman at the soup kitchen complaining of pain in her arm, so I went and got Marsey. She asked the lady a lot of questions but we weren’t able to really pinpoint what the problem was, but we were able to give her an exercise to do at home that might help. She came in again and I asked her how she was doing. She said she had done the exercise we recommended at home and she had increased mobility and decreased pain already.
She was so grateful.
-Jack Turner

Making a Difference

Soup Kitchen SeviceThis afternoon the local PT school (La Universidad Mariano Galvez) invited us to come and give a few guest lectures. Gwen, Judy, and Susan gave a lecture on the Interdisciplinary Treatment Approach and how occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech pathology work together hand in hand. After the lecture a couple of the university students commented that in their clinical sites there is no corroboration between the teams. They both commented on how looking forward to being able to make a difference in their own clinics upon graduation. Great to see forward thinking!
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Day 2

Guatemala Team in ActionGuatemala PT Team in ActionGroup Demonstration

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 – Today we split into 2 groups again for the morning. Half of us went to the Shalom school to talk to 9th graders about medical careers, goals and motivation, and exercise and hygiene. Many of the students were shy at first but with some encouragement we were able to get them to participate with the exercises we were teaching them as well as answer some of our questions (with the promise of candy of course). On our way out, a class of 4th graders was playing a game for their PE class of “Gato y Raton” and we were all openly welcomed to play.

The other half of us went to the children’s hospital. Rachel Zoeller gave a presentation on Hemophilia and Asthma to the staff at the hospital. In the afternoon, we all went to the University. The 2nd year PT students presented on vertebral disorders and the 1st year PT students presented on Laser therapy. It was a great privilege to speak to the students and faculty, and to learn about the similarities and differences in our PT programs.

After the University, we all went to the soup kitchen, The Lord’s Kitchen, and served over 500 people there. Donnie Dalton and Maria Jose (our hostess and translator) had the great privilege of leading 2 men to Christ. And a few of us prayed for a man struggling with drug addiction. It is amazing to see the utter poverty that the Guatemalan people live in every day, yet, they are so joyful and grateful for what they have. The final destination of the evening was an authentic Guatemalan restaurant called Kacao. Guatemalan cuisine “fue excellente!”

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