Leaving Oaxaca City about 9:00am Sunday, we arrived in Eloxochitlan de Flores Magnon [formerly San Antonio de Eloxochitlan], site of our medical clinic last week, about 4:00pm.
Along the way we ate a great lunch, sucked down a few Dramamines, passed through a cloud forest, crossed the Continental Divide, and even saw a few waterfalls before finally arriving.
As we got out of our vehicles, about 150 people were crowded around the house we would use for our clinic getting a small bowl of beans and a handful of tamale masa to dip in the broth. I wondered how many of them would be at the clinic the next day.
When I woke up, there were already people lining up. By the time the day ended, we had seen well over 100 people. But the number doesn’t really matter, it could have been 50, it could have been 500.
For the community of Eloxochitlan, what mattered was that Jesus showed up in ways many had never imagined. People walked hours to be seen by a dentist, an internist, a pediatrician or a physical therapist who was literally working miracles.
They came in the back of trucks, in friends cars, any way they could to get a chance to see a doctor, or get some level of medical care. And they came in waves. Just when we thought there would be a break, or perhaps the day was winding down, another collectivo with a dozen patients would arrive.
|Dr Sue seeing one of our smaller patients on our second day|
We saw children with untreated extreme cerebral palsy, people who would soon lose their toes and feet, bad backs, colds, gastritis and sore knees. Almost everyone we saw had at least one cavity. We saw people with Parkinson’s disease, parasites and cases of lice so bad kids had literally ripped their faces off.
And we saw Pastor Chable in his element, serving his people. The people God had called him to years ago. This was the first place he pastored and he has never really left. It’s where his son Abi calls home. His daughter Cesi was born there. It’s where he held a little baby many years ago that died in his arms.
|When Pastor Chable was not talking with his community, he helped out by sterilizing medical instruments|
That baby changed his ministry, and many years later, me and Adventures in Life.
Chable’s son Abi told me I was only the second “gringo” to ever work with the people in Eloxochitlan, the first being the missionary who helped his dad plant a church there years ago. As I listened, I learned that there had never been a clinic in town with more than one doctor. We brought four. I learned that no clinic, including the town health clinic, ever had medicine for the people they treated. I learned that no church sponsored clinic had ever treated non-Christians before. We treated all comers.
This time, this year, last week, the church showed up. People were cared for, prayed for, held, touched and loved in ways many had never experienced. The Gospel was shared in word, deed, action and proclamation.
|Here I am with Doctors Milton and Ita between patients|
It was shared people to people, as when Pastor Chable sat with a couple that needed counseling, or when one of our doctors prayed with a patient in need.
Looking back, I shared with my ministry community last week that I was scared. Scared of the unknown as we prepared to head up to our location in Eloxochitlan. Now I ache.
Without a doubt this was the hardest week of ministry I have ever experienced in over 20 years of mission. I know it will never leave me, even as I struggle to understand what I saw there and what should be the role of the church in addressing incredible pain, suffering and poverty.
What I do know is this... we’re going back next year. And we need you.
In addition to our current, already committed group of physicians and dentists, we need nurses, dietitians, dental hygienists and people who understand public health issues. We need an eye doctor or two to help provide sight to people who have struggled all their lives to see clearly.
We also need a team chaplain. This is a ministry that needs a pastor’s heart to hear the struggles of God’s servants, as they work, and to be praying for, and with them. It is that hard.
Viktor E. Frankl writes in his landmark work, “Man’s Search for Meaning” that everyone must have something for which they live. Perhaps this ministry is that something for which your soul yearns... that something for which you live.
We are trying to change a pueblo. The pueblo of Eloxochitlan! We are striving to meet immediate needs now, while sowing the seeds of Christian development for tomorrow. Imagine if in a few years, the people of this area could say that God heard their prayers and sent some men, women and children from the church to help.
Then imagine if those He sent, included you.
Please pray about it and if you have any questions, contact me.
A big thank you to Mission Focused for their help documenting our work with their excellent photography. All pictures here are copyrighted and cannot be used without the express permission of Adventures in Life Ministry and Mission Focused.