Early in 2014, we began our preparation for a medical mission to Pindal, Ecuador. We tried to go into this journey without any expectations. Letting ourselves be open to whatever occurred and be able to take whatever direction the journey had for us.
We flew into Guayaquil and spent the night on October 3. After orientation and introduction to some of the Ecuadorian culture the following morning, we traveled six hours to Pindal. Along the way we got a small sampling of the sites we would see during the trip: first sight of the Andes Mountains, the small markets that seemed to just pop up along the highway, and the vendors standing in the highway selling their goods. We finally reached our destination and checked into our hotel rooms that would be home for the next five nights. After checking in, we discovered that the hotel was out of gas, so there would be no hot water. Streets of Pindal were torn up for a new sewer system, and the water was shut off. In fact, there was no water for a couple of days, and we had no hot water for the next five days.
Using Pindal as the hub, we held clinics in Chaquinal and Higuerones. Both of the similar villages were located up in the mountains. Set up for the clinics was similar with a triage tent outside and one room inside with four provider stations and a room for the pharmacy. The third clinic was held in 12 de Diciember in the town square. We constructed four provider stations on the stage and the triage booth was located on the street in front of the stage. Pharmacy and eye exams were set up across the street. Prior to leaving Pindal, we were honored with a church service by Pastor Manuel and his missionaries.
From Pindal, we traveled five hours to Orianga, with the last hour being up and around the side of the Andes Mountains. That was some of the most spectacular views that we would ever see. We held two clinics, and on Thursday night a church service was held for us. At this service we listened to one of the best preachers that we have ever heard. He spoke in Spanish and even though we may not have understood, we walked away from his message feeling uplifted and comforted from the message. At the completion of the clinic in Orianga, we traveled back to Guayaquil before returning home.
Regardless of where the Lord took us, whether it be the mountain villages of Chaquinal, Higuerones, and Orianga or the town of 12 de Diciember, we were always met with smiling faces and open arms. The people were truly grateful for our visit. After their visits with the medical providers, many of them would come around to everyone and shake our hands. We may have provided medical advice to these folks, but we also delivered the message of our Lord. One of love, kindness, and understanding with open arms for all. It was hard to leave this mission without our lives being impacted by the local people who attended. No matter the difficulties they suffer, they still have smiles on their faces.
This was an experience that we will take with us for the rest of our lives. It has to be one of the most rewarding adventures that we have ever undertaken.