Sunday, December 22, 2013

Prayers for Guatemala - Week One

My list of responsibilities as the chaplain for a surgical mission trip to Guatemala sometimes has me wondering why I thought this was a good idea.  I feel intimidated, apprehensive, and overwhelmed at times.  It's not that there is that much for which I am responsible.  It's the magnitude of the responsibilities.  Caring for the surgical team seems familiar to me, however, caring for the patients and their families in a culture in which I am not well versed is what is keeping me up at night.

Operating Room, Hospital Hilario Galindo, photo by
Michelle Boucher, Providence Health International
Retalhuleu, Guatemala
On my list of to-dos is enlisting houses of worship, communities, and individuals to pray for the team and the people of Guatemala before and during our trip.  Seems easy enough, but, of course, I have made it more involved, contacting every clergy friend I have asking if the churches they serve could keep us in prayer.  That's a lot of Facebooking.

To help ALL of us - the team, congregations, and me - focus our prayers, I have developed a "prayer schedule."  Topics and people for whom we may focus our prayers.  This first week, I ask that we pray for the anesthesiologists on the surgical team.  As with all of the disciplines, they will be operating with equipments and pharmaceuticals with which they are and are not familiar.  Let us lift them in prayer, thanking God for their willingness to give up PTO time and money in order to participate in this trip.  May God guide their hands and their minds, helping them to show compassion and love to each patient.

I also suggest that we pray for the institutionalized mentally ill in Guatemala.  While the United States has closed down most of its warehouses for the mentally ill, Guatemala is decades behind.  The article linked outlines some of the issues.  May we pray for the safety and care for those who are ill and for compassion and foresight to their caregivers and those in positions of power.

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