After setting up the OR and settling into our hotel in Ambato on Saturday, we headed to the clinic on Sunday morning. We saw 50 patients, many of whom were returning for rechecks from prior operations. We also saw our preop patients. Here is a sampling of our day:
We started our day by meeting at PDX at 4:30 AM, some of us meeting for the first time. After brief introductions, we sorted out who could check the extra luggage, including the cardboard boxed item–an anesthesia machine. Once through check in, we paused to get a final photo with PDX’s soon to be replaced carpet. We numbered five at this point, with four others planning to join us in Quito, Ecuador. Our flights were uneventful and we landed in Quito, ready to retrieve the suitcases filled with surgical instruments, antibiotics, suture, anesthetic gases. And one very important card board box. That turned out to be the problem. Ecuadorian customs and immigration did not want to let the box through without opening it. That started a 90 minute deliberation, with us trying to explain what is is and what it does, who we are, why we need it. Finally, after several episodes of steam escaping from Dr. Clawson’s ears, we were allowed to take it through and make the next leg of our journey–a van ride to Quito. After a good night’s sleep, we packed up everything, especially the cardboard box, and made the
2 1/2 hour ride to Ambato (stopping for ice cream along the way). What a beautiful drive through and over mountain passes, past mountainside fields
Have you noticed that just when things seem to be routinized and your life is going along smoothly, that there seems to be an inevitable moment when suddenly things change? Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. And perhaps it will take some time to know for sure which type of change has just occurred.
I have been in a wonderful routine of going to Zambia each spring for my annual medical mission trip. It was delightful to return to many of the same doctors, nurses and even some of the same patients each year–a nice routine had developed and it felt comfortable. So, when I heard that this trip may not materialize in 2015, I was saddened and somewhat unsettled. What now? I thought. There would definitely be a void in my life without this soul-satisfying experience of changing lives and experiencing the privilege of working with these remarkable medical professionals and these delightful children and parents. Besides, I had fallen in love with Africa, and particularly with Zambia.
I lived in this limbo for a while, trying to discern the next step I should take. Perhaps a non-medical mission trip, or a local charity for which I could volunteer, or possibly even a family vacation. My answer came in the form of a New Beginning. Ecuador it is. I thank you for your good thoughts, well wishes and prayers as I travel to Ecuador for a cleft lip and palate mission trip in early 2015. Technology allowing, I will blog some photos of this newest adventure. Thanks so much to all of you who have supported me on previous trips and who have made donations to Dr. Clawson’s foundation, which has been responsible for helping over 3,000 children by repairing cleft lips and palates around the globe. He has been going to Ecuador for 26 years and maybe, just maybe, things are still routinized and going along smoothly for him…