Fall 2023 Guatemala Mission Trip

This fall we had our 30th mission trip to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. We had three amazing therapists; Spencer Schaefbrauer, PT in Milbank, SD, Sierra Plotz, PTA in Granite Falls, MN, and Rebecca Wangberg, OT Traveler with Big Stone Staffing. These are some day-to-day reflections from our team!

We had our first day of treatment today, which we were in the town of Santa Teresita. We all gathered in the community center of the town, and then patients would come to us! There were a few patients that required us to go to their homes, which was a blessing to us. They were all grateful for our presence with them, and the students as well as ourselves to be able to treat them and help them out! We also had the opportunity to play some basketball with the kids within the San Lucas community! Tomorrow, we give our presentation to the health coordinators and promoters in the area, which is exciting! Please continue to pray for us while we continue to be with the Guatemalan people!

Day 2 Reflection: On Sunday the U Mary students, the BST clinicians, and my sister took a boat out and toured some of the local towns around San Lucas. We were able to see the culture, purchase souvenirs, and taste local foods. During the day we have been treating patients in 5 groups of 3; splitting up the clinicians and students. We have seen a wide variety of cases and have been able to do some home visits, which has been humbling. This afternoon, Spencer, Becca, and I presented strength and balance information to the health promoters. The promoters had a good time as they were able to laugh at Spencer during exercise demonstrations.

Before supper, we were able to tour and taste local coffee, which was delicious! 90% of the coffee product is exported to the US and 10% stays local. Coffee is a huge income resource in Guatemala and they are very proud to produce organic, high-quality coffee. Here is a link to look at coffee and purchase if wanted – all proceeds go to the Guatemalan farmers.

Day 3 reflection: We started the day with the La Cruz sunrise hike with being able to see the beautiful view in this community. We then spent the clinical day at the hospital in San Lucas seeing approx. 24 patients total with the U Mary team. Some of us were then able to experience the Women’s Center by learning about various programs they have for the women in San Lucas (i.e. Cooking classes, sewing, baking, caring for chickens. Herbs, and various plants). Then we ended our night with a game of soccer with people at the mission and going to a local coffee shop. It has been a great experience being able to embrace the culture of San Lucas and learn so much from the people here!