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Second Medical Brigade in the Sierras

Joanna Dimon

We completed our second medical camp on July 18, 2009 in the high Sierras, 1.5 hours outside Monterrey. The particular village that we visited this time is at 6,600 feet altitude (Monterrey is at 2,000 feet.) The population of about 4,000 people is spread out all over the mountains. Overlooking the fertile green lake basin, you’ll find village folks with mule-drawn plows farming their portions of the land. We’ve come to dearly love these mountain folks – they are so simple, wholesome and appreciative!

Two Family International centers collaborated in hosting the event, bringing together a team of 14 missionaries. We were also joined by two very dedicated volunteer doctors who came in from McAllen, Texas: dear Dr. Hans (age 67), an eye surgeon and specialist, and Dr. Javier Campos, M.D., along with his wife/assistant Tiffany, and two young interns. This was Dr. Hans’ second brigade with us in the mountains, which he says reminds him a lot of his own native country. Dr. Hans is interested in heading up other local medical camps in the future, as well as volunteering at the new community clinic which the local villagers have recently finished building in the Sierras. The doctors worked nearly non-stop giving free exams, eye glasses, medication and consultations to both adults and children.

The very first patient to register was Senora Torres, an 84 year old mother of 20 children. She received her first pair of eye glasses ever. This dear lady then sent as many of her personal family as possible to get a checkup. So when registering the arrivals, I saw the same name “Torres” over and again. When I inquired why they’d come to see the doctors, they said “Mother (or Granny) made me do it!” Ha! But as it turned out, each one had good reasons to be checked and many returned again later with their friends. Senora Torres also returned home to cook and deliver a nice lunch for the doctors to show her appreciation.

Another elderly woman walked into our camp at 2 p.m., worried that she might have missed the clinic. She explained that she had walked for four hours from the furthest mountain peak you could see in the distance in order to see the doctors. Another woman who was sick with fever had walked down the steep mountainside with her four kids. We were all amazed that they’d actually come from that far. What a privilege to be able to help these desperately needy folks!

All adult villagers attending the medical camp received a gift bag of donated clothing, another of reading materials, and another of donated rice, beans, and staple foods. The 100 or so children who also attended received gift bags of donated story books, coloring books, school supplies, card games, music CD’s, and posters. Special thanks to Activated Ministries for sponsoring these quality children’s materials!

The kids enjoyed music, games and skits performed by our dynamic volunteer youth team. Several of our close friends also joined us in packaging and distributing all the gift bags and prizes. Everyone who saw the doctor was also eligible to win one of the many donated presents and toys in a raffle. We were extra glad that one 8-year-old- boy who was diagnosed at the camp with an incurable eye disease, won a brand new bicycle at the raffle!

Missionaries, doctors, and friends all worked very hard for two weeks to pull together this medical camp. The joy and harmony in which everyone worked made it the best one ever! We are already anticipating our next medical brigade.