“Look at the line of people, and it’s only Monday, our first day of work!” On this cold morning of February 18th in the city of Xelajú-Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, a long line of patients were waiting for the five of us who were going to work in the municipal commercial center (government center and shopping mall). Many of those waiting were Mayan women in colorful, hand-woven traditional clothes. “We are going to be busy this week!”
The chiropractic mission to Guatemala began two years ago. A couple, both medical doctors in this city in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, heard about our long-running mission to El Salvador. They wanted to bring chiropractic to Guatemala. Dr. Juan Campos, the founder of the El Salvador mission, and I decided to work with them to form a mission to Guatemala. This small-scale mission has continued since that time. I want to bring quality chiropractic care to the people of the Western Highland and provide opportunities for Gonstead and HIO doctors and qualified chiropractic students to help these people who have no access to chiropractic care.
This year, there were seven of us, three chiropractors and four students. All but one had already participated in the past two missions. Five of us worked at the site mentioned above, and two worked in a physiotherapy office of one of the daughters of the MDs.
Thanks to great pre-mission advertising and the previous years’ missions, we were blessed with a tidal wave of patients all week. We began working at 8 AM each day – the patients would arrive around 4 AM to be first in line! One night we didn’t finish until after 9 PM. A lot of people received great chiropractic care. There were so many with chronic or significant problems that you wished you had more than five days to provide care. Unfortunately, there are no chiropractors to refer them to. On the other hand, it’s amazing what a few adjustments can do for the quality of a person’s life. To see someone with chronic health problems have improved health for the first time in years is priceless.
It wasn’t all work. I have participants arrive on the Friday before we work, partially to acclimatize to the 8000 ft altitude, but also to give them a chance to experience the culture. The first Saturday, we went to see the Takalik Abaj Mayan ruin, an ancient city that existed between 600 BC and 900 AD. It was a large city that is now under the soil of four coffee plantations. It is a current archeological dig that has barely been excavated. The lowland jungle setting is spectacular. On the last Saturday, we visited the Zaculeu Mayan ruin up in the Highlands. It was excavated in the 1940s. This site was abandoned in the 1500s after the Spaniards attacked the Mayan army that took a last stance there.
Many thanks to Drs. Julieta and Fernely Moir and their family who organizes this mission for us. They do 90% of the organizing.
Missions like these are a great opportunity to introduce chiropractic to other countries and people and to help those people. For information on future missions, contact Dr. Tanaka: firstname.lastname@example.org