Missionary Nurse: Journal Pages from a Week in the Life

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Sheri Kretzschmar serves in Guatemala as a missionary nurse with Health Talents International. She and her colleagues work with the local Churches of Christ, conducting mobile medical clinics in surrounding communities–where together, they demonstrate Jesus’ compassion.

Sheri lets us lean over her shoulder during an uncharacteristically busy surgery week of patients from local villages.

Sunday, February 11

Let the surgeries begin!

I met everyone at the airport yesterday as their flights arrived.

Last night we began the consults and things went smoothly.  Today we finished with four plastic surgeries and four GYN cases.

It was a day to get all the medical professionals who’ve flown in acclimated. We have several new people with us and I believe that they will rise to the occasion.

All of the patients from the Chichi and Panajchel areas arrived without any problems.

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Brayon has been running around most of the day playing.  His surgery is being sponsored by Angie.

It’s been a full day but things have gone well.

We will continue to pray for each patient at the end of the day and give praise to God because all has gone well.


The OR cranked up early this morning and ran pretty much non-stop all day.

Aida had the good news that she was able to go home after we removed a small mass on her finger yesterday.  This is Aida and her father before she was discharged.


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Dr. Dwayne came to see her one more time before they left.  They are very thankful for the surgery and also very thankful to Ava for her support.  I will see Aida on March 5th, when she comes for her post-op visit.


First out of the operating room this morning was Dilon.  When Dilon’s mom and dad first saw him, they were so excited!  Tamera and Dr. Michael brought Dilon out and mom and dad were in awe!


Dilon was placed in his mother’s arms and slept for a short time.

The swelling and bruising is normal but in a week will look so much better.

Brayon kept us entertained before his surgery.  He had quite an audience as he was waiting to be taken back to the operating room.


Brayon and Dilon have won the hearts of the staff this week!


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When Brayon came out of surgery, he was very restless. He was able to rest better after some medicine.


Brayon will be sore and uncomfortable for a few days but he will heal quickly and then be back to playing!


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When Santiago’s grandmother told him that we wanted to take a photo of him, his two thumbs popped up and he struck a pose for us. Everyone went to grab their camera to capture the moment!


Santiago was very sleepy after surgery so he stayed in the recovery area a little longer than usual.  He then woke up and did well.


Nelson and his mom had a rather boring day.  He will have surgery in the morning so today was just a waiting game for them.

We are so thankful to God that all of the surgeries went well today.

Tomorrow, we will start early and have fourteen surgeries planned.


What a day! We finished ten GYN cases and four plastic cases without any problems and it was good.  We are so thankful and acknowledge God because we know that is where our strength and abilities come from.

Yesterday evening, we had a severe burn patient that is thirty-nine years old.  Her name is Esperaza and she has epilepsy.

Last year, she fell into a fire when she had a seizure and she suffered severe burning and scarring of her chest, neck, and face.  Such a horrible event for this young lady.

Surgery was done to help regain some function of her neck movement.  Everyone has been concerned about how well she would do. We were thrilled this morning that she continued to do well through the night.

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Today, Nelson went for his surgery. He was the last of the babies that I brought with me and his mother has been patient.

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Nelson and his mom immediately after surgery.  His surgery is being sponsored by Beverly and Doris.

We made rounds on all of the patients.  Santiago struck a pose for us again today.  He did well through the night after his palate repair yesterday.

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Dilon and his mom did well through the night.

Brayon and his mom also did well.

The babies are not quite up to playing yet but it will not take long for them to recover.  They have been resting and eating their fair share of cherry and grape popsicles.

I hope that everyone rests well tonight: patients, families, the surgical team.  Tomorrow will be another adventure.


Another wonderful day with patients, families, the Guatemalan staff, and our team.bWe finished the day with nine GYN cases and three plastic cases.

This is Yefery.  He had a motorcycle accident a few years ago that damaged his nose and created difficulty in breathing.

Dr. Philip helped Yefery and he is so very thankful.  He likes being with us.  Yefery had the option of going home on Monday and he opted to stay until tomorrow when the vans return for the babies.

He is a really good guy and it has been a pleasure to help him!

Nelson’s mom stepped outside so his father stayed with him a little this morning.  This is Nelson’s first post-op day and he is doing well.  Notice the wisps of his hair due to the fan action!

Dilon continues to do well on his second post-op day.  His parents are still very excited for this opportunity.

The babies will be discharged in the morning.  The drivers know to come and pick them up.  They will receive their discharge teaching and have a follow-up appointment with us in Lemoa on March 5th.

It has been a great week thus far and I believe that tomorrow will be the same. God has been with us every day.

Thursday, February 15

Today was the day that the parents have been waiting for: traveling home!!


For Brayon’s third post-op day, he is healing well.  In a week, this scabbed area will fall off and the swelling will have decreased a lot.


This is also Nelson’s third post-op day and he is doing well too. His parents are ready to hop in that van and travel!

Dilon was a sleepy head this morning.  I wish I had a video of him stretching his arms and then he fell back asleep. He and his parents will be traveling home to Panajachel, near Lake Atitlan.

What a great week it has been!  All of the patients have done well.  These babies will have a couple of weeks to heal and will come to the clinic on March the 5th to see us.

We are so thankful for the team that came and spent a week with us.  We had many seasoned staff and also some new members–seeing 52 patients and their families.

Surgical Week–And Why I’m Still a Missionary Nurse

Preparing to go into a surgical week can be draining before it even begins.

But that’s what motivates you to continue. You can see past the week of long, hot days.

We begin to evaluate babies and children six months before the surgical week. We need to be sure their weight and lab work allows them to be surgical candidates.

Seeing that child finally placed in a parent’s arm after life-altering surgery is revitalizing. And then the tears flow.

Not all children can be helped. And that’s hard. Some parents are afraid and do not return for surgery. Some parents have waited a year for surgery and then when they arrive, the child has a fever or has another problem, and the surgery needs to be postponed.

That’s discouraging and painful for all of us.

Still, a week of a surgical clinic that transforms a child, a family, is something you must experience first-hand. Reading and hearing about it doesn’t do justice.

I can assure you: You’ll leave the clinic a different person than when you arrived. You’ll want to share your experience with others.

Being hugged and thanked by these parents and children gives you chills. The care and love you provide changes the life of that person, their home, and eventually their community–not unlike Jesus changes each of us.

Interested in medical missions or becoming a missionary nurse?
Sheri loves to answer questions.
Reach out to her at fscubarn@aol.com.

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