Ten years as translator for numerous medical teams to Guatemala has opened my eyes to the need of ministering to the whole person, body and soul. Reaching out to the humble Mayan people in our village clinic of Aguacate, as they arrive in all their destitution and need, fully cognizant that such services are not otherwise available to them, makes me realize that as a Church it’s in places like this that we need to be. Caught up as we are in our own world of comforts, convenience and petty concerns, we often forget that there is a world outside of our parish bubble crying to share with us the love of the living Christ. Casting our gaze well beyond our self-imposed horizon, that small world in which we confine ourselves, is to see new vistas of service through the eyes of Christ, Who calls us to expand love’s circle in the embrace of others; for in union with them do we ourselves become whole.

Heeding the call of Christ from afar to be a healing presence to suffering humanity, a dedicated team of 13 Pan Orthodox Christians, comprised of three doctors, a dentist, an EMT, two nurses, three translators, a teacher, a videographer, and an IT specialist, arrived in the remote village of Aguacate, just across the southern border of Mexico, on March 9, 2024. During the ensuing week they lovingly offered medical care to hundreds of patients at the Father Andres Giron Medical/Dental Clinic, dispensing medicine, diagnosing and treating medical conditions, extracting and/or restoring teeth, but above all offering solace to those who suffer. Even though the team members came to help others, they received as much, if not more in return. Here are some reflections:

. I was gratified to be able to help organize and lead this year’s mission, and lead this year, and (slightly)
improve my Spanish and local contacts. I believe I will be able to witness more strongly to my Orthodox
DC area community on the wonderful path and progress of the medical ministry in Guatemala due to
this trip, with experience in another station (dentistry). I am inspired to work towards a longer mission
next March, to include language instruction and seminary visit in Huehuetenango.
• I don’t really have words to describe what changed in me; something changed, maybe my perspective ofthe world and how God works in it ; seeing a glowing light in this remote village• It was a true blessing. I was humbled and reminded how much of our world is sticky in need of basic living standards.
• Becoming more grateful for what I have. Understanding what true humility looked like. Having a better
understanding of other country’s politics and how religion impacts them.
• I was moved by the strong sense of community around the village, and the care and love they were
willing to share with us visitors. My knowledge of missions beforehand was based around proselytizing,
which I was worried we would be doing, but I was very moved by the faith in the community and how
integrated the church is into the lives of people all ages. I was very pleased to be able to get to know girls
from the village and spend time with members of the community, and I hope that can continue with
future missions.
• This was a life changing experience for me. God’s presence was clearly palpable through the whole

. I feel so blessed and privileged to be a part of it. The people of Aguacate are beautiful and so
appreciative. I was particularly impressed with how well the Team worked together considering none of
knew each other.
• It was one of the most interconnected and well functioning teams. It was beautiful to see how everyone
went beyond and contributed. It was not just the clinic work, also the fun together that bonded us
• Since my trip, I have been able to more fully engage in Lenten Worship and Liturgy. Working together
with such a wonderful team and having Fr. John’s spiritual support just makes me smile. Father
Evangelos , the seminarians and Sister Isidora brought me so much joy. Sometimes, I re-listen to the
songs they sang at the Farewell dinner. Although the trip had a specific goal, there was a certain
easiness about it that felt like the Holy Spirit. I like that nothing seemed forced, but that we were able to
just show up and serve. I will never forget this experience.

Our next 10 day March 2025 team is scheduled for March 7-16. Below are some photos of the most recent trip. Fr. John Chakos, OCMC Mission Specialist

Nurse Stef Nemet does intake with infants. Below team welcomes patients.

Homeless mute living in mountains receives treatment from Dr. Peter Pappas for facial wound.

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