I returned home to Dublin, Ohio from the 12-day mission trip to Coroico, Bolivia with a full heart, a clear head and exhausted body.    I loaded my Kindle with 6 books before leaving on September 28thproving to be quite aggressive considering I finished only one fiction during the trip.   The days were full and often blurred with one prior, and the upcoming day you knew would be very much like the one before.  At times, you fall into the routine of being out of contact with your loved ones, away from the comforts of home, ignorant to US news and feeling like this is all normal.   Every morning, you awaken to the sound of roosters crowing and stray dogs barking and not the alarm or radio like home.    You pray for hot water but most days, God prioritized other prayers and hadn’t gotten to fix the water temperature issue yet!   You were greeted by the other missioners and after a quick cup of coffee and light breakfast, you made your way up the steep walk to the clinic!   After 12 days, this started to feel very routine and quite normal. Boys in Bolivia...as close to my heart as my own!

Upon my landing in Columbus, I was so excited to see my family, or what is left at home these days.  My 11 year old greeted me in baggage claim and we hustled to the car where my husband and excited dog were waiting to provide a lot of needed love!   I just wanted to take it all in and enjoy the view of “home”…of the airport I frequent way too often with business travel, the seemingly perfectly paved roads in our country and the authentic curiosity of my welcoming family with questions!

Dr. Carrie Giordano and Dr. Katie Gualandri making morning rounds

We accomplished a lot in 12 days - 28 surgeries and over 1,100 patients treated by our doctors.   Babies were born, people’s lives were changed by surgery or procedures, and over a thousand were provided with the knowledge and helping hands of our skilled doctors.    Wow…simply…Wow!  Writing this brings chills and immediate tears to my eyes.  The team did really amazing work and touched so many people in an abbreviated period of time.

The final evening in Coroico, Father Bob celebrated a beautiful mass with the Bishop, a few of our patients from the week, and hospital and clinic workers.  We celebrated the healing of our patients and prayed for God’s graces and guidance so that the Coroico community flourish and stay healthy.

Surgical patient, Feliciana, (sitting left) and her family as they were leaving the hospital

Returning home was comforting but yet surreal.  For days, I felt out of place.  I couldn’t grasp the hurried pace, the deadlines and the abundance of what appeared prior to being “staples” to now being luxurious, lavish things.    One of the first places I wanted to go to was my parish and pray, give thanks and ask for the strength to do a mission trip again.  I hope God was listening!!!

Thank you!!

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