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St. Peter's Guatemala mission continues to change lives

Posted: January 22, 2014 - 8:15pm

When Steve Hurd returned to the United States, all he thought about for a long time were the people from the villages in Guatemala.

“It’s a neat experience to meet people from a different culture,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but once you do it — the Mayans in the mountains, to be with such bad economic living conditions, they were such happy people. Everyday they were glad to see us.”

Steve Hurd, AIA of Hurd Long Architects & Design Consultants, has been a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal since 2012.

Saturday will be his third to participate in the mission trip’s annual fundraiser Art, Pray, Love, where he’ll be showing his woodworking and photography.

This spring will be Mission Trip Leader Marianne Welch’s fifth year to plan and organize the trip. She calls her willingness to serve a bit addicting, as Guatemala is a place of such great need, she said.

“To have gone for so many years, you begin to see real differences in the health of the children,” Welch said. “After we’ve been going as long as we have, they begin to count on us. “It’s up to us to keep going back, and keep up the good thing that has been started. “

Each year, the mission sets up medical clinics in old churches outside the city to cater to the people who live in surrounding villages.

Pregnant women receive a full terms worth of prenatal vitamins, children get a set supply and people who have been diagnosed with a condition receive a certain dosage of mediation or an injection.

Volunteers pay their own way including plane tickets, food and any necessary vaccinations. They also assist in bringing medical supplies by checking in luggage and toting carry-on bags full of supplies.

Last spring, Hurd joined the medical mission to look at possible construction projects.

With the Western Diocese, Hurd looked at three to four villages that needed an existing church remodeled, an addition or a new church for villages hat didn’t have a church at all.

“You’d have people standing out in the rain because they couldn’t fit in the church,” Hurd said.

Meg Prince, ER nurse manager for Conway Regional Emergency Department, also went to Guatemala for the first time last spring.

During her time in Guatemala, she triaged chief complaints, checked vital signs and tried to get a brief medical history before sending patients to see physicians.

“Even ibuprofen that we take for granted they are so thankful because they are carrying big things on their head, and they have babies strapped to each hip, and they walk up and down huge hills,” Prince said. “When they come in their basic complaint is their shoulders hurt and their feet hurt.”

Most of the people the medical mission sees suffer from respiratory conditions, sun fatigue and muscle aches. In past years, the mission has seen more serious conditions such as heart attacks.

“You might actually make a small difference just by ten minutes of your time is a great reason to have gone and to go back,” Prince said.

While in Guatemala, Hurd also took thousands of photos with plans to create sellable art for the mission trip’s yearly fundraiser.

This year, Hurd created a coffee table book of about 70 photos from the trip that tells the story of the country through portraits and candid photographs of its people.

Faces of Guatemala will be on display and for sale for $38 at Art, Pray, Love.

La Tresha Woodruff, public information officer for the Conway Police Department, has been interested in going on a mission trip for years, and decided to join the medical mission effort this spring.

“It’s something I’ve had on my bucket list to do,” she said.

Woodruff will be organizing donated clothes and fitting the local people.

“I may not understand what they’re saying, but I can understand what they’re going through,” she said. “Helping people is a language everyone understands and I’m looking forward to it.”

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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