This is the story of a soccer ball. The night before I left Dixon, my sons Jacob and Dylan deflated a soccer ball for me to take to Peru. A father is always proud when his children emulate the same values – they had already sent different types of chocolates and more than hundred matchbox cars – so I happily packed the soccer ball.
On the way to Cusco I imagined different ways I could use the soccer ball to have fun with the kids and adults we will see. I imagined us playing soccer with the kids or challenging the local village adults in a friendly international soccer match(unbeknownst to our team :-)). From my previous mission trips, I know, the first day is never a good time to try something like this. So I had planned that on our second day I would bring it along. I was excited and imagined myself speaking with the local Mayor to arrange a Dixon versus Ccatcca international soccer match. As we got out of our van and unloaded the remaining six suitcases of donations from the people of Dixon and surrounding areas, along with other bags of medical equipment, I realized it was the perfect place for my endeavor… right next to our make shift clinic there was a soccer field! However, I was so disappointed when I realized that I had forgotten to get the soccer ball. That night I fell of to sleep with the joyful feeling of the care our KSB team had so compassionately provided and with a sorrowful heart of a lost opportunity to play soccer with our new found Peruvian family.
One thing I have learned from all my medical mission trips –there is always a purpose for everything we do or not do in our lives. As, my esteemed physician colleagues have so truly expressed, how our care affects the people we are honored to touch we will never know. So, I have learned to relinquishcontrol to the power beyond us which has guided us to this place to help the people who have come willingly to seek our advice and care. What happened next, was again a reminder of this force that guides us.
On the morning of the third day of our medical campaign I took the football and Dr. Reckamp helped fill it up with the pump that my wonderful wife, Sue, had made sure that I packed. I knew the clinic in Chinchero was mostly make shift tents outside theircommunity center with out any fields around. I was also told that there were mostly much older adults who would be attending the clinic and not kids. So, I happily resigned to have Dave give it to a child he thought would like it….and just at that moment we got a phone call.
The local hospital in Chinchero, called our co-ordinator in the bus and asked if one of the “American doctors” could help a mother who was having issues with her delivery. As the conversation progressed the nurse on the other side relayed that the situation had changed and that the baby was born but was now having difficulty with breathing. She asked if we could help. I asked a few questions over the phone which reassured me the baby would do well and our team would be in time to help.
At that moment it all became clear to me. The destination of the soccer ball was determined. We all signed the soccer ball in the van. Within ten minutes, Marissa, Linda, Dr. Reckamp and I were by the baby’s bed working hand in hand with the local team. The baby did well and a sense of relief filled the room. As we walked out the baby’s father, grandfather and uncle came to thank us for being there. We told him we were honored to be there and that we had a gift for his son – the soccer ball!
As I lay in bed that night playing this particular event of the day over and over again I wondered the many ways we may have helped the trajectory of this baby boy and his family. I imagined how he may once become a famous soccer player, a Peruvian Pele, and come to our town of Dixon to thank all of us at KSB for the bright orange soccer ball we gave him.
Whether we are resource rich or in a resource poor area what each member of a healthcare team from KSB does is provide the best care and advice to our patients and hope they will take that advice to help themselves. I am blessed to be reminded of this every day in KSB or anywhere else I go with our KSB team!