I was filled with so much doubt when we first landed in Belize and later pulled up to the clinic. I was sure that God had sent the wrong person to work in the clinic and I didn’t know what I was going to do for 23 more days. Thankfully my whole perspective of this trip quickly turned around. I look back now and I am beyond thankful for the time I got to spend in Belize. Being there made me realize that my future job as a pharmacist is not about how many prescriptions I can verify in a day or how much money I can make the company I work for but instead about the people I’m serving and the quality of care they get. The people of Patchakan village endured my awful Spanish without complaint and taught me so much about the type of pharmacist I want to be. I thank God each day for this opportunity – the most wonderful, life-altering experience that I have ever had!
PharmD Candidate 2012
Each time that I have visited Belize, it has truly been a blessing. This recent visit spent at the Presbyterian Medical Clinic felt a bit like "coming back home", with it being my fourth time to work/minister in Patchakan. I was able to reconnect with some patients and follow up on their care.
I feel this last visit was somewhat different due to the fact that in the past only a part of my family has accompanied me. This year I had the privilege of leading a team from my church. A total of 9 members were able to come and serve in 3 capacities. (medical, construction, and VBS) Not only did I enjoy working at the clinic, I was also able to help my team during the week to meet some needs with the Presbyterian church in Corozal. The experiences were a blessing to me and the whole team. God used our time in Belize in a powerful way and we enjoyed serving and working together.
It is always a joy to work in the Presbyterian Medical Clinic and see from year to year what God is doing. I have a love and passion for the people of Belize. The home visits I particularly enjoy since I am unable to do so in my busy internal medicine practice at home. These visits give me the opportunity to see and experience the social and living situations of the patients. It also enables me to minister to those who are too ill to travel to the clinic or who lack the needed mode of transportation. My goal with each visit is to extend grace and offer some hope/relief from their medical problems/pain. As a physician I seek to improve patient health and well being. My ultimate goal though is to introduce them to Jesus, our Great Physician who heals us completely. I come away each time feeling that I received more of a blessing than those I sought to minister to. The whole experience is a very humbling one.
I enjoyed as always working and spending time with Garry and Anita Chambers. I count them as true friends in the faith. Their zeal and dedication is an encouragement. The opportunity to meet and work with Amber Rhyne, the clinical pharmacist, was also inspiring. She has a lot of knowledge about pharmacology. It is also evident that she loves the patients and enjoys helping them with their care.
The trip was a blessing for me and I am eager to come back soon and serve! God is at work in a mighty way at the clinic and in the hearts of the Belizean people. I am honored to have the opportunity to be involved and help spread the message of hope and healing.
Tim I., MD
Meridian, MS, USA
Bonny and I started coming down to the PMC in 2000. We have made the trip annually since then. Our first several trips were with our daughters and usually a friend of theirs. We found the clinic to be an ideal place to start getting involved with foreign missions. The local people have open hearts and have been very welcoming to us over the years. The clinic staff has been wonderful to work with and very attentive to our needs. The accommodations have been very adequate for individuals or families and improving over the years. The dental needs we see in Belize are not unlike those we see in the U.S. The equipment is of the late 1980s vintage but adequate to get the job done. We have made some wonderful relationships with local Belizeans and truly feel like we are at our second home when there. We consider many of the full time staff as personal friends/family and eagerly look forward to returning. I would recommend this mission experience to anyone who may be a bit nervous about taking their first overseas steps. You will get much more out of the trip than you put in and will be blessed while you are being a blessing.
Dr. Lisa R., her husband, Scott and two children visited with us May 28-June 3 2011. Dr. Lisa and her husband previously served in the clinic for 10 weeks in the year 2000. This is their first return visit. She writes:
"I returned to the Presbyterian Medical Clinic in Belize, 11 years older, no longer a newlywed, and with my two children by my side. Our family was instantly welcomed, both by clinic staff and by the community. Local children came to the clinic, asking our children to play. They enjoyed speaking a combination of English and Spanish together, sharing fruits from Belize and candy from the US with each other. And what a blessing it was to learn that one of the boys who had been playing with my son was a child I had met on our previous trip. In 2000 he was a gravely ill 3-day old boy that I held and prayed over during a long drive to the larger hospital in Orange Walk. I was afraid he would not even survive the trip, he was so dehydrated from a congenital bowel obstruction. Yet God had answered prayers, and now that boy was healthy, strong, and teaching my son soccer skills. The other clinic patients were kind, and so grateful for care. It was a privilege to ease a portion of their daily burdens through prayer, connection with the local church, or an improvement to their physical health."
Dr. Jen B. came to Belize with her husband Lee. She served in the clinic April 4-8, 2011. She writes:
"Last month, my husband Lee and I had the privilege of serving at the clinic in Patchakan. I started writing my original blog on the return flight from Belize and was nearly finished, when, as luck would have it, the computer battery died. Then LIFE hit when the plane landed in Indianapolis. Busy, busy once again. When people ask how my trip was, how can I summarize all that happened in a few sentences? Impossible. I have formulated my "elevator story", that which can be told in less than a minute, to give others a glimpse of our trip, but it still doesn't give it justice.
I can share that the Belizean medical needs are not so different from those in North America. I saw diabetes, HTN, sinusitis, depression, and vomiting kids, just like a typical day in the States. There were also cancer patients, tongue lesions, venous stasis ulcers, schizophrenics- things that I would likely have referred out to specialists in the States. I wish I had access to wound care, physical therapy, cardiology testing and the like, but it was just me. The closest services were often in Chetumal, Mexico (across the border) or Belize City- 90 minutes away. Many chronic illnesses in Belize are not treated adequately for poor access to healthcare, both geographically and monetarily. This is where the clinic is trying to fill the gap.
The clinic patients were charged $10 Belize ($5 US) for the doctor's visit and up to 2 medications (one month of each). I think that the patients truly valued the services they received. They viewed the clinic as their primary care home. I went on a short term medical trip last year that left me quite unsettled as I knew some patients would not be getting any care after our team left. In Patchakan, I was able to formulate a follow-up plan and knew that patients could come to the clinic to get their meds refilled long after I was gone.
I would encourage anyone reading this blog to pursue this venue for a medical mission trip. The need is great, the workers are few, the harvest is plenty. I am so blessed to have been able to serve God at His clinic in a small village in the middle of Central America.
Dr. Bill D. came with his wife, Judy and son, Ben. He served in the clinic March 14-17, 2011. He writes:
"Our days in Belize were a joy and blessing to all three of us. My time in the clinic was very rewarding and a pleasure. The pharmacy consultations were fun and informative, a real asset to the endeavor. I now want a pharmacist on hand every time I see patients(spoiled me)for sure.
The patients seen in the clinic were a joy to me, a contentment and graciousness was present not experienced by me before in mission work. I think this comes from two factors, the presence of God as reflected by Garry and Anita and a basic self respect of the vast majority of the patients. They are a pleasure to interact with and I believe other volunteers will see how unique this opportunity is. I can give a very encouraging recommendation to any interested persons and look forward to my next visit to the (Presbyterian medical clinic) at Patchakan.
Bill D., MD
Dr. Dennis M. served with us December 13-17, 2010. He writes:
"I had the pleasure of treating patients in the Patchakan Presbytereian Medical Clinic this past December, shortly before Christmas. This was definitely one of the most relaxed and enjoyable clinics I have been called to associate with. This area consists of mostly hard working local folks, as well as people from other parts of the country who came to this clinic because of the clinic's good reputation of caring for it's people in a way that only God could have provided. We had really wonderful folks to render medical care to, and people who appreciated the care they received.
The staff at the clinic were well trained, and so very helpful. My Spanish was very limited, so translation was a necessity.
I truly think the highlight was visiting people in their homes, i.e., house calls. We met some of the world's most loving and appreciative people by showing the love of Jesus as He would have shown by going to those who were not physically able to come to Him.
I really cannot say there were any negative experiences, except that I was not able to stay another week or more.
I truly loved the stay there, and hope to be allowed to serve there again someday."
Dennis M., MD
Dr. Wiley S. served as a missionary in Belize, along with his family, for 8 years. They returned to the States in 2009. He writes:
"My family and I were privileged to live in Belize and serve at Presbyterian Medical Clinic for eight years. It was the experience of a lifetime to be able to spend so much time providing medical care for the gentle people of Belize. It was a time of spiritual growth, as I saw the Lord answer our prayers again and again, providing what we needed to accomplish the mission. I got to know the patients well, and saw many come to Christ or deepen their faith. My medical skills as a family physician greatly expanded, as I saw a broad spectrum of conditions and learned to do a lot without the help of specialists. The clinic itself was well equipped for primary care, and had expanded capabilities, such as dental and gynecology. The staff of the clinic, which was largely Belizean, were so helpful and supportive. It was a great place for our family of four children to grow up, and each of our kids came back speaking very good Spanish and having a global perspective on life. I recommend Presbyterian Medical Clinic as a great place for any health care provider to get a taste of missions on a short term trip, or to dive into long term missions."
Welcome to the new Presbyterian Medical Clinic blog. We will be posting comments and testimonials from visitors who have volunteered their services here at the clinic. If you have volunteered here in the past and would like to send a testimonial, please feel free to contact us via our contact page. We would love to hear from you!
Always in Christ,
The Belize Team