Only 12 weeks remain until our family moves as medical missionaries to Mexico! Willy, Lucy and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Hospital Misión Tarahumara to prepare for our move in August. The 5 day trip made our upcoming move feel so much more real!
The mission hospital is located in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. Pine trees line the curvy mountain roads that overlook deep ravines. Horses and cows graze on the edge of the road and sometimes obstruct traffic. Tarahumara people in bright dresses and colorful shirts walk along mountain trails. In the evenings, there are breath taking sunsets. In Samachique, the missionaries live in a community on the hospital grounds with a central playground, chicken coops, and soccer field (much to Willy’s delight.) On the evening of our arrival, we enjoyed an outdoor potluck with the missionaries and Lucy tried out the baby swing.
We were excited to see the home that the hospital is renovating for us- it’s Fixer Upper Mexico Edition! Lucy’s also looking forward to new neighbors, including 9 month-old Emma who lives next door.
The next morning, Willy flew with missionary pilot Brent Dodd to check out the remote village sites. These clusters of isolated homes along the canyon have been the focus of community health evangelism and literacy teams. Brent and other pilots provide a vital service in transporting critically ill patients to hospitals for medical care. We look forward to participating in outreaches to these rural areas.
Back on solid ground, Willy and I met with hospital staff members to check out the “bodegas”, or storage facilities. Though the hospital is equipped with many basic medical supplies, the need for additional equipment remains. The greatest need at this time is an ultrasound machine, a vital diagnostic tool as imaging devices such as a CT scanner is not available. We will provide specifics regarding the ultrasound project in an upcoming post. One highlight for Willy and I was participating in a session teaching local nursing students. Hospital Misión Tarahumara is a rural rotation site for Mexican nursing students and recently graduated physicians. We look forward to investing in these individuals and hope that their time at the mission hospital will inspire them to continue to serve the Tarahumara community.
While at the hospital, I examined two young Tarahumara children with pneumonia. Laying my stethoscope on their thin chests reminded me of the very real problem of malnutrition in the area. One strategy the mission utilizes to boost local nutrition is the “pinole project.”
Pinole is a cornmeal powder produced by the Tarahumara people that’s used in beverages. Unfortunately, Tarahumara children lack access to a variety of nutritious foods and will develop malnutrition when consuming pinole and other corn products alone. Missionaries have developed a blend of key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can be mixed into the pinole that the Tarahumara people already love. Interestingly, local children don’t particularly care for chocolate Ensure at the hospital but will drink the pinole mix! I (Jessee) am looking forward to learning more about this program and taking it to outlying villages. In 3 weeks, I’ll be taking a Global Health and Tropical Medicine course that will cover WHO malnutrition guidelines and better prepare me to address the issue of malnutrition on the mission field.
Back on the Oklahoman home front, things have been a little hectic as we prepare to say goodbye to our friends and family, finish residency (Willy) and pack for the move. A week after our trip to Mexico, we had an unplanned hospital visit as Lucy was diagnosed with salmonella and needed to stay the night for IV fluids. We were cared for by an amazing team of doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis. The Tulsa Health Department epidemiologist felt Lucy had acquired it in Tulsa given the time-frame of illness. I was also pretty sick with the same symptoms but thankfully Willy’s strong Peruvian immune system protected him and he took great care of us. Lucy and I are 100% recovered now, thank God! Lately, Willy and I are learning to trust God through every situation, even the unexpected ones! The loss of the familiar pushes us closer to God, but that’s a great place to be. We feel peace and can rest knowing that God has a good plan.
We’re so thankful for your friendship, prayers, and support during this time of transition!
Sincerely, Willy, Jessee and Lucy Bustinza
If you are interested in supporting our family’s work in Mexico- please click here.