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MISSION COMPLETE

By Dawn Bentley-Harshbarger As many of you reading this already know, we are back safe and sound in the United States. The mission is over. There’s a pile of bills staring me down, dust bunnies beckoning me to chase them, and an empty fridge starving for food. Pay me, clean me, feed me. You see, more than a few years back, when I became an adult, Mr. and Mrs. Minutia came knocking on my door. I thought I could keep them confined to the guest room, but then they invited friends, who invited cousins, who had babies… and now, well, it seems my life belongs more to them than me.  But before I tend to the never-ending needs of my “guests,” I want to share some final words on my first-ever mission trip. Thursday was our last day of surgery. I knew it was coming, but it took me by surprise nonetheless. It all happened so fast. Empty bags filled...

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A COMEBACK FOR CULLINGTON

By Dawn Bentley-Harshbarger One of the frustrating things about doing surgeries outside of the US is you don’t get to see long-term results. This can happen at home, too, but it’s the likely scenario when you’re on a one-week trip in another country. It’s kind of like making a movie but never getting to see the final cut. (I’m not sure why I feel the need to make this analogy, but just go with it.) One of the advantages of going back to the same place year after year is continuity—established logistics, familiar hospital, same in-country volunteer organization, known systems, etc. But even then, you rarely get to see a patient again—for a variety of reasons, like they may not get the news you’re in town, or the distance is too great to travel, or they can’t get time off work, etc. Yesterday, however, something special happened. There, sitting on two of the many molded plastic seats lining the narrow hallway,...

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FEELING DOWN ABOUT GOING UP

By Dawn Bentley-Harshbarger My husband woke up at 5:00 am for an early case. He went downstairs to hop on the bus and as soon as they saw him, the bus sped off. Ha, ha, ha. It was a joke. The bus stopped, he jumped in and his day began. I wasn’t feeling very well—a little gastro-intestinal issue (is that TMI?)—so I stayed at the hotel. But my little sickness was nothing compared to what followed. I started feeling better, so I went downstairs and grabbed a double latte. I know that’s not the best choice for someone who is having stomach issues, but I’m an addict and I can’t live without caffeine. Anyway, I digress. I decided to go back up to the room to get my things so I could go to the hospital. I got in the elevator, pressed the button and a few seconds later there was a jolt. Yes, I was stuck in the elevator—as...

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A WORD FROM KATHRYN ROBISON

Kathryn Robison is the daughter of Dr. Jim Robison, one of the plastic surgeons on our trip.  She is a seventeen year-old student at Westlake high school, where she is an All American cheerleader. She is a kind, intelligent young woman with a desire to become a doctor. She would make any parent proud. Here are some of her thoughts on her mission experience in El Salvador: So far this week has been such a great experience for me to catch a glimpse of the world outside of the Austin area. During our morning round of triage, I’ve been truly amazed at the patients we have encountered. From cleft palates and webbed toes, to burn victims and a bullet to the eye, each one has their unique story. I have noticed strong family ties between all who have come to us and admire how loving all the parents are to their children. After triage each day, I go to the...

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MIDWAY THROUGH OUR JOURNEY

By Dawn Bentley-Harshbarger We are at the halfway mark already and this blog has barely gotten off the ground. Something strange has happened. The more I see on this mission, the less I have to say. I’m like a deer caught in headlights—stunned silence brought on by the magnitude of the experience. I think, Blog, perhaps it’s time to break up. It’s not you; it’s me. We’ve grown apart. I need someone with a little more depth and intelligence. But this can’t happen. I’ve committed to writing this blog. It’s my “job.” I’ve chosen a style, a voice, but is my approach a little too…stupid? I feel a little boxed in by it. I don’t know, maybe hanging out with all these MDs is having a bad influence on me. Ask me a question, any question, and I’ll answer it. There is so much going on here, and I’m having a hard time focusing on any one thing. So I’m...

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