by Anne Woodson
In a little more than 24 hours (much less for you early birders) we will be landing in Veracruz, Mexico for the first Austin Smiles trip of 2014. We will be tracking down our luggage, meeting new people or trying to remembertheir names, and some of us will be seeing Veracruz for the 1st time. Mainly we will be anticipating the jobs we will begin on Sunday morning, the reason we have made this trip.
Before even setting foot on the airplane, I wanted to give a big thanks to those who have laid the groundwork for the trip, who work behind the scenes with the gargantuan responsibilities of preparing for each Austin Smiles trip. In addition to the staff, there are volunteers whose names we may not know who we may never meet who contribute their time, talents, and money to ensure a successful project – they solicit, procure, sort, pack, schedule, make endless phone calls, send countless emails, and on and on. Because of their work, we will unpack those red trunks and find just what we need; we will check into a luxurious hotel without having to make the reservation; we can followlike sheep from airport to hotel or from hotel to hospital without worrying about arranging transportation; and there will be hospital employees, patients and families who will be waiting to meet us and who are happy that we came.
The background work does not just occur in Austin. There are site visits, because even if Austin Smiles has sent teams multiple times to a particular facility in a particular city in a particular country, each trip is a new experience. As in the U.S., there are personnel changes, new regulations, scheduling glitches, equipment malfunctions – all the things that frustrate us in our jobs at home happen anywhere, and they are hard to deal with if you only have 5 days to come into an unfamiliar setting and do your best work. The success of any mission trip depends on the communications, relationships, and interactions with the local facility and community that occur before the trip as well as during. As a result of these arrangements, trip teams are able to hit the ground running, operating as efficiently as possible with a minimum of surprises. We should all thank the team leaders, directors, administrators for their super powers of organization, charm and persuasion!
Perhaps Kendyl will share with us her recent adventurous crossing of the Sierra Madres from Puebla to Veracruz – resulting in our new association with the beautiful Hospital General Dra. Isabel Carreon Garcia!