Machetes and Medical Missions

Last Thursday we flew from Greenville to Houston and connected to San Salvador. I was part of a small mission team associated with the Papal Foundation. We visited a village for the poor named Sideco. A dedicated group of lay people have started a new village to re-house the poorest of El Salvador’s poor. The village includes a market, clinic and school with a church about to be built. We are going to build a link between the school and St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

On Saturday we went up into the mountains to join with Helping Hands Catholic Medical Missions. About 100 doctors, nurses and young assistants were there to help with house to house evangelization and a whole range of medical assistance from basic health care to surgery. Medical volunteers head out to El Salvador from the US to take part in this important work.

While we were heading back up the hill with a doctor and nurse from the team, a man came running down the hill towards us holding his face in his hands. Blood covered his shirt and trousers, and when he took his hands away from his face a deep gash was still bleeding across his cheeks and nose. A drinking buddy had lost his cool and slashed him across the face with his machete. The man couldn’t believe that there was a doctor and nurse there at his home. When we said that he needed stitches he cried that he had no money. It was beautiful to be able to tell him that everything was free.

Later that night a hand surgeon with expert plastic surgery skills stitched him up. Without Helping Hands his wound may have got infected and led to death. At very least he would have born a terrible disfigurement the rest of his days. Thanks to this sort of courageous work he’s able to continue a normal life, and maybe with the witness of his Catholic brothers and sisters he will turn away from his desire to murder his attacker and find a way toward forgiveness

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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