by Ken Pearlstein
The road to Cuyamelito, Honduras is unpaved and narrow. Vines grow, some unkept, others radiant with tropical flowers. There are mausoleums along the road. Today is Sunday and the graves are well-visited. Ana Reid, our local guide, tells us that this road, a mere seven kilometers from the Guatemalan border servers as a clandestine route for those headed north. For now, the road is quiet. Our coaster van is kicking dust and the locals barely notice.
Outside the Iglesia de la Natividad de la Bendita Virgen Maria, however, there is an expectant crowd unhampered by the relentless, morning sun. The missionaries are coming, and with the hospitality that scripture has taught this community, the locals greet us warmly.
The church is made of cinderblock. The roof, tin. The pews are of rude wood. The music is from an ill-tuned electric guitar and a hand-held keyboard fueled by a deacon blowing through an air pipe. The words of mass: the same. In the sweltering heat a rooster crows and a priest from Philadelphia transforms bread and wine and sweat and song into a transformative, mystical moment. Those who've traveled here before remember why we're here, and so we begins.
Dr. PJ Prest, trauma surgeon, is here.
Dr. Maura Pearlstein, trauma surgeon, is here.
Dr. Michelle Moreschi, intensivist, is here.
Dr. Janet Hines, infectious disease specialist is here.
Dr. Danica Zold, resident of emergency medicine is here.
Dr. Anum Siddiqui, resident of family medicine is here.
PA Abigail Helms, pediatric specialist is here.
Anesthetist Ken Pearlstein is here.
Nurse practitioner, Claire McConnel is here.
Nurse educator, Suzanne Casey is here.
Nurse Bonnie Dettore is here.
Spanish professor, Matthew Fischetti is here.
Addie Peyronin, vestry member of Saint Mark's is here.
Noah Stansbury, verger of Saint Mark's is here.
Father Sean Mullen, rector of Saint Mark's is here.
This is the team from Saint Mark's Church Philadelphia. Day one. Our clinic is set in the local community center yards from the church, a rude square structure transformed into a place of healing. The team is resting. The air could not stand one more pound of barometric pressure, and the sky has opened up a torrent of rain as we sleep.