Vision Care Essay (Edward Lee, MD-June 2015 Guatemala)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
I had the privilege of partcipating in the 187th Vision Care Eye camp in Guatemala City, Guatemala at the Hospital Nino Jesus in June 2015. Ever since my residency training in Ophthalmology, I had always wanted to participate in medical missions. However, starting a new job and raising a family, I never had the opportunity to take time out of my busy schedule. But by the grace of God, I was finally able to participate this past summer. Caring for patients in the mission field is much different from private practice. The hospital did not have any ophthalmologic equipment, so we had to bring our own from the U.S. Unfortunately, our equipment arrived a day late, so we had to improvise. Our contacts through the Korean church of Guatemala were able to help us obtain a slit lamp microscope from another location 2 hours away, enabling us to see 100 patients the first day. When our equipment arrived the following day, our surgical microscope was missing its stand. Without a working microscope, we couldn’t do surgery. Working with the hospital staff, we put together a microscope stand using an IV pole, string, tape, and lots of chopsticks (no kidding!). As a result of our efforts, we were able to do 10 surgeries that day. Our medical mission demanded the coordination of many moving parts to achieve our goal. In fact, when it all came together, I felt God’s hand at work. Our team of volunteers made personal sacrifices to participate. Our host hospital provided a place for us to see patients, and the local church helped us with our day-to-day needs, from transportation to translators. Our missionary contacts brought patients from hours away to receive treatment.
At the same time, we were fortunate to have the support of the government and the local ophthalmologists and health care providers. Without God’s provision and everyone’s hard work and personal sacrifices, our work would have been impossible. Becoming a medical doctor and an ophthalmologist fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine. But participating in a medical mission was fulfilling God’s calling to be a “witness” in the world. There is no better feeling than using the training that I have been blessed with to bless others. There was a running joke among our team members that Jesus himself was an ophthalmologist because he gave sight to the blind. But he also opened people’s spiritual eyes to see God’s love for the world. Vision Care’s mission statement is to “Restore Sight, Share Vision.” My hope is that other ophthalmologists would also share in God’s vision to help restore the sight of patients around the world.