Category: CHS Guatemala

Guatemala – Day 7


Today was our last day of clinic work and we spent it at Pablo’s plantation, La Azotea. The whole group was together again and everyone was able to collaborate and learn even more from each other. We only saw about 30 patients today as opposed to the other days where we saw 130. This way we were able to spend more time with each patient.

During our lunch break, we were served a delicious lunch with hibiscus juice. There was a performance going on while we were eating which was cool to see even more of the culture here in Guatemala. Most of us went on a tour of the gorgeous plantation and the Mayan museum. Pablo also showed us where he had his wedding ceremony and reception. We came back to the house and had some time to relax. Some of us played games and others went down to the town square.

Pablo and his wife, Sara, graciously served us dinner in their home. It was a recipe passed down from Sara’s mom! We toured their beautiful home and enjoyed a delicious meal together. Afterward, we spent time sharing our experiences from the week. We ended the night by talking about how all of our previous expectations had been exceeded and how grateful we are to have made so many new friends.

Written by: Melia, Brooklyn & Mallory

Guatemala – Days 5-6

Tonight we gathered as a team after dinner and had a debriefing time where we were prompted to talk about where we have been challenged this week. We quickly found many of us felt the same way- inadequate. As students, we are still working to gain confidence in our different fields. Since our team is mostly students, we are pushed to act more independently at the clinic and at Keramin, and practicing new skills can be intimidating. Our patients are looking to us to answer their questions, address their aches and pains and to provide a solution. This is an exciting opportunity but can also be overwhelming. In addition, there is an obvious language and cultural barrier present, so we are often challenged as to how to best provide education and care to the people we see. 

On our first day we all felt quite overwhelmed by these realities, but every day God has been showing us over and over again that He is the one in control. In our devotion this morning, Hillary spoke about the importance of taking off our crowns. As humans, it is so easy to feel that we are in control of our own lives and our own situations. This also carries over into how we view others and our relationships with them. It is easy to go into a mission trip with our own agendas, believing that we are going to “save” the people we serve. Even though we have felt overwhelmed and inept, God has repeatedly reminded us of his power and grace this trip. We reflected on the importance of letting God take control, which has drastically changed the pace and outlook of our days. Knowing that he is the ultimate one in control has allowed us to have peace and to actually gain confidence in our skills and assessments today.

In the midst of our feelings of chaos, God has shown up. Keramion is a school for children with special needs that the therapy faculty and students have been serving. On Monday, we were told that the school has been without running water since last July as they have not been able to cover the bill. This was where God decided to do his work. In two days, due to a simple Facebook post, over $1500 was raised for the school. This will cover their future water bills and add groceries to their pantry to feed the students. Today, we were able to tell the school and they were incredibly grateful. It was an emotional moment for all involved, as we truly felt the power of God and his faithfulness to those who continue to serve him even when things feel impossible. 

There are 3 volcanoes we can see from the windows of our house that repeatedly remind us of how big and majestic our God is. Honestly, we are inadequate, but our God is mighty. We feel humbled to have seen Him move this week. 

Savannah, Kate, and Gabbie

Guatemala – Day 4 Update


After reflecting on today, we are deciding to make the point that sometimes participating on a mission trip and working with people from a different culture can be challenging. Can we all agree on that? Not only is communication difficult (sometimes in the form of various “wohoos”, “excellente”, and big smiles); understanding the daily challenges patients of another culture and country face, can wane on even the happiest of spirits.

The Guatemalan people are sincere, hospitable, hardworking, strong, relentless…etc. There will never be enough words to describe them. Working with them has been a pleasure and a joy but hearing their hearts has been eye-opening and endearing.

We met a woman today who works 3 jobs, 7 days a week, and is a single parent to 3 children. After hearing her story, we attempted to offer her healthcare and a prayer, yet her story resonated with many of us. The hardships, the challenges, the trials that plague so many people. However, her resilience and perseverance has prevailed.

Overall, despite the challenges, today was a joyful day. We saw greater depths of God’s work and God’s people and that is something to celebrate!  We thank God for the opportunity to visit these lovely “amigos”!

Written by: Nick, Stacy & Hillary



Guatemala – Day 3 Update

Monday morning our team woke up with anticipation for our first treatment day here in Guatemala.  We were looking forward to discovering the ways that we can both bless and be blessed by our encounters with the workers at the coffee plantation, as well as at Keramion.  We were split into two groups, the first consisted of nursing, pharmacy, and nurse practitioners.  This group headed out to the coffee plantation.  Their mission was to focus on assessing and treating workers from multiple coffee plantations. Our group was given a tour that demonstrated the intense process involved in harvesting, processing and packaging each bag of coffee that is made.  It was extremely insightful at how much time, effort and physical work involved in getting one cup of coffee.  Afterward, stations were set up to monitor each individual’s blood pressure, blood sugar levels, height, and weight. Based on those findings, the workers were then directed to either the pharmacy or nurse practitioner students for further health assessments and possible medication administration and education.  The day was fast paced, and Belmont students and staff were able to see over 130 workers!  This is likely the highest number of workers seen by Belmont on Mission in Guatemala in a single day.

Highlights of the day include a nurse practitioner removing a significant ear wax impaction, which led to him reporting significantly improved hearing afterward.  Other workers needed compassion not only in terms of their health assessments, but also in terms of the significant traumas many have experienced in the area.  One woman, in particular, lost her son due to cancer approximately two months ago.  The emotional trauma of her son passing made it difficult for her to focus on her health.  She was overcome with emotion just relaying this story to one of our students and really needed someone to listen to her story.  The Belmont team was able to identify her high blood sugar level and recommend her to follow up with her doctor.  The end of this first day left each student feeling proud of the work they accomplished, but also humbled at how hospitable and genuinely happy the Guatemalan people are.

Occupational therapy, music therapy, and physical therapy students traveled to a day program dedicated to children up to 21 years of age who have disabilities. This facility is truly a miracle, and a blessing to experience.  Gricelda, and her husband Eric, along with their adult children run Keramion.  Gricelda was able to tell the students her story about how she was led to serve this population.  She experienced more than one serious health condition, and during that time she felt God gave her the vision of Keramion.  The interpreter, Betty, was so helpful during the day today to relay information between Gricelda, her family, the children and our students.  Everyone was involved in the success of this day, including Keramion’s teacher Elvis, and our driver, Jose.  The students were able to observe and assess each child today to determine their recommendations that they will educate the staff on and implement on Wednesday.  Highlights of this group’s day included one little boy who was mesmerized by Melia’s guitar playing.  This was a great opportunity for our music therapy student to shine.  Another was a little girl who loved to lead the therapists in exercise and gave each student a kiss on the cheek when it was time to leave.  Overall, today was a wonderful first day and we are all looking forward to seeing the blessings the rest of this week has in store for us.

Marissa, Caleb, & Micah

Guatemala – Days 1-2 Update

Mission to Guatemala, Day 1-2

Day 1:

We arrived early at the airport at 4:15am excited and ready for our trip to Guatemala! We got to our terminal and bonded while waiting for our flight. There was a delay in Nashville due to lightning in the area so we continued to chat and get to know each other while waiting. Our connecting flight was in Houston, TX and we had a quick bathroom break before boarding our flight to Guatemala. Once we arrived, we made our way through customs, picked up our team bags, and waited in line for our random immigration screening. Our vans were waiting for us, we piled suitcases into one van and we piled into the other two vans. We took in the sites of Guatemala City and the surrounding areas on our 1.5 hour ride to Antigua. About 15 minutes out of Antigua, we stopped at a grocery store where we split into teams of 4-5 people to pick up groceries and goodies for the week. This was an interesting experience because everything was in Spanish and cultural customs surrounding foods were very different. For example, eggs are not refrigerated and are kept on the shelves. We hopped back into our very full vans and heading to our lodging in Antigua.

Once we arrived at our house, we excitedly ran in and explored our beautiful homes for the next week! There are amazing homes with stunning views from the rooftop terraces. We are surrounded by volcanoes and mountains with 360 degree views. The architecture is exquisite throughout our gated community. It looks like every home is different and unique in its own way. We walked straight to dinner on the cobblestone streets of Antigua. We ate at Monoloco and ate nachos as big as our head! With full bellies and newly made friends, we headed off to bed!

Sawyer & Mallory

Day 2:

We woke up on our own time and sat on our various porches located throughout the houses to sip on coffee. Some enjoyed the views of Agua, Fuego, Atitlán, and Acatenango volcanoes from the rooftop. At 10am, we met as a team for a devotion and information session. Pablo shared a heartfelt story about the recent volcano explosion in 2018 and told us about the people we will be serving this week. He discussed his personal story on how he wanted to serve others and how he began his relationship with Belmont University. A teammate shared a personal story with his intentions for the day and week. We prayed as a group and another student led us in worship. We made a plan to pick up items from the pharmacy and other students headed to sightsee and shop Antigua. The pharmacy students needed supplies that the storefront didn’t have and the pharmacy actually sent someone over from another location with the needed supplies. This goes to show how much they value hard work and hospitality! A group that visited the Templo y Convento de Capuchinas learned that at one time Central America was one country and Antigua was the capital. They enjoyed the vastness of the convent, even though it is considered ruins. Other groups explored the square and marketplace to do some souvenir shopping and exploring. Many groups ran into a procession for the Stations of the Cross. This is put on by a local church every Sunday leading up to Easter. They had a full band, costumes, purple robes and hoods, burned frankincense, and 30+ men carrying a large, heavy float that depicted Jesus carrying the cross.

We ate lunch on our own and made it back to the house to take a team picture before dinner. When walking to dinner, we met a random man that recognized our Belmont t-shirts and asked about Julia the golfer from Belmont – shout out to Julia, if you’re out there! We ate at San Martin and had pastas, pizzas, and sandwiches for dinner. One of our interpreters for the week, Betty, met us at dinner and we all bonded over our experiences from the day. After dinner, we walked back and discussed our plans for tomorrow. The OT/PT/MT team will be heading to Keramion tomorrow to see the school, assess the children, and educate the staff. The nursing and pharmacy team will be heading to a brand new coffee plantation to screen and educate the plantation workers. We all unpacked and organized our supplies needed for tomorrow and prepped for our busy day tomorrow. We finally crawled into bed with our hearts and minds ready to help and learn from the people we will meet tomorrow.

Sawyer & Mallory


Student Take: Hillary Barry

Today, Hillary is sharing about her anticipation in serving with the College of Health Sciences over spring break. We are excited for you to hear Hillary’s  take on preparing to go on Mission with Belmont!

“Over spring break, a multidisciplinary team full of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from Belmont will be traveling to Antigua, Guatemala. I am getting the privilege to participate in the hopes of seeing the hearts and joy of the Guatemalan people and honing my own nursing skills through patient centered care.

Throughout our trip, we will immerse ourselves into the culture of the Central American country where we will spend 4 “work days” treating the Guatemalan people using our nursing, pharmacology, occupational therapy, music therapy, and interpreting skills. We will be promoting health, safety, and wholesome lifestyles by assessing and educating a wide population of the Guatemalan people.

Upon reflecting on my anticipatory feelings about the trip, I am looking forward to meeting the Guatemalan people and seeing the gifts and talents within my team. I am looking forward to seeing how each person’s specialty and love for Jesus will be utilized in a way that will truly bring value to patient health by enabling a wholistic approach.

This trip and this team is a gift from Jesus but the biggest gift of all is to simply be reminded that are lives are not about us, but about how we can best serve God’s people.”

If you have any questions for Hillary or about Belmont on Mission, CHS Missions or any of the upcoming trips, please reach out!

Trip Spotlight: CHS Guatemala and CoffeeMed

In addition to the immersion and international Belmont on Mission trips over spring break, many colleges within Belmont hold discipline specific trips. The College of Health Sciences routinely runs international trips to conduct health screenings for the people they serve. Over the past few springs, CHS has travelled to Guatemala to serve in this way.

In March, students and faculty in nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, and social work will be travelling to Antigua, Guatemala to provide some basic health care to the workers on Guatemalan coffee plantations. Students and leaders will provide health screenings, patient teaching programs, and medicines and vitamins to the citizens in Antigua. In providing this vitally important aid, the plantation workers are reminded of their humanity in the midst of less than ideal working conditions.

Students are expected to raise the funds to pay for this trip via the CoffeeMed program. The CoffeeMed program is a really important interdisciplinary partnership that enables interaction between the commercial coffee industry and the healthcare industry. Students sell coffee from Kafes Guatemals in their local communities to fund the trip, which covers the cost of medical supplies and more. Here is a video of Belmont student’s involvement with CoffeeMed from March 2018:

If you have any questions about upcoming mission trips, or the CHS Guatemala mission, please reach out!