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Suffering People As Far As The Eye Can See

By Craig von Buseck Contributing Writer - Before sunrise, the people of Huejotzingo, Mexico, are lined up on the street outside the Operation Blessing clinic -- eagerly awaiting the arrival of the medical team. As dawn breaks, local police report to their posts. Shortly thereafter, two busses filled with the clinic volunteers lumber down the long, narrow street. One-by-one the doctors, nurses, dentists, opticians, and Operatio Blessing Medical Clinicsupport staff exit the vehicles and slowly walk to the clinic entrance.

As they pass the burgeoning crowd, many of the people waiting in line smile and wave. Children playing in the street stop and shout, "Buenos Dias!" Elderly people huddle underneath colorful Mexican blankets, struggling to fight the cold air wafting down from the nearby volcanic mountains.

The atmosphere is charged with electricity -- many of these precious people have waited through the night, sleeping on the cold concrete sidewalk. Perhaps this would be the day they have been waiting for. Many wonder if they will be fortunate enough to make it through the large steel doors and into the labyrinth of examination rooms and waiting stations inside the clinic.

Operation Blessing Medical ClinicAfter a time of prayer, the medical team members go to their workstations. The doors are opened and suddenly there is a pressing forward of people with every possible type of medical ailment. Police and security officers quickly take control of the situation, guiding people to the right line and politely asking the crowd to be patient. One-by-one, patients enter the facility and wait in yet another line for registration. Once a staff member screens them, they move down long hallways and sit in neatly ordered plastic chairs that line the newly built walls.

The clinic is situated in a concrete warehouse in the small village of Huejotzingo -- located nealy an hour south of Mexico City. With the cooperation of the government, eight-foot walls were erected to contain the different areas of medical specialty -- including a pharmacy, with shelves stocked full of prescription medications, ointments, cremes and vitamins; a dental clinic equipped with sophisticated equipment; and several examination rooms, buzzing with activity from the moment the first patient enters the clinic.

Operation Blessing Eye ExamsIn the center of the building is a large room that is used by local medical experts from the ministry of health to conduct training seminars in health and nutrition. The room is also used as a counseling center where doctors can sit and discuss medical options with their patients.

On the opposite side from the dental clinic are the optical exam rooms. These cubicles have tables that are lined with eyeglasses and various optical devices. On the wall are vision charts, and staff members are armed with paddles to cover the patients eyes during each exam. The final room on the optical wing houses the grinder, which is a machine, used in preparing special prescription glasses. Like a carpenter working on a lathe, Refracting Optician Bill Wojtaszewski meticulously forms each lens to the correct specification.

OB Optician, Bill WojtaszewskiBill is a mild-mannered man whose parents narrowly escaped extermination by the Nazis in Poland. He has been given much in life, and he travels with Operation Blessing International to return some of the grace that he has received. But on this day, Bill's face is filled with sadness. After working all morning fitting people with the glasses that will return to them the gift of clear vision, Bill excuses himself from his post and walks out into the crowded street. The line of patients waiting for eye care stretches beyond into the distance -- well beyond what the eye can see.

He hangs his head as he speaks in his eastern European accent. "On every mission, the longest lines are for optometry," he says sadly. "Looking out at this line today, there are twelve to fourteen hundred people -- and it's the same every day. We need more ophthalmologists or optometrists to help me examine the people. On every trip we are short of opticians. We average more than 300 patients every day. The need is very great." With a heavy heart he turns and makes his way through the sea of humanity.

Before he enters the clinic, Bill stops and speaks to one of the security guards stationed at the door. Moments later, the guard walks into the crowd and calls for their attention. "I think it is important for you to know that there is a good chance you won't be seen today for eye care," he shouts. An interpreter repeats his words to OB Eye Clinicthe disappointed people. "However, you may be seen tomorrow or the following day."

"We're going to do our very best," the guard continues. "Since we've been here last week we've seen more than 4,000 patients. I can't thank you enough for being orderly and very patient with us. I know you've waited a long time, but I just wanted to let you know that you may not be seen today." With a wave the security guard said thank you to the crowd and backed away towards the entrance. Despite their disappointment, the people spontaneously broke into applause, many shouting, "Gracias, gracias."

People Waiting to See Operation Blessing DoctorsBy this time, the mid-day sun is shining brightly above the throng of people. Blankets and coats are discarded and a parade of colorful umbrellas emerged to block the scorching rays. Inside the thick concrete walls, the clinic staff flows in and out of their rooms and workstations in a gracefully choreographed dance of compassion.

After several hours of diligent labor the day comes to an end and the medical team leaves the clinic one-by-one, waving at the precious Mexican people -- a people they have grown to admire and love. Though many in the crowd are disappointed, they graciously wave and smile at the OBI volunteers. "Buenas Noches," several people cry out. "Adios, amigos."

As the busses pull away from the clinic, several children sneak out from behind their mammas and papas and cry out, "Hasta luego," which in Spanish means 'see you later.'

Learn more about Operation Blessing at the Web site,

Support Operation Blessing International

Read "ChurchWatch: Craig's BLOG on

More from Craig von Buseck on

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Craig von BuseckCraig von Buseck is Ministries Director for Send him your e-mail comments.

Order Craig's book, Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice.

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