My name is Robert Hartmann. I am an Ob/Gyn physician in Dover Delaware. I have been in practice for twenty years. I have been blessed with a great life, a great career, great friends and family. Despite being content and everything being good in my life, I always felt like I wanted to give back and going on this mission trip with Esperanca would be a great way to give back. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to receive way more than I gave, and that this would touch my life in such a profound way that my perspective as a doctor and as a person in this world is changed forever.
Our mission started on Sunday with gynecology clinic. The clinic was filled with 24 women. The patients came to clinic after waiting for long durations, needing medical care and surgery. While talking with patients and planning their surgery I could sense the gratitude and relief they felt that they would be receiving help. Their kind words and touches gave me strength. These patients who I had just met for five minutes put all their faith and trust in me. They didn’t ask me about my training or how many of these surgeries I had done. They said ok, grasped my hand, and smiled.
I am not usually very nervous before performing surgery in the states, usually I am very focused prior to surgery. That Sunday I found myself nervous. I did not know what to expect in the operating room, I did not know what instrumentation I would have to perform the procedures. Because of my anxiety I went to the church in Masaya and prayed for the Lord to guide me and allow me to help these people to the very best of my ability. During the week we performed all 24 surgeries and rounded on all patients the next day. I have operated on thousands of patients in the states, but never in my life had I felt the joy and gratitude from patients as I felt from my patients in Masaya. Patient showered us with praise and prayers. They asked us not to forget them in Nicaragua. Despite working long days and doing many surgeries each day, I woke up with an energy and excitement to do more because of the patients.
It has been about 2 months since I have left Masaya. I reflect on my trip every day. I think about the people in town, the church, the hospital, and operating room staff. The kindness and gratitude I was shown there exists infrequently in the states. In the states I now see people who have everything and want more, there I saw people with very little but were content with what they had. I also learned that the Lord has blessed me with many amazing skills as a surgeon and until I left Masaya I had never felt that I used those skills to glorify him until now. My experience is burnt into my heart. If it is his will my plan is to do more mission trips to use the great gifts I have been given.
Robert Hartmann, M.D.