Westmont Magazine His Heart's in Guatemala
Holding a flashlight in a rustic school house in a Guatemalan mountain village, pre-med student Scott Upton ’06 aids a dental surgeon. The make-shift clinic has no electricity, yet the patients are grateful to be there. Working with Rev. Salomón and Mery Hernández, Scott helps to bring free services to the poor of Guatemala who lack access to medical services.
“We pulled out 400 teeth in four days!” Scott says. “One man wanted 20 teeth out at one time because they were so painfully diseased and rotten. These people are some of the strongest I have ever met, smiling and grateful for anything we could do for them.”
Scott went to Guatemala with Jeff Fleming, his spiritual and medical mentor and one of the many doctors who donate medical expertise out of respect for the Hernandez family’s Christ-like work with the poorest of the poor.
After becoming a Christian last year, Scott has thrown his life whole-heartedly into finding and carrying out God’s will. The brief time he spent aiding the medical team and Westmont students serving in Guatemala dramatically shifted his world view.
“I spent a month back-packing through Europe, but found out that I had more fun building a house for a little old lady in Guatemala,” Scott says.
“I saw the Hernandez family love people and give in a way that I have never witnessed before. My whole life has changed because of it. They live their lives with nothing, yet they are continually giving to those around them. It makes me want to be more like them; more Christ-like.”
Surrounded by the affluence and beauty of the Westmont campus, Scott still thinks of the Guatemalan way of life.
“I have been challenged in the way I spend my money,” he says. “I could buy a music CD for $15, or I could live for a day in Guatemala. Food, shelter, electricity — everything costs so little. I rarely spend money anymore. I am saving it up so I can go back and serve.”
Scott hopes to return to Guatemala many times in the next three years. He plans to raise $10,000 to pay for air-fare, supplies and living expenses and has volunteered to raise money and coordinate logistics for other students who want to join him in serving in Guatemala.
His most ambitious goal is raising $125,000 to complete the clinical floor of the Westmont Bethel Hospital, which the Hernandez family founded. More than 1,000 people each month receive medical attention at this facility, including those in need of surgery. The hospital has become known for the excellence of its doctors and the personal attention each patient receives regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Knowing the time it will take to coordinate this ministry, Scott has decided not to train with the track and field team. He still gets the benefit of friendship with and spiritual support from members of the team through his part-time job doing maintenance for the track.
A transfer student from Chico State, Scott believes God has put him in the right place. He values attending classes with such good biblical training and being surrounded by people who know Christ.
“Iron is sharpening iron all over the place here,” Scott says of Westmont. “I can’t wait to take what I learn and share it with others who have not had the opportunities I have had.”
Scott’s dream is to become a surgeon and fulfill his heart’s desire to serve the poorest of the poor.