SL in Ecuador: The Beginning of the Mission


(Plaza de San Francisco, Quito, Ecuador–photo by Tanner Latham)

Photographer Cary Jobe and I were in Ecuador for a week last year researching "The Common Language of Caring," a story that starts on page 74 in the February ’09 issue of Southern Living.

A medical mission team, comprised of many Southern doctors, nurses, medical techies, and volunteers, returns each February…

to a couple of hospitals in the city of Ambato.  Medical Mission Ecuador was started 17 years ago by an Ecuadorian-born surgeon in Lexington, Kentucky, who decided to give back to his home community. 

Cary and I shadowed them every step of the way–from the breakfast table to the operating rooms during surgery.  We embedded ourselves, fully synching with their routines.  We joined these men and women in a cultural immersion.

We discovered so many stories during our time there–more than we could ever tell in one magazine article.  Over the next week, I’ll share several of those stories and Cary’s incredible photography on the blog.

We were complete tourists for a day after landing in Quito, haggling in the markets with cameras dangling around our necks. We hung out for a while in the Plaza de San Francisco (above), taking in the sights and the people. 


(A Kichwa woman. The Kichwas are direct descendants of the Incas.–photo by Tanner Latham)   

Once we boarded the bus bound for Ambato, however, our attitudes changed.   

The mission had begun.


  1. sildenafil

    Ecuador is a beautiful country, all the culture it’s very interesting and the places are lovely I’d like to go again and that picture remember me when the last time I was there

    November 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm
  2. generic viagra

    Gli Inca furono gli artefici di una delle maggiori civiltà precolombiane che si sviluppò nell’altipiano andino, tra il XIII e il XVI secolo, giungendo a costituirvi un vasto impero.
    Il termine Inca è perlopiù usato come sostantivo, generalmente al plurale (gli Inca), ma viene utilizzato anche come aggettivo per qualificare manifestazioni varie di questo popolo (ad esempio si utilizzano espressioni quali architettura inca, religione inca, scrittura inca

    April 13, 2010 at 8:35 am
  3. Tanner

    Thanks for all your comments! And Suzi in South Carolina, I sure hope you can go on the trip in February. I can promise you it will be amazing.

    September 16, 2009 at 1:02 pm
  4. Suzi

    I read the article in Southern Home, and it touched my heart, I work in a hospital, In South Carolina, I work in the O.R. And it is amazing the supplies that are wasted, so I contacted Beatrize Engles, and asked if they could use any of the supplies, I have been collecting since about end of April I have at least 15 or more boxes of sterile and none sterile supplies and instruments, that I will be donating plus other equipment the hospital gave me that we no longer use.I am hoping to be able to go in Feb. So I can assist in surgery. Can’t wait…Suzi

    September 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm
  5. Brandy

    Tanner (aka Tater)
    Where can I find so more pics from our time in Ecuador? The article was great by the way. Nice job!

    March 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm
  6. Brandy

    Tanner (aka Tater)
    Where can I find so more pics from our time in Ecuador? The article was great by the way. Nice job!

    March 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm
  7. Theresa Millin

    Great article, Tanner! You are such a wonderful writer. Even though I was there, reading the story made me cry a little while I was standing in Barnes & Noble! Hopefully more people will get involved after reading the article. It’s a shame that more couldn’t have been in the magazine, it was such an amazing experience, but it’s great that we can see and read more on the website. None of the Michigan people were able to go back this year, and so we are all a little sad, especially as the time for the mission gets closer. Hope you and Cary are both well. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience! Theresa from Kalamazoo

    February 2, 2009 at 4:34 pm
  8. Melinda Gilbert

    We lived in Quito for 3 years and traveled quite a bit. We went to Ambato. We loved our time in Ecuador and miss it and the people. Am looking forward to reading more about your experience.

    January 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm
  9. lia gaggino

    Tanner I was with the Michigan team and thought the article and photos were lovely. Tell Cary that the pic of the kids with the flowers is incredible. Rodger and I could not go this year but hope to next year. Ecuador has a place in our hearts and it was wonderful that Southern Living sent you along with us on this journey. We had a side trip to the jungle and made a house call, in a canoe to a hut on an island! That and the school were highlights for us. Hope you and Cary are well. Thanks for spreading the word. Lia and Rodger in Kalamazoo

    January 21, 2009 at 4:40 pm
  10. Bill Ragon

    Getting ready to head south to pass some gas. Have you packed your bags?We have ten from Jackson going should be good trip. Looking forward to your article. Take care

    January 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm
  11. harold harmon

    Read article in SL, I am awaiting more blogs to describe actual medical work done.

    January 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm
  12. TB

    Looking forward to the stories and images. Tell me this Tanner, was the travel from your city to Ecuador really difficult? Planes, passports, etc. Or were you surprised?

    January 14, 2009 at 9:52 am

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