Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Preparing for All Saints Day

Today it was sunny and a very pretty day. I would tell my friends from South Fork that we had clinic where there had been a lot of mud. That would not be specific enough for them because their thoughts would be.......every clinic we hicked through or were stuck in mud!

After clinic I walked to the cemetery in Santa Cruz. The communities are preparing for All Saints Day which is November 1. The streets are filled with flowers and wreaths for people to buy and then use to decorate the cemetery. Vendors line the street of the cemetery, selling refreshments as people are working throughout the day painting and preparing for the holiday.
The cemetery is very colorful as you can see and most of it is above the ground. In the first photo, in front you can see small graves. The front one has not been painted but has a small blue cross on it. There are two behind it that have been painted white. Small candles are placed in the front compartment and burned.
Josefina has clinic tomorrow in Paraxaj. She has announced it, hoping to have a good response from the community. I will go and help and then we will meet the group from the States in the evening. Kemmel will be working with us during the clinics and then Lisa will get to join us on Friday. They will enjoy seeing her!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catching up..........

Just a quick note to catch you up on the events.

On Thursday my neighbor met me in front of my house and rode to clinic with me. Her name is Elliet and I enjoyed talking to her during our drive to the clinic. She told me that she would go to Josefina's home one Sunday evening for worship so I look forward to that.

The gentleman from Mi Taco Express also came to the clinic. I hope that he will feel better too.

After clinic on Thursday I received a call from Kemmel and the other team was stuck in the mud. I took a wrong turn but eventually got to them......but they were REALLY stuck. They had to leave the truck overnight and get towed out the next morning. The guys were covered in mud and they had worked very hard.......I will be glad when the rainy season is over and we have a little sun.

On Friday we had a good clinic in Paxot II. I had some passengers that returned to Santa Cruz with me. That always makes the drive seem to go faster.

After clinic I headed to Antigua to visit my teacher and her son who graduated this week. Unfortunately, I arrived in Antigua much later than I had planned so I waited until this morning to call them. I visited the girls but Juliet, my teacher, was not home. Her husband is very sick and is having to be hospitalized in the City almost on a regular basis now.

Then it was home for the evening, a warm fire and now I am preparing for our English class tomorrow morning. I hope there is a good attendance and that they continue to enjoy it.

There is a team arriving this week from the States and we will have clinics for a few days. Please pray for their safe arrival and stay tuned for their photos!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clinic in Las Trampas

Today we had a small clinic in Las Trampas. We were told that immunizations were being given in the community and that was why we did not have many patients. It was a cold day as the clouds blew across the mountains and the visibility was very poor.

When we returned home I was able to study for my English class. Later in the afternoon I walked to the park and to the store to get a few things I needed. I stopped along the way and talked to a few of the people I see regularly in the streets.

One woman wanted to show me her recent purchase of a dead chicken. She had it in her colorful, plastic shopping bag and she was so proud of it! It was face down with no signs of struggle or blood and for that I was thankful.

I stopped by the restaurant, Mi Taco Express, to let the owner know of our clinic tomorrow. He had told me that he has kidney stones and has an ultrasound for us to look at. I hope that we will be able to help him. He is a very kind man and has told me that sometimes has a lot of pain.

As I progressed down the street, I saw the lady that grills steak by the street every night. It is marinated and smells so good as it cooks over the charcoal grill. She also cooks black beans and tortillas.

I have become a regular Pocahontas with my fireplace. It is nice to have it burning in the evenings when it is so cool.

Tomorrow, I hope to take my neighbor to clinic with me. I hope that she is ready in the morning and that we can do something to help her feel better............time to put another log on the fire :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Clinic in Xepocol

Usually, as I leave my garage in the morning, I see a few of my neighbors. One had told me how sick she has been and wants to visit our clinic in Lemoa. I gave her directions a few days ago and this morning she told me they had tried to find it but was unable to. It is very difficult to see right now because of the corn. We are in the process of having a sign placed in front of the clinic but it is not ready yet. I feel bad because she could not find it. I offered to let her ride with me on Thursday morning when we have clinic there again.

Today we had a joint clinic. As I waited for Josefina in front of her house, two couples passed by the truck and talked to me. They were on their way to a marriage seminar being held this week in Chichicastenango.

It continues to rain every afternoon and I am told almost every day that this will be the last rain of the season. Today in Xepocol it was very cold. As it began to thunder and rain, we had a few moments of slushy flurries. The guys yelled for me to come to the door as they picked up a few small pieces of hail! I knew we would not accumulate anything but it was fun to watch them jump around to find the pieces of ice.
We only had 12 patients but it was a good day. The community again had some type of event that prevented us from having very many patients. For lunch we were served hot soup and tamalitos. It was a perfect lunch for a cold day.

I am back in my house studying for my English class and will build a fire in the fireplace in a few minutes.........maybe we will have some snow????

Monday, October 22, 2007

Back to Clinica Caris

Today Gaspar, Juan and I were back in Clinic Caris. We had 9 patients and got our inventory under control. It was a good day. I was able to finish cleaning the truck after our trekking through the mud last week. If anyone wants a bag of Guatemalan dirt as a souvenir, I will be glad to mail it......"a special price just for you!"

Today a patient returned who previously had a high blood pressure. Last month her blood pressure was 190/90 and today her pressure was 155/80. She stated that she has felt much better and that is always encouraging.

For those of you who know I want to be a shepherdess, here is my first flock. They do not know my voice yet but they soon will :) These children were watching and wanted to have a photo taken.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Quiet Sunday in Santa Cruz

This morning we had our English class with eleven students. It is encouraging that this many are interested in continuing to study. After class I gave six of them a ride to Quiche with me and this gave us more time to practice English.

I spent the afternoon getting my hair cut, finding a small axe and just walking around the park. There was an increase in political activity so I did not stay in the park very long......it is just better to stay safe.

I worshiped tonight with Josefina's family and as usual that was very nice. I returned home and built a fire since it is cold tonight.

It seems quiet since South Fork left yesterday. I really enjoyed having them here.

Tomorrow we will have clinic in Clinica Caris and I hope we have several patients.
Take care and thank you for your continual thoughts and prayers! They are so important to me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

South Fork Returns to the States

Yesterday the South Fork group left early for Lake Atitlan. Sally stayed and went to one more clinic which was in Choacaman IV. We drove as far as we could, honked the horn and then someone met us at the truck to help us carry our equipment.

We saw 17 patients and had a good day there. The first photo is of Sally and two girls that are always at the clinic.

The second photo is of a patient and her husband. They were married 9 months ago and we were able to give them the exciting news that they are expecting a baby!! After we talked with the wife, we asked the husband to join us for prayer. It was an happy day for them........the wife was tearful and the husband was still grinning.
Sally and I drove to Panajachal to meet the group for dinner. The third photo is of the volcanoes at the lake after it rained.
The fourth photo is of the group on Saturday morning before they left. We drove them to the airport for their flight. I had lunch with Kemmel and Lisa and then headed back to Santa Cruz.
It was a great week and a great team. Everyone worked hard and did what they could to make the clinics successful. They are all talking about returning and I look forward to it! I continue to pray for their safe flight and arrival to their homes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Return to Chuchuca

We left the hotel promptly at 0700 and headed for Chuchuca. The roads were less muddy during the two hour drive but in the afternoon the rain returned.

It was another busy day but we were happy to be there and serve the community. Manuel again began the clinic by thanking the patients for coming and then he prayed for them. We saw a total of 45 medical patients, 19 dental patients and 28 eye patients.

The children gathered around for their photo. They can never have too many photos taken of them.

The second photo is of Charlie Branch helping in the dental area. The third photo is of Pat following up with the patient.

For lunch we finished the remainder of the peanut butter and jelly and we also had soup.

A special moment of the day was when a quilt was presented to the family who allowed us to use their home for the last two days. Jo explained to the family as Kemmel translated that the children from the South Fork Church had helped in making the quilt. The family wants to thank everyone who participated in making the quilt. A special thanks goes to Jerry Matthews, Pam Bickers and Betty Matthews for overseeing this project.

The roads were slick as we made the 2 hour travel home but again God provided us with safety.

We enjoyed dinner again at Mi Taco Express and the owner of the restaurant enjoyed having 20 people in his restaurant for dinner. Charley Belch took our orders and delivered them to the owner.........possibly time for a change in profession??

It was a wonderful day and everyone enjoyed it. It is hard to believe that the 4 days of clinics have been completed.....the time passed so quickly. It takes alot of time and energy to prepare a team but the rewards are unmeasurable. We pray the patients feel much better and that we were an encouragement to them as we shared the love of Jesus. A special thanks goes to Charley Belch for preparing this team and I pray that they will continue to visit and support the work here in Guatemala.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Clinic in Chuchuca!

We headed out about 0700 for Chuchuca which is a new community for us. We had heard that there is a real need in this area so we wanted to see if we could help. It was a 2 hour drive, which was very pretty and also interesting. Because of the amount of rain they have received, the roads were not very friendly. When Kemmel told me to put the truck in 4-low, I knew we were headed for a real adventure!
When we arrived close to the church, we realized the road was to muddy too pass. We parked the trucks below the church and a family opened their home to us. This prevented us from having to carry our equipment even further. It is amazing to see how generous and kind this culture is. We disrupted their home as we will turn it into a dental/medical and eye clinic for today and tomorrow.
The first photo is of the area we parked the trucks. Manuel welcomed the patients in K'iche' and Spanish and prayed for them. We quickly went to our designated areas and began to care for the patients. We saw a total of 60 medical patients, 19 eye patients and 20 dental patients.
The second photo is of the family washing their dishes in the pila.
The third photo is of Alison and Byron with some of the patients that they saw today.
We had a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then returned to the patients. We wanted to head back to Santa Cruz before dark, considering the conditions of the roads. We had safe travels, Gracias a Dios. We enjoyed pizza at Pollo Campero and then met back at the hotel for a devotional. It was a long day but we are thankful and look forward to returning tomorrow. We had been prepared for a cool day but were pleasantly surprized with sunshine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


When we arrived in Chuchipaca, we were welcomed by the mud. We carefully unloaded the trucks in hopes of not landing face-down in it. When they realized the problems we were having they laid down boards for us to walk on. It helped until the boards sunk into the mud :)
Gaspar began the clinic by welcoming the patients and offering a prayer. Through the day we saw 50 medical patients, 20 eye patients and 26 dental patients.
Mid morning it began raining which made the clinic area even more muddy. The men strung a tarp to give the patients some protection but periodically the tarp would collect pockets of water that needed to be pushed off.
A wonderful lunch was provided of fried chicken, black beans, rice and tortillas.
Charlie was able to stay dry and semi-mud free as he slide across the boards returning from lunch.
The last photo is of Jo helping a man with new glasses. He asked for glasses so he could read his Bible more. He was the last patient to be seen for the day. Before we left, this man and his son thanked everyone for coming and offering help to their community. He offered a prayer for the patients that were seen during the day and for our safe return to Santa Cruz.
We loaded the trucks, headed to Santa Cruz and God provided us with safety.............

Monday, October 15, 2007

Clinic in Xatinab I

Today we met at the hotel and drove to Xatinab I. We parked the trucks, loaded all of our equipment on our backs and proceeded down a hill, across a swamp and through a corn field to reach our clinic. We set up two consultation areas, an eye examination area and two dental chairs.....then the patients arrived.
In total there were 50 medical patients, 12 eye patients and 15 dental patients.

The first photo is of Byron leading the way through the swamp as we carried our equipment. The second photo is of the group, minus Charlie who was helping with dental patients and Allison who was consulting with a medical patient.
The third photo is of Sarah and her new friend.
The last photo is the child we saw on July 18th, Juan Diego. You can review his story on that blog. He has gained 4 pounds since we saw him last and was more alert. He continues to have a long way to go but we will continue to pray that he does well.
We had dinner at Mi Taco Express and we really were the highlight of the owners day. He will be happy to see us again tomorrow evening. We concluded with a devotional in the hotel and will meet again at 0730 before we head to Chuchipaca

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ready or not........South Fork hits Chichi

I started out the day with our English Class. We had 15 students! It was a very good class and the students seemed to enjoy the class. This week some of them will get the opportunity to practice what they have learned with the people from South Fork.

I drove two of the students back to Santa Cruz, parked the truck and then headed to Chichi to meet the group. There were 22 people in the van and midway we had a flat tire! Half of the people hopped out while the tire was changed and then we were back on the road.

We ate lunch, walked through the Catholic Church, did some shopping and then checked out Sarita's Icecream :)

In the first photo Sally was forced to practice with the scarves and then finally the lady accepted, "No Gracias".
Byron and Sarah tried new hair fashions.
Sally entertained Victor as he polished her shoes on the steps of Hotel Santo Tomas.
Pat tried on several jade necklaces.....maybe she will return for a purchase?

We worshipped in the home of Josefina's parents and then headed back to the hotel. We will regroup in the morning and then head to our first clinic in Xatinab I.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Antigua and back to Santa Cruz

Manuel, Gaspar and I headed to Antigua early yesterday morning. We found the truck that they needed to drive back to Chichi and then they were on their way. I received a call from Grace to let me know where I could meet them. The photo above is of Grace and I, she is another HTI "frequent flier". She is a traveling OR nurse who is currently working a contract at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem, NC.

We showed a group the market areas, stopped for coffee in Higher Grounds Cafe, walked through the La Merced Cathedral and then visited a few more shops. It was a very relaxing day and I enjoyed it.

Our dinner was very good and I was in the room by 9pm relaxing.

Eight people from the South Fork Church of Christ arrived today. We met them at the airport and we had safe travels to Santa Cruz. They will be here for a week doing clinics with us and I have been looking forward to this. They checked into their rooms and then we had dinner together. Tomorrow they will visit the market in Chichi and I will meet them after our English Class.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Returned to Santa Cruz.....K'iche' Class

Gaspar, Tomas, Virginia and I left shortly after 6am and headed for Chuquexa. Before we arrived, we found ourselves in three lanes of stopped traffic. Gaspar headed down the road to find out what was happening. Apparently, there was a lot of mud in the road and a trailer had slid.....it was blocking all lanes of traffic. We were told there was no way of knowing how many hours it would take to clear the road. We called the brothers in Chuquexa to let them know we would not be able to arrive in time for clinic. They had already heard and were aware of the problems that we were having in the road.

Last night I made it to another K'iche' class. Several K'iche' speaking people came and helped us. We were were told to draw a face and then ask questions to identify the parts of the face. The guy helping me decided he wanted to draw a whole body, so the first photo is of his drawing.

The more I attempt to study language, the more I think of Philip helping the Ethiopian in Acts 8. I have thought of this story many times since I have been here. I know the situation is not identical but there are some parallels. It can be frustrating to read, study and want to understand but still need help and not see the progress you want. I am sure that the Ethiopian responded with a HUGH sigh of relief when Philip offered to teach him.....and as Philip climbed up into the chariot.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tuesday in Clinica Ezell

The week has been busy. Nineteen surgeries were done yesterday but I did not hear a final count for today. All of the patients have done well.....Gracias a Dios. Most of the surgeries have been hysterectomies and hernia repairs.

The first photo is of some of the "HTI frequent fliers." They are JoLee Thayer (NY), Lisa Hawks (VA), Bonnie Spink (NY) and Julie Wheetley (TN). I missed a few of the others and hope to get their photo later.

The second photo is of the local Church that visits the patients in the evenings. They go from bed to bed praying and talking with each of the patients.

Tomorrow we will leave at 0600 and arrive in time to do our clinic. I will return with Tomas, Gaspar and Virginia. Virginia lives in Guatemala and works for a different organization but she has been kind and offered us her help. We really appreciate this.......

Monday, October 8, 2007

Visa renewed and now clinic in Montellano

All went well after Mary, Kathy and I hopped the bus to Tapachula, Mexico. We arrived Friday afternoon and found a hotel close to the bus station to spend our two nights. On Friday evening we ate dinner close to the central park. We went to the beach for a couple of hours on Saturday. The weather was beautiful. Our return on Sunday morning was delayed due to problems with the bus we were finally on our way. I took a different bus as we approached Montellano.

The clinic is in full swing today. All three ORs are running and the mobile medical teams have headed out for their day. It is good to see people that I have met in past clinics. Nine operations were done yesterday after worship and all of the patients are doing well. I will work in the recovery area 10A-8P today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Clinic in Mactzul VI

We had nine patients today in Mactzul VI. Between our patients we made a house call to a lady who is who is nine months pregnant. I think she just wanted reassurance that everything was ok. Gaspar, two other guys and I headed down the road to her house. It was about a 20 minute walk.

A few nights ago I learned the terminology for "giving birth". It is "da a luz" which is translates into giving the baby light. For those that know me very well, you know the last thing I want is to be present when a baby is given light. One of my first questions was, "Where is the midwife?" I was very thankful to know the "comadrona" was very close. We sat and talked with the lady who was very comfortable for the time we were there. We prayed with her and I hope to follow up with her next month when we return for clinic.
Tonight I drove to Chichi for our first Q'iche' class. Bill, who is teaching the class, talked about the different dialects and how the language varies between areas. The language is spoken differently where I live than the Chichi area. There were 15 students in the class tonight.
Tomorrow after clinic I will take a bus to Antigua and on Friday morning take a bus to Tapachula, Mexico. It is not far from the Guatemala/ Mexico border. There are 3 of us going to renew our Visas. I will return on Sunday and meet a group at Clinica Ezell.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Last clinic with the Sowells

Today was our last clinic with Rugal and Connie Sowell. They will be missed and we really appreciate their willingness to come and help us with our clinics.

We realize our world is becoming smaller with advancements in technology and opportunities for travel. As we were at out clinic today in Chuchipaca, I found this burlap bag that has made it's way to this small community in Guatemala. It caught my eye because I grew up in Michigan, not far from Frankenmuth. Restaurants in Frankenmuth are known for their fried chicken, which is served family style. Are the beans that I have been eating and enjoying so much from Guatemala or truly Michigan??

Kemmel will take the Sowells to Antigua tomorrow morning and they will fly home on Thursday. Please pray that they have safe travels in the road and a safe flight to the States.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Day of the Children.....another holiday

Today was another holiday in Guatemala. It was the "Day of the Children". We were told this was probably why we only had 4 patients in Pakcaja Xesic. Several of our clinics have been dampered by holidays and days of political activities.

The first photo is of Juan checking in one of our patients.

The second photo is of a child that Gaspar was entertaining. They were playing catch with a bottle cap.

My dove story continues.......I now have another "escapee" on my patio. I told the owner of the house about it yesterday but she was too scared to pick it up........she told me she would come back today to get it but I think I will have him for a guest again tonight.