Monday, December 31, 2007

The weekend.......

Dad and I did some running around on Friday morning and then on Saturday mom and I did our shopping. We saw a movie in the evening and then just hung out.

Sunday morning we went to worship. Their regular minister, Jeff, was away for the holidays so my brother, Mike, preached. Afterwards, I asked him if he was ready to give up his job and take on a preaching position and he just chuckled..................

He spoke about the Church, the purpose for it and how it was established. He started in the beginning with the creation of man, discussed how man sinned and yet God continued to want a relationship with man. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus gives us hope for that relationship.
We must accept the teachings of the Bible as truth if we want to enter that relationship. This is the same message we are sharing in Guatemala and it is the same message that every person needs to hear and understand.

After lunch, I drove to Winston Salem and spent some time with Sally and her family. It is always good to see her mom, Linda, her aunts, her cousins and their wives. Sally had brewed some Navidad ponche, Christmas punch, that I brought from Guatemala. Mom is brewing some right now.........which I need to go and check on :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Morganton, NC!

We celebrated Christmas today with my grandmother.

I did not have a Christmas tree this year..........which is nothing new..........bah humbug.........but felt like I should decorate something, so I found some garland and put it to good use.

I guess holidays were created for a good excuse to eat more than usual. We tried again to scale down our menu but we left the house with ham, dressing, potatoes, gravy, broccoli salad, rolls and pie. Angie brought a wonderful cranberry/ raspberry salad and another dessert with chocolate, caramel and pecans. Paige came from her job and also brought ham, green beans, dressing..........needless to say, no one left hungry.

The bottom photo is of my family, which is not an easy accomplishment. My parents are behind me, my brother Mike, his wife Angie, their daughter Paige and my grandmother.
I hope you enjoy your Christmas with your family and friends as much as we did!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve......

OK, we made it through Christmas Eve.......

Dad and I went to visit my grandma today as we left my mom slaving in the kitchen. We originally were going to have a smaller meal today instead of having so much......well, the menu continued to grow until we finally ended up with shrimp, ham, turkey, dressing, potatoes, gravy and all of the salads. Maybe next year we will do better at scaling down the menu.

We then opened up our stockings and returned to the kitchen for desert :) I brought home some small plastic bags from Guatemala filled with candy, jello and pastries made in Guatemala.

Too much sugar caused my parents not to remember how to properly place stockings on their heads.

Tomorrow we will all go and have lunch with my grandmother...........

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday in Winston Salem

My plan was to be in Winston Salem for worship on Sunday morning. The South Fork Church of Christ is my sponsoring congregation and I enjoy spending time there when I am home. Charlie Belch had asked me to talk to his class about the work in Guatemala which I looked forward to doing. They had several questions about the work and I think some of the members of the class will be down on future trips.

When class was over, the congregation presented me with a quilt that the ladies had made. This quilt is very special because it is made with pieces of fabric that have comments written on them by the members of the congregation! I found out that the project had been going on quite some time but had been kept a secret. It is a beautiful quilt and I will post photos of it at a dinner that we will have next week.

I had lunch with Margaret at one of our favorite Sunday restaurants, TJ's Deli. They have a wonderful chili cheeseburger which we both enjoyed and it was good to get caught up on current events in Winston.

It rained during the 1.5 hr drive back to Morganton which I did not complain about. They need the rain very badly so it was welcomed. Tonight I went to the Morganton Church of Christ..............and now I am in for the night.

It has been a full and wonderful, it is time to relax a little.

Basketball in Chapel Hill

Sally and I went to Chapel Hill on Friday and prepared for the game on Saturday. We spent the night at The Carolina Inn which is one of our favorite hotels. We had dinner on Frankin Street at Spanky's Restaurant which was very good. The Carolina Inn was decorated with their annual "Twelve Days of Christmas" presentation and their gingerbread villages. Below is a photo of our room, including all 14 pillows. As always, we were welcomed with our warm, complimentary oatmeal raisin cookies :)

Saturday we walked across campus for the 1 pm game against UCSB. We cheered Carolina on to victory and were some of the last fans to leave the Smith Center. We always watch the last shot of the game and remain seated to listen to the statistics. I am always amazed by the number of fans who leave games early........the outcome of a game can be changed in a few short minutes or seconds.

We made our way back to Winston, stopping by the airport since I need to change a reservation. This was my second time there and again, no one could help me. I will be more persistent this week.

Go Heels.........11/0 season, so good! :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Day in Morganton

Today we slept until 0800 and then headed out for a full day. Mom had washed my laundry for me and I was enjoying my fresh pajamas :)
I went with dad to the the local recycle center today. It was sure different from what I am use to. It was a paved parking lot with huge metal containers that were labeled appropriately......cardboard boxes, furniture, metal, used oil, paint and garbage. It is much easier in Guatemala where EVERYTHING goes over the side of the cliff!

We went out for dinner tonight to celebrate dad's birthday. Dad and I had ribs while mom enjoyed smoked chicken.
After dinner we drove through the Western Carolina Center in Morganton, NC. The state center that homes children always decorates and you can enjoy the lights as you drive through the area.

After we came home, dad and I finished watching the end of the Duke vs. Pitt basketball game. They had just gone into overtime and it was a very physical game. Pitt won it in the last few seconds. Tomorrow afternoon I am headed to Tar Heel country and I am looking forward to the game on Saturday afternoon.........Go Heels!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A visit with Grandma

Today mom and I went to Grandma's Christmas Party. We were serenaded and entertained by the ladies there.

Afterward we went shopping and then came home to eat and we can go out and shop some more.........

We went to Bible Study and then headed home for the night......fresh sheets, clean pajamas, hot shower..........ahhhhhh, life is good :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back in the States!

Friday after our clinic in Chocoaman IV, Kemmel and the guys took me to Chichi and I hopped a bus to Antigua. Since the bridge is closed we had to take the long way around to Chichi. The road is not use to this amount of traffic and at some points the visibility was very poor due to the white dust and sun. A few policemen were stationed at different points because of robberies that have taken place. I feel bad for the homeowners. I have seen many tossing water on the road to keep the dust down. I am sure the people feel their life has really been interrupted by the alternative routes of the vans, trucks and chicken buses.

The bus ride to Antigua was interesting. Twice the driver and his assistant stopped, jumped out and lifted the hood of the bus to inspect the engine. Once, the assistant ran back in the bus, tore the straps off his backpack and then gave them to the driver so he could tie something together under the hood. These guys do not have an easy job! They drive those buses as hard as they can and it is not easy to "herd" all of the people on and off with their baskets and goods and at the same time be collecting money and then climbing back on top of the moving bus to recollect their goods as the passenger reaches their destination.

The night in Antigua was relaxing and I spent some time with my teacher, Juliet and her children.

Now, I am back in the States and all is well! My parents met me at the airport, yes, with my Diet Dr. Pepper. We drove back to Morganton this morning and then had lunch with my brother and his wife. I will soon be on my way to Winston-Salem for the night.

Happy Birthday, Dad!! Yahooooooooo!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

They FINALLY closed the bridge!

After telling us that the brige between Santa Cruz and Chichicastenango was going to close, it finally did yesterday. At the same time, my internet quit working in my house. The two events are totally unrelated, only frustrating :)

The mini vans will take you to the brige, then you get to scale down an incline, cross over some panks that have been placed across the river and them climb back up the is a good work out and can get the blood pumping! Then you get to rest and catch your breath in the van until it has enough people to be on its way. I hope to have my camera with me next time and post some photos.

Today we had 11 patients in Clinica Carris and it was a good day. I played catch with some boys as we waited for Marcos to finish with the last of his dental patients. Then Kemmel drove us to the bridge, we said our good-byes and thank-yous and then Marcos and I hiked to the other side of the river. What an adventure!!!

Tomorrow we will head to Choacoman IV for our last clinic of the year. After clinic, I will head to Antigua and spend the night.........then on Saturday morning, I am headed to North Carolina! My parents will meet me at the airport with a DDP, Diet Dr. Pepper and I will keep you posted :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

ABC Christmas Packages

We found out yesterday that we needed to go to the City today to get 75 Christmas baskets and gifts that will be delivered to the ABC children in our area. We left Santa Cruz at 0530 and proceeded to meet everyone in Chichi. We had 3 trucks and there were 7 of us. There is a lot of road construction going on so we were strategic in our plans because we did not want to wait while the road was closed. On our way to the City, Kemmel heard that the road was going to be closed from 1pm to 6pm while they used dynamite on the construction area. There was discussion on what to do and we decided to load the trucks as fast as we could and try to return before the road was closed.
This is the office that Health Talents has in the City. The first photo is of Josefina helping Violeta and Alejandra wrap presents. There were a lot of packages left to be wrapped and Josefina jumped in to help. They were very busy so the photo is blurry. Each ABC child will receive a present.

The rest of us headed to the back to load the trucks. Each ABC family will receive a Christmas basket. The photo below is of Kemmel as he tossed the baskets out the door and then we loaded them into the trucks. The baskets are very nice and contain Corn Flakes, coffee, rice, cooking oil, black beans, hot cereal, punch, jello, a bottle of Coke, cookies and some pasta. I am sure that the families will really appreciate the gift.

The next photo is of the guys after the work was done. Juan is being silly in his purple shirt, Manuel is always there to get the work done and enjoys doing it, Gaspar is smiling even though he sliced his finger on the tape machine and he is very precise in his work and Tomas is always to even keeled and pleasantly does whatever is asked. I could not be working with a better team.
On our way home we saw Lisa's jeep that was parked near where she is doing her service. We talked about how we look forward to her returning to work with us. Tomorrow is another day........and another adventure :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Last English class for the year

Our last English Class for the year was today. We started out in September with 7 students and ended today with 7 students. The difference is the ages have changed. At one time we had 14 students and that was exciting. I think it is difficult for the adults to attend the classes because of other responsibilities they have with their Churches, families and communities during the weekend.

This is a video of the class counting to 10 and wanting to show me their rhythm. Two hours of sitting in a chair and practicing numbers and colors can be boring, even for me :) I hope you enjoy it and maybe the classes will resume in January? veremos..........we will see........

I worshipped with the Church of Christ that is near my house tonight. There were between 120-140 people there. It was packed and the kids were full of energy tonight.

Tonight, I received approval from my tutor to advance to module 6 in the ESL program so I will start studying for the evening.........more news tomorrow!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Quiet and peaceful Satuday......

Today is a day to relax, clean and get caught up on studying. I slept until 0800 which is very unusual and it was wonderful.

When I was sweeping and mopping my floor this morning my phone rang and it was Gaspar. He simply asked me to pray for him because he is studying the Bible with some ladies in his community. I told him that I would pray for him and to remember that God is with him today. God will provide him with the thoughts and the words he needs to teach the Bible. As stated in I Peter 3:15, we always need to be ready to give an answer when we are questioned about the hope that we have. We need to respond with gentleness and reverence.

In most blogs, I focus on the medical clinics we have since that is the area that I work most with. During this time we introduce Jesus to the patients and pray with them. Many times there are members from the local Church to also talk with patients. There are other aspects of the work that branch into teaching and sharing the hope that Christians have. People are people, no matter what county they live in. Most struggle with physical, emotional and spiritual problems. We are here to share the hope we have so they too can experience peace and eternal life. Medicine can only help the temporary, God has the answers for eternity.

There are other studies that are taking place so please remember them in your thoughts and prayers. Gaspar has also been studying with a group of people that are having problems and they have asked him to help them study the Bible for a better understanding. Juan has also spent time with a family in his community that is struggling.

I will update you as I hear what results from these studies.......hopefully, people will have soft hearts and respond to the Spirit (Romans 8:14).

Friday, December 7, 2007

Day to burn the devil......December 7th

Within minutes of completing my last blog, I was reading about Day to Burn the Devil or Queme del Diablo. After reading about the events that would take place at 6pm sharp, I walked to the park to see for myself. I had read in other peoples blog that it might not be the best time to be in the streets but I wanted to see............

The streets were lined with small fires and you could hear fireworks whistling and see the colors in the sky. People clean their houses and then place their trash in the street to burn. This is done to purify their house before Christmas. They buy one of the pinatas that are in the first photo and then burn it with the trash. Usually pinatas are filled with candy and used at parties but for this event they are filled with fireworks. People were jumping around in the streets trying to stay out of danger. Some people tied them to light posts and ignited them. Once you thought everything had exploded and the excitment was over, there would be one suprize left.......this became humerous as people walked past fires expecting one last POP! Then someone on the sidewalk would scream and then laugh as people jumped into the air!

I enjoyed walking through the streets and seeing the excitement. In the last photo, even though I was across the street, I felt the paper exploding as the fireworks were ignited.

OK, I am back in the house safe and I can still hear the activities in the street.........goodnight!

Clinic in Mactzul V

Today we had clinic in Mactzul V and it was the third day for the ABC Dental Clinic. There were 14 dental patients today. They did not announce the medical part so we only had 8 patients.

We drove to the clinic with no problem and it was nice to have patients waiting for us. After the ABC celebration I introduced you to Tomasa Sandra. I was able to spend a little more time with her today. She helps her mom run the tienda at the clinic. The top photo is of Tomasa and her little brother and sister. I joined them for the next photo.

The funny moment of the day was at lunch when Gaspar shook his Coke to remove the fizz. When he opened the Coke it went all over his pants.......we all laughed and teased him about where the bathroom is located in case he had forgotton.....he took it very well and laughed with us :)

When we were finished, we all pitched in a carried everything to the trucks. It is amazing how fast a building can be altered from a church building, to a medical/dental clinic, to a restaurant and then back to its original state.

It was a good day and I am looking forward to a quiet weekend. I am going to clean and catch up on my classes. I should be able to complete module 5 of my English program and also advance another level on my Spanish program.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Clinic in Mactzul VI

First, before I forget, I want to update you on the granadilla fruit or passion fruit. One fruit has only 17 calories and 2 g of dietary fiber! I bought 6 in the streets last night for 26 cents!

We drove to Mactzul VI for our clinic today. We were not sure if one bridge was going to be open or not so some of our equipment was left in the home of one of the health promoters. Gasper and I picked it up and then proceeded to Mactzul VI where we met Juan. The bridge is still open but once it is closed for repairs we have been told it will be closed for 15 days. This will present several transportation issues but we will make the best of it.

I was so excited for Gaspar because he had dental patients today! At first we did not think he had any so once I heard his dental equipment start up.....I was excited for him. We ended up with 13 medical patients and 4 dental patients.

The little boy was so pleased with his bow and arrow. We sat on the steps in the sun today as he restrung his bow and then tested it out. If you enlarge the photo, you can see a character on his shirt who is probably his hero.

One man from the Church helped me translate for the K'iche' speaking patients. When I asked him his name, he told me hermano Julio or Brother Julio. He was very helpful and I enjoyed working with him. Later I told them of classes that we will be doing for people who want to help more with clinics and become health promoters. I hope that he will attend the classes.

Kemmel and Lisa have posted more photos on their site, from the ABC Celebration last Saturday. Please check it out. They have interesting information, more photos and mention others who have done well through the ABC program...........

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Clinic in Xatinab

Today we had clinic in Xatinab. We had 13 patients and as always we were welcomed into the home of Josefa. We met Josefa a few months ago at another clinic and at that time she invited us to start having clinic in her home because she felt she could help her community. She has since then opened her home to us and has welcomed her neighbors.

The hospitality of most Guatemalans reflects the passage of I Peter 4:9, where we are told to be hospitable without grudge or grumbling. In a moments notice, they usually want to share their food, home and anything that they possible can. It is a culture that is very refreshing and not concerned with how the house will look and if everything is in proper order.

Yesterday, Josefina introduced me to the fruit, granadilla, also known as passion fruit. I had never had one before so she showed me how to crack it open and eat the inside. All of us enjoyed one, except for Kemmel. I will not share his thoughts on granadilla.
Pop quiz for today: How many calories are in a granadilla??
The answer will be in tomorrows blog :):)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Clinic in Xesic

Today we had a small clinic in Xesic. It was a special day because we saw a patient, Juliza Lux who is 4 years old that is being treated for leukemia. Today she was full of energy and was enjoying the sun.

In the first photo Juliza is getting ready to see some photos that were taken of her before she began her therapy. Her family takes her to Guatemala City for her treatments and in the process has lost her hair. She wears a hat most of the time and usually also wears a smile. Please remember her and her family in your prayers as this is a difficult time for them.

ABC Celebration in Montellano

The ABC Celebration in Montellano was a day full of festivities and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. I have too many photos to share all of them and too many stories to tell so I will try to and hit the highlights. I counted 16 buses plus trucks and vans that carried approximately 1,500 people to the celebration.

The first photo shows the temporary shelter that was built to protect people from the sun. It was a hot day but we were thankful for a slight breeze.
The second photo is of Manuela. She is talking to the crowd about how thankful she is for the ABC program. She has been sponsored since the age of 6 and she is currently 18 years old. She is now working as a dental assistant and has applied for dental school. She is a true success story for the program!
I met Tomasa Sanda that is being sponsored by Jeanie that lives in Morganton, NC. Jeanie attends the Church of Christ in Morganton and recently began sponsoring Tomasa. Maybe one day Tomasa will be speaking about her accomplishments and opportunities that she has had!
The children were given awards for their accomplishments throughout the year and each community had a bed and a chest of drawers to present to a student. The fourth photo is of Jose Luis in La Palma being presented with his bed. Many other students received awards for their grades in school.
Lunch was provided and considering the amount of people the lines moved rather quickly.
Buses, trucks and vans were loaded and the children were ready to return to their homes. The last photo is of one of the buses as they were preparing to leave.
Many thanks goes to the Guatemalan staff that organize this program and to the sponsors in the United States. Any missing link would prevent this day from being as successful as it was!