Friday, October 31, 2008

Update on yesterday's situation

I do not have a lot of new information to report about the event yesterday. I heard that the person shot did live but no one knows if all the men were placed in custody. I heard that as they ran though the street, they grabbed a child in hopes of preventing the police from shooting.

Today I booked my return flight to Guatemala for January.........unbelievable!!! I had to look at it several times before I continued because the flight prices have dropped substantially. If you are looking for a flight, this may be a good time to book. I was having lunch with a friend today and as we were eating, she received a phone call from her friend who knew she needed a flight to Michigan in December. As soon as we finished eating, she went to the internet to book a flight. She was a quoted a price lower than she has ever had in the past.

Tomorrow is a special holiday here in Guatemala so hopefully I will have some good photos to post.

Let us thank God for a safe day and one of many blessings...........and hopefully a peaceful night.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Excitement in Antigua!!!

I usually do not have many boring days and this was another one full of adventure. First, I did receive my passport back which was a relief. I heard the guy was reliable but you just never know.......since I was told it was probably stamped in a bathroom :):):)

So later in the day, I was back at the school studying and I heard some excitement over by the of the students had come back to the school to say that a lady had been held at gun point in her home which is near the school. She apparently had been taped around her face and tied to a chair. Some how she had escaped and ran into the streets. Some shots were fired and within a few minutes the streets were full of police and firemen.

This is the front of the house where all of the excitement had taken place.

One of the victims was placed in this ambulance and then later drove away. The streets filled quickly with people as the robbers fled the house running down the street.
It took place right near La Merced, one of my favorite places to visit. People filled the streets and within a few minutes the street vendors saw their opportunity to make some sales.......the ice cream people came running with their carts.
This section was eventually taped off as part of the crime scene since the shooting was so close.

The police eventually blocked off more streets when the people escaped. They did secure one man but as of right now, they are still going from house to house searching.

The police and firemen stationed themselves at different sections of the park.

As they were doing from door to door searching.........there were several police on the roof tops

As I said they are still looking for the suspects. It was getting dark when I left so I am not sure how successful the police will be. I will keep you posted. Before I left the park I had to have some dinner..........I ate a tostado and drank some atole.......I will be back to visit this lady since her food was so good. I better head back to the hotel before it gets to late.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Classes continue......

My classes continue and I am thankful for that. I passed my exam on Monday so I was able to continue to the next level :)

I went to one of my favorite restaurants for a salad to celebrate. It is called Cafe in the Sky. This is the restaurant but from the street you are not able to see the people on the top eating. You are able to sit outside, see the volcanos and watch the sunset.

The street below the restaurant leads into Antgua.

As the sun was going down........

Back to classes.........after this week, half of my time in Antigua is completed.......time goes fast.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A quiet day of study

As usual the hotel woke up morning of sleeping in :( The workers begin every morning at 0630 or 0700 and Saturdays are no different. I spent the day studying and hanging out in Higher Grounds Cafe.

These are a few more photos I took during the day as I walked around for some fresh air.
This is another old church building that was rebuilt after the earthquake. If you double click the photo is should enlargen so you can see more of the details.

This is Volcano Agua an inactive volcano with some more ruins on the right side of the street. Most mornings you are not able to see the top of the volcano.
This photo is taken from the side of the park.

Monday is my exam.......wish me luck!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another week...........complete.

The week has gone by very quickly. I have spent most of my time in school and at Higher Grounds Cafe drinking coffee and using the internet. My plans had to change for the weekend and I am disappointed. I was hoping to take my exam this morning but it had to be delayed. I will take it early Monday morning. I had wanted to go back to Quiche for a clinic but will stay and study instead. I also heard some people at the school talking about doing some fun things this weekend but I was strong and declined..........I want to be able to move on the the next level of Spanish.

Have a good weekend and I hope to post some more photos tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another day of Antigua........

It was another busy day and full of adventure. It is a holiday so the streets are full of people since many did not have to work today. The side of the park has several stands of people cooking steak, chicken, pork, tortillas, smells very good.

During my 30 minute break today I took my laundry to be washed and just picked it up. She does a great job and on the average it is $1.00 a day.

This lady is supplying me with my Diet Coke in the evenings. She begins to reach for it as she asks how many I want. The place which is equivalent to our Kentucky Fried Chicken and is called Pollo Campero. If I buy a Diet Pepsi, I can use their internet service until my battery dies. They have removed all of the electrical outlets since I was here before :(

As I said, today is some holiday.....something about a revolution. These girls were selling ice cream in the park ........
This is one of the historical buildings near the park..........
and these girls were finishing their horseback ride.
Juliet really piled on the homework for tomorrow. After class I ate a quick sandwich and returned to the school to study for 3 more hours..........I do not think I will sleep much tonight. I have 10 pages of homework to finish......including writing a story in past-tense. I also need to write 25 sentences applying the past-tense formula and be prepared to read a chapter from Psalms and be able to explain it to her. Hmmmhmmmmmmmm........guess I need to head back to the room..........good night :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Antigua is full of tourists.......

This morning I walked through the park on the way to worship. Some of the streets are blocked off on Sundays for the tourists. Bible class and worship lasted for about 2.5 hours and then I walked to the park to find something to eat. Yes, I love the street food. I ordered a plate of grilled steak, radish salad, fresh guacamole and 2 tortillas for $1.50. What a deal!!

This is the arch in Antigua. The history is very interesting of how the arch was built for the nuns so they could cross the street in the early mornings.

The streets are full of people selling their goods, musicians, artists painting the arch and excited tourists with their cameras.
This is one of the big Catholic churches near the park. It is huge and there are some small ruins behind it. The other day I saw a man and a lady having a discussion on where to visit next. She was pulling his arm toward the Catholic church and he was pulling her across the street toward the park..........
He was stronger than she he won the "tug of war." I then saw what had his attention in the park..........the fountain is very pretty and draws quite a crowd.
Classes begin in the morning..........I hope Juliet is ready for my questions :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A day of study.............

As everyday it has rained and rained and rained. It has not been the best for photos but I will try and get some good ones next week. We should be entering the dry season soon.

I went to the school to study for a few hours today. The teachers are having some education classes on Saturday mornings so there were more people there than usual.

The hotel I am staying at is more like a museum than a hotel. It is huge with many, many sections of furniture, patios, living areas for the owners and rooms for the tourists. Each room has multiple sitting areas for the guests.

This is one of the hallways that leads through the main part of the hotel.
There are two cats that basically run the hotel...........
and there many, many cages of birds, doves.........and whatever else .........too many to count. They all start singing at 0700 and after more sleep.
Tomorrow I will worship at 0930 with the Church of Christ here in Antigua.......and then begin another full week of classes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

lazy morning.........

I am ready for my afternoon I have some time to kill. I am in the Higher Ground Cafe using their internet and it is becoming a bad habit because they have wonderful coffees. They also have good cakes, cookies and brownies. The cakes have real flavor and are moist. Ok, I have only had one slice.....banana with cream cheese frosting but I am sure I will have another before my 6 weeks are completed.

I was going to walk to the cross today but I needed to change my class time. It is ok because it is raining today. I want to make the hike up the hill when the weather is good for photos.

This photo is of Harriette and Valaria when they were here a few weeks ago to interview the students. I was excited that all of the students from our area arrived in time for their interview.

This is Gaspar and his son. His son, Tomas, had received a scholarship to study to be a teacher. He now has completed his studies and there is a possibility that his brother may receive a scholarship. Gaspar wanted to talk to Harriette and Valaria to express his gratitude.
My neighbor, again last night, asked me if I could consider using herbals in our clinics. I thanked him and then went in my room to study. Maybe Kemmel will let me start growing "medicine" behind the clinic .

Maxine met me at the steps this morning. She wanted to know more about how long I was here for and what type of nurse I am. I asked her how long she has been here and her response was, "Way, way to long........I have absolutely lost my mind here in Guatemala!" hmmmmmmmmm, it is a scary thought :):):)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another day of class....

I wish I could share some of my moment by moment experiences but much of it would be lost in the would just have to be here to understand.

I dropped my laundry off to be washed before class and then went to the school. Class went well today and we talked about James 1:8-9. After class, I went to have lunch with my teacher's family. We had soup and a warm rice milk....very, very good on a cold, rainy day.

After lunch I went to find a house of a man that will take care of Visas when people are here for extended periods. It was very, very interesting and I left knowing more than I probably need to. When the lady opened the door, she did it with hesitation which made me a little suspicious. She was very nice and really enjoyed talking. She shared with me how the government and immigrations here work...........many things are corrupt and done under the table.

I wish I could introduce you to the people that are living in the hotel with me. One lady is the twin of Maxine, the cartoon lady............another man is staying in a room next to me and has lived in the room for 2 years and 6 months. He is a herbalist and wants me to start using herbs in our clinics.......I will start working on that tomorrow :) Another lady has bought some land near Lake Atitlan and it is obvious she has money.

Ok, time to study and prepare for class tomorrow. I will have class in the afternoon so maybe I can get some interesting photos.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day three of classes........

Last night I finished my homework late and looked forward to my new bed. Below is a photo of my room for the next six weeks. It is small but is affordable for Antigua. I was strong and did not ask for a tv, which I see some of the rooms have. I do not need any distractions while I am in school.
These photos are from my room and as you can see there is a nice view. My neighbors are interesting and that is all I will say :)

I arrived this morning early for the devotional that Juliet invited me too. I was told that other students would attend........but it was just me and the teachers. The lady that led the thoughts was very interesting and she talked about how God is all-knowing, all-powerful and is the same today as He always has been.

I needed to memorize a verse for class so I recited James 1:8..........I know, very simple and short. When asked to talk about it, I tied it into some of the comments that the lady made during her devotional time. I was told to memorize James 1:9 for tomorrow and then talk more about that verse.

Another afternoon for studying............and then tomorrow is another day...........

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A full-time student again..........

OK, I am a full-time student again in Antigua. I am very appreciative for the opportunity to study Spanish for six weeks. I was so excited last year when Lisa and Kemmel suggested that this might happen...........and here I am. I am lucky to have the same teacher I have had in the past and she is doing well.

I am staying in a hotel near the school. It is huge and really looks more like museum than a hotel. My class starts at 8am and finishes at 1pm. It is a private class so I have to talk more than I like to.......but I guess that is important for learning a language :)

Yesterday, I told Juliet that I want to get more comfortable reading The Bible aloud. It is written in vosotros form which is not spoken here. She told me to bring my Bible and we would start reading it. Today, she read Matthew 9:35-38 and we talked about it. Then she wanted to read Psalms 23.

She told me part of my homework for tomorrow was to memorize a verse and then be able to explain it to her. I asked if I could memorize it in English.............I got one of those looks. I then told her I would memorize John 11:35, "Jesus wept." hmmmmmmmm.........she told me to stop setting traps.......I am glad she has a sense of humor. We we spent some time looking through the Bible and talking about different verses. She asked me if we could start our classes with prayer starting tomorrow...........she also invited me to a devotional in the morning at 0730.

The school is packed with students from all over the world and it is very interesting. During the week there are different activities you can participate in but I use most of my time studying......but on Friday they are going to hike up a hill to an area where there are some crosses. I have heard it is a beautiful view of the volcanoes so I will do that.

Here is the last photo I took at the clinic last week. I have heard that everyone has returned to The States and is doing well. Gracias a Dios.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Last day of surgeries

The week of surgeries was completed and we had 71 patients. It is a blessing that all of the patients have done well. The staff really pulled together and completed the week strong. I am sure that many first-timers are already planning their return visit.

After I slept a little this morning, I took a few people to Chicaco for some entertainment. We had planned on going to the waterfalls but there was some heavy rain in the area so they closed the roads. I could not get everyone in the truck for the trip to Chicaco so I planned on taking another truck when we returned.

This is Dr. Mecklenberg and he told me that this is his 7-8th trip. Sherry is from Nashville and this is her second trip. This is Lester´s first trip with his wife Grace. Grace works in the OR and this is her 5th trip. This photo is of us exploring Chicaco.

This is the park in the center of town.
We stopped by a music school to enjoy some of their music. They were playing maribas and I asked to see if they would still be open when I returned with the next group.
As we were litening to the music, this little lady wanted her photo taken many, many times. Mike really had his hands full with her! I remember his lady but can not remember exactly when I met her before. Doesn´t that drive ya crazy?? I just remember her dancing in the streets in the past........not someone you would easily forget.
There are so many photos and stories that I want to share from the week. I will do that in later blogs. Internet is difficult right now because of the rains.

We ended the night with a very special devotional and a time to share our thoughts and experiences of the week. It is difficult to pinpoint special moments of the week because there are so is just impossible.

One lady shared with us her story of being visited one at her door by men that she did not know.........a fear of all mothers and fathers whose children are serving in our military. She was then told that she had lost her son in combat. Since that day and everyday, she looks for good because there is so much evil in this world. I know I am not stating it exactly like she did........but I hurt so bad for her as everyone in the room did. She felt that during this week, she saw some good.....she saw people who cared and wanted to share Christ.

The make-up of each group that comes to work is different. Many times the majority of people are return visitors, while many are first-timers. Many people are Christians, while others are not. Some people may come to visit and be searching. People may be here to serve and hoping to deepen their love for Christ. While many people many think the ministry that Health Talents has is only here in Guatemala, I think the ministry is also taken back to The States. Seeds are planted and people return home thinking about the week of events. As someone said our last night, you return home a different person you were when you arrived. I asked people to remember our patients in prayer and to also pray that the planted seeds will continue to grow and develop.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Third day of the surgical clinic

Today was another successful clinic in which the patients have done well. Since I was first introduced to Health Talents, I have felt that God has blessed the work of the organization. The work has continued to grow, more children are added to the ABC program each year, speakers are brought to Guatemala every year for educational purposes, young people have the opportunity to continue there education at a college level.........and the list goes on.

We always want to give God the glory for everything that is accomplished yet we are thankful that we have people like Rick who gives direction as it is needed. This week, he worked in the OR area, sterilizing instruments. When down-time allows, you can catch him answering emails and planning for future clinics and events. I think Rick's average email response time is about 7 minutes :)

Many required activities of the clinic go unnoticed. I mentioned the other day how many people are in the habit of looking for supplies without ever realizing how the supplies are prepared. Here two of the Guatemalan staff begin to wash laundry for the day.......and we need clean laundry every day. They look as if they are having a great time!
You can tell that patients are feeling better when they grab their own IV bottles and go for a walk.
Michael offered to help this patient when he needed to take a walk.
The clinic is becoming to wind down and you can feel it in the environment. We had several empty beds last night, the surgical load today is lower and several more patients have discharge orders written for today. Everyone will head to Antigua early in the morning. They will enjoy the day day there before flying home Saturday morning.

Juan and I will be head to the Chichi area and will also take one of our patients with us. This will prevent her and her husband from having to take a bus home. I hate to see the week come to a close with so many accomplishments being made but it is time to move on to another adventure.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday surgeries.......

Another full day of surgeries and all continues to go well!

The three operating rooms have continued to go full blast performing hysterectomies, removing gall bladders, repairing hernias and other procedures that patients need. This is Barb and Karen from Columbia, MO leaving after their full day in the operating room. This is Barb's first time and Karen's fourth!

In the evening, many of the staff went from bed to bed sharing and praying with patients, giving Bibles and encouraging them to talk about their needs. This young guy, Melvin, was enjoying his Bible. He told me that he likes to read and he was excited to have one now!
Karen has been here four times and this is Tony's first time. They were talking to this patient about Jesus and later one of the men from the local congregation was going to follow-up with this patient. The patient expressed a desire to really change some things in his life and to know Jesus more. Isn't this something that we should all learn from?
Sherry takes a quick walk with this patient. She went from bed to bed walking patients tonight.
Seventeen surgeries were done today..........many people are feeling better physically but we also hope that some have been healed spiritually.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day two of surgery!

Day two was also a successful day with 20 surgeries!! All of the patients continue to do well and their family members were able to visit with them for a few minutes this afternoon!!

These ladies are part of the Guatemalan staff and work tirelessly during these weeks of clinics. They start the IVs before surgeries and care for patients after their procedures.

These ladies are folding and preparing towells to be autoclaved for surgery. Very seldom people wonder how these packages are prepared. Usually, when you need one you just go to the storage room and grab one......not knowing how they are prepared. This group is from Cordova Church of Christ. Penny is on the left and this is her first time down. Carol is in the middle and Danielle is on the right. They are all first-timers from Sacremento.
Julie takes time, when time allows to answer emails and prepare for future trips and events. Her and Rick are here this week together. Rick is spending most of his time in the auto-claving room preparing instruments and materials for surgeries and procedures.
This is Rigoberto who is now maintaining the operating rooms. He cleans the rooms after surgeries and prepares them for the next case. He has been working with Health Talents for 15 years. He remembers the work before this clinic was built and clinics were held in Chocal.......hmm, can't remember.

The day was busy but it was a good one. You can see the love of Christ through the day in different situations. One little boy did not want to leave his dad when it came time for his surgery. He held his dad's hand just as tight as he could until we reached the operating room door. Can you imagine the trust the father had as he released his son's hand into mine??? We positioned the little boy on the table and just talked to him as he calmed down. His surgery went well and he was back with his dad in a short time.

One lady from our community had her surgery yesterday. She had a prolapsed uterus for nine years and finally had the opportunity to have it removed. Her husband was able to visit this afternoon and she was having some pain at the time. I went to get her some medicine and as I was giving it, her husband was kneeling by the bed on his knees praying fervently for his is moments like this that are etched in your mind. Good night.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let the surgeries begin!!

I met Juan in Chichi this morning and we headed to the coast for three days of surgery. As we drove into the gated clinic, it always feels like home. We met for worship across the street from the clinic. After worship we regrouped for a quick lunch and then the surgeries began.

Eleven surgeries were done today and all of the patients have done well.

This is Sherry from Nashville, TN and this is her second trip to Guatemala. Her patient was having a little trouble breathing and and needed a respiratory treatment. Once the treatment was done, the patient was all smiles and her lungs were clear.

This is Olga from Sacramento and this is her third trip down. Each time she returns, she brings more people with her. She prays with the patients and helps translate for others before surgeries.
This is Carol, who is also from Sacramento and this is her first time here........I think she will also return on a future clinic :) As patients wait for their turn in the operating room, people pray with them and share hope...................providing both physical and spiritual care.

It was a good day and I trust tomorrow will be the same. Please continue to pray for our patients and the staff who are here. Good night :)