Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Well, I guess you can tell it is my mom's birthday! I hope that it is a great day for her as dad has the opportunity to spoil her. I will be home in a couple of weeks and be able to do my share.

I love you mom and dad and I will see you soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Clinic and trip to Montellano

We had our clinic in Lemoa today. We had about 14 patients so it was not a real busy clinic.

Kemmel was kind and ordered us pizza from Domino's in Quiche. It was very good.

After we cleaned up everything, we started our drive to Montellano, to our Clinica Ezell. It will be our Thanksgiving dinner with the group down there and the time that we share together before the end of the year.

When we arrived, everyone was working and preparing for the dinner. Carlos asked Lisa to give a little background of Thanksgiving so she shared that with us before we ate.

Table clothes were placed for dinner and flower arrangements had been made.

Everyone listening to Carlos as he explained dinner tonight and the meeting time for the morning.

Preparing to pray before we ate.

We get together with the coastal group only once during the year. There is also Alex, Violeta and Carolina that work in Guatemala City. Tonight there are about 40-45 of us together.

I am very thankful to be working with Health Talents. The leaders are always concerned with how we can reach more people, not only physically but spiritually. There are so many opportunities to help people. Many people have great needs. We have the daily clinics, monthly surgical groups, the ABC Program, health outreach into the communities, educational programs and also Bible seminars through the year. God has blessed Health Talents and the organization has been in Guatemala about 30 years.

A wonderful dinner was prepared for us. We enjoyed a meal with turkey, ham and all of the trimmings. The ladies, as always, worked very hard for us.

When we finished dinner, we had the evening to participate in different activities. Some of us just chatted while others went out to play soccer.

I have a special prayer request. Nydia, who works as a dental assistant has been having a lot of pain for the last year in her head and neck area. Her exams have been negative but she continues with the pain. I am going to talk to the neurologist in Quiche about seeing her so please remember her in your prayers. Chronic pain can be very difficult to deal with but not knowing the cause can be even more difficult. Thank you for remembering her.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Return to Santa Cruz and Chichi

We started preparing to leave early this morning. Erv was kind enough to set up the stove for our last cup of coffee before we hit the road.

The cloud coverage was thick this morning.

This is "tent city" where most of the guys slept. They had set up ten tents. The ladies slept down near the kitchen.

The people who owned land around us wanted to sell their goods to us. We walked down the road to find some oranges. They washed and bagged them for us. These trees are full of oranges. They sold 4 oranges for 13 cents.

Some children walking down the road in front of the clinic.

Getting in the last photos before we left.

Children playing with the balls that are being left for them.

This is the home from across the street where we had clinic.

Then we began our return. It was a great day for a long drive. Erv, Sally and I left first since we knew we would need to make the trip slowly.

This is the first river that we crossed.

Then we began the climb up.......

The day and weather could not have been any better.

We stopped for dinner when we arrived in Sacapulas.

My first experience in Zona Reyna could not have been any better. I really appreciate being asked to join the group. I hope that I will be able to go again next year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday in Zona Reyna

The morning was beautiful. We got up about 0530 and made a trip to another part of the river. The cloud coverage was beautiful and felt so fresh.

We have been told that this typical for this area. It is not dry as other parts of Guatemala are but is alwasys lush and green.

We climbed up the road and then hiked back down to the river bed. This was the first site we had of it.

Some people had never seen a river this big. It was interesting to hear their thoughts. Some of the guys took turns throwing stones, trying to reach the other side. I think that Erv was the closest.

People talking about their experiences this weekend. It has been a fantastic trip, so far.

This canoest made it up stream and then ferried across the river. When he reached the other side, he tied his canoe to a tree and climbed to the top of the road.

These were two of the translators that we used. The gentleman in the blue striped shirt lives 4 hours away.

Erv and some children wait outside as we are almost ready to finish clinic for the day.

One lady came today with a skin issue. I listened to her problem, waiting for her to tell me about the problem that her child had. When she never did, I finally said, "So, please tell me how long your child's foot haas been like this." The poor child's foot and ankle were infected and draining terribly. The mother seemed to have very little interest in her child. The translator could also see this and began talking to her about the seriousness of this illness. How very sad but no matter where you are, you see situations as this. It reminded me of the family at we saw a few days ago in Choacaman IV.

Erv and Sally with a family that they know from the previous clinic here. How good it is to see people return that are doing well.

Since this is the coastal area it is hot. Since there is no running water in the area, there are no showers. Through the day I kept remembering how good that river felt yesterday. It was so cool and refreshing.

We finished clinic about 4:30 pm. From the count of medicine that we used, Sally thinks we saw 200 adults and 150 children during the two days. I think that is great. I hope that what we have done has been a blessing to the community. There is so much need here.

When we finished, I could not wait to see if we were going to go to the river. Some of the guys were down the road playing soccer. Sure! Let's pass by there, say our hellos and then make our way to the river!!

Erv and Sally were ahead of me as we walked. Erv, as you can tell by his shirt, has been trying to fix the shock for our ride home tomorrow.

We met some friendly girls from the community who also had been to the river to collect water.

ahhhhhhhh, the river was as refreshing as I remembered it!! Simply amazing after a HOT day.

When we climbed back up to the road, the rainbow was waiting for us.

We walked back to the tents and spent time together until dinner. The community was very kind and prepared a soup dinner for us. It was chicken soup with tortillas.

We will leave in the morning and begin winding our way back to Quiche. We pray for safe travels without any problems.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday in Zona Reyna

Last night we had some rain.  Since the living conditions here as so basic, there is no water source within the community.  When the rain started, we collected it off the roof of the building.  Sally and Erv brought a water filter with them so we had clean water this morning.

The sky was very pretty this morning and it was cool.  We had breakfast and then started clinic.

Erv hooked up things to the battery of the truck so we had lights and could charge our phones.  Even though I could not make a phone call, I use the alarm on my phone. He even connected a hot plate to the battery so we could have coffee in the morning.

This is the tent that was our home for three nights. The building in the background is the place that we set up clinic.

The children wanted to see their photo.  I think this a universal enjoyment of children.  Sally is showing the children their photo.

This is the main road of this community.  The houses are simple with dirt floors and thatched roofs.

It was a busy clinic and that is the way I like it.  We needed to use translators since the languages here are Q'eqchi' and Mam. We had one translator that was great.  You can tell when someone has worked in this capacity and enjoys helping others. About noon, Erv mentioned that it was time for a break and that sounded good to us.  We were in need of a Coke!!

We stopped around 1 pm when they told us it was lunch time.  We finished seeing all of the patients about 5:30 pm.......................................and it was hot!  We decided that we needed to head to the river to bath and it was so refreshing!  Our group walking to the river.

We could hear the laughing before we could see the others.  The guys went downstream and the ladies went upstream.  The water was cool and it felt good! 

 We all went back to the tents feeling much better.

After dinner we sat outside and listened to the singing. 

We are not sure how many patients we saw but it was over 75 patients.  Most of them  came with stomach problems which is not unusual for a community that does not have regular clinics.  Many people do not boil their water or if they do, it is not long enough.  Many children have worms with distended abdomens.  We saw several families that have scabies.  Many children are underweight for their age.  Most of the children and women do not wear shoes. One child in the community does not wear clothes.  We were told that usually the children do not wear clothes because it is so hot but since we are in the community, the children are clothed. 

As we were sitting outside and enjoying the cool weather, Erv came up to us and was excited since he had received a signal on his phone!! If he held his phone up in the air, inside the tent, near the tent pole, he had two bars!  He let me call home but since he could not move the phone, I had to yell up to the phone.  My parents appreciated hearing from us and knowing we were doing well. 

Right before we went to bed, it started raining again and we able to refill the filter.  What a great day it was!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Adventure in Zona Reyna

This morning we left dark and early.  Sally, Erv and I met everyone and we were suppose to leave 0530  We left around 0630, which is not bad when you consider there are about 25 people going and vans from several hours away came to provide some of the transportation.

This is Erv and Sally..........they will be my main side kicks for the trip.  They have been here in Guatemala a few years now and have worked for different missionary groups.  The balls inside the truck will be left for the children in the community we will visit.

When the vans arrived, people quickly loaded the stuff on top.  They carried most of the food we would be eating, clothing for the children in Unilla Pacala and who knows what else!?!? I have packed like I will be gone a month but when you have no idea where you will be, what the weather will be like and knowing there are no stores, it is the motto is, "Be prepared!"

How tight can you tie down the van??

We had been on the road for about two hours when the group stopped for breakfast.  This area is named Sacapulas.  This is the restaurant that they have used in the past and believe me, the food was great!!

This is the river below the restaurant.

We filled two tables and the lady quickly started taking our order. I was shocked when we received something of what we ordered.  There was a lot of noise and confusion but eventually everyone ate.  I had grilled steak, black beans, chili, tortillas and coffee.

After breakfast, we hit the road again.  I had heard that it would be 4 hours of driving on the highway and then 6 hours on dirt road.  It was going to be a long day.  The view was beautiful and I enjoyed the ride.

The only problem came when the shock absorber broke.  It started banging and felt like the floor of the truck was going to open up. There was fear that the muffler would break off.  Erv just took it slow and easy, knowing there was nothing more that he could do.

Of course, after about another hour, the group wanted to stop for a bathroom break.  This took another hour.  We looked around the town as we waited for the group to reload.

We crossed either three or four rivers.  They were not high but the water was moving.

This is the back of the one of the vans that they hired.  Once we would get to Parroquia, we would have to regroup.  Only trucks could make the trip from there.

Then it was time to stop for lunch. We had a great soup and more tortillas.  This was the view from the restaurant. Yes, those are outhouses you pay to use.

Once we were in Parroquia, we waited for the trucks to arrive.  Everything was removed from the vans and loaded in trucks.  Many had to ride in the back for the last two hours of the trip.  We were thankful that the weather was good and there was no rain.

Parroquia had an odd feel to it.  Many people were already drinking alcohol in the streets and empty bottles were all over the place.  Many young people were smoking and that is not something I am use to seeing here in Guatemala.

The truck and the group crossing a river.  This one gave a little trouble when we came out due to it being slippery, steep and having to drive slow due to the shocks.  We were carrying a lot of equipment, medicines and you can not forget those balls!!

We finally arrived in Unilla Pacala and it was getting dusk.  The truck ahead of us unloaded their cargo and then drove back to Parroquia to bring back the rest of the group. Maybe next year they will consider to hire two vehicles instead of having to make the trip twice.

The children and neighbors gathered around as we arrived.  You could tell that they were very excited to see us.

The community seemed small but I knew there were a lot of houses that you could not see from the road. The area is very beautiful and it is surrounded by mountains.

People gathered around to discuss where to put up tents and who would be where.  The truck returned well over dark with the rest of the group.
This is the building that will be getting a cement floor.
Yes, it is beautiful and lush.  It is deep in the mountain area and there is nothing here.  Absolutely nothing!  There ins minimal, minimal phone service.  There is no running water.  There is no electricity.  This will be our home for the next three nights.