Monday, May 24, 2021

Roll the Stone Away

Although we are not currently hosting medical or surgical teams, we are busy upgrading our facilities in preparation for future work. Our surgical facility is in need of a waste water treatment plant in order to comply with environmental law. So our latest struggle has been against red tape and big rocks. The rocks keep showing up as the workers dig the space for the treatment plant. Thankfully there are people whose livelihood is breaking up big rocks--some with dynamite and others with chisels!  We pray that the work crew will be able to work fast as rainy season has started and will intensify. On Saturday we had a surprise scheduling of our first environmental license inspection. Kemmel texted "We got a score of 100%! So poco a poco--we are grateful to God for the progress.

Alfredo, Kemmel and Jorge down at the end pumping out the water that accumulated over night. These are the "smaller" pieces of rock after the dynamite crew got after them.

Our clinics continue to be full at Caris and Ezell and we have even been able to host a few wheelchair distribution clinics with Faith in Practice. We love being a part of such a good work, helping families improve the mobility options for themselves and their loved ones. It always amazes us how much people have endured before coming.

This kiddo is getting a new chair that will help improve his posture.

In our community work we are able to do small group check ups on our ABC families, doing well-child checkups, fixing water filter issues and consoling families during hard times. One of our ABC families suffered a house fire and lost all of their clothes and most household items. Several churches and area Christians have helped raise funds to replace their things and help rebuild. 

Thankfully everyone was safely evacuated.

Another family from church had a baby born at 30 weeks gestation and spent 40 days in the hospital-no family was permitted to visit during that time. At one point they called the family to say there was nothing else they could do and were just waiting to the baby to die. But he survived and after fattening up to 4 lbs. they let him go home. Praise God for his mercy!

This baby is getting fat after two weeks at home and breast feeding like a champ!

 When we are faced with difficult struggles, when our patients are confronted with complicated medical issues, and when we hear about heartbreaking real life problems of our neighbors, let encourage one another to put our trust in God and remember that our Lord has strength to do things we think are impossible.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Recent Happenings

Medical and Dental 

Our clinical work here in Guatemala is still limited to outpatient consults this year. The restrictions locally due to Covid infection rates, hospital saturation and the government requirements for our facility licensing are putting a damper on our surgical groups. Though we are not hosting U.S. teams yet,  we are still offering primary care services daily at our central clinics and are starting to be invited out into the communities for mobile medical clinics. Our mobile work is restricted to sites that have enough space for patients to wait well-distanced and outside. And dental care is limited to our central clinics. We are hoping the vaccine availability here will improve and that we can start getting high risk patients vaccinated soon. 

 Our fans in the communities haven't forgotten us!

Darling and I working at Nahualate. Yes, it's hot with all this gear on!

Recently we were invited to work with the local health department at a nearby health post that doesn't have the staffing to prescribe medications. We are allowed to set up next door in the community center and charge for our consults and prescribe any of their meds from the health post or anything else we might have. The community leaders are very supportive and have been sending a representative to hang out with us. One of our nurses, Darling Ayerdis (licensed in Nicaragua) set up the arrangement as part of her social service year to get her full Guatemalan nursing license. So far things have gone well, and we hope to cultivate this relationship with the local health authorities while sharing Jesus with this town.

ABC Families

ABC kids from Chijtinimit--they are all grown up!

Kids are still restricted to "homeschooling" with homework assignments sent via text message or video chats. Families are frustrated for their older kids who are paying tuition for this kind of learning and hoping they are getting their money's worth. Sadly, we are hearing about more young people packing up and taking off to the States to find work, "because the recent changes have opened up opportunities." It is hard to to be supportive of these decisions and we pray that God will keep them safe and bring them home soon. 

Church Life

Baptisms and new church plant in Xatinap!

Despite the mandates on masking and distancing and room capacities, the churches are allowed to meet and most have started meeting regularly again, which is important spiritually and emotionally for people. We understand the public health concern of having large groups gather in tight spaces, but also see the need for fellowship and community. So many patients that are coming to us are struggling with loss of work, indebtedness, anxiety, illnesses needing specialized attention, worrying about family members who have headed to the States. Our evangelists and church partners are making efforts to be present during times of need and offering prayer, visiting and sharing the message of  Christ's regenerating Spirit. 

New life, new start!

Future Plans

We are busy readying our surgical facility at Clinica Ezell with updates and upgrades as we wait out the red tape of licensure renewal.  Please keep praying for progress, especially as Kemmel works with engineers and lawyers and other consultants guiding us through the process. We are grateful to all of our supporters for the generosity and continued interest in this ministry. Every week we meet patients who comment on the exceptional care they have received and their recognition of God's presence here.  We pray that  we will soon be working full steam and able to incorporate our U.S. team members in this mission work. If you would like to continue supporting the ministry, you are invited to join our Cross Walk Campaign.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Short-term Missions Opportunities During a Pandemic

Many of the supporters of Health Talents International are part of our visiting Medical/Dental/Surgical teams, sometimes coming every year. Since March of 2020 we've been unable to host any teams, and do not plan to have any scheduled until after the midyear of 2021. As you can imagine, there's a lot of restless passports out there!
So what are some ways to get involved for now? Here are some ideas to keep you busy and active with your favorite mission organization until travel opens up more.

This is an obvious but sometimes forgotten tool in mission work. Everything we do is done with the goal sharing the Good News of Jesus' transforming love for us and of growing the Kingdom of God.
  • Pray for our Leadership, our Staff that minister directly to patients and our partner Churches, that we would keep these goals in mind as we work and follow the leading of the Spirit.
  • Pray for our organization as we work to comply with local governmental regulations and changes to our labor environment.
  • Pray for us to be able to host teams again this year, especially much-needed surgical teams.
  • Pray for our patients waiting for surgery!
  • Pray for Guatemala's fight against Covid-19.
Tell a Friend or Colleague
  • If you have been on a trip with us and enjoyed the work, tell someone else about it (Click here for brochures). Or send them our link to sign up for a trip in the future. 

Organize a Fundraising Event
  • For our extroverted, fun-loving friends we challenge you to organize a fundraising event. Maybe a FUN RUN or BAKE SALE or CAR WASH or DINNER. The sky is the limit and your personal experience with Health Talents is what piques people's interest.  Contact us!

  • If you had planned on coming down this year, consider giving those funds directly to be used toward one of the following areas:
  • ABC Sponsorship-- If you already support a child, thank you! Tell others about it too. We can provide you with brochures to distribute at church or to friends. 
  • Scholarship programs--This is a great way to give a one-time gift or find out more about regular giving toward the academic needs of our area children. 
  • Evangelism Activities like transportation costs for home visits, Bibles and study material, seminars. 
  • Operational Expenses--this is a big part of our need. Salaries for full-time staff salaries, medications, surgical supplies, medical and surgical equipment, clinic/facility maintenance, transportation costs.
  • Fundraising Campaigns--Health Talents has periodic campaigns to raise funds for the work. When you see our promotions on social media please prayerfully consider giving.
  • Gather medical supplies--this is a fun way to get your community involved in the mission work. 
Donate Blood
Okay, so you can't donate for our patients right now, but since it's been a year since you were out of the country, you might as well go donate blood or plasma again, right, Debra?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Pandemic Academics

They were happy and didn't know it!

Just as in the United States and probably most countries, schools in Guatemala have taken a hit and have struggled to get back up and running full steam.  Public schools were closed and did not have the ability to reach most of their students by internet. So, lessons were given in work book form to do at home and turn in each week, Of course it wasn't ideal, but we made it through the year and most kids passed, as long as they turned in their lessons. 
This year there are plans to bring students back to class at least partially, so be praying for that.

Homeschooling! A new challenge for students and their parents!

Our high school kids did mostly online classes (at home or internet café), so several of them were able to graduate. Same for college and professional students. The down side for our health professional students like medical/dental/nursing is they were unable to do their clinicals, so they are stuck in that phase until the Ministry of Health allows them to start up again. 

For all of you who sponsor ABC kids or contribute to the scholarships, we are grateful for your faithful giving. Economic times are difficult here for most families, and with the added cost of internet and uncertainty of whether students will have a successful year, many families are tempted to pull their kids out of school. So the food supplements and school expense help is vital. Everything we can do to keep kids in school and not wanting to migrate to the States is a win. Thank you! 

Felicidades to one of our high school graduates Claudia!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

What's Happening?

Happy New Year! Our staff at Clinica Caris and Clinica Ezell have been back at work for a couple of weeks now, taking care of sick patients and visiting patients and families in their homes on follow up. Churches are meeting again and active for now, which is encouraging.

Open-air clinics!

Clinical duties may include breaking into a clinic storeroom with a white board fallen against the door.

Baptism celebration to kick off the new year.

Everything seems to be up and running except for our U.S. medical/dental/surgical teams. We have put a plan into effect on when to bring teams in, and the Government has added some hoops to jump through, so we keep working on those. So far we don't know of any mission organizations bringing in U.S. surgical teams either. We've had patients on the  waiting list since last March, and when we try to refer them to other services we get the same disappointing news.  The National Hospitals are FULL of Covid patients and not attending elective cases nor outpatient clinics. The private hospitals and surgeons are working quite a bit, but the prices are too high for many of our patients.

Hoping for some surgical teams soon.

So for the mean time, we pray and work and look forward to sharing this beautiful country of hospitable people and warm weather with you soon! Thank you to those who continue to offer financial and prayer support for this ministry. We and our patients and area churches are so grateful!

We hope to say, "Bienvenido a Guatemala" soon!

New Christians from Antigua Xepocol 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Wrapping it up

The phrase "wrap it up" brings many images to my mind. There's the wrapping of gifts, the finishing of projects, the coming to an end of a disorienting year, the getting to the point of a lengthy boring narration. 

I'm hoping that December fulfills all of these for us. I'm ready for this year to end with it's infectious disease overload, it's political strife, it's walking on eggshells around people of differing viewpoints than ours. 

God must have said the same thing right before taking on human form and coming to Earth. He had had enough of the effects of sin in our lives and was ready to show us how to live differently. He knew we couldn't fulfill all of the law without his Spirit living in us. His Spirit couldn't dwell in us without him sacrificing himself to the point of death. He knew only he could come back from the dead and give us that ability. 

We Christians want to see this world be different. We want an end to racism, bigotry, mistreatment, corruption, injustice, etc. But non-Christians don't have the power to change their thoughts and behaviors and world views like we do. Government can't make people change their hearts and attitudes. We have to be in the business of sharing the gift of Christ and his regenerating Spirit with this world. We all have the right to participate in politics but we have to remember that only Jesus can get us where we want to end up.  

Let's keep renewing our minds and helping the people we know and love get interested in doing the same. Let's get serious about  praying for our Government, our world, this pandemic. Let's be of the same mind of Christ. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

What's Happening?

On the Covid disease front, our curve is on the downhill side (officially). But our numbers are too high to be able to open up all services. Everything is still pretty much only 50% capacity like restaurants, public transportation, number of people permitted in a building, etc. No public school, no flights, no tourism, no movie theaters, no parks, no pools, no beach access, no permitting people over 60 in restaurants. There won't be any Independence Day celebrations this year. Some hospitals are reporting more available ICU beds which is a good sign, and official Covid deaths seem to be decreasing. Here's hoping...

Bus service from the departments to the Capital is trying to get up and running again. Still not allowed. 

We are enjoying getting back into our regular clinical duties around here. Our patients are starting to get the hang of calling in for an appointment rather than the usual walk-in style we used to have. It has been a little bit of a struggle to get folks onboard, but poco a poco! We are still not able to have mobile clinics in the communities as the churches are not allowed to have more than 20 meet at a time. We look forward to being able to branch out a little in the next month or so.

Love getting to see our prenatal patients and handing out Clean Delivery Kits from our Eastside Church of Christ friends. And yes, there will be a baby boom!

Several of our chronic illness patients (epileptics, diabetics and hypertensives) have commented how grateful they are for our services especially after having to purchase their medications at local pharmacies. Most of them were just unable to buy them and went without or only took half the prescribed dose to make them last. Our staff have been getting lots of  gifts of fresh picked apples, soft drinks and corn on the cob lately in appreciation. We are loved well here.

We've gotten news of more baptisms in the area. One small new congregation will be having 7 baptisms soon. It reminds us that closing the doors of the church building doesn't stop the Spirit of God from working through his people the church. Praise God!

Celebrating with the angels!

One of the biggest news breaks this week was the announcing of the opening of the airport and borders this 18th of September. We will be anxious to see how this pans out as the number of flights per airline/city of origin will be only one per day or 2-3 per week. And they will be requiring a negative Covid PCR test within the last 72 hours to enter the country or a mandatory supervised 14 day quarantine. Everyone is hoping that kind of testing turnaround is even possible. But at least it's a step in the right direction for future medical teams to be able to come in country.
As my dad says, "Won't be long..." We hope! (Photo credit: Bao Menglong)