Sunday, August 11, 2019

Above and Beyond

Most of us have been in a new situation or life circumstance and needed guidance in decision making, relying on others who have already gone down that path to help us. We see the same thing here in our area with families whose children are going to school, achieving higher grade levels than their parents did, and now families are left feeling inadequate to help their kids make decisions.
This is Luis Alberto and he is now a teacher in his own community out in the hills of Quiche.
The average completed educational level of the fathers in our Highlands area ABC families is 3rd grade, and of mothers is 2nd grade. This means that most of the kids in our program have already or will out-study their parents. This becomes an issue when kids get into junior high and high school and occasionally university level studies, and begin entering uncharted territory both academically and socially. When the challenges get intense many families are ready to bail out of higher education and are too often tempted to pursue the emigration route.  We know not all kids are cut out for higher education and not all families will be able to handle the costs. But we want to encourage families and churches to think long-term and also for them both to push kids to think about the decisions they make and how it will affect their future and that of their families in the long run.

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Our ABC program coordinator Cesar has been telling us about the conversations and mentoring that he offers to kids and their parents about this unfamiliar life of being a student. He helps families with the hard decisions and discipline issues that arise when kids step out of their familiar small-town culture to a world of intercultural urban life.

(Cesar helping with a skit about life choices)

This year, Cesar decided to bring in the help of our evangelist Gaspar to offer some seminars for families in the program to address some of the parenting concerns and academic struggles. Gaspar is a seasoned parent of 4 sons, all of whom have graduated from high school and some on to university. He will invite the parents together and have some informal discussions and question-and-answer sessions to help families realize that they aren't alone and to share successes and challenges with the group.

Please be praying for the ABC program as we work to promote spiritual maturity and education among the youth of this area and hopefully one day see more people wanting to stay and work in this beautiful country of Guatemala.
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Ephesians 3:20-2120 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. New Living Translation (NLT)

Then today, one of the ABC churches of Chichicastenango is hosting an area-wide youth event to encourage young people to protect their faith. In the past 15 years the churches of the area have gone from very few youth activities to different youth activities almost every month which is extremely encouraging for the future of the church. We are pleased to have people like Gaspar, Cesar, Manuel S, Manuel Q, Maria, Maury, Aura, Brenda and Noe as active leaders in the youth of this area. 

As a extra we did a study of young adults who had finished the ABC program here in the highlands and while there is not much work opportunities, young people are remaining active in their churches and their communities.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sheri! Sheri!

Well, after 12 years of full time living and working in Guatemala, our dear sister/friend Sheri is changing gears and taking on a different role in the Health Talents family. She will be helping to lead surgical groups to Clinica Ezell, working to recruit nurses and others for our medical/surgical teams and visiting churches in the States to share more about the work in Guatemala. She will be living States side but still visiting us frequently.
We can't even begin to tell about all of the ways Sheri has impacted the work here in the Quiche area. She has taken on roles of medical provider, teacher, evangelist, mentor and chaplain, always working with the goal of bringing others to Christ.
One of our favorite memories is us driving down the road coming back from clinic day in Mactzul, and as we drove by some kids, they yelled out "Sheri! Sheri!"  Ever since then, I've called her Sheri, Sheri.  Haha! She is well loved by us, our coworkers, all of the ladies groups she taught, our patients and everyone who met her.
We are so excited for the new work she will be doing and know Sheri will be a great advocate of the work in Guatemala. But we sure will miss you living down the street Sheri, Sheri!
Dios catewe chinik, friend!
Girl power!

Always teaching.

Enjoying the afternoon with families of our staff.

Nurse extraordinaire!

Sheri's always on the lookout for a lamb to adopt!

Healing the sick and afflicted and loving every minute of it!

One of Sheri's many adopted kids. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Bread of Life

Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
The theme of bread in this culture is significant and represents time together in family or community. We have coffee and bread time in the mid morning and afternoons, people share bread with others as a hospitality or thanksgiving gift; and Holy Week before Easter is spent sharing baskets of bread with neighbors and friends. On Saturday we were gifted two large breads from some patients visiting from Totonicopan about 2 hrs away. They were wrapped in a beautiful woven cloth and basket from the region. At meal times our "bread" is tortillas or tamalitos served throughout the day.
Bread basket from Totonicopan

Yesterday in church the lesson was about developing the habit of reading the word of God to nourish our souls and strengthen our understanding of God.  One of the verses he used was Jesus' teaching in Matthew 4:4 "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'" Jesus had a way of helping people understand spiritual matters by incorporating everyday physical elements.

Brother Luis Suy reminded us that our need for physical food never goes away no matter how old we are, in fact, we always have an appetite for more food if we are healthy. Likewise our need for God's word on a regular/daily basis never goes away no matter how "old" we are in the faith. In fact, just like the physical body--the more active we are spiritually, or the weaker we are from illness, the more important it is to nourish ourselves with Gods' word. We were challenged to start reading daily or throughout the day the same as we would scheduled physical meals.
I am the bread of life... (John 6: 47) ...If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. (John 6:51) 
And just as we can use food to nourish our bodies, or use it to share time with others, lets look for ways to feed on God's word daily and share the guidance and wisdom we find with others.
One of our students, Meredith showing off her bread making skills at her host families' bakery.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Intern Life

Our students are settling into their homes, half of them here in the Highlands with Clinica Caris and the other half on the Coast with Clinica Ezell.  After two weeks, they switch sites.  They seem to be adjusting well to rural life, and have experienced only short-lived gastrointestinal distress. Here's some highlights from the week.

Travelling on the back roads reminds us that we are to look for the narrow path in life. This month will be an exercise in narrowing their life styles a little.  But Jesus said he would always be with us.

Sad goodbyes as the team divides up to go to their new homes.

Hayley's new digs.

Josh's home away from home.

Cristina welcoming Josh.

Raven getting settled in, with Sara and Osvaldo helping out.

Spencer's basement apartment.

Julie at her casita.

Hayley finally getting some internet to be able do her progress report for school. We ended up bringing the interns to our house.
The conversation at the pill counting table started out, "so I just happened to be watching that show The Bachelor..." Name withheld to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

MET Interns 2019

Our rainy season has finally begun, and with it comes clearer skies, cooler days and our summer interns  for Medical Evangelism Training. We have a great group this year as always, and they have already braved a week in Xela at language school. Then we got to spend Friday through Monday in missiology classes graciously hosted by the Paxot II Iglesia de Cristo. Our classes consist of medical evangelism theory, language and culture acquisition training, bio- and ethnomedicine orientation and easing into life in a developing country. They did great, and were excited to move from sleeping on the church floor to their own bedroom with their host families last night.  We also enjoyed having Alex Gonzalez, our Clinica Ezell director join us on  Friday through Saturday afternoon to get to know the students. Now for some hands-on learning in clinics this month.
Welcome to Paxot II!

Our gentlemen students helping the ladies set up their bed rolls.

Missionaries extraordinaire! Dr. Mike and Julie Kelly helping us teach the orientation classes.

Our first breakfast together at the Sut Marroquin house.

Always room for one more at this kitchen!

Manuel and Juana hosting all of us in their kitchen.

Sunday sunrise from the church terrace.

Ready for a ride to town for Sunday market. (Raven, Meredith, Kristin, Lindsey, Hayley and Julie)

Hadley, Josh, Spencer and Alex gearing up for the ride.

All dressed up for church.
"She has 43 braids!" Raven's hair was all the rage!

Juana and Tomasa and Michaela dressed us up for church in their finest things.  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Spring Break with Harding University

Our fine Harding University students here in Chichicastenango.
  We are sitting here enjoying our day of rest after a very busy week of clinics with our visiting team from Harding University's  Physician Assistant program and undergraduate health science students. We have enjoyed this group for more years than we can count helping us see kids from the ABC program for their well-child check ups. A special thanks to Gary Hill, P.A., Brian Cress, M.D., Joe Calderon, P.A., and Melina Calderon, P.A. for their love for Health Talents and dedication to guiding the students. This is a fun team!
Gary Hill, P.A. and his team of first year physician assistant students.

Dr. Brian Cress teaching the fine art of pediatric medicine.

Physcian Assistant Club--Gary Hill, Joe Calderon and Melina Calderon and team representing Harding University well!

This week we also enjoyed having our director Rick Harper and his wife Susan and daughter Julie Ann helping out as well.  They did a fantastic job breaking out the mobile libraries and getting kids and families involved with the books.  And we are especially thankful for Drew Bennie our South Texas poet, returning this year to help translate and entertain us with his verses!
Story time with Susan Harper. 
Julie Ann and Heidy tag teaming this book--Spanish with a little Kiche interpretation.
Drew, Lindsey, Jalyn and Gary taking a break.
Dry season is in full swing around here so sunshine and dust are all around! This team worked hard hauling boxes of equipment and medicine up and down hills in order to deliver medical and dental care and encouragement to the people in our area.  We came home dirty every day but with glad hearts!
A new world of books!
Sierra getting some help with her paperwork!

Blake seeing where the dirt road might take him.