Monday, February 12, 2018

Field Study on Drinking Water

We are honored to have Melanie Dixon with us for a few weeks.  She is a Public Health student doing a study on the effects of contaminated drinking water on nutritional status of children. In many developing countries the water sources used for drinking water are not treated so, although they come from springs or wells, there are still at risk for contamination at the origin or at broken tubing sites.  This makes bacterial and parasitic disease from amoebas, giardias, cryptosporidium and e. coli common occurrences.  Most families boil their drinking water, which is effective, but kids are often seen drinking directly from the faucets which exposes them to contaminated water and disease. So if families have other sources of  clean, cool water access we hope kids will learn not to drink from the faucets.
So Melanie will be studying families that have never used filters and families that have, to see what the general health and nutrition of their children has been. It should be intereesting and helpful for us to have some concrete data. She will live with a local family and get a good feel for the way water is cared for and used, and will be visiting homes and interviewing parents about the health of their family. In addition to studying Public Health, she is a Christian family counselor back home--she will be quite the asset here.
Juana, Sara and Johnny helping Melanie get settled in her new room.

Utz a petik, Melanie!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Math Skills

detail of Codex Dresdensis by Lacambalam Image source

For a lot of kids, math comprehension is a struggle.  We stumbled across this article about a math method being used in Mexico--resurrected from ancient Mayan mathematicians.  Very interesting!
Aqui es la pagina con Google Translate.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

All Things

Our clinics seem to be full of pregnant women and newborns lately.  We've seen young ladies with first pregnancies, full of questions and concerns, usually accompanied by husband and mother-in-law.  We've seen experienced, tired  moms accompanied by 2-3 young kids.  There are the pregnant moms who come in crying, knowing they are miscarrying. We've seen couples struggling with infertility for years who out of the blue, show up in clinic beaming that they are expecting a long awaited child.
And we've seen the pregnant ladies, young and older who are surprised (or act surprised) that they are in this "situation".

My heart always goes out to these ladies because they are facing difficult times and relationship problems. Last week was a young married woman whose husband has been working in the States for two years, and now she finds herself pregnant by another man.  She tried asking for all kinds of treatments for imaginary symptoms hoping I would prescribe something to "fix her problem." In the end we talked about how she will have to tell her husband and in-laws soon before they find out from someone else. And we prayed.  She is a Christian and she seemed eager to pray together.  I hope her faith in God will guide her decisions.

We found out that another of our patients, M. had her baby in December.  M. was born with severe facial and skeletal deformities and has lived her life being the family servant (slave) or working for others.  She came in last year with all the classic symptoms of pregnancy, and I asked if she might be pregnant.  "No, doctora."  She had a palpable pelvic mass the size of a 4 month pregnancy and I offered to ultrasound her.  Sure enough there was an active 4-month gestation fetus on the screen.  She cried and confessed that she had been taken advantage of and didn't know what to do.  We prayed together and asked God to help her and give her courage.

Her family told her she would not be able to carry the baby successfully and that it would be "deformed and ugly like her." Over the months she began to change her outlook and began to ask to see the baby on ultrasound again and again.  Each time we would pray. The lady she worked for would bring her in concerned by the emotional mistreatment from her family.  After visits to the OB clinic in the hospital and careful planning for her cesarean delivery, she finally she had her baby.  A beautiful fully developed baby girl. And M. still endures the taunting from her own family, "how can someone as ugly as you have such a beautiful baby?" But according to her employer, M. is a wonderful attentive mother and enjoying her baby.

I don't know how someone can endure that kind of mistreatment and learn to be such a loving parent except by the help of God and other godly people in their lives.  I don't know how an unfaithful wife suffering the consequences of her actions will make it through this trial.  I don't know what to say to the couple who is infertile after 15 years of marriage.  I don't know how to comfort a poor couple with 8 children who didn't plan on having another.

I think there are things in our lives that come from our planning, or lack thereof, and sometimes by consequence of our or others' decisions and sometimes by the will of God.  But in Romans there is a verse that comforts us in all of these cases. Just like a new human life being knit together, God uses all of our life's "situations" and choices and consequences and knits them together to form something good if we love Him.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Starting the Year Off Right

And we are back!  Back to work, back to good nutrition and exercise and all of the promise that a new year holds. 

We started our work week yesterday in Clinica Caris and the Chichicastenango Church of Christ.  Lots of familiar faces and patients welcoming us all back to work.  It was great to see everyone again.
Then today we scheduled a work day to get all of our travel boxes and medicines organized and cleaned out and a community meeting with the churches from the Mactzul area.  It was busy but good. 

Finishing the day on a good note, we heard from one of our coworkers, Cesar that at his church they have 5 who are wanting be baptized into Christ, 3 of which came to the church "on their own". I asked how they had come to know the church and he said that several were family or neighbors of current members and one lady who had been attended to kindly by ladies from the church after several of her deliveries and wanted to be a member of such a group. This made us remember that Jesus himself said in John 13:35  "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

To drive home the point, we had a patient show up today after wrecking his motorcycle on the highway outside of our clinic.  One of the neighbors brought him over an said she knew were weren't seeing patients today but could we help take care of the man.  She then called a truck to come by and help carry his motorcycle home.  I asked her if she was family of his and she said, "no, I just know that God would want me to help him."
So go out and love your neighbor.  The best evangelism is leaving the walls of the church building and showing love to others.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Clausura (Closure)

Our year is racing to an end, and our social calendar is filling up more each day.  This week we are finishing up our last clinics and taking turns attending the different ABC end-of-year parties and graduation parties for our scholarship and ABC graduates. It is exciting to see the accomplishments of so many young people around here, and the pride their families feel. The ABC program families put on a great end of year program showcasing the talents and bible knowledge of their kids each year.
We got a picture of all of the kids who are graduating high school and junior high this year from the ABC program. When we first came to this area just 12 years ago, only a handful of kids from the churches had made it to junior high.  Most dropped out between 4th and 6th grade. Now more are finishing junior high, and families are interested in making high school a reality as well. Thanks to all of you who faithfully support the ABC and Scholarship programs.  You have played a significant part in developing the availability of secular and bible education in the churches and communities.

Graduating kids from junior high and high school.  There are kids from remote towns with difficult access to school finishing!
Mactzul I kids presenting the story of Saul, blinded after his encounter with Jesus, being led to Ananias.

How many memory verses do you know?  This was incredible to us.  The winner, Angela knew 23 different texts.

Edgar and his family at his graduation service at church in Mactzul I.
Graduating class of nurses from the University of San Carlos in Quetzaltenango. It is dificult to get in, and we are so proud of Brenda Yacon!
Brenda walking down the graduation aisle as a newly minted nurse.  She will work with us in our mobile clinics next year.

Manuel Fernando and Thomas Eliseo at their graduation party at the Paxot II church.

Manuel from Xepocol--the second one to graduate in his family.

Church members presenting the  prize to Gabriela--top points earners in the ABC program win special gifts at the end of the year.

Top prize winners Ermelinda and Juana Amelia from Mactzul II with their mom.

The Mactzul I church made a logo for their ABC program.

Jose Luis with his proud parents in La Palma.  He is the first to graduate from that congregation and probably one of the few in his community.

We enjoyed several fellowship meals in celebration of the graduates and ABC program. There are some good cooks around here! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Where to Start

When you drift away from blogging for a while it is hard to know where to start back up.  So nothing like current events.

ABC Checkups with our Visting Medical/Dental Team
This week was spent with a really great small group of people who helped us knock out some of the last well child check ups for the ABC program kids.  We are steadily increasing the number of families served so it is helpful to have the extra hands to help with the clinical side.
Diana and Dr. Allen White and Dr. David Weed

David photo-bombing my nice shot of Gary Tabor, Austin Harper and Dr. Robin and Chance Pruitt.

Debra Blesener, Sheri and I 

Cheers! Enjoying tea and coffee at the end of the day.

Gary Tabor and Kemmel solving clinic maintenance issues over coffee.

Baptism in Mactzul IV
After an intimate communion time and  saying goodbye to our team yesterday morning we headed out to the community of Mactzul IV, about and hour outside of Chichicastenango.  We were invited by this new congregation to witness the baptism of one of our patients that they had visited and cared for and evangelized.  This church amazes us with their willingness to get involved in peoples' lives and care for their needs while at the same time sharing the good news of salvation and transformation by the Holy Spirit.  This particular patient was left paralyzed after a fall from an avocado tree about 11 months ago.  His road to recovery has been a struggle as you can imagine in a rural mountainous area like his.  But he is optimistic and gave some words of appreciation and encouragement to the church after his baptism and we were honored to witness his new birth.
Diego and Gregorio leading the devotional service before the baptism.

Andres and Martin getting into position.


Brother Martin heading back up the very steep climb to the road.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Seed Spreaders

This is a seed spreader from the Home Depot website--the brand name makes us laugh because "Chapin" is a slang word for a Guatemalan.

We have been caught up following all of the natural disasters that are happening around the world and especially in our United States.  It is hard to watch people suffering like that as they lose loved ones and belongings.  But is is also heartwarming to see the outpouring of good will between neighbors and strangers as people pick up the pieces. It reminds me of the the story in Acts of the persecution of the Jerusalem church that caused the believers to be scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.  But instead of the church dying, it spread and multiplied as the believers preached the word wherever they went.

Here in El Quiche, Guatemala we have had a pretty quiet year as far as natural disaster goes.  But on the spiritual front we are hearing about persecution and church division in some areas.  Our HTI evangelist Gaspar has been working with a church plant in a small town that has some very faithful new members dealing with persecution from their town leadership.  The community is resentful of them forming a congregation claiming there are already too many other corrupt churches in the area. During a Bible study visit by Gaspar and fellow missionary Diego they were confronted by the civic leaders and told they had no business coming into the town to preach and start a church. The town leaders began to get agitated gathered the people and talked of detaining the two for further questioning--usually a precursor to a lynching or beating.   After explaining they they had been invited by the family after visiting our clinic, the rest of the town rose up against the leaders and threatened to detain them if they didn't permit them to meet peacefully. Others members have family of a different faith and are abusive to them for leaving that faith.  But, instead of faltering or joining the congregation in the nearby town as recommended, they have decided to form their own congregation and keep worshiping God in spirit and and truth.  One lady decided to be baptized and asked Gaspar and Diego if they were ready for the load of problems that was coming their way if she converted.  They promised to back up the congregation and support them in presence and prayer.

Still other areas are dealing with church leaders that are oppressive and dividing the congregation. But rather than fall away, these scattered members moved and preached the word in another town and formed another congregation that is growing exponentially. Now surrounding elderships are asking for help in how to improve their pastoral skills.

While the thought of disaster and persecution and division are unpalatable, you can see how the Word of God gets spread to places that we humans would not have thought to take it. It clearly shows the nature of the Word as a seed and God using us as seed spreaders to move the gospel throughout the world.  So here's to the coming months of rescue and relief work in the States and around the world. May the church step up and out and let her good deeds shine before others so that they will glorify our Father. (Matthew 5:16)