Saturday, April 7, 2018

Literacy Update

Last year we reported that we were donated 1000 Spanish children's books by our home congregation of Eastside Church of Christ to add to our small library. The books were lovingly scouted out by our friend Benecia Campbell.   There are enough now for four really good starter collections to use in different locations. With our spring break teams we took the book boxes out on the well child check ups to get the kids interested. 

Twins C. and M. enjoying a book together.
After a year or so of promoting  reading and the library idea, we finally have some churches stepping up to the plate.
Three congregations are excited about using the books and have plans on how they will offer them to the kids at the church first.
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But one congregation also has a proposal that includes opening up the church building several times a week with their youth group and sharing the book collection with neighboring families for reading time.  They see it as a unique way to reach out and love their neighbors.
Getting in a little reading in the waiting room...
Be in prayer about the books and the ways that we and the churches use them to improve reading levels of their own kids and of their communities.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Mission Trip

I know it sounds funny, but we are going on a mission trip!  For the last few years over spring break we have been meeting up with our friends from our supporting congregation of Eastside Church of Christ and heading to Ciudad de Angeles children's home in Cozumel.  We will be assigned some work tasks and participating in classes for the kids--our specific job will be as translators.  This year we invited Sheri to go with us to enjoy a little fun in the sun and some work days as well.

Like a scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles we made it last night by the skin of our teeth.  Our flight from Guatemala to Cancun took off late because there were so many families with lap-riding kids that they couldn't get the passenger count right for the flight manefest.  They must have gone down the aisle 15 times with their click counters, every time with a different number.  Each flight attendant, the ground crew and some guy from the airline desk came in doing the same.  We heard one guy say that the kids kept playing under the seats and would mess up the count.  For people like us without kids we were trying to be patient, but feeling our eyes beginning to roll and snide comments welling up within.
But finally we took off--late.  Too late we thought to catch our connecting flight to Cozumel.  But after a less-than-excruciating time in customs, and thanks to taking carry-ons only, we got out to the shuttle area that takes you to the separarte terminal by 7:40 pm. Our 8:00 flight looked unlikely.  But thanks to fast thinking Sheri, and quick acting Kemmel we found a taxi to take us to the small all-in-one terminal desk/gate.  We made it to the desk just as the guy was checking everyone in and our faces lit up with excitement that we wouldn't have to go back and find a bus to Playa del Carmen and then a boat to Cozumel!  Success!
Here are a few shots from our prop plane ride.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Good Things

Our week has been filled with mobile clinics in the communities, home visits with the ABC families and the usual  administration and maintenance of equipment and vehicles issues.  Sometimes we feel like our days all look about the same. But every now and then we get a little extra good thrown in.

We enjoyed a birthday party for Maury's baby, getting there late and thinking everyone had left--but turned out it was taking place across town and we showed up just as her mom was looking for a ride to the party with all of the snacks in tow--good timing!

Kemmel has been busy getting ABC kid charts and data updated for the coming teams to do well-child checkups, working on dental equipment repairs and tracking down new tires for one of the trucks--the last two had to be taken care of in the Guatemala City 3-4 hours away. But at least he enjoyed a quick swim at the Olympic-sized pool there.

I was chatting with one of the moms from a church where we have the ABC program.  She was relaying some dental problems she had and lamenting the fact that she never brushed her teeth much when she was younger.  She said, "not until you all came and showed us how important brushing is, did I start taking care of my teeth.  Now I make my kids do it whether they want to or not!"
That made our day!

Here are a few shots from the rest of our week.

You can't see this little girl's backpack well --I couldn't get my camera out fast enough,  but it made me smile because it has Doc McStuffins on it.  :)  

I love this picture of Danny Suy and his little boy Daniel celebrating his first birthday.  Look at their facial expressions, LOL!

And finally an action shot of our student Melanie Dixon and her helper Tomasa Sut Marroquin out making home visits in the Chuchuca, Zacualpa area.  What troopers!

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.