Friday, July 20, 2018

Public Health

Jackson and Mauricio visiting a family to check on their water filter in Xejox.
A lot of what we do around here is public health related--education about prevention, spiritual health teaching, primary care and clean water. We load up the trucks and take off into the hills. I think Jesus might have enjoyed using 4-wheel drive vehicles to get out the villages to teach and heal in the more distant areas!
We are enjoying having an intern with us, Jackson Higginbottom who will be starting his Masters in Public Health at Yale this fall.  He has been helping us out with water filter delivery to new ABC families and maintenance of existing filters. It's hard work, involving a lot of walking and visiting and lots of Kiche and Spanish!

Happy mama showing off her filter. Love how the spigot is just right for thirsty little people to reach.

Cesar, Maurico and Manuel showing a family how to clean out a stopped up filter.

Jackson and some of our other staff are also working on getting in a round of dental hygiene classes to all of the kids and application of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) as well.  The SDF helps slow down or stop tooth decay in existing cavities.  We are excited to get this started and keep data on outcomes over the next few years.
Tomasa and Maria working on SDF application.

While they wait their turn for the SDF application the kids go over brushing and flossing and the parents learn about good technique so they can supervise better.  Today we had a 3 year old whose older sister is sponsored in the ABC program come up to mom after her sister's class and said
she wanted to learn how to brush her teeth too.  So she did with the next group of kids and and came back proud of her accurate tooth brushing efforts.  That's the kind of change we get excited about seeing--the next generation of kids exposed to good hygiene efforts early on.
Future leadership of the Mactzul II church.
Meanwhile, Sheri and I have been adding in some extra mobile clinics in the churches offering Pap smears and cervical cancer screening with Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid.  It's going well and more churches are asking for women's health days.  This is a good way to get ladies to invite their friends and neighbors and sit around and commiserate about getting their checkups! We have found some abnormal screenings so be praying for our patients that they get the follow up they need.
Appropriate technology--gyn exam stirrups adaptation to our mobile massage/exam table.

Cold day for pap smears! Maury and Teresa and Emilio getting patients ready for us.

Today's lineup of gyn patients--plus an ABC coordinator waiting to welcome the dental exam kids.

Jackson and Sheri enjoying yummy lunch from the ladies at the Chichicastenango Church of Christ.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Precious in the Sight of the Lord

Carlos Riquiac Xirum, nos veremos en La Gloria--we'll see each other in Glory.
Last weekend we lost one of the young men from the church in Mactzul Sexto.  Carlos Riquiac was a relatively new Christian, but was very active in the church and area youth events. Soon after becoming a Christian he decided to study at the Bible Institute of Central America (BICA) in Guatemala City.  After graduation last year, he had plans to start evangelizing and planting churches in this area.

On Sunday morning he was passing through town around dawn and hit a tractor trailer parked on the highway.  He was killed instantly.  He leaves behind his parents and siblings and innumerable friends.

The funeral was impressive as people from most of the area churches came to console the family.
There were truckloads of people coming into town and meeting up at the edge of town to walk the rest of the way to the cemetery.  It was a sad but poignant moment to see how such a young life could touch so many people. Be praying for his family, especially those who don't yet know Christ.  May this outpouring of respect and love for them and Carlos be of consolation and encouragement to them.
Escorting the family and the casket through town.

The number kept growing as we got closer to the cemetery.

Standing room only as we said sang together and the family said farewell.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Well on Their Way to Being Good Missionaries

It's been a month of interesting happenings around here to say the least. But our students are doing great, working on being flexible and making do with what they have. They have now lived in three very different cultures in Guatemala--urban Xela, rural Highlands and urban/rural Coastal Plains. It's a lot to take in but they are rolling with the punches.
After the Volcano Fuego erupted and we began to see what kind of damage was done, we began getting messages from worried family members. When you live here and know how far away things are you don't realize how worried people back home can be when they hear of disasters.  We are grateful for social media and email and phone service to be able to communicate easily with family at home--unlike the previous generations of missionaries that had very little access to real-time communications media.
If that wasn't enough excitement, we had one of our students get sick on us.  Now sickness among the students isn't uncommon.  But this students continued to worsen and we realized she probably had appendicitis and had to take her in to a local hospital for evaluation and then surgery.  Thankfully she is recovering well and again, we are thankful for the ability to communicate back home and let family know how things were progressing.
Whew!  It's been a crazy month, but we have a great team of MET students.  They always have funny family life stories to tell and are quick to get involved in clinic work.
A few more tales from the field:

Payton:  "My host family asked if I wanted to sleep in or go to culto today.  I looked up "culto" and it said cult.  I wasn't sure how to answer."  ("Culto" also means worship here)

Anonymous:  "Some of us don't like using the latrines.  Sometimes we just pee outside in the grass at night.  We were talking about how we get the patients to give us urine samples in bags.  My friend said that was brilliant! Now we are thinking about using a little bag in our rooms and just dumping it in the latrine later! (these are not guys talking here.)

Call from a student: "I am coming down with the following symptoms..." Call back a couple of minutes later from the host family:"Can you tell us what she has?  She says she is sick, but we can't understand her Spanish or her English!"

Talking to our post-op student via internet

Together again before trading out work sites.  Lots of nervous smiles here!

Chase and Shelbi killing it on the tie down.

Payton working on her ophthalmology skills. 

Chase looking for an eardrum.

Jon practicing his fetoscope skills--he might be there a while trying to find a fetal heart beat!

Shelbi is a good sport!

Shelbi working on her deep tendon reflex skills.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Cross Cultural Glitches

I'm not a very good selfie taker.  But I learned today that you can use the volume button to take the pic.  Welcome to the 21st century, Dra. Lisa!

We get such a kick out of listening to the students tell us about their adventures living with host families.  Most of the best ones center around language miscommunications and food and bathrooms, haha! 

Lori: "My family serves me Pepsi every night with my dinner because they asked me if I liked Pepsi, and I didn't understand what they were saying, so I just said, 'yes'.  I don't really like Pepsi."

Lori: "I think I may have told my host family that my dad had died. (He hasn't)."

Ian: "Every night, my host mom serves me 5 tamalitos with my meal.  But I can only eat one. Last night she served me 4 tamalitos.  After I ate one she walked by and said, 'just eat one more'."

Sam: "I was offered a mango but my host dad told me not to eat the side that was too soft.  After cutting around it and eating some, I noticed that is had some little worms moving around in it.  I showed it to him and he said, 'that might possibly be a worm'."
Lori, Brandt and Sam getting ready to dive into a delicious bowl of caldo de gallina criolla (patio-raised chicken soup) and tamalitos wrapped in corn leaves.
Bethany: "My host sisters wait for me to eat then accompany me out to the outhouse with their little flashlight.  When I'm inside they turn it off and they wait in the dark.  Then they flip it back on when I'm done to walk me back to my room."

Brandt: "Last night I had to make a bathroom run and after getting to the outhouse my phone battery (ie. flashlight) died.  I had to make it back up the hill in the dark and I dropped my toilet paper and had to fetch it as it unrolled its way down the hill."

We challenged everyone to eat all of their chicken down to the bone.  Everyone did great!  So proud of these guys!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Love and Good Works

This year we have been very busy with groups and visitors helping out in both the medical, educational and spiritual aspects of the work.  It is humbling to think that people want to come here and work with us and share in the ministry in Guatemala. The church is growing by leaps and bounds, some congregations doubling and tripling in size in a matter of  3-5 years.

But we find ourselves wondering who the real missionaries are--we foreigners or the local evangelistic church members.  As the church in the States and Europe seems to be on a decline, it is so encouraging to see it planted, growing and spreading in this small country.  We are always learning from the brethren here about the importance of relationship building, community participation and love for God. They use their gifts well to spread the word and introduce others to Christ.

As a medical ministry we can get caught up in tending to just the physical needs of people, but we are quickly reminded that a gentle inquiry as to the spiritual and emotional health of the person gives us an opening to teach about the sovereignty of God, his patience and love and desire for us to be whole.
We want to thank our visiting teams for helping us expand the services that we normally offer.  We have been able to visit all of our ABC communities for well-child checkups without disrupting our normally scheduled routes of community clinics.

A big thanks to Hennessey, OK Church of Christ, Oklahoma Christian University, Lipscomb University, and Harding University for your visits and hard work.  Also to Klay Bartee and Gene Luna for your continued work in the development of local church leaders.  Thanks to Melanie Dixon for your willingness to study the local population of families regarding water safety and health.

May we learn from each other and " Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." Hebrews 10:24

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.