Saturday, December 12, 2015

Last Day!

Nothing like the last day of work or school before vacation!  We wrapped up the year with a work day in the clinic, cleaning out mobile boxes, disinfecting the clinic, preparing the pharmacy for next year, organizing the store room and unloading our mobile equipment.  We looked through the calendar and schedule for 2016 and ended the day with a late lunch.  We thank God for the wonderful team we have  here in Quiche and their desire to serve him and the local communities.  Taking the job out on the road everyday is physically and mentally challenging, so everyone is looking forward to quiet time at home with family for a while!  Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Celebrate Good Times!

We have been making the rounds to the ABC celebrations in the local churches.  It's fun to see how each one has a little different take on the whole thing.  The day always starts with some form of corporate worship, lead by the kids. Then on to talent show (Bible reading, singing, dramas, skits) and then competitions and lunch. Somewhere in the mix, they present the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners of the points accumulated during the year.  As a recap, the kids get points in the program for grades, Bible school attendance, writing letters to their sponsors, and health checkups.  At the end of the year we tally up the points and prizes are given for top points getters.  Theoretically they could all get 1st prize, but it doesn't seem to work out that way!
They did great this year, with more first place prizes than last year and fewer failing, which is always great.  This year we really saw the older kids step up and take responsibility for the activity and demonstrate their spiritual maturity in their encouragement of the younger kids.  Thank you to all of you who sponsor kids in this program.  The families ask us over and over to personally thank you and tell you what a blessing the program is to them.
Worship leaders for the Chichicastenango activity.  They sang, preached and sang some more.

These singers had been practicing!

First place winners from Xepocol.  

Memory verse competition.  They were all pretty good, but Silvia cranked out the most verses!
Moms from Xejox having a good time.

"Cacahuate"  They have to relpy, "cacahuate" whenever asked a question.

First and second prize winners in the same family.

Egg toss demonstration by Kemmel and Noe

Aaaand, she missed!
Blow up a balloon and pop it while hugging your friend.  Try as they might, they just couldn't do it!

Run and pop a water balloon on your teammate's lap
Chow time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Heading to the Hills

Beautiful mountains above San Bartolome

Yesterday we headed out at the crack of dawn for the end of year ABC celebration in La Palma. This year it was decided that instead of having a large celebration here in Chichicastenango with all of the churches traveling in, we would have the activities at each local congregation.  The cost of transportation alone was getting to be prohibitive, and the size of our guest list too big for the local installations.  With very little convincing necessary, the ABC coordinators agreed to host the activities locally.  With the money saved in transportation, we were able to allocate more funds per church so that they could invite the whole congregation to the party.  People from farthest away were especially glad not to have to deal with a bus-full of carsick kids.

La Palma is a tiny town in the mountains north of here about 90 minues away.  The people walk everywhere--uphill both ways.  The junior high kids live an hour-and-a-half walk from school (no cars), which means most kids board with a family during the week and come home on weekends. They are some of the most cardiovascularly fit folks we know!

Iglesia de Cristo La Palma

Since they are a smaller congregation and don't have any dedicated Sunday school teachers or high school kids, we invited some of  the scholarship kids from the Xepocol church to help out. We had a great time with this small but friendly congregation, recognizing the academic achievements of their kids.  We shared a time of worship, games, Bible trivia, "marathon"and lunch before heading back home. (Thanks to Cesar, Manuel, Tomas, Tomas, Maria and Tomasa for their hard work.
Working on the agenda for the morning's activities.

Menfolk getting pine needles ready to adorn the floor for the activity.
Pyramid building race

Maria and Tomasa enjoying some sun
While talking to the local ABC coordinators, they mentioned how much they appreciated having the celebration in their own town and getting to share the day with everyone.  It was a great day!

The most hilarious competition--moms feeding their "babies" a bottle of milk.

Alberto carrying his egg to the finish line.

Marta reading her "race to find the scripture"  verse.
Cheerleading section

And they're off! Up the mountain about 3/4 mile and back.

And they're--off with their shoes!  Better barefooted than in flip flops...

Manuela was flying down the hill to the finish line.

Honorable mention.

Have you ever played soccer on a ridge?  Let's just say, out of bounds is a real bummer.
So we have 15 more communities to go.  Most of them before we all leave for vacation, so we will divide up all of our staff over the next week to attend the celebrations.  Should be good!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sometimes we feel like the Pilgrims with the New World locals taking care of us!

We want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, hoping that you will get to spend some time with family of friends sometime tomorrow or this weekend.  Since we live in a country that doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving Day, Thursday is a regular work day for us.  But we have plans to eat dinner with Sheri on Friday night and share some good old UnitedStatesian favorites together.  We have to confess that there will not be any turkey on our table, not because of lack of turkeys in this country, but because Kemmel is not a fan of turkey or dressing...alas we will be having ham, sweet potatoes, broccoli and rolls--yummy!   We did enjoy some pumpkin pie from a bakery in the city this weekend, after first being told that they no longer had any as the "season was over".  The girl at the counter came back and said, "we still have one!"  So, we will keep it simple on Friday and have Rice Krispie Treats which are a real treat for us as Rice Krispies and good marshmallow are only to be found in the city.
Thank you, Lord for your generous blessings in our lives and for our family and friends back home and here in our Guatemalan home who love and support us!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

'Tis the Season

It's November, which around here means church conference season.  The "conferencia" is a phenomenon something like small-town homecoming meets tent revival.  The season starts in late October and usually goes 'til February or so.  Typically they are hosted by one of the older or bigger congregations and involve 2-3 days of preaching, singing and fellowship time. There's a lot of visiting and eating going on!  We try to arrange our clinic schedule so all of our staff can attend at least one of the days with their family.  Over the last several years there have also popped up several youth conferences, kind of on a regional basis, which is great for the young folks around here.  But there has been a nationwide Con-Jovens (Youth Conference) every year on All Saints' Day.  This year it was down at the sweltering coast in Rio Bravo, Suchitepequez and a lot of our staff attended. Everyone from up here in cool country talked about how much their feet swelled and fear of Chikungunya virus from all the mosquito bites! Sounds fun!  What's funny is they always ask us if we are going to the Youth Conference.  I guess we should be flattered! But, no thanks!
This week we are helping host a men's leadership seminar with the Paxot II and III churches.  The speaker is Fernando Rosas from Mission, Texas.  He is the father-in-law of our Dr. Sara Castellanos and she and Mario are enjoying the visit with brother Fernando and his sweet wife Juanita!
Here are some pics of the various events lately.

Actual traffic out in the wee town of Mactzul VI as people arrive from far and wide to worship and fellowship. (photo credits: Iglesia de Cristo Mactzul VI)

They filled the auditorium and said they gave out 1200 meal tickets.

Soup's on!

That's a lot of tamalitos!  A tamalito is like a tamale without the filling--it's an alternative to tortillas epecially for a large crowd.  Notice the cooking pit behind.

Do you know the way to... Rio Bravo?  As they counted down the days to the Youth Conference, the coordinators would post directions and pictures of landmarks on Facebook for everyone to find their way. (photo credits: Confrasur)

Communion time at the Youth Conference.  Check out the two-man tray of cups.

Leadership conference for areas congregations.  We invite 1-2 elders or preachers from the local churches to attend. (photo credits, Gaspar Chan)

Hermano Fernando Rosas

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


It's been a while since we posted an update.  Back in September we made an unexpected trip to the States to be with Kemmel's family after his step-dad Duane passed away.  We had been planning a trip back to visit our sponsoring churches Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs and Meadowbrook Church of Christ in Jackson, MS, but were so blessed by both congregations to use the time to spend with family and help Kemmel's mom get adjusted.
While we rearranged our travel plans it became apparent that we would incur some extra expenses because of the flight changes. We decided it was just something we would have to deal with.  But out of the blue, we got word that someone had given some money anonymously to help cover our extra expenses! What a relief  it was to us and we are grateful for the generosity of this person and the faithfulness of God to supply our needs.
While we were gone, we missed being with the visiting team from Memorial Road Church of Christ. This team always comes in the fall, and helps us knock out the last set of well-child checkups for the ABC program kids.  We were pretty concerned about leaving our staff and team in a lurch like that, but were so pleased to see how everyone worked together to make it happen.  We are especially grateful to Sheri and Maury for picking up extra responsibilities of staff and financial management while we were out.
When we got back, we spent the morning in Guatemala City running errands before heading home.  As we were walking back to the hotel down a busy street, we passed a couple from the Chichicastenango area (as evidenced by her outfit).  A few seconds later we heard them shout out, "Dra. Lisa!"  Turns out, the man is a patient of mine.  He said they weren't sure it was me, but recognized Kemmel.    It's good to be missed!  If home is where your heart is, we are blessed to call lots of places home!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Everyone Loves a Parade!

It's that time of year again.  The 15th of September is nigh! This is to Guatemalans what the 4th of July is to us United Stateseans (that's what they call us in Spanish by the way--Estadounidenses). The streets are alive with color and music and exitement as people watch with pride as their kids pass by in the school parades.  The secondary schools from the area all march through town today and tomorrow is reserved for the the elementary school kids.  As you can imagine, there are some serious repercussions for traffic.  We learned a long time ago that it was pointless to work on the day before Independence day as you end us just sitting in a traffic jam all day.  So we get a great two-day holiday!!!!  Here are some shots from our morning around town taking in the sights. 

Everyone looking for the best place to watch the parade go by.
Chichicastenango Plaza--just waiting....!

The smart kids leading the pack for the ITEC school.

Dance of the Bull attire--traditional dance of  Guatemala

Guys on stilts.  Notice the meat market guy is hoping to get some business today--got his little red flag out--that means "fresh meat today".

Parade marchers making their way down the highway to the soccer field.  Check out all the toy and snack vendors.

Cool band uniforms!

And the traffic..... These poor traffic cops are having a heated discussion with one of the bus drivers who wants to double stack the traffic "so people can get through faster".  Never mind the angry drivers that will be coming down form the other side of town.

They did manage to keep the street open for ambulances.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dental Clinic Upgrades

As we mentioned earlier, we have received some generous donations toward dental equipment.  So, we have decided to invest in a larger, but quieter air compressor that will operate both dental clinics at Clinica Caris, as well as central suction, rather than individual units, which gives us more suction power to be able to do oral surgery procedures.  We are hoping to have them installed and ready for our visiting oral surgeon, Dr. Robert Lamb, who will be working with our two dentists and teaching at the end of this month.  Here are some pictures of the construction project.

Dra. Sandra Aldana and assistant Maria Chan attending a patient in Clinica Caris.

Dra. Aura Alvarez and our intern Heidi Gonzalez with their patient at Clinica Caris
Our old, but rugged compressors.  Working hard still, but showing signs of giving up the ghost!
Kemmel and Gregorio working on plans for laying the tubing for the new compressor and central suction unit.

New breaker box for the equipment.  Here's something funny:  around here they call the the individual breaker switches flipones (flee-PON-es).  When you hear it in Spanish it takes a second to realize it's from the English "flip on".