Sunday, July 30, 2017

Drudgery


So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up. Galatians 6:9


When we first started thinking about full time mission work, I have to admit I was pretty excited contemplating the adventure of it all.  I imagined ourselves setting out each day healing the sick and afflicted and sharing the good news of God's redeeming love to people who don't yet know.
Well, that's pretty much what we still do every day, but some days we wake up wanting to call in sick or just getting through the day and waiting for the weekend to start.  Even thought we have some great days and even recently many new people coming to Christ, we get weary in the drudgery of day to day life. So in essence our work is work like any other job. It reminds me of that old Dunkin Donuts commercial about the guy who gets up early every day--"time to make the donuts!"

This even happens to our church partners, lamenting that people just don't want hear about the Word of God.  One of our volunteer promoters was pretty grumpy at the end of clinic a couple of weeks ago because very few of the patients asked for prayer after the consult.  He was wondering why he even wasted his day to be there. Well, yesterday, I tried to make a point of taking patients over to him, especially ones that seemed to be struggling emotionally or spiritually.  I asked him how it went, and he beamed that he spent a good long visit with one couple talking about God's love and the church. He had invited them to services and they seemed eager to visit.  I was so glad to see the renewed enthusiasm in this brother and thanked God for the lift of spirits.

This week we have our friends from our home congregation of Eastside Church of Christ with us. They are all excited to be here and their enthusiasm rubs off on us, so that we remember what a blessing it is to be living this adventure full time!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trip to Chile



Last month we took a leave to go see Kemmel's dad who had been hospitalized in Chile where he lives.  After two long flights(3 hours and 6 hours) separated by an overnight stay in Bogota due to cancelled flight, we arrived in Santiago about 10pm local time.  Then we made our way to the bus station to take a midnight bus ride to Chillan where Kemmel's dad lives.  We arrived at 0530 and were welcomed by Kemmel's brother Bobby and taken home where his stepmother Marcia fed us and we went to bed for a few hours.
Our time there was difficult as we were only permitted to visit during the one hour visiting time each day--one at a time. But the rest of our visit was good as we got to spend time with family there.  We bundled up each day bracing ourselves for the winter cold which was a little more than expected, haha.  We even made a couple of side trips to Santiago and Concepcion where we did some good urban hiking.  In Concepcion we stayed at an AirBnB right next to the building  that came down during their big earthquake several years ago--a little sobering!
But after a few weeks we had to pack up and come on home and get back to work.  It was hard to leave knowing that Kemmel's dad has a long recovery ahead of him, but trusting in God to help him through it.
When we got back we were greeted with messages and phone calls and hugs from staff and patients and friends who had been praying and were glad to have us back.  It felt good to be missed and we are so grateful for the hard working team we have here and the help from Sheri and  Dr. Feliciano Lux who covered clinics for us.
We are also thankful for our supportive churches and Health Talents for giving us this time to be with family and put our minds at ease.  Thank you Lord for your faithfulness.
Callie, Bobby, and Ron (Kemmel's brothers and niece) 

Midnight bus to Chillan--they take their buses seriously!  Only $12 a ticket for a 5 hour trip.

Fish Market in Chillan


Downtown Santiago


Love us some fried empanadas!  This place in Concepcion had great shrimp and cheese ones.

We visited the port town of Talcahuano.

Sea lions taking over this boat!

So many goodies in market--dried figs, raisins of several varieties, dried apricots and cherries.

Bobby and his girl Javiera accompanying us on an urban hike one day.

Notice I have on a parka and Kemmel in his light fleece!

Planes, trains and automobiles!

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago with a view of the snowy mountains in the background.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Snapshots from Rainy Season

The rainy season is finally upon us, and after two years of El NiƱo effects causing droughts here we are expected to have a normal one.  The rainy season here is called "winter" and has cool cloudy days and rainy afternoons and evenings for roughly 6 months out of the year from May to November.  This is the time that people plant, as most cannot do irrigation. Corn is "a thing" here as our students are learning and so are squash and beans and avocados, apples, peaches and plums. So here are some fun shots from the season. Enjoy.

Corn recently planted.  They plant 5 seeds together traditionally.

I love the scarecrows they put up.  This one has a plastic soccer ball for a head


Avocados! So plenitful here.  People are amazed how much we pay for avocados back home.

The tree in the distance is an avocado tree that didn't produce this year.  They have a tradition of putting a ladies' skirt (corte) around the trunk to help it do better next year. 



Corn fields in Mactzul I.  Every family plants enough for their family to have tamalitos and  tortillas and tamales for the year. 

And, of course road work at the beginning of the rains.  In this area people from different communities are assigned to road duty and serve for the year.  Several days a year required for road clearing and grating.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Medical Evangelism Training Interns

Well, our students made it safe and sound and lived to tell about their time in language school in Xela.  Over the weekend we all spent time together with Roger McKown, former missionary extraordinaire and current preacher at Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin, Tx, studying and learning about entering a different culture, what makes the gospel good news, and how to relate to people who look at the world through different lenses.  Our good friend Jennifer Hoines from ASELSI here in Chichicastenango joined us as well and had a lot of good advice for our fledgling missionaries. We enjoyed getting to know these young but eager Christians and hope this month will be a blessing to them and others in the future. Maybe one or two will become full time missionaries one day.
Which one is not like the others? This painting by Miguel Chavez was hanging in a hotel in Santiago.  It gave us a chuckle.

Jackson, Ciara, Alex, Kaden, Nathan, Jonas, Kaylin and James hanging out in the rubber tree fields.

We got to witness a baptism on Sunday.

Dina is one our coworkers at Clinica Ezell and this is her husband Julio who was baptized.

Kaden and Alex telling us about the disease complex of "Susto" or Fright. We wanted them to be familiar with how illnesses present in different cultures.

Jackson and Jonas talking about "Mollera Caida"
 or the Fallen Soft Spot in babies.

Kaylin and Ciara teaching us about the" Mal de Ojo" or the Evil Eye. While they were talking one of our coworkers from the clinic walked in and affirmed that it was common and told us how many people diagnose and treat the symptoms.

James and Nathan walking us through the Bilis or Bile Disease

Our rugged group

"This won't hurt a bit"

Staff Retreat in Santiago Atitlan

A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a time together with all of the Health Talents staff from here in Quiche and Suchitepequez.  The two groups representing the work from Clinica Caris and Clinica Ezell makes up more than 60 people.  We had our director Rick Harper and board member Roger McKown join us and lead the encouraging talks and worship.  It is always good to catch up on each other's lives.
Beautiful Dutchman's Pipe vine at a local hotel. 

"Welcome to your event" We rented a retreat center on the lake big enough to house and feed all of us.

Meeting of the minds. Noe, Enrique, Alfredo and Baldemar during a discussion question.  Brother Alfredo looks asleep, but nothing gets past him!

Enjoying a good meal together.  Rick representing Harding University!

One of the three volcanoes surrounding the area.

On our morning walk we were greeted by these guys.

Celebrating birthdays with Jenny and Micaela

Saturday, May 20, 2017

All Things Culture


Today our Medical Evangelism Training interns arrive in country to start their 6-week stay here in Guatemala.  They will head directly to language school with our good friends Hugo and Elbia at Centro Bilingue Amerindia in Quetzaltenango where they will stay with local families and study Spanish every day for a week.
Next weekend we get to spend a few days together with Roger McKown and talk about missions, cross-cultural evangelism, language and all things culture.  Roger is a wealth of knowledge and we enjoy his take on things.
All of this to kick off a month of immersion into the local cultures and mission work here in Quiche and Suchitepequez.
So be praying for our students as they adjust and learn about cross-cultural outreach.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!


It's Mother's Day here in Guatemala.  We anxiously waited for the pre-dawn fireworks and serenading that usually ushers in this day, but were pleasantly surprised that they waited until sun up this year to tell mom how much she is loved. 
We did have more patients than expected, seeing as most schools are hosting festivities for kids and their moms today.  Those that did come were so sweet to bless us women folk with gifts and flowers.  I got a pineapple, a papaya, a mango, 2 apples, 2 pears, and bag full of freshly picked peaches and plums!  Our dental team got some more goodies and flowers. Maria the dental assistant said, but I'm not a mom, they said, "but some day you might!"  This is a day that women in general and moms in particular are honored and blessed; it was so kind to be included in the mix! 
So Happy Mother's Day to all you ladies out there, whether you are a mom or might be some day or are just loved!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Clinic in Saquilla


So our day started out pretty normal except my friend and area physical therapist, Jennifer hitched a ride out with me to mobile clinic out in Saquilla for a change of pace.  She had in mind working on some education material but ended up helping take vital signs and registering patients when the rest of our team called to say that they had been in a fender bender and would be late. Thankfully everyone was fine and made to clinic eventually. We were grateful for Jennifer's help to get us started.
So, after a slow start we got patients back for consults and dental work.  While Tomas took the truck for a check up Enrique was working double time as pharmacy, lab and translator--it was a crazy day! I used the little Kiche I know to get through a few consults---not too bad. We saw the usual diabetics in various stages of control, a young lady with a pelvic mass, a young mom afraid she might be pregnant after losing the second of two babies from premature labor, lots of bronchitis and some pneumonia.
It was a good day, and one of the patients stopped to say thank you--for the prayers.





Sunday, April 30, 2017

Remember Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth...

Today we worshiped with the youth group from the Xepocol Church of Christ and the Oklahoma Christian University team.  Spending time with this great group of brothers and sisters, we were reminded of Jesus' promise that the gates of Hades would not prevail against His church. It seems like at least once a week we read an article about how this generation of young adults is leaving the church in record numbers.  There are fears that churches will die off and that no one will be left to share the good news to the world.
But as brother Dave Mellor shared last night, the church will live on and grow because of believers like these young Christians from two different countries who are full of love for God and others.
In addition to getting join in on some new praise songs, we were encouraged by Brother Noe Chan to fully sacrifice our lives for God to use, so that we can discover His spiritual gifts for us and realize our full potential and purpose in this world. It was an uplifing message for all of us as Kemmel translated for the group as well.
After worship we shared some group games of Ninja and "El Rey Pide" before chowing down on pizza for lunch.  It was a great morning of fellowship!
Joining us this year is journalist Erik Tryggestad from the Christian Chronicle.  He did several interviews of local members, and we look forward to reading his reports and thoughts in upcoming articles.
Getting ready to worship together.

Group of youth leaders from the Xepocol Church of Christ



Nathan leading some English hymns.


Xepocol singing group--unplugged.

Crazy games of Ninja!
Catching on to it.


One more game...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Prenatal Care

One of the patient populations that we serve is women of childbearing age.  We see a large number of women for prenatal care and follow-up after delivery.  
Many of our patients deliver at home with the help of a lay midwife from their community, and our goal is to identify the patients that are at high risk for complications.
We offer education on nutrition, warning signs in pregnancy, and breastfeeding with each of our expectant moms and round out the visit with a prayer for their safety and development as a parent.
Anyone who presents with diabetes or elevated blood pressure or breech presentation during their pregnancy gets referred to the National Hospital for care and delivery.  
If all is well we gift them a Clean Delivery Kit with supplies for their midwife and a change of clothes for the baby. 

We love taking care of our prenatal patients, and they appreciate the attention and prayers that we offer on their behalf.   It is such a blessing when they proudly bring back their newborns for a visit.