Saturday, December 30, 2006


First, another Merry Christmas to everyone. We are continuing our Christmas tour of the U.S. We've been in Cary, North Carolina for the last few days with plans to return to Salisbury soon. Heidi's dad is feeling better and we're hoping to spend a few more days there this coming week.

We've gotten our sports fix so far with a Michigan State basketball game (win), a North Carolina basketball game (win), a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game (win), and we have another Carolina basketball game and another Carolina Hurricanes game on tap for tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone's generosity this year (our families and friends are awesome!) we'll be bringing some great Christmas loot back to Guatemala. We have lots of money and meds that have been donated to Agape In Action (Merry Christmas to the people of Guatemala), a heated mattress pad and some flannel sheets, some books, a new Palm Pilot for Heidi, a boatload of DVDs and a DVD player, some iTunes credits, and lots, lots more.

We'll also be taking BACK to Guatemala something we brought with us but didn't tell you all about. As of tomorrow, we will be 11 weeks pregnant! Our due date is in July 2007. Thanks to our friend, Dr. Marcy Powell, we have an ultrasound picture to share with you. That will be the first one you see below. How you can look at one of those and not believe in God is beyond us. We got to see him/her move around today and it was amazingly touching!

The second picture below is of our beautiful new niece, Della Scott Michael (Heidi's sister's daughter). The third pic is of her big brother, Boone, playing with his Guatemalan drum stick (it came with a drum, but the box looked more appealing at the time - go figure).

And the fourth pic is of Heidi practicing her baby-carrying skills with the closest available baby(with Della Scott's mom and grandmother looking on/preparing to catch if the rebosa doesn't work according to design!)

Well, that's about it for today. And if we don't "talk" again before then, Happy New Year!!!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas in North Carolina

The morning after Christmas, we met up with Heidi's brother and sister-in-law in Cleveland, Ohio and drove to Salisbury, North Carolina (about nine hours). Yesterday, we had Christmas with Heidi's parents, brother, sister and all of their families.

It was our first time to see our new niece, Della Scott, who is about three months old now. And it was great to see how Boone is growing - he's now a year and a half old. It seems like just last week we were here for his baptism!

The bummer is that the men in the family seem to all be sick - Eddie (Heidi's dad), Daryl (Heidi's brother), and Jeff (Heidi's brother-in-law) are all sick. So we're skipping town today to go see Heidi's aunt in Raleigh a few days early.

And at the risk of offending anyone in our family (who are all GREAT gift-givers), some of the best news we've gotten on this trip came yesterday via an email from our friend Ernest Braren. It seems that our container has been approved for shipping!!!! We loaded this container with medical supplies and all of Matt's recording equipment back in May and now it seems it will be arriving in Guatemala shortly. THANK YOU to everyone who has worked on that, especially Ernest!

Well, we gotta run. We're fleeing the mystery bug that's got everyone laid out here in Salisbury. Pray we don't catch it and bring it back to Guatemala!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone! We are here in Cleveland, Ohio at Matt's sister's house. We've been in this area of the country for about a week and a half now. We leave in the morning to spend about a week and a half in North Carolina with Heidi's family.

Yesterday we got a chance to visit Parkside Church and see Alistair Begg preach ( We download his sermons everyday on iTunes in Guatemala and listen to them in the truck on our way to clinics. Since we're in clinic every Sunday, it's really the only church we get (besides our weekends at the Ficker house - which is just like church, really).

The reason we celebrate Christmas is because the birth of Jesus signaled a change in the cosmos. It literally split time in half - not just on our calendar, but in reality. After The Fall, God's people waited for thousands of years for the promised Messiah. And on one morning about 2,000 years ago, He came. That's why we celebrate.

But HOW we celebrate is also fun. We get our families together, exchange presents (to represent the awesome gift we all got on this day), and eat yummy food. Of course, kids love it the most. That's why almost all of our pics today are of our two and a half year old niece, Sophia.

The first picture is of the Christmas tree. The second is of Sophia playing with her doll toys. She got a whole big set of toys for her new baby doll (a crib, a swing, a bouncer, a high chair, and a stroller - just the normal stuff every baby doll needs!). Note her Guatemalan dress and slippers...

The third pic is, well, apparently more of the same. Oops. Oh well.

And the fourth pic is of Sophia with her new kitchen - just like Mommy's! You wouldn't believe this thing. It has dishes, food, appliances, a microwave, a stove, an oven, a fridge, plates, working lights, etc.

Have we mentioned that she's not only unbelievably cute, but impossibly brilliant? A completely unbiased and clinic diagnosis, of course....

Anyway, hope you all had a great Christmas and took a few minutes to thank God for the most wonderful gift ever - salvation.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sports and assorted other stuff

No, we don't have a TV in Guatemala. It's not that bad, really. The only thing we really miss is sports. We can get scores and highlights online, but it's not the same as watching. So tonight we went to our second live sporting event here in the US and we've got two more to go.

Last Tuesday, we went to Michigan State vs. Belmont basketball in East Lansing, Michigan. Tonight we were at the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons game in Cleveland, Ohio. And we've confirmed that we're going to see University of North Carolina against Dayton (basketball) in Chapel Hill, NC and Carolina Hurricanes vs. Philadelphia Flyers (NHL hockey) both on New Year's Eve! WOO HOO!

In mission news, we've been so fortunate to receive a few more donations from folks who want to support the work we're doing in Guatemala. It is so humbling to realize that God is moving peoples' hearts to support the work He is doing through us. It's His mission, we're just the hands. And we are so lucky to have such great friends and partners both in the United States and in Guatemala. Not to turn this into a sermon, but we have found that when you follow God, things always turn out better than you could have planned. And when you mess up (which we do from time to time), He is always there to help clean up. What an awesome God we have!

Tomorrow, we get to babysit our beautiful niece, Sophia. You'll see her pic below. And speaking of pics, the first one is of us giving a presentation at Matt's parents' church in Temperance, Michigan.

The second is of Matt's sister, Catherine, and Sophia. (We left out the one where she's making her "monster face" - maybe next time!)

The third pic is Dr. Layman and his office staff with some of the sunglasses they donated to us. They took a bunch of the discontinued frames they had laying around and had dark glass put in. When you're at 6,000-10,000 ft elevation and 15 degrees latitude, people need all the eye protection they can get!

And the last pic is of us at Breslin Center, where Michigan State had just won another home game. Go State!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Our Friend

Our friend, Matt Brouwer, has been nominated for two Shai Awards: Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. Shai Awards are Canadian Christian Music awards. Please visit Matt's myspace page, read his blog entry entitled "Shai Awards Nominations" and go vote for him.

He is a super neat guy, very mission-minded (is planning yet another trip to Guatemala this spring), and amazingly talented! We're very lucky to know him and to have him associated with Agape In Action.

You can find his myspace page at:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another Great Sunday

This Sunday we were at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Temperance, Michigan - Matt's parents' church. We had the opportunity to speak in the fellowship hall between services and shared over 100 pictures and some of our favorite stories.

This congregation has been so supportive of our mission with gifts of over-the-counter medicines and cash, so it was a great opportunity to thank them and show some pictures of where their donations have gone.

We got some news from the Fickers this week about their plane. Apparently, the estimate for repair is in the $50,000 neighborhood. We know that God didn't send this plane down just to take it away, so we are sure He'll help us find the money. We also know that He's going to come through in a really neat and wonderful fashion and we can't wait to see it!

Yesterday, we had the chance to go hang out with Matt's Uncle John, Aunt Sue, cousins Denise and JoAnn and their families, as well as Matt's paternal grandparents. Today, we had all four grandparents down, as well as Uncle Dave and Aunt Carol and family friend, Rosemary. This time of year is a great time to spend with family and we've been very blessed to see much of Matt's family so far!

The pictures below are to remind you about the Fickers' plane. The first two are the plane in its original condition in their hangar. The second two are after the crash. Please join us in thanking God for the safety of Duane, Aaron, and Joe, who were in the plane when it had its accident. Also please join us in praying for the resources to help repair this plane and get it back flying again - and bringing medical supplies and the Gospel to the people in the Ixcan area.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Great News

As we continue our month-long visit to the United States, we are continually struck by the love and generosity of the people here. We have long known that Americans are the most generous and caring people in the world. After September 11, over a billion dollars were raised to help the families affected there. After the tsunami in Indonesia, hundreds of millions of dollars were raised. After Hurricane Katrina, entire cities and states joined in the effort to help.

Americans get a bad rap in the media and in the world, but we continue to show, time and time again, that God is alive and well here. Nothing else could explain the outpouring of love.

Our fundraising efforts so far have been successful to a level that only God could provide. Our main focus on this trip has been to raise awareness about the people we work with and minister to and to raise money for surgeries and to help repair the Fickers' plane. (They have a plane they use to help bring medical supplies and the gospel to people who are essentially unreachable any other way. They sustained serious damage to their plane in a "hard landing" a few weeks ago.)

We completed the first leg of our trip yesterday, leaving Houston for Cleveland, Ohio. We are taking a few days to relax with Matt's sister, brother-in-law, and beautiful 2-year-old niece. Then we'll go to Michigan to visit Matt's parents and speak at their church. The church there has already been very generous, providing us with over the counter meds and nearly 2,000 glucose test strips (for diabetics). Our visit there will be to thank them and show them some of the places their generosity has touched.

After Christmas, we'll be headed to North Carolina for some time with Heidi's family and to meet with several doctors there who are our "online safety net". We've had several "email consults" that have been very helpful from this group of doctors there.

Then it's back to Texas for a day before heading home to Guatemala.

Please pray for Maria, our patient who is dealing with breast cancer in the midst of a pregnancy, and while breastfeeding her youngest baby.

Please also pray for Martina, the little girl the Fickers have taken in. She is mentally disabled and suffered severe burns when she seized and fell into her family's fire a few years ago. In the last few weeks, she has been losing her appetite and has been very sick. She was taken to the hospital in Quiche last night and we don't know exactly what is wrong with her.

Also, please continue to pray for all of our cleft palate patients, who are trying to gain weight this month to increase their chances for a good outcome on their surgeries in January.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Busy Day

Something in the back of our minds keeps telling us that we're on vacation, but that little voice is nowhere to be heard when the alarm clock goes off. This morning, we were up before the sun again and headed out to accomplish a few more things.

We drove to Beaumont, Texas to meet with Amber and Amanda at State Farm Insurance and work out a few details there. They have always been so sweet and so supportive and it was neat to hear that they are some of the (seemingly) many readers we have here. Just about every time we start to get discouraged and think that only our immediate families are reading this, we hear about someone else who is. Please don't be afraid to drop us a line and let us know you're out there - your presence is very encouraging to us!

Then we headed to Orange to (sadly) close an account Matt has had for over 10 years at the local credit union. They've always been so nice to work with, too, but since they don't have a branch office in Guatemala....

Then we got to have a cup of coffee and catch up with Matt's friend, Ken, who he's known since high school. They were roommates in college and have been workmates at DuPont for several years. Lots of stories and catching up to do there.

After that, it was off to Nederland, Texas, to return some borrowed musical equipment to Jared, Matt's keyboard player from the last few years on the road. Jared is, without a doubt, the most talented keyboard player in this area - and a very promising producer, too.(

Following that, it was a run back to Beaumont for some WAY overdue Chik-Fil-A and some time with Billy McQueen, Matt's old drummer/roommate, and to meet a new friend, Ali. With any luck, we'll get to see Jared, Billy, and Ali in Guatemala this spring. Also, Billy owns a company that makes custom drums, so if you want to have the best sounding kit in your town... (

Then it was to China, Texas, to hang out with Todd Howard and his folks for a little while. Todd and Matt have played together in several different bands over the course of probably six or seven years. Todd is an amazing guitar player, definitely the one you would call if you ever wanted a guitar solo. He's touring with the Kaiser Brothers Band now and you can find him online, too. (

After that, we went to Kingwood, Texas for a too-short visit with the Hammond family. Matt has spent at least the last five Christmases with them, so this year will be a little different, but we'll see them again on January 4th, as we come back through.

And, finally, we got to The Woodlands for dinner with Dr. Jim and Kathleen Street. We shared stories and pictures and memories for what seemed to be about five minutes. The next thing we knew, it was after 11pm and we had to get back to the Shaw's house!!

Tomorrow, no alarm clock. It'll be the first time in a week. We just have a bit of banking, a much anticipated lunch to meet some more new friends, and then dinner with Dr. and Dr. Hollier. Mrs. Dr. Hollier was Heidi's program director at University of Texas-Houston and her husband is a pediatric plastic surgeon.

Heidi is feeling a bit better, but all this running probably isn't helping. Please pray for us to get a little downtime and for her to continue to improve. And be sure to thank God (as we do) that we have so many awesome friends that we're willing to beat ourselves up to see as many of them as we can!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Awesome Day!!!

Last night, Heidi and Matt parted ways for the third time since June. No kidding - we actually spend that much time together! Heidi went out in Houston with some of her friends from residency and Matt went to Orange to play with some guys he used to tour with. We both had an awesome time, even if we were a little disappointed to both be date-less.

Heidi got home at a decent hour and got some sleep. Matt rolled in at 4:30am and woke up at 6:30am to go to church. We were fortunate enough to get invited to speak at two different Sunday School classes at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. Both of these classes were incredibly supportive of the cleft palate kids and we wanted to tell them THANK YOU and let them know a little bit more about what we do.

We weren't really sure what to expect, never having been to this church. It is absolutely astounding how HUGE this church is and how amazingly beautiful! And the people there are so incredibly on fire for the Lord! They ministered to us more than we could have ever ministered to them. They were very interested to know what we're up to and were so loving and caring that we felt very much a part of their family.

Lunch was with Carrie and Dr. Lambert. Dr. Lambert has been a great friend of Agape In Action's throughout the years and we had heard so much about him but had never met him in person. He is even nicer and more of a Godly man than we had even been told! What a privilege to work with people like him.

This evening, we had another amazing opportunity to speak at Ecclesia Church in Houston. This is a really neat church we had attended just before we left Houston. It's a very artsy, progressive, "community"-type church and we have always really felt like we belonged there. And we got to hear Chris Seay preach and his brother, Robbie, sing - two things we have missed in Guatemala. We've had to make do with reading Chris's books and listening to Robbie on our iPod.

So, tomorrow, we're back to Beaumont and Orange to finish up some business we couldn't get done on Friday due to a busy schedule and too much traffic. But it's all good - we're hoping to see some more friends before we come back to The Woodlands for dinner with Jim and Kathleen Street!

Yes, things are very different here in the U.S., but when you're surrounded by people of God, they're very much the same, too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

100TH POST!!!!

This is our 100th post on this blog and, fittingly, it's about life and miracles and answered prayers. Just not in Guatemala. It's okay, God is relatively international.

Our dear friends, Russell and Bethany Leatherman, have just had their first baby - Tye Maddox Leatherman - here in Houston, Texas.

Yes, we are now in the U.S. for Christmas and New Years. It's a long way from our new home and it's a long time away, but it's nice to be able to relax and spend some time with family and friends.

We've already spent some wonderful quality time with the U.S.-based team from our mission group, met with both of our former work groups, met with a team of doctors that is going to come down in June, and had some yummy American steaks.

Tonight, Heidi is going to go out with some more of her old work buddies and Matt is going to go play with some guys he used to tour with.

Tomorrow we have two Sunday School classes to talk to in The Woodlands and are going to have lunch with Dr. Lambert, who we've worked with a bunch but have never met in person.

Also on the docket for this week, before we leave for Ohio and Michigan, is another meet-and-greet lunch, dinner with Dr. and Mrs. Street, and some more hang-out time with friends!

So we leave you this time with some very cute pictures of Tye with both Mommy and Daddy - and, no, we're not sure what his expression means in the second pic!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Can You Believe It?

This is our 99th post. We'll probably make #100 either from Guatemala City or Houston. Wow, how time flies!

We got the awesome news that Bethany and Russ Leatherman (our bosses, in a manner of speaking) just had their baby yesterday! His name is Tye Leatherman and everybody is doing great. He doesn't know it yet, but he is the answer to about a zillion prayers!

We had our last clinic of the year this morning. Paul and Lindsey were there to help us. It's amazing how much help it is to have two more medical people (and native speakers) along. This will be our last clinic here in Quiché for the time being, too. Those who need further help have been referred to our other clinics. This was not a large clinic and we (along with God) are planning some new adventures in the coming year. We'll certainly keep you up to speed on those!

Paul and Lindsey, for those of you who don't know, are Guatemalan medical students that our organization is helping through medical school. They live here in Quiché but go to school in Quetzaltenango. Their school year basically follows the calendar year, so they are "off" this month and will cover a few clinics for us while we're gone. Thanks to our computer, we will have all of the clinic information at our fingertips when we come back, too. How neat!

Heidi is still sick as a dog. She can't sleep more than an hour at a time with all the coughing and congestion and nothing seems to help. Please pray for her to feel better for our trip home. Travelling is hard enough already without being sick on top of that.

We are just about done packing and will head to The City in the morning. Our calendar for the upcoming month is pretty full and we hope that many of you are on it! Our first few days are in Houston where we'll be meeting with our associates there, attending some churches, giving some presentations, hanging out with some friends, and Matt's even going to get a chance to play.

The next leg of the trip takes us to Ohio and Michigan to visit Matt's family. We'll attend a few more churches, give some more presentations, go to a Michigan State basketball game, and whip Heidi's brother Daryl in trivia.

The day after Christmas, we'll DRIVE with Daryl and his wife, Erin, to North Carolina for Christmas with Heidi's family. We'll meet some more friends there, give some more presentations, maybe go to a North Carolina basketball game and maybe a hockey game, too.

Then it's back to Houston and back to Guatemala where we'll meet the cleft palate families in Antigua for a few days of surgery. We promise lots of pictures from that trip!

Anyway, that's probably it from this end before we arrive in the U.S. Pray for us to have an uneventful trip (that's the best kind!)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Late Night Calls

It's always terrifying to receive a late night phone call. It's hard to believe that your mind can process so many possible scenarios between two rings of a telephone.

The call was from a dear friend in the United States sharing news of a medical problem. The good news is that it's probably nothing serious or permanent. The bad news is that it's extremely scary, very annoying, and it's happening to a close friend - a sister in Christ.

Please include this friend of ours and her family in your prayers today. Yes, we're grateful that she's in the United States and can get the best medical care in the world. But that doesn't alleviate the "freak out" factor very much when it's happening to you! She has had a rough run of it lately and we pray that it's all nearing a very positive conclusion.

Lots of prayers headed from south to north this morning and we hope you'll join us. God knows who it is!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Stories

We shared with you a few days ago the few details we had about the problems with the Fickers' plane. And that was basically all we knew until we saw them this weekend.

After the "hard landing", they took a few days to leave town and regroup spiritually. So we hadn't talked any. So when we arrived at their house Saturday morning for clinic, we had lots of things to share with each other.

Duane, Aaron, and Joseph had flown up to Ixcan early last week to scout out the landing strip we were hoping to use for this weekend's planned clinic. They had spoken with several people there regarding the condition of the runway and heard that other planes were using it. They even circled a few times to check it out. Everything looked fine.

They came in and touched down with the perfect airspeed, set the entire plane on the ground, then went for the brakes. The second Duane hit the brakes, the front landing gear snapped, dumping the nose of the plane onto the ground and dropping the (still spinning) propellers into the dirt. The plane came to an abrupt halt.

At that point, about a hundred villagers (not an exaggeration - read on) came running out to the plane to check on them. Everyone was fine, but the plane is BADLY damaged. The engines cannot be reused until they are disassembled and have the shafts checked. The props are trashed. The landing gear is trashed. And the nose of the plane has a serious amount of body damage. And, at that point, the plane was still sitting in the middle of the runway.

So the hundred villagers literally lifted the front of the airplane up and carried it about 4,000 feet to a safe storage spot away from the runway. That's where it sits now, awaiting some help. It looks like the Fickers will have to drive their dump truck and a flat bed up to the plane, take it apart, cart it back to Canilla in pieces and start tearing engines apart. This will require some help and we're not exactly sure where all that is going to come from yet.

Anyway, that was their story. God's hand was evident in every piece, though, from the safety of the guys to the willing help of the locals, who desperately need medical attention.

So then we started clinic. One of our early patients (whose picture we'll spare you) had been badly bitten by a dog on her way to clinic this morning. We worked on her hand for quite some time, and it turned out that she decided that whatever she HAD been coming to clinic for wasn't such a big deal - she only wanted treatment for the dog bite. Good thing Heidi's a surgeon! This woman had walked about two hours to get to us and was still shaking when she got there - she was pretty upset - but we think she'll end up being okay.

We also saw our friend who is pregnant with her third child (two prior C-sections) and concurrently with her pregnancy, has a massive abdominal hernia. The way this normally works is that the baby is inside the uterus, which is inside the abdominal wall. In her case, less than a centimeter of skin and uterus is between the baby and the world. Her skin is stretching so badly that it's beginning to tear. We (with the help of Dr. Hoak) had provided her with a support brace she could wear to help hold the baby in and provide some protection for that skin. She refused to wear it, saying that it hurt too badly. So we tried giving her some ACE bandages for support, which we think she's going to use. But her sister called last night saying that she was starting labor (maybe), which wouldn't be good because she's only about 34 weeks, which is still WAY too early around here. Please pray for her.

We got to spend the rest of the day working around the house with the Fickers and sharing some wonderful spiritual recharging time with them - just like usual. Aaron spent a few minutes with our truck and helped us determine that we have two bad glow plugs (out of four), which explains why it's very hard to start in the morning. Luckily, we were planning to have those replaced in a few days anyway. We also got to help adjust the pH of their tilapia pond, change out some bushings under their 4Runner (roads here are very hard on suspension systems), and start decorating for Christmas.

This morning, we headed out to clinic in San Andres, somewhat sad that we won't see them for 5 or 6 weeks now, but so thankful for their friendship, prayers, and support. In all of the tough times they're now facing, they spent so much time encouraging us. Amazing thing, the love of God.

The woman pregnant with the anencephalic baby (the baby will be born without a brain - and therefore will die very, very soon) came back today. Remember we told you that her husband left to work on the coast two days before her diagnosis. Also remember that she has never been to a church and doesn't even know anyone who goes. We grabbed Mateo, the dad of our two translators, and he ministered to her for about 20 minutes this morning in K'iche (the only language she speaks). Please pray for this awful experience to at least function as a gateway through which God can enter her life.

We also saw our typical blend of malnourished kids, completely uncontrolled diabetics (one who we had given a glucometer to and just had it stolen from her this week), infections, rotten teeth, babies with diarrhea (which can kill children here), and people who really just needed some ibuprofen and tums.

During the morning, though, a friend of the Fickers', a man named Rodi, came by. He has had several prophetic visions about the Fickers before and today was no different. He had been told by God last night that an attempt had been made on Duane's life and that God was going to send people and money to help repair the plane. He didn't know about the crash. So he told Leslie he had "some words to share" but didn't know what they meant. She told him about the crash and he was visibly startled and amazed. We live in a strange world. There are spiritual events occuring all around us that we don't get to see, but occasionally get to hear about. We know that The Enemy is not happy about this plane being here because he knows how we're going to use it. But we know that our God is stronger and will prevail. So we pray that help will come, just as Rodi has told us he knows it will.

Anyway, we have three more days here in Guatemala before we leave for a month. We're very excited about seeing our friends and family, but it's going to feel very strange to not be in this place that we have come to love very deeply. The affluence in the United States is going to seem very obvious to us, we're sure. It's familiar to us in so many ways, but things that we took for granted before will suddenly seem very... well.... different.

Ah, pictures. The first is Matt holding a child we treated in clinic yesterday for some minor ailment we can't seem to remember. It's hard to tell from this picture, but he had the most infectious smile! And it was nice to see a chubby one, too!

The next picture is of three girls whose mother we treated in clinic today. The oldest was caring for the two younger ones while we had Mom on the exam table and we just couldn't resist the picture!

The last two are of a truck we followed part of the way home today. In the first pic you can see the general state of the roads here. This is why a 20 mile drive can take two hours. In the next pic, you'll see all of the people and stuff they managed to pile into (and onto) this truck. He was making about 5 mph and was probably 15 miles from the closest town, which may not have been his final destination!

Okay - tomorrow is laundry, packing, and lots of last minute stuff to get done here before we leave. Tuesday is our last clinic of the year, and Wednesday we leave for the City.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Clinic Day Thursday

Thursday was clinic at ASELSI. The truck still didn't want to start, but it acts like it has glow-plug issues. (When it's cold, good luck - but once the truck is warm, it'll start easily.)

After FINALLY getting the truck started, we got down to ASELSI for clinic. It looked like they were giving away free...well, medical care. A team from Dallas, Texas was there to help out for the day and apparently the word was out. There were people EVERYWHERE!!!

Heidi and I saw about 30 (mostly) prenatal patients while some of the other Texans (we still count) saw kids and non-prenatal adults. They also brought an ultrasound tech who coached Matt through his first ultrasound exam. Heidi makes it look so easy! If only those babies would stop moving for just a second!

We didn't get done with clinic until nearly 2pm, by which time we were starving. Luckily, the kind folks at ASELSI had made a spaghetti dinner for the health care workers. Yes, we know our patients go much longer without food than we can - they are clearly much tougher than we are!

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home to pick up diapers, formula, and assorted other goodies for the cleft-palate kids' trip to Antigua in January. We won't be here when they leave, but we'll fly in just in time to meet them there in Antigua. Sharon at ASELSI will be getting them on the bus and we want to make sure they're well supplied when they leave.

We also picked up some beans, rice, formula, and vitamins at the grocery store for our good friend, Regina, the mother of Carolina (one of our cleft palate babies). Remember that she is a widowed mother of seven kids, three of whom have cleft palates. We also told her to go ahead and bring her three year old with them, in the hopes that he might get seen, too. But not to worry, we assured her, we will not give up if this is not the solution. We will continue to work until your kids are helped. She is the sweetest lady. We only wish you could all meet her. She really reminds us how lucky we are and how we can let little things get in the way of a good attitude sometimes.

This woman has seven kids, three with pretty significant birth defects, no husband, and no job. She is ALWAYS smiling, ALWAYS friendly, and ALWAYS so incredibly thankful. Shame on us for not being at least that positive.

Anyway, a short update on a few of the other kids:

Osny came in yesterday with his grandmother. Apparently, Mom was sick and couldn't bring him, but rather than just giving up, the family sent him with his grandmother to be weighed and to get some more milk and vitamins. He is still so tiny (less than 8 lbs) but is growing a little and looks much, much better than last week. Better color, more alert, etc. Please continue to pray for him. He needs all the help he can get.

Maria Buchan Chitic also came in yesterday. She is up over 12 lbs and looks great! She has the cutest little chubby cheeks, which are SO wonderful to see on a baby who has a hard time eating.

And Ricardo, the double cleft baby (who was abandoned by his mother at birth so she could keep his "good" twin) came in and looks better, too. His caretaker, Marcelina Zapeta Lopez, is the sweetest lady. She has one baby of her own at home and is doing a great job taking care of Ricardo. We have asked her a dozen times if there's anything we can do for her and she just tells us that, no, they're all doing fine!

Sorry we didn't get any new pictures of these kids yesterday - it was an absolute madhouse in clinic and Heidi is still feeling like hammered crud. We didn't have to set an alarm this morning, since we're obviously not flying into Zona Reyna, and she is going on 11 hours of sleep as I write this. Please pray for her to feel better soon, too.

We have some work around the house to do today before we head out to Canillá for the weekend. A few light sockets to replace, some work in the garden, and preparations for a month away starting in less than a week now.


Oops. Two more updates on patients we've told you about:

Baby Lesly's mom called us during clinic yesterday to tell us that she had died during the night. We offered to help with whatever we can and they may come by today to ask for some help buying a casket. They generally run around $60 for infants. I wish I didn't know that.

And Maria, the pregnant woman with a suspected case of aggressive breast cancer, came in yesterday for her regular prenatal visit. We are still awaiting a second opinion on her biopsy. If it comes back positive (a weird term, since you're praying for a negative result), Dr. Hoak will do her mastectomy ASAP. If not, he will perform a lumpectomy to remove the rest of the mass in her breast and pray that the pathologists got it right.