Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Prayer List

Thought we would send out a little reminder to be praying for little Isaac... This is his ultrasound picture (a beautiful little profile shot!) from Tuesday's appointment. Thank you all so much for keeping him and us in your prayers!

As usual, there are other prayer requests from clinic at Aselsi today, although all in all, the day was pretty calm. The most striking are two babies who are struggling to maintain and/or gain weight. One is because his mother keeps feeding him "agua caliente" (hot water) in his bottle instead of straight breastfeeding! He is less than 2 months old, and she keeps giving him water because breastfeeding doesn't make him go to sleep right away-- so she figures he must not be full. The biggest problem with that is that when you do not use bleach to clean your bottles or do not boil your water thoroughtly, you end up giving your 6-week old baby an amebic diarrhea! This is the kind of thing that young babies die from here, and would be almost completely preventable if mom would stick to just breastfeeding.

Our translators did a wonderful job explaining to mom in great detail what she needs to do to keep her baby healthier. We have a bad feeling, though, that she was sitting there thinking something along the lines of, "What do these gringos know about feeding my baby properly?! I've already done this 8 other times!" But at least 3 of her other children have ended up in the milk/nutrition program because of malnutrition... So please pray that God will transcend cultural and language barriers to save the life and health of this child.

We also saw a kid who was both in March with an imperforate anus and needs surgery. He got a colostomy done as a newborn to avoid the immediate danger of not being able to pass his bowel movements, but obviously a corrective surgery is much needed, along with an eventual reversal of the colostomy. The family has taken him down to the National Hospital in Guatemala City TWICE already, and both times been told to come back sometime later, because the doctor would not be coming in that day. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? It is not cheap or convenient for this family to travel to The City, either... It's not like they just hop in the family mini-van and go! Please pray that we are able to help find them the help that they need.

Also please pray for two patients who did not show up for their scheduled appointments today. Pablo Torres is in his 70's (at least) and has suffered a stroke some time back leaving him unable to walk unassisted. We have been helping with his blood pressure to prevent a repeat stroke, but are worried that something has happened to make him miss his appointment today. (His sons and daughters are usually very faithful about bringing him in)

Another lady who missed her scheduled appointment today is Encarnacion Suar-- She is the lady who has the basketball-sized (at least!) tumor in her pelvis, along with an umbilical hernia. She would have been a great candidate for a surgery by the team from Woman's Hospital in Houston that is coming down in two weeks, but it appears that she has decided against surgery. This tumor will likely eventually cause a blockage of her intestines and kill her unless we can prayerfully intervene effectively!

Tonight Carrie should get here from Houston to start preparing for the teams that are coming in this summer. The first group comes in on Saturday, and kicks off three weeks straight of teams in the house. Wish us patience, efficient cooking and cleaning skills, and lots of love for these people who are giving of their time and money to come down and serve the people of Guatemala on a short-term basis. Prayer is always in order for the effectiveness and spiritual growth of these teams as well.

Tomorrow Heidi is at Buen Samaritano, and Matt and Carrie will be busy around the house. The weekend will find us back at the Fickers...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another note

We forgot to mention this morning that our rainy season has finally begun!!!! We were told to expect it around the beginning of May. Then that passed and we were told to expect it the middle of May. Then that passed, but here it is!!

It rains here basically every day (in the afternoons/evenings/nights) between May and October. The rest of the year it doesn't rain at all. Well, we got rain about three times between November and this week.... so basically, it doesn't rain at all.

Everything looks SO dead right now that we are ecstatic for the rain. Of course, that means we'll be driving through lots of mud instead of lots of dust, but every season has its plusses and minuses.

Here's a pic of our garden, happily drinking up the rain!

Happy Birthday, Heidi!

Yes, it's Heidi's birthday today and where is she? Working at the Hospital Buen Samaritano.

We feel pretty fortunate that she was able to go today. It wasn't necessarily a foregone conclusion yesterday.

We took Steve and Justin to the airport yesterday morning. Martin had fixed our truck the night before and it was running great.... until we got about 1/4 of the way to the city. Then it started to smoke again and the maximum rpms we could get from the engine dropped to 3000. Then 2500. Then 2000. By the time we got to Guatemala City, we were limping along at a maximum of 1800 rpms. Any of you who drive stick shifts know that this is a major problem!

So we didn't even get as far as the airport. We basically coasted into the Mazda dealership and called a cab to take us to the airport. When the maintainance guy initially wrote up the work order, he scheduled the work for today. We told them that that was no good - that we lived four hours away, needed to be back that night, and had nowhere to stay in Guatemala City anyway.

So the maintenance guy called his boss, who gave him permission to try to get us in that day. We needed to cool our heels for the day and call back at 4pm to see if we were going to get to go home or have to look for a hotel.

Heidi had already missed two days at Buen Samaritano to go to Zona Reyna and was not too excited about missing another, but we put the job in God's hands and prayed for an easy, cheap, and fast repair job.

Then we jumped in the cab with the boys, dropped them off at the airport, and went to our OB appointment. We were about two hours early there, so we had breakfast at McDonald's (YEA!), walked around some, and then got seen by our doc.

Remember that the last time we went, some of Isaac's measurements were not coming out just right. This time we saw the specialist, who confirmed that the measurements are still not exactly what we'd like to see, but are closing the gap and he was completely unable to find any more signs of trouble - and he looked for about 30 minutes. So please continue your prayers for Baby Isaac. God has limitless power and we pray that He will use this power to give us a perfect, healthy baby.

Anyway, the rest of the day found us looking at baby clothes in three of the very modern shopping malls in town, playing air hockey, eating ice cream, and basically enjoying each others' company - alone for the first time in a month - and nearly the last time until Isaac (and whatever brothers or sisters he has) move out of the house about 40 years from now. Well, hopefully not QUITE that long!

We called the Mazda dealership around 4pm, as directed, but got an "out of service" message on the phone. Not good news. So we hopped another cab out there to see what was going on. No power. (Welcome to Central America.) The maintenance guy told us they were working on our truck (good news), but couldn't get any of the parts they needed without electricity (bad news). So with a little more praying, the lights came on, they finished the truck, and we were on our way home for less than $100.

The truck made it all the way back home without any problems. It may sound like a weird request to you, but please keep our fuel system in your prayers. Being stranded in some of the places we drive to would not be fun.

Please also pray for Heidi's health today. She's starting to pick up the cold Matt had earlier this week. Matt kicked it in three days, but Heidi's luck doesn't usually work that way. She could be sick for weeks...

Tomorrow is clinic at ASELSI and Carrie comes in to help us prep for three straight weeks of teams. We're looking forward to having so many energetic and spirit-filled people here, but it does certainly affect the tranquility that usually surrounds our house (like a baby won't, right?). Guess we'll have to get used to a little different noise level least 18 more years!

Monday, May 28, 2007


About 20 minutes after the last post, Martin showed up at the house with the truck. Now it runs like a top. He said all he had to do was adjust the fuel pump settings, which apparently can change with time. It's got 123,000km on it (much of it off-road), so things will need to be adjusted from time to time. Now it doesn't even smoke when we drive it!!!

And, as usual, he refused payment. We can all learn a lesson from Martin. God will reward those who have a servant's heart here on earth.

Nueva Santa Catarina

This morning was our monthly visit to Nueva Santa Catarina. We work with a Methodist Church in that village, located a bit west of here at about 10,000 ft altitude.

The church is quite poor - it's basically a clapboard building with a dirt floor - but the people are always so warm and friendly. Matilde, the pastor and K'iche to Spanish translator, is a wonderful man who really understands and knows the people in his area. He's also a tremendous servant who knows what matters and what doesn't. For example, he is planning to cancel church services in two Sundays so that he can accompany a few people from his village to Quiche (where we live) for the opening clinic of the team that's coming down. He feels that it's more important for those women to feel safe and secure on that trip than it is to have another church service that week.

We're still dealing with some mechanical issues on our primary truck, so we took the backup truck to Nueva Santa Catarina today, and will probably have to take it to Guatemala City tomorrow. It's 9:00pm here and Martin (our mechanic friend) has had the truck for about 7 hours and hasn't called yet to tell us what the story is. He is always eager to help us, always does a great job, and usually refuses to charge us anything. (Every now and then he just gets an envelope from us and has to take it.)

Today was the last travel clinic for Justin and Steve. We are in Guatemala City tomorrow for our OB appointment (so please continue to pray for Baby Isaac) and then Heidi is at Buen Samaritano on Wednesday and Friday and we're at ASELSI on Thursday.

Next week, the first of our summer teams comes in from Houston. Unfortunately, we will not be here for a good part of that week, since we need to get our passports stamped. We get a 90 day visa when we enter the country. We can extend it one time in Guatemala City, giving us a total of 180 days in the country at any given time.

With all the uncertainty around giving birth, we are going to leave the country to take a "baby-moon" at a resort in Costa Rica for about three days in the first week of June. That'll allow us to extend our visas in September, and then we'll have to leave in December, which is what we planned to do, anyway (we like to spend Christmas in the US). Yes, it seems like a lot of advanced planning, but that's how it goes.

So enough of all that. Here are some pics. The first is of Heidi and Matt at their "consult desk" in the clinic today. Note the coffee mugs on the table - one staple of this area is their ultra-sweet coffee - SOOOO yummy!

The second pic is of Justin apparently getting a rude gesture from a patient. Don't worry, he's just checking her blood sugar and needed the cleanest finger she had - which wasn't too clean. She initially licked it and rubbed it on her skirt. Then we explained that we have alcohol wipes for that!

The third one the guys spotted outside clinic. We're not really sure why, but roosters wearing socks are just plain funny.

And the last is of one of our favorite little patients, Sandra, and her friend outside the church playing.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Last Batch of La Tana Pics

We said the work was hard. We didn't say it wasn't rewarding. The first pic is of our "bathtub". This was the spot we bathed in the river. The water was so clear the bottom looked like it was an inch away.

The second pic is of a local committee member leading Duane and Matt (Matt's holding the camera - which is why you don't see him) into the mountains for a house call. Duane and Matt saw four post-partum women, all who had significant blood loss, a kid who was the farthest thing in the world from sick (chief complaint was that he cries at night), and a kid who had fallen and broken his leg two years ago and it hasn't grown since. (He'll be a referral to Dr. Edgar, our orthopedic surgeon friend).

With 1000 patients in a day and a half, cooperation is the key. The last two pics are of some "hallway" consults between Heidi, Katie, and Leslie. Not quite sure what was happening in the last pic, but it might have been a discussion on the patient who said that she gets a "ball" in her stomach, but only when she's pregnant. Who would have guessed?

Still More La Tana Pics

The first pic is of Heidi and her translator (on the left) listening to a patient. The second is Justin pulling the top off of a bottle. Our patients don't have the foggiest clue how to open a child-proof bottle. We've seen what happens when they use machetes to do this. So we just pull the child-proof part of the cap off. Much easier!

The third pic is what we mean when we say EVERYONE WORKS. Here's two-year old Grace Ficker helping to wash a towel.

The fourth pic is of Hannah in one of her consults.

More La Tana Pics

The first pic is Steve, awfully excited about the meds he's about to hand out. Second is of the guys putting some poles up to support the tarp/sunshade. With no shovels or post-hole diggers, it's a little challenging, but still possible. Third is Katie doing an ultrasound on a pregnant patient. And fourth is Leslie making sure this kid's heart is still beating.

Zona Reyna

Well, we made it up and back with only minor truck problems to show for it.

This week was our second trip up into the jungles of Guatemala to work with the people of Zona Reyna (formerly incorrectly called the Ixcan - oops).

Last time we were in a village called Saquixpec, the place where Duane and the boys crashed the plane. This time we were about 30-45 minutes further down the road in a village called La Tana. It was a similar situation - there is no power, very little running water, and a whole lot of medical need. There are no pharmacies and the nearest hospital is about 3 hours away on a REALLY bad road. We drove through one river and over a handmade wooden bridge about 6 inches wider than our trucks to get there.

It's only about 150 kilometers from Quiche by road and much, much closer by air. The six to seven hour drive shrinks down to a 15 minute flight. So please continue to pray for the airplane repairs to go well. (The guys work on it nearly every day but we're still missing two propellers, valued at about $25,000.) Also, to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future, the runway in La Tana will have to be graded with a large bulldozer at some significant cost.

Anyway, enough about that. We drove up Wednesday afternoon and set up, mostly before dark (remember, no electricity). We had brought two generators, so it was nice to get some lights up in the building shortly after dark. The government has built a beautiful building there to function as a Centro de Salud (Health Center) but it sits completely empty. That's where we lived and worked for three days.

Ever wonder what the monkeys feel like at the zoo when they look out and see people staring at them? Well, we know now. From the minute we got there, we were the monkeys. In three days, there was hardly a minute when at least some people weren't standing outside the building looking in the windows. Apparently our daily routines are quite fascinating.

So, since setting up was a spectator sport, we knew that clinic would be, too. We were right. On the first day, we saw just over 600 patients. This was pretty much in line with what we had been told to expect (about 1100 in two days, we were told). The first day was all people from La Tana. Consults ranged from headaches and belly aches to some pretty sick kids, lots of skin conditions, lots of prenatal patients (a few with dangerous pre-eclampsia), and at least two machete accidents.

The local "committee" (picture a very laid back city council) did all the organizing and they were fabulous. They provided all the translators (Spanish to Ke'kchi) we needed and also handed out numbers and kept people in line and outside the clinic building until it was their turn (quite a task, that). We ran five simultaneous consult rooms. Katie had prenatals, Heidi had women, Leslie had kids, and Hannah and Megan saw men, women, and kids.

Our pharmacy students, Justin and Steve, ran the pharmacy (imagine that!). The consult docs would see the patients and send them out with "prescriptions". Justin and Steve would fill them, dispense the meds, and get the patients on their way.

Duane, Aaron, David, Joe and Adam (Hannah's boyfriend) spent much of the time scoping out runways, keeping generators running, cooking, putting up sun shelters for the people in line, and basically keeping the place clean and running. Craig and Tomas spent a good part of the days evangelizing, and Matt helped with consults, cooking, cleaning, and even did some housecalls with Duane (we couldn't spare a doctor or nurse, so we sent those two!)

Anyway, Day One finished after dark and found the entire group headed down to the river to wash off the day. We were down under 2000 feet altitude, so it was nice and hot. No fans, no A/C. The river was very welcome!

That night, we set up the projector and a small sound system and showed the "Jesus" movie overdubbed in Ke'kchi. SEVERAL hundred people showed up and sat in complete silence for over two hours while the movie was projected on about a ten foot wide screen we brought.

Morning of Day Two started with a meeting with the local "Committee", who wants us to start coming much more regularly. We would love to. We're praying that some of the barriers start getting knocked down (a better runway, a working plane, some budget issues, etc.). Our hope is that these people will not have to live the way they do now forever. One committee member told us about a woman they loaded in a truck to send to the hospital just a few days earlier who died in transit. This is not an uncommon event and we really hope we can help change that.

Day One was all La Tana people (as patients) and Day Two was supposed to be the surrounding towns. Apparently, word did not get out quite as widely as expected and/or there are some trust issues with the local populations. "Only" 300-400 people showed up for clinic, so we were done by 1:30 or 2:00. Then it was "pack up and go". We got home last night around 10pm, exhausted, but happy!

Okay, pictures. Picture one - we're the monkeys in the zoo... Picture two is Craig evangelizing to some of the local men. Three is Megan with a patient who seems to find the camera pretty funny. And four is Aaron, David, Joe, and Rachel cooking lunch - or waiting for it to cook - it's hard to tell!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy 200th!

This is our 200th post since we started this blog roughly a year ago. Thanks to everyone for keeping up with us this way. We've really enjoyed it so far and hope to continue to use this forum to communicate with our friends and family over the next year.

We had clinic this morning in Chicabracan. At about 11:30, Matt, Tammy, and Steve left and Heidi and Justin finished up the last couple patients. Nothing extraordinary, but some nice time with several of our regular patients.

Matt took Tammy and Steve down to Guatemala City. Tammy is flying out tomorrow and Steve was riding along. Matt took the opportunity to get the alignment on the truck fixed.

They stopped at the Goodyear place (yes, we have one of those here) on the way into town and Tammy and Steve took a cab to the airport while Matt was waiting. The plan was for Matt and Steve to meet up later and go back to Quiche.

Matt left the Goodyear place and was about a mile down the road when the truck quit and started smoking. He coasted into the parking lot at Tikal Futura, the big mall in the City. The goal was to get somewhere where he was enough in the way where people would feel obligated to help him to get him out of their way. God provided sufficient inertia to make that work. Matt made it all the way to the gate of the parking lot before the truck stopped.

The security guards were very nice and helpful. They called their boss to come out, helped push the truck out of the way of incoming traffic, and let Matt call Heidi on their cell phone (to alert Steve to come back from the airport to the mall by cab). The security boss's brother-in-law is a mechanic, who came out and replaced the starter on the truck. Something went wrong with the key. When Matt started the truck and let go of the key, it didn't rotate back to the "on" position and instead stayed in the "start" position, thus burning up the starter. Total cost: about an hour and a half and Q850 (about $120).

So, about 9:30pm, Matt and Steve rolled back into Quiche. We now have a new definition for "long day".

Tomorrow is a day of rest before we head off into the jungle. No alarms tomorrow morning! We do have several errands to run, but it should be a relatively low key day.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tammy's Last Weekend :(

This was Tammy's last weekend with us. So sad that she has to go back to the US. Granted, her husband and her residency await her there, but nevermind that. We had a wonderful time with Dra. Tammy. She got her first paycheck here as a doctora - a bunch of bananas (yes, we have a picture). She also got to assist on a surgery, some procedures, and see a ton of patients. (She also learned some new recipes, something we hope will help convince her husband she needs to come back and visit us again!).

We had a great weekend with the Fickers. Two clinics, two days, lots of fun stuff. Nothing super extraordinary - no fancy deliveries in the back of a pickup truck or anything, but a good overall weekend with plenty of quality patient care and some wonderful fellowship.

We did load up three of the Fickers' non-working ultrasound machines in both of our pickup trucks and bring them back to ASELSI where there will be a technician arriving from the US to take a look at them this week. The average weight of one of these ultrasounds is in the neighborhood of 200 lbs, so we had our work cut out for us!

Tomorrow is clinic in Chicabracan, then Matt takes Tammy back to Guatemala City for her flight out on Tuesday morning. He also has to get the green truck re-aligned. We're not sure exactly what Pastor Eliseo did to it when he borrowed it last, but the front end is VISUALLY out of alignment and it pulls like crazy to the right. And he somehow broke the tape deck. That is a REAL bummer because the radio stations here are terrible.

Tuesday we'll spend organizing and shopping for another trip to Zona Reyna from Wednesday - Saturday. We'll be completely incommunicado for those days because there is no electricity in this area, thus no internet or phone service. We are told to be prepared to see over 1200 patients in two full days of clinic. HOW we're going to see them, we have no idea. But we'll do our best.

Here are some pics. The first is Heidi and Tammy examining the results of a pregnant woman stepping on a nail about a month ago. The second is Justin getting his weekend workout in with Jessie (one of the Guatemalan girls who lives at the Ficker compound). Third is an amazing shot of the sunset over the mountains in Canilla. And the last one is the whole group: Steve, Tammy, Justin, Matt, Heidi (and Isaac - a little hard to see just yet, but still there!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thank You!

Thanks so much to all of you who have written and called in the past 24 hours. It is truly humbling to know that so many people are praying for us. We've gotten lots of support and stories about how God has moved to help our friends and family.

We want to share two passages with you. One is Genesis 18:16-33 and the other is Luke 18:1-8. In both places, we are taught that God listens to prayers and will change His mind if we are persistent.

We don't know if anything is wrong with Isaac, but if there is, we know that the solution is lots and lots of prayer. God can and will change his mind if we are persistent and faithful.

We have been offered a long-shot opportunity to know ahead of time if there is, for sure, a problem. We are going to choose to pray and wait for the next 8-10 weeks to see a result firsthand. We know that when people take matters into their own hands, God lets them. We don't want a human result here, we want a divine one. So we'll continue to pray and wait and we truly appreciate all of you who are standing with us.

The next post will be more about the mission and less about us, but we just felt the need to say Thank You!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

News and Pics

Today was another clinic day at the Hospital Buen Samaritano in Chichicastenango. Justin worked with Dr. Hoak and Steve and Tammy worked with Heidi. After their consults, they did some sorting in the hospital storage area.

On the way home, Heidi had a choice and wisely chose to bump a parked truck instead of a group of kids on the side of the road. So Matt will drive to Guatemala City tomorrow to buy a new side window for the truck and Martin (again) comes to the rescue with a friend who can straighten the window frame and install the new window. No injuries, just some broken glass and a bent door.

We also have a prayer request. We had our OB appointment in The City yesterday and we're asking people to pray for Baby Isaac. There are a couple of things in his development that are not exactly what we'd like to see. God has already worked at least two miracles on Isaac and we're praying for a third. We're intentionally not listing a lot of details, but please pray for Isaac to be the perfect little baby that we know God wants him to be.

And now pictures. The first is of Tammy holding the newest resident in the Ficker house, Sarah. She was handed through the car window to them as they were leaving clinic two weeks ago. Her parents said they couldn't feed her. Time will tell what God's plan is for her, but for now rest assured that she is getting the best love and care of any baby in Guatemala!
The second is of Steve doing a prenatal ultrasound on a patient in clinic in Canilla.
The third is of Justin in the doorway of our clinic in Chinique.
And the fourth is the view from the backseat of the truck on the way to San Andres. Not all traffic jams here are because of too many cars.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Long Day - but fun!!!

This morning started out with a 30 minute drive to Chinique for clinic at Pastor Roy Espinosa's church. We saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 patients there. Then we drove back home to Quiche, dropped off all of our medicine boxes, and drove nearly 2 hours to Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Panajachel is a major tourist town in Guatemala.

Normally, the view is staggeringly beautiful. There is a 1,000 ft deep lake ringed by three volcanoes and beautiful, lush green jungle. Since we're at the end of the dry season, though, there are tons of field and forest fires here and the sky is so smoky and hazy you can't even see the volcanoes.

Panajachel is still a neat market town, though, and we got to do some shopping, as well as take a walking tour through the local jungle. We saw monkeys swinging in the trees, walked across some cable bridges, and saw some beautiful waterfalls, as well as some really neat jungle plants.

We had dinner at a very nice restaurant in Panajachel for about $75 (for all five of us) and then drove home - mostly after dark and through (finally) some rain. Unfortunately, it hadn't rained here in Quiche.

Tomorrow, we get up at 5:30 to be on the road by 6am to get some errands run in Guatemala City. Setting the alarm before 6am is never fun....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend in the Country

We were out in the country for our normal clinic weekend with the Ficker family. We brought all three students with us and had a wonderful time. Katie is in the U.S. for a few weeks to take care of some errands but Hannah is here for a month, which is wonderful!

Clinic in Canilla was great, as usual - about 70 or so patients. We got a lot of opportunities to teach students as well as treat patients. All three students have now done ultrasound exams on pregnant women, have all gotten to interact with patients, and Dr. Tammy (she's two weeks short of finishing medical school) has even gotten to do some surgical work (assisted on a hysterectomy, did a post-partum repair, and worked with Heidi to treat an abscess on the patient you'll see in the picture below).

Yesterday afternoon, Heidi, Tammy, Steve, and Justin worked with Leslie and Hannah to start preparing for the big trip we're taking into the jungles of Zona Reyna later this month. We talked to the mayor of the village we're going to and over 1,100 people have already signed up for consults!!!!! We have no idea how we're going to see or provide medicine for all these people, but we will do our best.

As usual, we spent the night with the Fickers in Canilla and today we did clinic in San Andres and saw another 70 or so patients. Again, the students were very helpful and got to see and learn a bunch more.

Tomorrow we have clinic in Chinique with Pastor Roy Espinosa. Afterwards, assuming we get out at a decent hour, we're going to run down to Panajachel, a beautiful tourist town on the shores of Lake Atitlan. We'll cruise the tourist market there, maybe grab dinner, then drive back home, probably in the evening. Then we'll get up in the morning on Tuesday and go to Guatemala City to run some errands (buy groceries, submit medical license forms for the surgical team coming in June, and have Heidi's OB visit).

Sorry there aren't more pictures right now, but the students took most of the pictures on their cameras and, at press time, they're all sleeping or exercising. We'll post more later!

Here's one of Tammy and Heidi working on a kid who came into clinic today with a large abscess under his arm. They drained it, which was apparently very painful for this little boy, but he was very brave and should feel a lot better very soon!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ASELSI Clinic Day

Today was our clinic at ASELSI in Chichicastenango. Justin and Steve got to work in the pharmacy, something they'll probably get to do a lot more of in the future, and Tammy and Heidi both saw patients.

After clinic, we went to the tourist market in Chichicastenango (and a side trip to the Hospital Buen Samaritano to check on a few patients).

This afternoon was split between working out and relaxing here at the house. Pastor Roy Espinosa came by with another pastor friend whose son just had an appendectomy and needed some medicines. As God would have it, we had everything he needed right here in our pharmacy, thus saving him a tidy sum of money.

Below are some pics from today... One each of Heidi, Tammy, and Steve, and one of what retirement looks like for most of our patients. We are SOOOOO rich, we don't even know it...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Students at Buen Samaritano

Today was a clinic and OR day at the Hospital Buen Samaritano. Steve, Justin, and Tammy got to observe and help Heidi in her clinic and then assist on and watch two surgeries.

Since we're not sure if people have been eating or not, we'll leave out all the "good" stories and pictures, but here are four pics we had.

Matt was at home all day, working in the studio and then cooking dinner.

Tomorrow is clinic at ASELSI. It should be a neat experience for the students to see a little more typical clinic for us. (The clinic at Buen Samaritano is much more like an American clinic - fewer patients and usually more specialized problems. ASELSI will be more like a Family Practice clinic.)

Anyway, here are the pics. The first is of Tammy holding the uterus they just took out. Patients' families here always want to see the part you took out. A little different from the U.S.!
The second is of Justin, Tammy, and Steve outside the OR, suited up and ready to go to work.
The third is of Justin taking a blood pressure in clinic and the fourth is of the crew eating lunch on the roof of the hospital. That's right, it's not ALL hard work here!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Okay, We Lied

We didn't take any pics of the students today. Nor did we organize the pharmacy. We DID, however, get some work done at the hospital with the June team's credentials (without this work, they will not be permitted to operate).

We also got to market and got some very yummy fruits and vegetables. And some fun other stuff I'm probably not supposed to write about (it might ruin a surprise or two).

We also got the internet connection repaired on our desktop! The lightning strike had destroyed not only our router, but also the internet card on the computer. Less than $13, installed. It coulda been worse.

We DID, however, this past week, finish Heidi's Valentine's gift from Matt. Yeah, it's on Guatemala time. Below, you'll see a pic of what the shower looked like before, then two of the current setup...

Tomorrow is a busy day at Buen Samaritano... Wish us luck!!!

Students are Here

We did clinic yesterday morning in Chicabracan. It was relatively calm - we had between 35 and 40 patients, depending on how you count. One was a little boy from the school who had nicked his finger with a pair of scissors. The teacher brought him in and he was crying because he was afraid he was going to lose his finger. After we told him he wasn't going to lose his finger, he got a lot tougher and more stoic. Funny!

Juan Diego, as usual, was fantastic and proved to be a continued blessing to us and to the people of Chicabracan. He seems a little frustrated, at times, because people like to hear the stories about Jesus and they understand that He is who He says He is, but they're not ready to accept Him yet. Sounds like us, sometimes, huh? In any case, we always discuss the fact that some people sow, some people reap, some people gather... It's just our job to do what we can and God will do the rest. Maybe someday someone will come to Chicabracan and find the fields all prepared and they'll think that it's easy picking!

Anyway, we got home and got some lunch and Matt went to the gym. We figured that the students would come in pretty late because they needed to find a Chicken Bus in the City and deal with all that. Roy Espinosa was going to bring some friends over who had been pretty sick (and pregnant) so we agreed to check them out. About ten minutes after Roy called, we got a knock on the door (it's about a 30 minute drive from Roy's house - pretty impressive). But it was the students - mid afternoon. They were exhausted and a little bit terrified, but here and safe (Jeff Gordon's got nothing on these Chicken Bus drivers).

Anyway, we had a great night. Roy brought his friends by and we looked at them (it's a husband and wife). She's pretty miserable, but basically okay (bad case of Guatemala Gut) and her baby is fine. It's also a boy, which brought a smile to Daddy's face! We also treated one of Roy's "kids" for a fungal infection on his face he got after swimming in a local river. eeewwww!

During dinner last night (Guatemalans have a great sense of timing), Jacob came by and we had a nice visit with him. Our pharmacy students, Justin and Steve, speak limited Spanish, but Jacob speaks some English, so it was a nice conversation. Our medical student, Tammy, is completely bilingual, so we're hoping to learn a lot from her!

Anyway, this morning, we went to market to get some fresh fruit for breakfast. It's our day off so we'll use it to rest the students up from their trip, organize some things in our pharmacy (they ARE pharmacy students!), maybe walk into town and look around, and if we have time, run out to the ruins outside town.

Tomorrow will be a long day at the Hospital Buen Samaritano. They have clinic in the morning and a couple of surgeries in the afternoon. Matt has a lot of studio work to get done, so that's where he'll be - making racket.

We'll take some pictures of the students today and post them so their families know they're here in one piece and we weren't lying about that or anything!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Weekend Clinics

This weekend was a little different from normal because Leslie and Rachel are in the U.S. picking up Hannah. And Katie just took in a two-day-old baby, so she hasn't slept in the last few days.

Clinic was mostly Matt and Heidi on Saturday, though Katie did come out for a little while when Sarah (the baby) went to sleep.

Saturday afternoon, we worked on some things at the airport, watched kids and babies, and relaxed some.

Sunday clinic was Matt, Heidi, and Craig. We saw around 40 patients, but had to turn away almost that many. We knew that with only one and a half stations, we couldn't see nearly as many people as we normally do with three and a half (Matt and Craig see a few patients, but mostly very simple ones). It was very difficult to tell people that we couldn't see them today, but most seemed to understand when we explained that two of the three doctors were not here this week (nurses, doctors, there's not much of a difference in our clinics!)

Anyway, we escaped with our lives and our sanity, but next week will probably be a zoo! Luckily, we'll have Leslie, Hannah, Katie, Heidi, and our medical student, Tammy, so we should be able to handle it.

Speaking of students, starting tomorrow, we'll be hosting a 4th year medical student and two pharmacy students for the vast majority of the month. We're very excited about it and hope to have lots of learning, teaching, sharing, and witnessing moments!

Tomorrow morning, though, we'll be out at Chicabracan for the first time in a month. We're usually there every two weeks, so one of two things will probably happen. Either some people will have given up on the clinic and it'll be thin or everyone in the whole village will be waiting for us! Pray for something in between!

We haven't posted any pics in a while, so here are a few. The first is one of Heidi at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, writing some orders (or maybe giving one...). The second is a shot across the courtyard there. The hospital is a two story building in the shape of a hollow square. There are rooms all the way around on all four sides and it's open in the middle.

The third pic is of a kid and his dad we gave a ride to on Saturday morning. Yes, he's about 8 years old and yes, he's carrying that machete by the blade.

The fourth pic has a story. We just survived our first hail storm here in Guatemala. It's about time for the rainy season to start and start it did. At first it was just a little mist, then some nice gentle rain. Then the rain got a little harder, then it got CRAZY hard. We looked outside and realized that all that pounding on our roof wasn't water. Some of it was hail! Then we looked around and realized that it was hailing inside the house, too! (Our roof design is vented to allow some airflow but when it's blowing really hard, rain/hail can enter, too.) We got a pretty funny picture of a bunch of hail on our bed! (You can see the baby bed in the corner next to our bed - that's as much of a nursery as we're going to have!)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Believe It or Not!

After three weeks without internet service and promises for the last four days that a technician was coming that day, one finally showed up.

Naturally, he never called our house, as we were promised he would by the nice folks at the central office in Guatemala City. No, he called Jacob, who is listed on the contract but not on any of the complaint information. And, of course, he had been one of Jacob's students (we are convinced that Jacob has educated nearly every single Guatemalan who has been educated).

Jacob was nice enough to call us and let us know that a technician was calling him to find out what the problem was with our internet. Never mind that we had left both our home AND cell phone numbers with no fewer than four different "service" people in the main office. Two of those people told us that they had personally talked to the service tech and that he was coming on a day that he didn't come. On asking the tech, he hadn't talked to ANYONE in the main office regarding our case.

So, it's not just AOL, there are other companies in the world who have amazingly aggravating "service" techniques. The worse news is that TELGUA is the only company that offers high-speed internet in our area. This is what happens when there's no competition. They simply don't care if you're mad.

Anyway, enough on that. I could go on much, much, much longer, but you've all felt this frustration before and you know where I would be headed.

John Hull finished his preparatory work - at least here, locally - today and will be headed back to Guatemala City in the morning. He took us out to dinner at the Asada restaurant here in Quiche tonight. Very nice! John and four of his groups will be spending quite a bit of time here this summer and it was really nice to spend some one-on-one time with him ahead of all that!

The Fickers just got another baby. This one was two days old when they got her on Tuesday. We don't know the whole story yet, but Katie is the only girl in the house at the moment (Leslie and Rachel fled the country the day before - or left to go to Hannah's graduation - depending on your point of view) and is currently experiencing the joy of "new-baby-sleep-deprivation". We'll be able to add our own chapter to that particular book soon enough, ourselves!

Anyway, pray for Katie and the baby, as well as for John Hull's safe trip back to Houston.

Also pray for a friend we have who is a little discouraged right now.


The only thing more plentiful around here than corn tortillas is excuses. We still don't have internet service, despite being told that a service tech will be at the house "maƱana" every day for the past three days.

Maybe today. Yeah, right.

Anyway, in good news, John Hull, pastor at The Woodlands United Methodist Church, arrived safely last night. He's here for two days to arrange things for the summer work teams to do. We've really enjoyed our visit with him so far. It'll be great to have an experienced missionary and team leader with us most of the summer!

Heidi is back at the Hospital Buen Samaritano (on her day off) to check on a patient and advise her of her options - she has newly discovered cancer. We are SO fortunate in the United States to have all the options we have. There is no reason for this woman to die, but she very likely will.

We also got some distressing news yesterday. The little baby we took to the city for an evaluation of her heart defect will not receive the surgeries she needs to save her life. Her father is afraid that she'll die in surgery and is refusing to give consent. This is at least the third time he's refused treatment for her. At this point, our hands are tied. Please pray for her and her family.

Also please pray that we get our internet back before our computers die of old age....