Thursday, September 27, 2007


Well, we finally got the water to recede from the west courtyard and we have been working on drying out the carpet. During the rainy season, though, things don't dry very quickly, so it could be a long project.

This morning, we (Heidi, Matt, Isaac, Danny, Janeane, and John) got up and went to the Hospital Buen Samaritano to check on Heidi's patient from yesterday. She was doing fine. Then we went to our clinic at ASELSI.

We had our normal load of patients today, but an especially high number of "spiritual" cases. One woman used to go to church but then dropped out after her daughter slept with a married man. No one told her she wasn't welcome any more, but she just felt like she couldn't go back. Another man used to be a church member and had accepted Jesus, but some bad things happened to his family and he didn't feel like God helped him enough, so he's gone back to the Mayan religion. Another man can't sleep at night because he's afraid he's going to die. He says he's saved but is still terrified of death. We spent a lot of time with each of these patients and even involved ASELSI's pastoral care team. (They're also a Bible school, so there are plenty of pastors around.)

On that note, we can be sure that it's not just in Guatemala that people can feel alienated from their church in times of trouble. We need to make sure that people feel welcomed and accepted in our churches, even if they've made bad decisions (because who hasn't?). God does not approve of our bad behavior, but he will never reject us as people.

One patient who we diagnosed with twins during her pregnancy came back. We had advised her to go to a hospital for the delivery since midwives are not trained in how to deal with twins. She came back for another prenatal visit to the Velillas (a couple who does clinic there once a month) and they gave her the same advice. She ignored the advice, gave birth in her home, and one of the babies died. The level of distrust of the national health care system is very, very high here.

Since we're on asides today, we now have a small inkling of how God feels when He gives us excellent advice and we refuse to take it, then come running back to Him complaining about what happened to us when we ignored Him.

We saw a new (to ASELSI) diabetic patient who was supposedly told by a Guatemalan doctor (who diagnosed her with diabetes) to only eat fruit and drink milk. We have no evidence that this is what he told her, other than her word, but we hear things like this all of the time. Those of you who live in the United States, take a minute and thank God for the level of training American doctors receive.

Heidi also acquired another surgery from a woman who has a completely prolapsed uterus, as well as a prolapsed anus. (Sorry, I don't make this stuff up.) She will see this patient in her clinic at Buen Samaritano tomorrow for some pre-surgical consultation.

John got a chance to see Heidi in action in clinic and also had a chance to step out for a few minutes and see the world-famous Chichicastenango market. Then this afternoon, he had a meeting with the director of the hospital here in Quiche who is looking for some additional financial assistance for some projects he has in mind.

Tomorrow is Heidi's clinic at Buen Samaritano. John has a few last minute business items to finish, then we'll get ready for the weekend trip to Canilla. Aaron and Katie's wedding is this coming Wednesday, so we'll be bringing lots of extra stuff out to help with that. Please continue to pray for our truck as well as for all of the patients we listed above.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Isaac was so kind to let us sleep in today - really. He had a rather odd sleep schedule last night, but it resulted in him not really waking up until around 8am. Since we didn't have anything scheduled this morning, we got a nice "sleep-in".

Heidi went to market and Matt went to the gym (not at the same time, of course, Isaac doesn't do well in either place) and John went to spend some time with Jacob and visit Eliseo.

Then, about 1pm, Heidi went to Buen Samaritano for her surgery. One of the patients she was going to operate on is still a bit anemic and Heidi didn't feel too good about operating on her without some blood on standby. The woman's family will have to donate some blood and we'll continue her iron treatments to try to make sure she doesn't bleed out on the table.

Heidi did get to do a vaginal hysterectomy, though, and our friends Janeane and Danny assisted. Then they came to the house to have dinner with us, will spend the night, then go to Chichi with us for clinic at ASELSI tomorrow.

We had some pretty heavy rains this afternoon, so when Matt, John, and Isaac went down to Chichi to get Heidi, Janeane and Danny, the drive was, well, interesting. The green truck doesn't have A/C, so we're stuck between not being able to see if we keep the windows up (foggy windows) and getting soaked if we put them down. So it was up and down, up and down, up and down... Then we did it Guatemalan-style and came back to the house with three adults and a carseat in the backseat. Wee!!!

When we got home, John noticed that there was about an inch of standing water at our back door, threatening all of our electronics, which are located within about six feet of that door. With all the heavy rains, the drain in our west courtyard plugged and we had about 8" of water in the courtyard. So Matt slogged into the courtyard to unplug the drain while everyone else started trying to sweep water out of the house. Again, every day is an adventure.

More bad news on the Mazda. The dealership in Guatemala City called and said that it looks like the reason we're losing coolant is that it's leaking into the cylinders. They need to pull the engine and see how much damage we have. We'll be without the truck for at least ten days, maybe more. We were able to find an air filter for the green truck today, but it's still sucking wind, so hopefully it'll get us through the next two weeks. Keep our vehicles in your prayers. Those of you who've never been here will think that's weird, but our lives and the lives of our patients often depend on those vehicles getting us to where we need to be.

Heidi went down to the National Hospital today to check on the little girl that Jim, Roy, and John brought in on Sunday with pneumonia. She was discharged yesterday after only two days of IV antibiotics. It's likely that they gave her a prescription for oral antibiotics and even more likely that the parents didn't fill that prescription because they can't afford it. Please keep her in your prayers. Two days of antibiotics probably aren't going to do much good, but God can...

Again, tomorrow is ASELSI. Heidi has to check on her surgical patient before that, though, so it'll be an early morning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Weekend through Today

Saturday was our normal clinic in Canilla. We started to head out that direction and no sooner made it to the edge of town than our newly repaired truck overheated. We pulled over, let the truck cool, then tried again to head down the road with some prayer coverage. God's answer was "no" (this does occasionally happen!). So we turned around and came home.

After letting the truck cool, we found that we were down MORE THAN A GALLON on our radiator! Mazda had just serviced the coolant system on the truck the week before, so we were a little baffled. We filled the radiator up and went to Canilla. On the way, we realized that waiting for Martin to come back from the US to help us change the bushings on the truck was probably not feasible.

Thankfully, David helped us change the bushings and the truck drives COMPLETELY differently. It no longer feels like the front wheels are going to fall off!

Anyway, clinic went fine - we were very excited to meet Ryan and Katie Ficker (as well as their unborn child) for the first time. We've grown so very close to their family that it really completed things to be able to meet the last members of the family!

Saturday evening, we called Quiche to find that Jim, Roy, and John had had a very eventful trip to the house - there was rain, fog, darkness, and a rockslide. So they were thankful that Heidi had made them dinner and it was waiting for them in the fridge when they got here.

Sunday, the guys came over to San Andres to meet Heidi, Leslie, Rachel and the two Katies for clinic. Heidi had a very exciting patient. A girl came in only five weeks pregnant and wanted to know if there was a pill to make the baby go away. Heidi explained our beliefs on that topic and asked if there was something behind the desire to do that. She said that her husband has been in the United States for three years and that he probably wouldn't be too happy about this. Heidi asked her if she was in a church. No. Does she believe in God? Yes. Does she know Jesus Christ? Who? Hmmm... Let's talk.

So Heidi spent a lot of time with this patient, explaining the concept of sin, forgiveness, and grace. After this, she asked if the girl wanted to speak to our translators' dad, who is an excellent evangelist (and K'iche speaker). She said yes. Mateo came over and spent some time with her and the last we heard, she is interested in getting to know this Jesus who doesn't hate her for what happened. Now THAT'S what we're really here for!

Sunday afternoon, we got home and spent a really nice evening with Jim, Roy, and John. (See pic #1).

Monday, the guys went to go work on some business items here and we went to clinic in Nueva Santa Catarina. We saw about an average number of patients there (30-40, but who's counting?). As always, Matilde did a great job of explaining health items, as well as taking opportunities to promote his church. His wife, Maria, helped a BUNCH by carrying Isaac around on her back while we did consults. He, naturally, slept a good part of the time.

Today was Jim and Roy's flight out of the City. We left at 4:45 am to avoid the construction that stops the road for 1-2 hours at a time that starts at 6am. We stopped for breakfast in Chimaltenango and the grey truck wouldn't start (we were taking both trucks back to the City to leave the grey truck for some more work at the Mazda dealership.) It has been starting quite hard since they worked on it last and the hard starts basically killed the battery. Coincidentally(??), our friend Jenny Trig pulled in. No one had jumper cables, but Jenny marshalled several people in the restaurant to help us push the truck out of the parking spot, then Jim push started us with the green truck. Every day an adventure, right? Thanks, Jenny!!

We made it into the City, dropped off the grey truck at the dealership, went to UNICAR to meet with Dr. Cruz Molina and bring him some surgical supplies from the US, then dropped Jim and Roy off at the airport. It was really good to see them again and we're looking forward to seeing Roy here again shortly.

Then John and Matt had some shopping to do, made a run to Antigua to drop off a check at our travel agent's, then drove back to Quiche. We had already had one truck problem today, but it seemed to be a double-dose kind of day, so we struggled all the way home in the green truck that seems to have some type of fuel delivery problem. Grr....

Anyway, tomorrow, John is doing some more business here in town, Heidi has two surgeries (if one of her patients isn't too sick), and our friends Janeane and Danny are coming over for dinner tomorrow after the surgeries. They'll spend the night, then go help us at ASELSI on Thursday.

Heidi was home all day with Isaac, who was pretty good for a while, then a little less than good for a while. We love him very much, but as you parents know, sometimes it's a good thing that love is unconditional!

While we're sharing pics, we'll show one of him from today, then a composite of Mommy, Isaac, and Daddy - all at about the same age. Clearly, Isaac is far cuter than either of his parents were, causing us to question some of that "genetics" stuff...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday and Friday

Thursday morning we had clinic at ASELSI. Isaac had been a bit of a bear all afternoon and evening on Wednesday but Thursday morning seemed better.

We saw about 30-35 patients at ASELSI, including several new prenatal patients. Among them was our friend Laura Maria Hernandez, who you might remember as our first patient with the molar pregnancy (who we had admitted to the hospital here in Quiche, she spent 10 days here for a 10 minute procedure, then we had to ambush her at her house to confirm that the hospital got all of the tumor, etc.). Well, thanks be to God, she is now pregnant with a BABY, not a tumor!!!

One of our diabetic patients came in looking like she had lost a fight. Well, she had. She got beat up by three drunk guys a few days ago, but was really more interested in getting her diabetes meds. She basically shook off the whole thing as one of those things that just happens sometimes. Grrr...

We also found out about a young woman who turned up pregnant, infuriating her father, who won't let her leave the house. A midwife came in and told her that she's pregnant with twins. Midwives have been right and wrong on that particular issue, so we are sending a Mayan woman who knows the family out to ask if the father would allow us to bring an ultrasound in and check her. She will explain that if the midwife is right and his daughter is not properly cared for, she could be in some real trouble. We are praying that he will let us try to help her.

Thursday afternoon, Heidi had two surgeries: one a vaginal hysterectomy and reconstruction (vag-a-thon) that took a few hours, and an oopherectomy (removal of an ovary) that had been entrapped in some surgical scarring and was really hurting the patient quite badly. Two women's lives will be changed rather dramatically for the better as a result of this work. However, she didn't get done until nearly 9pm.

Isaac was being a bit of a knucklehead for Matt at home and shortly after 5pm, launched into an hour long tirade that left Matt afraid that something was going to pop! So he packaged up Isaac in the truck and left for Chichi. The screaming must have damaged Matt's brain a little, though, because he arrived in Chichi with a quiet child but no reading material. So he was stuck with "Operative Gynecology" for about an hour and a half. He won't make that mistake again.

Today, Isaac woke up a little angel and pretty much stayed that way all day. Maybe he DID pop something! Heidi was at the Hospital Buen Samaritano this morning and had some excellent patients. One was a cervical cancer patient who has thus far jumped through all the hoops put out for her by the Guatemalan health-care system, including a visit to INCAN, the cancer hospital here. Heidi called INCAN to get some test results and was pleasantly surprised at their helpfulness, friendliness, and efficiency. It looks like Heidi will be able to help this woman with a surgery next Wednesday.

She also had a visitor this morning at Buen Samaritano. Maria Suy Chan, the breast cancer patient who Heidi and Dr. Hoak tried to schedule for a mastectomy nearly a year ago (she finally declined the surgery, went to Guate, was admitted for a week then told they couldn't operate because she was pregnant, then declined any treatment for several months, then finally got her surgery in Guate) came by to give Heidi a gift for all her help. It's a beautiful skirt that will probably get worn quite a bit! (Heidi was a little hacked that it was an XL, but compared to Guatemalan women who are mostly a foot shorter than her....anyway.)

This afternoon, we dropped off a key to the green truck and the house, along with some money to Jacob at the Utatlan school. He just had eye surgery, so he is sending Juan Par and Jacobito (Jacob Jr.) to go get Jim, Roy, and John tomorrow at the Guatemala City airport. Our green truck is still there, so they will bring it back with them. Jacob called this evening to tell us that they had some problems getting the truck out of the parking lot. Apparently, during this week, with no signage to this effect, the parking lot changed hands. It is no longer a private parking lot, it belongs to the Civil Air Patrol (or the Guatemalan equivalent thereof). Jacobito is obviously fluent in Spanish, is experienced in negotiating the Guatemalan "system" and is a law student, so he got the truck out with a few photocopies of various documents. Another example of God always sending the right person for the job. Whew! (Matt was supposed to fly down with Duane this morning to get the truck out and would probably still be standing there arguing with someone.)

Anyway, here are some pics of Isaac, Heidi, and Matt in clinic on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Totonicapan Clinic

A few months ago, we got a call from a pastor in Totonicapan looking for Dr. Street. We told him that Dr. Street has returned to the United States but that we are doing our best to take his place. He said that he was trying to do some outreach with his church and that they were hoping to bring in some different doctors to bring people into the church who wouldn't ordinarily come.

After Isaac's birth, we've been trying to cut our schedule from 6 days a week back to 5, but we're having very little luck with that. Heidi has had surgeries scheduled at Buen Samaritano nearly every Wednesday, which was supposed to be our second day off. But we're not really here to take time off, so we're picking up some "odd jobs" on Wednesdays.

We agreed to go to Totonicapan to do a clinic to check out the church, the pastor, the people, etc. and try to get an idea of what God wants us to do. And since we've seen signs to Totonicapan all over the place and have joked that it's the town you can get to from everywhere, we thought it'd be fun. We were right.

The church building is incredible. It's very well done and the most like an American church we've seen since we've been here (outside of the Catholic cathedrals). The people at the church were amazingly friendly, too. Apparently they thought we looked a little thin, because they were trying to feed us from the moment we walked in. Being as it was the first time there, and we had warned them that we cannot be a blessing to 100 people in a day, the turnout was small, but good. We saw between 15-20 patients, but were able to spend some good time with each one. The pastor was downstairs talking with each person who came in, including the few that are part of his congregation.

Anyway, we are going to pray a lot about this place, but we have agreed to go back in November with the exact date depending on our next trip up into Zona Reyna. Please pray for us to have some wisdom and guidance about what we're supposed to do with this.

Yesterday, we got a call from Leslie letting us know that her son David was bringing a patient to us from their clinic in Chiminicijuan. Not really to us, but to the hospital, and could we please try to help out? Of course. About two minutes later, David knocked on our door. He had driven nearly two hours on some of the worst roads we've seen here in Guatemala to bring us this baby with pneumonia, but to save a life, you're willing to do a lot.

The baby was admitted to the hospital last night and the family was told to expect a stay of nearly a week. When we got back from clinic this afternoon, Heidi went to go check on them and found that they had left the hospital AMA (against medical advice). Sometimes this job can be very frustrating!

On the U.S. front, one of our nieces we've been expecting was born earlier this week. She was not expected to be the first of the two, which made her a bit early, but she is doing well, all things considered. Her mom is having a bit of a rough ride, though, so please keep all of them in your prayers. And our other niece-to-be's mom is struggling a bit, too. Again, please keep all mommies and babies in your prayers, but especially our two sisters (slash-sisters-in-law).

Tomorrow we're at ASELSI in the morning and Heidi has two surgeries in the afternoon. And Friday, Heidi is at Buen Samaritano and Matt is going to try to go to Guatemala City to get the green truck and bring it home from the airport parking lot where it's patiently waiting for us.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend Trip

Well, Matt made three trips to Guatemala City this week. The first was to take the truck to the Mazda dealership on Tuesday. He managed a ride back to Chichi with Dr. Hoak that day. Wednesday, we got a call from the dealership that they wanted to do about $1100 worth of work to the truck. So, Thursday, Matt rode down with Leslie and Sonya to look at the truck and decide what needed to be done this week and what could wait (i.e., be done by Martin).

Friday, Matt was going to go BACK to the City to get the truck by himself (somehow) then drive it back. But Heidi had a short day at Buen Samaritano, so we all went together as a family in the green truck. We picked up the truck, paid the $500 tab, dropped off a truck part for Matt Capehart at the Land Rover dealership, went shopping at a mall, had dinner at Applebee's, and went to our hotel in Guatemala City (who now knows us by name).

However, at 4am, we got up and headed to Canilla for clinic. It was a nearly five hour drive and the road between Zacualpa and Canilla was as bad as we've seen it. There was at least one occasion when we BOTH thought we were going to be stuck and more than a few occasions when at least Matt thought we might get high-centered on some large rocks in the road. But, with some divine assistance (which was frequently called for), we made it. David Ficker even admitted that he had been waiting most of the morning for us to call and ask him to come get us with the tractor! Welcome to Guatemala!

Well, last week's clinic was cancelled due to the Fickers being stuck in Guatemala City, so this week's was about twice as busy as usual. Nothing terribly noteworthy, but nearly double the normal load of patients.

The boys spent the day working on the back of the hangar (Aaron and Katie's soon-to-be house) mostly building a roof over their patio.

Today, there were about 80 patients in San Andres, a pretty average day there, but some VERY sick people. We didn't get home to Quiche until after 5pm. At one point, David had to make a run from Canilla to San Andres on his dirt bike to take some NG tubes for a severely malnourished baby. Heidi saw a boy with some very disturbing markings - possible leukemia. About half of Leslie's nutrition kids were sick with possible pneumonia. Mostly just a bunch of really sick people.

Tomorrow is our clinic in Chicabracan. Tuesday is a day off - Matt will try to go back to Guatemala City and get the green truck we left there on Saturday morning (there's NO way it would have made it to Canilla on those roads). Wednesday is a "trial" clinic in Totonicapan (a local pastor called and asked us to come do a clinic there - maybe God will lead us to make this a regular stop). Thursday is ASELSI in the morning and and two surgeries in the afternoon. Friday is clinic at Buen Samaritano.

We forgot to send the camera to clinic with Heidi this morning, so you get some pics of Isaac hanging out while the boys were working at the airport. He's sleeping in two of them and just chilling out in the other two. Note the different outfits. Those of you who have kids will know why.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Surgery Day

Yesterday, Matt left Quiche at about 4:20 in the morning to go to Guatemala City with the grey truck. He arrived at the Mazda dealership at 7:20. We're getting some smoke out of the vents when we try to use the heater and we're losing coolant - the thought is that it's probably a heater coil. Also, since it's there, we'll have them look at the steering, suspension, and braking systems - just to make sure nothing has rattled loose, or is about to.

The dealership said they couldn't even start on the truck until today, so Matt had to figure out how to get back home. First, he took a taxi to Migracion to get our passports back after we had to leave them there for a few days to get our 90-day extension. Then, a two hour walk to the Guatemala City airport.

Heidi had done some calling around and found out that Pastor Roy was going to Guatemala City in the afternoon and would give Matt a ride home. So there was some time to kill, as it was still only 10:30 in the morning. Matt decided to check out renting a car instead. Just as he handed his debit card over to rent a small car for a few days, Dr. Hoak called and said he was in the City and offered a ride back.

In the meantime, Leslie called Heidi to tell her they were bringing a patient from their clinic in Chiminicijuan to the Hospital Buen Samaritano. She's in her 40s but looks a whole lot older. She has a mass in her abdomen about the size of a basketball. So we all met in Chichicastenango to take a look at her (Heidi, Isaac, Matt, Dr. Hoak, and Duane and Leslie) - a big ol' gringo reunion.

Heidi and Dr. Hoak already had three surgical cases scheduled for today, so we added this patient and made it four. The anesthesiologist was scheduled to arrive at 10:00am today, so we headed back down to Chichi this morning.

Well, 10:00am GST (Guatemala Standard Time) is closer to noon, gringo time, so we waited a while. We got to sit down to a nice lunch at a restaurant in Chichi - just about the time the anesthesiologist showed up. So Heidi left and Matt got her order to-go and brought it to her office for her.

Also, this morning, the Mazda dealership called with an estimate on the heater coil (a few hundred dollars, but three days worth of labor) and about a $1000 list of other things they want to do. Our "mechanic" Spanish isn't too good, so Matt's going BACK to Guatemala City tomorrow to have them put their fingers on everything they want to change. We'll give Si's and No's as necessary. Luckily, our friends Leslie (not Ficker, Capehart) and Sonya are heading down to Guatemala City tomorrow to pick their husbands up from the airport. So Matt hitches his second ride in three days.

After our interrupted lunch, Matt and Isaac came back to Quiche to hang out at the house and wait for Heidi to call and say she's ready for a ride home. Only having one truck is definitely an inconvenience - but at the moment, we still have one more truck than any of our patients!!!

Yesterday was Isaac's two-month birthday. So Heidi took a ton of pics (thank God for digital) and you can see three of them below. The third one is there lest you think all he does is smile.

And the fourth pic is of Isaac eating HIS lunch in Heidi's office between her first and second cases of the day. Not every surgeon gets to breastfeed her child between cases!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Every Day an Adventure

Today was our clinic in Chinique. Most of our patients there are chronic patients, meaning that they have hypertension, diabetes, or some type of condition that requires regular doctor visits. Not too many "sick" people in this clinic in the sense that they could infect Isaac with anything. Which is good.

On our way to clinic, we dropped the green truck off at the Goodyear place here in Quiche for an oil change. The place is supposed to open at 8am, which means that we waited outside and were able to pull in around 8:15 or 8:20. We left the truck there for the oil change and went to clinic.

Isaac was really well behaved in clinic today. Matt only had to leave with him to walk around for about 15-20 minutes. We had our regular mix of patients, as well as a few new ones. We had finished with all the numbers and there was still a couple sitting in the waiting area. They were first-timers so we agreed to see them. Good thing, too.

She is 36 years old (more or less). We asked three times how many children she has. The first time the answer was 10 with the current pregnancy making 11. Not included are three miscarriages - every time she was breach, she said. We took a look with the ultrasound and found not one, but two babies. We asked her if she has had any twins, so far. No. Do you want twins? No. Well, we have bad news. She was visibly upset - not to tears or anything, but it was clear that twins was not what she had in mind.

We asked how old her youngest child is (to see if she's still breastfeeding). The answer was 2 years old. How old is your oldest? Four years old. Hmmm... How many kids do you have? Eight. Very well.

In any case, we explained to her that delivering twins on your dirt floor in your house with an untrained midwife is probably not the best idea anyone's ever had. Better to go to the hospital. She indicated that she wasn't going to go to the hospital - she's scared of this hospital here in Quiche. That's a pretty widely held sentiment.

We explained that she could come to Heidi's hospital in Chichicastenango and we can deliver the babies there. It's not a public hospital like the one in Quiche, it's a private hospital and we'll help with the money. We won't charge her any more than what a midwife would charge.

As she was leaving, we asked Roy whether he thought her Spanish was very good. He thought that it wasn't the best, so we called in the husband to talk to him. He says they have five kids. We talked some about the hospital in Chichi and told them that they should think about it, pray about it, and let us know. She'll probably deliver in November, so we have time. They did promise to come back for her next appointment in October.

Anyway, we came back to Quiche and stopped at the Goodyear place to check on the status of the green truck. They said it was ready but it was parked in, so Matt sent Heidi and Isaac home and waited to get the truck out. A few minutes later, he was on his way. He put gas in the truck and was headed back home when we got a loud noise, then lots of clacking from the engine. A minute later, the oil light came on. Luckily, he had to pass the service station again on the way home, so he pulled in and cut the motor (only had to drive about two blocks with all the noise). Oil was EVERYWHERE!

Apparently, it's possible to install the incorrect oil filter, even if you're a Goodyear station.

They made it right and Matt came home. Just another day in Guatemala.

Anyway, we only took two pictures today - one of Isaac on his bed/medicine container and another of where he was in the grand scheme of things...

Tomorrow morning, Matt will leave around 4:30am to get the grey truck down to the Mazda dealership in Guatemala City. We're losing coolant from somewhere and we're not sure where. Wish us luck with that.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weekend Stuff

Well, yesterday was a surprise day off. And with Heidi around to keep an eye on Isaac, Matt got some more housework done. There were some leaks that needed patching on the roof and some painting to be done. You can see the first two pics of the "almost before" and after pics.

Isaac has lately decided that he's happiest when he's being held. Or, that he's ONLY happy when he's being held. And he can be quite vocal when he's not happy. So Heidi tied him on her back and went on about her business on Saturday. We prefer not to do that too much, since the baby basically just goes to sleep and stays that way (he needs a little more stimulation than that) but it is nice when you need a little break.

Today was clinic in San Andres. We got a lot of rain yesterday so we were expecting the roads to be pretty bad. For the most part, they were about average. We did have to drive through a couple of creeks, though, since the water had come up some. On the way home, we were behind a medium-loaded truck (the bed had about 15 people in it - we've seen as many as 30) with only 2-wheel drive. He got about halfway into the creek and got stuck. So we drove around and pulled him out. You'll see in the pic that his "cargo" had all gotten out. They were standing around watching the spectacle.

Clinic was good - we only had about 1/3 as many patients as usual. We're assuming it was because today is Election Day. The market wasn't even very crowded. It's usually nearly impossible to drive to clinic once you get into town and today we only had to wait about 15 minutes for some vehicles and people to clear.

One funny patient was a woman around 60 years old who came in with some large blisters on her legs. We asked her what happened and she said that "the people" told her that these blisters were because her husband hit her. We asked her if her husband had actually hit her. She said she didn't remember because she'd been kinda drunk. We replied that perhaps one idea would be to try to cut back on the alcohol. She told us she knew it wasn't good for her and that she wasn't drinking at the moment. Good to know.

Please pray for a 7-year-old boy we saw today with an enlarged lymph node. We saw a boy in this clinic a few months ago with a very, very large gland in his throat that has turned out to be Hodgkins Lymphoma. This boy today isn't quite as dramatic a presentation, but his symptoms are not promising.

Tomorrow we'll be in Chinique with Pastor Roy Espinosa.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Many Faces of Isaac

Yesterday, Heidi was at the Hospital Buen Samaritano in the morning, where she met with Danny and Janeane again and saw a half a dozen or so patients. Add one more surgery to the list of upcomings. This one is a young woman who has a uterus, according to Heidi, "the size of a Christmas turkey". These are technical terms, so if you don't catch them all, realize that she's had 13 years of post-high school education, and don't feel bad.

In all seriousness, though, we ask you all to pray very faithfully for this young lady (her name is Virginia) over the next few weeks. Her surgery is scheduled for the 26th of this month, but she is quite anemic currently and this will NOT be an easy surgery or one with inherently low amounts of blood loss. There is no blood bank here, and the lady has no family to go to for pre-operative blood donation. We have her on a treatment plan of iron supplements and fervent prayer currently, and will re-assess the need to find blood donors a few days prior to surgery. If all else fails, at least we know her surgeon is O negative!

Matt and Isaac were home and spent some father-son time. This means that Isaac was too fussy to be put down and Matt didn't get any real work done.

In the afternoon, though, Matt got to the gym, worked a bit around the house, Heidi made dinner, and we had our friends Toby and Brittany over for dinner and some nice English conversation. They left around midnight.

Luckily, Duane had called during the day on Friday and said that clinic in Canilla was cancelled because they've been stuck in Guatemala City with various things going on. We'll do clinic in San Andres tomorrow, but today is a surprise day off!!!

Please keep us, the Fickers, and the whole town of San Andres in your prayers. San Andres is a pretty volatile town and tomorrow is Election Day. There has already been some violence in town, but let's pray that it's all basically over at this point.

Isaac was nice enough to give us nearly 10 hours last night, but since he went to bed a lot earlier than we did, he also got up earlier than we really wanted to. So Daddy got up with him and got some very cute pictures. We'll share...

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Today was, more or less, supposed to be a day off. Heidi went into Chichi to check on her patient from yesterday and to do some shopping at market. Matt and Isaac stayed home. The idea was for Matt to finish up the painting in the east courtyard then start on the front of the house. Isaac had other plans.

So we went with Isaac's plan.

Matt was able to finish the east courtyard, then when Heidi came home, went to work on clearing the weeds and rocks from the front of the house to begin prepping for paint. If Isaac cooperates tomorrow, we'll start painting the front of the house while Heidi is at clinic at the hospital.

We have some pics of Isaac today - the first is of Isaac and Daddy in Daddy's office. The next is of our translator at ASELSI (Cecy) carrying Isaac and the last one is Matilde's wife carrying Isaac in Nueva Santa Catarina.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Hospital Buen Samaritano

Today is normally a day off, but Heidi had scheduled a surgery at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, so that's where we went this afternoon. Many of our friends in Chichicastenango had not met Isaac yet, so Matt and Isaac tagged along.

The remnants of Hurricane Felix were scheduled to come through the area today. No one expected very much and all we got was a pretty normal afternoon/evening rain.

We met two new friends in Chichi today. Danny and Janeane are a young married couple (been married a month) who have come down to help out for a few months. Janeane is a nurse and Danny is a nursing student. Heidi invited them to join in on the surgery, so they did. The surgery was a vaginal hysterectomy on a 38 year old woman.

Tomorrow Heidi will go back to Chichi to check on her patient and Matt and Isaac will get some work done around the house. Friday, Heidi is back at the hospital and Matt and Isaac will get some more work done around the house. Saturday and Sunday are with the Fickers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nothing Yet

For those of you who are worried - there has been NO activity here yet from Hurricane Felix. We're really not even expecting much - maybe some rain. We are quite a ways inland from where it came in and it has to cross SEVERAL mountain ranges before it gets here. Most of the rain it carries should be dumped way to the east of here. The town we live in is on a mesa at 6700 ft altitude, so there's very little danger of flooding here, even if we get a very heavy rain.

Anyway, we were in Guatemala City last night and this morning to run some errands. We picked up Isaac's Guatemalan passport (now he has two passports) and got our passports stamped (we were on day 89 of our allowed 90). We also went to Isaac's pediatrician appointment where he got a clean bill of health and got the first round of his vaccinations. The shot bothered him for a few seconds, then he was back to normal. He was probably more irritated by the fact that we had to put him back in his car seat AGAIN when we left.

So tomorrow the boys will be here at the house, probably painting, and Heidi will be operating at the Hospital Buen Samaritano. Thursday is a day off (we're only at ASELSI the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Thursday of every month). Then Friday Heidi's back at the hospital in Chichi.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Granddad Weekend in Canilla

Well, Friday was Heidi's day at the Hospital Buen Samaritano. Isaac, Daddy, and Granddad stayed in Quiche. While Heidi was seeing a dozen or so patients and scheduling some surgeries, the boys worked around the house, went to the ruins in Quiche, visited Martin's family, and spent some quality time with the baby.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we headed out to Canilla for clinic and some good fellowship. Heidi's dad, Eddie, went to clinic with her. They saw the standard fare of patients, plus a very sick pregnant lady who we hope will go to the hospital (her husband was marginally interested in helping her), a young man who was so dehydrated from a stomach bug that he got an IV, and a variety of sick kids.

After lunch, Matt and Eddie went out on the tractor with David to pull out a truck that had gotten stuck in the river. When they got there, it had already been pulled out by someone else, but wouldn't start. No one could pull it up the mountain between the river and town, so David did it on the tractor. Funny moment - the guy asked David how much it would cost. David quoted a pretty small amount of money and then the guy told him he didn't have any money. So why ask?

The truck engine was completely full of water - air intake, cylinders, exhaust manifold, everything. David spent a pretty fair amount of time helping clear the water out of the engine and attempting to get the truck started - mostly because the kid driving said it was his dad's truck and he was really going to be in trouble when he got home. The likely thing is that the truck's computer got wet and fried - not something we can fix on the side of the road, so David pulled him to a mechanic in town.

The afternoon was spent doing some more work on the F-350 that's been out of commission for a few months (and that Eddie brought some parts down for) and changing the oil on the plane.

This morning, Duane and Aaron flew Eddie down to Guatemala City (a 20 minute flight that saved Matt about 8 hours on the road) and the girls went to clinic. Patients in San Andres included a non-compliant diabetic who can no longer feel part of her foot, a two year old with severe hives, a term pregnancy with possible early labor pains, some kids with scabies, a two year old with problems with his - well, let's just say that Heidi's training didn't exactly prepare her for that... etc.

This evening will be spent relaxing and getting ready for Heidi and Gail to come in on Tuesday (Heidi's friends from pharmacy school). We have clinic in Chicabracan tomorrow, then will head to Guatemala City to spend the night, have Isaac's 2-month check-up with his pediatrician, pick up his Guatemalan passport, then pick up Heidi and Gail.

Below are some pics with Granddad...