Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vacation in San Jose, Guatemala

We don´t really have internet access here. I'm in an office paying Q1 per minute to check up on email. The flight down was wonderful (thanks, Duane!) and the resort is gorgeous. We have an all-inclusive package, so we might have to spend a few extra days in the gym when we get home!!!

Isaac is enjoying the weather, even if he's not too keen on swimming just yet.

We'll try to post some pics when we get home on Thursday or Friday. We'll probably be a bit busy, though, since Roy and his grandson Cole are coming in, too. We're really looking forward to spending some more time with them!!!

Well, gotta run. We'll post more on Friday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend News

Friday afternoon, after Heidi got back from clinic at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, the whole group headed out to Canilla. The road between Quiche and San Andres that we usually use has been closed intermittently for construction, so we went around through Zacualpa. Luckily, it hadn't rained much lately, so the deep ruts and mud were just gooey and not really dangerous. We made it with no real problems.

Saturday clinic was good. Heidi got to schedule another surgery (a very large fibroid) and also got some cool teaching time with Heidi and Gail (both got to do some prenatal ultrasounds - see the pics). Duane flew the girls down to Guatemala City about noon for their 2:30 flight.

Sunday clinic was also good. Heidi scheduled a surgery for Dr. Hoak (a 19 month old with an extra toe). Please add the little baby in the first pic to your prayer list. He is two months old and quite sick. He has pneumonia and is extremely dehydrated. Heidi and Leslie put in a tube to get some food to the baby and some antibiotics. The mom was going to go home and ask for Dad's permission to go to the hospital, but she was pretty doubtful that it would happen. She didn't come back to clinic for the ride we offered, so at this point, all we can do is pray for this baby.

During clinic, Matt was at the Torre Fuerte church helping them rewire their sound system. After chasing a ghost for an hour or so, he finally found a button he'd been looking for and the mix went much faster after that. (It's all about familiarity with the equipment - and fortunately, Matt doesn't have much experience with Peavey!!!)

Anyway, tonight we're doing laundry and packing for a short vacation at the beach. Duane will fly in in the morning and take us to the Pacific coast for three nights to celebrate our second anniversary. We'll try to blog from there, but we might just be too busy. (Doing absolutely nothing!!!)

The first pic is the sick baby we mentioned. The rest are pretty self-explanatory...

Friday, October 26, 2007

ASELSI and Market

Yesterday was our clinic at ASELSI in Chichicastenango. Heidi and Gail came along and were a big help with Isaac and with some of the consults. We had our normal contingent of prenatal patients, a few sick kids, and a weird one or two. One lady told us that every day after lunch she gets these bumps on her face and they go away during the night. We asked every way we knew how to determine if there's a food allergy. She claims that there's not. One cultural note - Mayans eat nearly the same foods for all three meals. It's not uncommon to hear about a breakfast of tamales, soup, and tortillas. Lunch and supper will often be just about the same thing. So we tried with some benadryl and we'll see what happens.

Our little underweight baby didn't come back. Remember last week we talked about the six month old who the mother was leaving with her 12 year old daughter? We wanted to see the baby again this week to check his weight but she didn't bring him back. It's sad, but we can only help the people who want to be helped.

After clinic, we went to check on Heidi's post-op patient and did some shopping in the Chichi market.

Then it was back home to make some fajita salad for dinner and play some Trivial Pursuit. Team Bell was victorious over the visiting team. (Of course, we could say we won anyway, Heidi and Gail don't have the password to our blog!!!)

Well, gotta go. Isaac's having a bad morning... You can figure out what the pics are...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Sunday, Heidi was in clinic in San Andres and Matt stayed in Canilla with Isaac. Matt left a few minutes early this time to have time to swing by the Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower) church and take a look at their sound system. Rodi, the pastor, has been looking for some help in getting some more equipment and some more power out of his existing system.

Based on a cursory inspection, it looks like we should be able to get lots more volume out of the system they're currently using. Some equipment upgrades will eventually be necessary, but for the moment, we should be able to get a drastic improvement with just a few changes in wiring philosophy. Matt will bring his "bag of tricks" with him this weekend and will spend the entire morning on Sunday working with the band and the sound system to see what can be done.

On the way back to Quiche, we got stopped by some big trucks that were unable to climb the mountain and had managed to get stuck directly in the middle of the road. We waited about half an hour until they finally got rolling again. We got past them and then got stuck behind a two wheel drive truck that failed to climb another hill. Luckily, they left enough space between themselves and the rock wall for us to squeak by. We finally got home just in time to get diverted around the town square where one of the presidential candidates was making a speech. In the United States, we expect our roads to be open and passable. Here, it's not really an expectation. Just another cultural adjustment we have to make. And we Americans are not really known for our patience!

Monday morning, we got up and headed to Nueva Santa Catarina for our monthly clinic there. Matilde told us he had sold 24 numbers. When we were seeing patient number 35, we asked how many numbers he had actually sold. Just three or four more. Seven patients later, he told us the next one was the last one. Two patients later, we finally got the last patient. It's not that 42 or 43 patients is really a problem, it's an issue of expectation management. If you're going to see 40-some patients, it's better not to think that you only have 24. Again, a cultural adjustment... There weren't really any remarkable patients, but we did have a few prenatals, a pregnancy diagnosis, and several of our chronic (diabetes, hypertension and/or seizure) patients who we've gotten to be good friends with.

After leaving Nueva Santa Catarina, we drove to Guatemala City to spend the night and wait for Heidi and Gail to come in on Tuesday. So we had a nice, relaxing night in our hotel room (we just picked up Burger King rather than let Isaac scream through TGIFriday's again!) and then a nice, relaxing morning on Tuesday. Isaac does a lot better when he can just lay around and get a morning nap. Unfortunately, we're usually dragging him to a clinic and his nap schedule gets completely scrambled. He's normally nice enough to let us know how he feels about it, though!

Tuesday afternoon, we picked up Heidi and Gail, went to Antigua (had a few errands to run there), had a nice lunch and did some shopping, then drove back to Quiche.

This morning, the girls went to market in town then went down to Chichi for a surgery Heidi had to do (vaginal hysterectomy and anterior repair). Matt and Isaac came down a little later for a special mid-week worship service set up by Matt Capehart at the Casa del Rey hotel. The Fickers were able to come in and worship with us. Matt got to play with the worship band and Rachel got to meet some gringo kids about her age. The Fickers will spend the night in the hotel and drive back tomorrow. They told us that the road from Quiche to San Andres is now closed between 8am and 4pm with the exception of an hour for lunch. Good information! We'll have to drive through Zacualpa on Friday afternoon as we head over a few hours early this week.

We got to hear from little Diego, the hydrocephalic little boy we met in Chicabracan last month. His dad said he got his surgery this week on his first birthday. We're so excited to see him and see how everything went!!! Thanks for all your prayers on this. (We're also interested to see what kind of bill we get presented with, but we know that God will provide in any case.)

As most of you know, tomorrow is ASELSI, then we'll go into town for the tourist market with Heidi and Gail and to round on Heidi's patient from today.

1. Matt and Isaac in clinic in Nueva Santa Catarina
2. Heidi, a patient, and Matilde in clinic. When Matt's keeping Isaac happy, sometimes Heidi gets stuck with running the computer and seeing patients. When Heidi's breastfeeding, Matt gets to run the computer, do some cursory exams, and get count pills. It's all a team effort!
3. Matt trying to get Isaac to fall asleep in our hotel room. We're not sure where the "struggling to stay awake" thing comes from. We both ENJOY sleeping!
4. Isaac sleeping in his "old man" shorts. He does look SO grown up when he wears "big boy" clothes instead of sleepers. We're not sure which we like better, the grown up look or the little baby look!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Away Blog

We're blogging from the Fickers' house in Canilla now because our internet went down Friday afternoon and we're not sure when it'll be back...

Friday at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, two of Heidi's patients brought her gifts. One brought a hen and the other brought a rooster. Remember that both of these patients have have a pretty rough go of it. One has been told that she has terminal cancer and the other came in with a huge uterus and ended up with two surgeries, a cut ureter, three bags of blood, and will require one more surgery to clean up the current situation. Heidi told them that it must be a real struggle with all of the suffering here and they agreed that she used to really be suffering with the huge uterus but is so much happier now. They didn't view the current situation (a foley catheter - carrying a urine bag around with her all the time), and needing one more surgery to complete the ureter repair as much of a problem at all - it's all part of the process they need to go through to have her original issue fixed.

So Heidi brought both of the chickens home, let them loose in the west courtyard, and they promptly destroyed all of the new landscaping out there. So Saturday morning, they got loaded up in the truck and brought here to Canilla!

Saturday, we had babysitting help again from Lori and clinic help again from Don, so we saw about 50 or 60 patients rather easily. That included two "walk-ups" from a local car accident. One looked to have a broken femur and the other a broken foot, so they weren't truly "walking" anywhere!!! They got referred to the hospital in Quiche, where they can get X-rays and get their bones set.

On Friday, Duane and David had driven up into Zona Reyna - only about 100 yards from where we did our first clinic in Saquixpec - and picked up a huge generator that was brought down originally for a church in the middle of nowhere, but has been sitting in someone's house for two years because they were waiting for a road to get built to this village. Since it looks like that road is never going to be built, it was thought that the generator could be used to do God's work better in the Fickers' hands than sitting unused in someone's house. It's a really, really large diesel generator that was originally designed for military use. So we spent Saturday afternoon checking it out and hooking it up to the complex here. Saturday night, almost on cue, the city of Canilla lost power. So we clicked on the generator and it powered both the house and the clinic building without even breaking a sweat.

It's pretty well known around this area that Leslie is here and is the best emergency care that's available for about two hours. Power outages are very frequent here at night. So it's only a matter of time until a serious case comes in during a power outage. Now we can better help the emergencies that come in. Also, the generator is mounted on a trailer and can be easily transported to any of the many locations we visit and provide medical care where there is no electricity. We'll never again have to worry about having enough power - this thing is a BEAST (it carried a 220V welding machine without even spooling up!)

Today, Heidi, Leslie, and Don are in clinic in San Andres. Matt's going to go over in a little while and check out the local church's sound system. They've been asking for some help there and this is right up Matt's alley. There are some folks coming down from the US in a few weeks and we may be able to get some equipment either donated or purchased used to help out.

Please keep Heidi's cancer patient in your prayers. She claims to be a Catholic but doesn't know who Jesus is. She only speaks K'iche, so we're hoping our friend Bill can go talk to her. Bill is the American guy who has already translated the Bible into one version of K'iche and is working on another. He's a pastor and is completely fluent in K'iche, so a little time between he and her might be quite profitable, spiritually speaking.

Tomorrow is our monthly clinic in Nueva Santa Catarina, then we head down to Guatemala City to spend the night and pick up The Other Heidi and Gail on Tuesday morning. We'll take them to Antigua for lunch, then come back home in the afternoon. They'll stay with us until Saturday, when Duane flies them back to Guatemala City. Next week, we're going to the coast for a few days to celebrate our second wedding anniversary (we missed the date last week with the eye team here, but we can celebrate a few days late, right?).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Frustrating Day

As those of you who have done mission work know, some days are really uplifting and others are just plain exhausting. Today was the latter kind.

Today was our clinic at ASELSI. On our way there, we left the Fickers' truck at the Quiche airstrip. Duane and David flew in and David drove the truck home. In it were some tires for their Ford they'll need tomorrow to make another trip up into Zona Reyna. They went on their dirt bikes last week and spent about 10 hours in "the saddle". With the truck it'll take even longer, but should be a little easier on the hind ends! Sometimes there are hundreds of hours of "hidden" work behind every step forward.

Clinic today was especially frustrating. There was no electricity in Chichicastenango today so we couldn't do any ultrasounds on pregnant patients. Luckily, we didn't have any who really needed one, but it's one tool we're used to having that wasn't available. And there were some genuinely needful patients today who we'll discuss a bit later on, but at least five or six presented with just vague general complaints. How those usually break down is that they're essentially tired of living a hard life and having to struggle for each and every thing. There's nothing physically wrong with them - they just need a vacation. We understand this position pretty well ourselves, but it's hard to really help much in a clinical setting.

One was a man who used to have seizures but hasn't had one since February. His wife "brought" him in and did 99% of the talking. The complaint was that he just didn't want to work. She was hoping we had a pill for that. His normal job is to work with an electric saw but he's not working now (great that an epileptic is working with power tools, right?)

Another was a woman who had "nervios" (nerves). She said that every little thing makes her scared or nervous. She is in a church but we're not really sure how her walk is going. We explained to her that the God who made this entire world cares about her and holds her in His hand. When she's scared, she needs to talk to God about the things that scare her. If He can make mountains, He can surely help with whatever is happening in her life.

Our last patient of the day was a little baby named Julio. He is 6 1/2 months old and weighs 8 lbs. His mother doesn't actually take care of him, his 12 year old sister does. The mother's excuse is that the father doesn't want to work so he's told her that she has to. She sits in the market every day selling a corn drink. Our translators told us that she doesn't really take care of any of her kids. Her other kids have health problems, too, but she won't bring them to get any help. She hasn't been breast feeding, so she doesn't have any milk. The 12 year old is supposedly giving him formula about four times a day, but doesn't really know how much. The milk program at ASELSI doesn't give enough milk for a whole month, so we're guessing that the family is trying to stretch the milk we give them instead of buying some for themselves. We explained very clearly to Mom that she is killing her baby by treating him this way. It is not the 12 year old's responsibility to feed him, it's hers. We'll see him in another week to see how the talk went. If she didn't take it to heart, we'll have to get creative to try to save this kid's life.

After clinic, we met with some folks from the US who are trying to help a little baby with Spina Bifida. The really hard part of their offering is that they have to take the baby to the US for a few months for the surgery and Mom and Dad can't come. The US government will not give visas for parents because too many just disappear once they get inside the US. So Mom and Dad are trying to decide whether to give their baby up for a few months to go to the United States to get a surgery that can't be obtained here in Guatemala. I have to admit, it would be an amazingly hard position to be in. Especially for these parents, as it's their only child. Please pray for them to have wisdom and strength as they make whatever decision they make. We told them we won't be mad either way - we know how hard it is.

Then we had to go to the Hospital Buen Samaritano to check on Heidi's two patients from yesterday. One was a hysterectomy. The other was supposed to be but once they opened her up, they found her full of cancer.

Once we got home, the phone started ringing. One of Heidi's patients from last week is no longer getting urine from her foley catheter. They're showing very little interest in trying to get to the hospital, though. We'll do the best we can to help, but we can only help if we can see the patient.

Also, Jacob called. The green truck is...well...almost ready. The details at the moment are a little sketchy, but we can pick it up tomorrow. We owe a few hundred dollars for the work that's been done so far, but we can't drive it just yet. All of the injectors need to be replaced. They are not available here in Guatemala and it's going to take two weeks to order them from Japan. So we wait.

Oh, and Isaac is back to his old screaming self. It's not really that much - maybe just a few hours a day, but they seem to last for weeks!

The picture below is little Julio... Please pray for him and his family...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day Off - Tuesday

Our day off didn't start quite the way we had planned. Just when we think we've got Isaac figured out, he changes. The last few nights, he hasn't slept well at all - which means that Heidi doesn't get to sleep, either. So we were up quite early with the I-man, but decided to just have a family morning around the house.

Heidi sorted through a big bag of clothes we have for Isaac. We received so many clothes between our eBay purchases and the surprise showers we had that everything bigger than "newborn" got put away. Besides, when we brought him home at under 6lbs, everything looked enormous. Now that he's up over 12lbs, things are looking a little more reasonable. So the small stuff is getting donated and the bigger stuff is coming out. Must be nice to have new clothes!!! (We're not really too fashion conscious here, so we're not buying much new for ourselves... it's not like they have clothes in Matt's size, anyway)

Little Roy and his mother Christina came by the house to get Roy's weight checked. He put on three ounces in four days - just about what we were told to expect with Isaac. YAY!

Just before lunchtime, we packed up and headed for Guatemala City. There's a construction zone between Los Encuentros and Chimaltenango that we like to try to get through during lunchtime, as you can get stuck there for up to two hours. We arrived at the Mazda dealership about 3:30pm. The truck was ready (three days before the original estimate) and actually cost a bit less than they told us to expect (that's a first for a car dealership, right?) It still wasn't a very cheap visit (well over $2,000) but a few Quetzales less than we had feared.

From there it was to HiperPaiz (think Walmart) to do some grocery shopping. Then to the hotel to let Isaac stretch out a little. He's also starting to outgrow his ability to sleep all the way through each car ride. That's actually pretty bad news, seeing as how we have to drive a lot for this "job".

While Heidi and Isaac were at the hotel, Matt ran to the Guatemala City airport to get some things from the Fickers' hangar there. It ain't exactly like O'Hare. You simply flash your best gringo grin, tell them what hangar number you want to go to and they let you drive right onto the taxiway. (There's only one runway at the airport, so Cessnas and 737s share the whole thing!) If Matt had been a little younger and more adventurous (read: stupid), he probably could have driven right onto the main runway in the Toyota. Scary!

Speaking of broken plans, the idea was to have a nice relaxing dinner at TGIFridays (a nice American treat for us). Isaac had other ideas. He screamed basically the whole time. We took turns walking him around and eating. It's the only time we've ever seen a waitress there actually act like she was in a hurry when we asked for our check. Apparently she didn't like his screaming much either! And Heidi was up basically all night with him again.

This morning, we had our happy, smiley boy back again (go figure), so we went to McDonald's for breakfast, did some more shopping at PriceMart (think Sam's Club) and headed back to Chichi so Heidi could operate this afternoon.

When Matt got home in Quiche, our little patient Diego (the one with the hydrocephaly) was waiting. Their appointment in Guatemala City is tomorrow and we hope that he'll get operated on this week. We gave them Q400 (about $50) for the lab tests they got for him and Q50 for their Chicken Bus tickets. They were supposed to get his surgery a few weeks ago but when the doc asked them if the baby had a cough, they answered YES. (Background: every single mother in this country thinks that her kid has a cough. The truth is, everyone coughs once in a while, even when they're not sick. The parents don't understand that the question is really "is your child sick". We explained that to Dad.) So when Matt asked them this afternoon if Diego has a cough, they said NO. His lungs and throat were clear, too, so it seems as though he'll be healthy enough for his surgery.

At the time of this writing, Heidi had just called to say that both of her hysterectomies are done and she's headed home. One patient had had two prior c-sections and was really scarred up inside, so the decision to go with an abdominal surgery was a good one. The other patient was a suspect for cancer, but on opening her up, they discovered that her cancer is much more advanced than they thought. Heidi and Dr. Hoak did the best they could with the limited resources they have (i.e. no blood bank), but the patient probably doesn't have much time left.

So please pray for little Roy, little Diego, both of Heidi's patients today, and for Heidi and Isaac (to both get some sleep tonight).

We have clinic tomorrow at ASELSI. One patient called us tonight to say that they can't come tomorrow because they're sick. Matt tried to explain that when you're sick, that's a pretty good time to go see a doctor. No luck. A few minutes later, our friend Regina called and asked if she could bring in a little baby who isn't eating and the baby's mom, who is supposedly quite sick. We're not really supposed to give out numbers that way, but we've seen a lot of starving babies lately, someone had just called to cancel their appointment, and it seemed like God was really pointing to an opportunity, so we'll give her a number (she can't get to ASELSI early enough to get a number because the first chicken bus doesn't leave her village until 6am). Hope nobody yells at us!! ;)

Oh, in the picture below, you can see a very happy boy at our favorite lunch spot on the trip to and from Guatemala City. No, he's not always that happy, but it's when we feel the most like taking pictures!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chicabracan Clinic

Today was our bi-weekly clinic in Chicabracan. Our evangelist, Juan Diego, couldn't come today because of a prior commitment, so we took a few minutes before clinic to remind our regulars and inform the newcomers that the purpose of this clinic is to share the love that Jesus has for us.

We saw 20-something patients, ranging from chronics (diabetes/hypertension/seizures) to prenatals to a couple of sick kids to a woman who was afraid her baby was sick (she was perfectly healthy - YAY!) to a single woman who goes to a different doctor nearly every day hoping that something is wrong with her.

The first and third pics are Heidi doing a prenatal check on some pregnant women, the second is an older couple we work with each time (he has high blood pressure, she has gastritis), and the last one is our cute little boy.

The older couple (Santos and Petronila) are the only ones we talked to today who haven't yet accepted Jesus Christ (unless you count the ones who weren't sure where they were going when they die). One lady informed us that when she dies, she's going over there to the cemetery... maybe our question wasn't too clear! Please pray for this couple. We will continue to talk to them, but we're afraid there's not an unlimited amount of time left.

This afternoon, we had a Gringo Network meeting, but the only ones who could make it were ourselves, Virginia (from ASELSI), and Chris Mooney - a guy who has a wheelchair ministry in Chimaltenango. We got to learn a lot about his ministry, and the fact that he brings in about ten containers a year from the US (each containing well over 100 wheelchairs).

Tomorrow is our day off, but as per normal, it's being invaded. This time in a good way, though, we hope. The Mazda dealer tells us that the truck will be ready a few days early. So we'll go down tomorrow afternoon (after hopefully sleeping in a bit) to pick it up. We'll swing by the airport and get some things out of Duane's truck, too, that wouldn't fit in the plane this past trip. Then we'll have a nice dinner out, spend the night, and come back in the morning so Heidi can operate Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Canilla Weekend

Isaac has been so good during the day lately, but has not been so interested in going to bed. So enjoyable days have been leading into long evenings of trying to get a previously happy little boy to admit defeat and simply fall asleep. So Friday night was exactly that. And Saturday mornings come awfully early (5am).

Saturday morning, we loaded up the Tacoma and headed for Canilla. And we were VERY thankful to have the Tacoma. The rainy season is trying to go out with a bang and it's been raining day and night for the past few days. So the "road" to Canilla was pretty bad. The Mazda probably could have handled the road okay, but the Nissan wouldn't have had a chance. The Tacoma was great and we never wondered whether we'd make it across a river or not.

You may remember that we didn't have clinic last weekend, so we expected to be flooded this weekend. We were right. Thankfully, some friends of the Fickers were here to help. Don and Lori and their four kids are here for nearly a month. Don is a physicians assistant, is experienced in Guatemalan medicine, and was a huge help in clinic. Lori offered to watch Isaac for us so Matt could help in clinic. It was our first time to do clinic without Isaac since he was born. He cooperated by being a good little boy and Lori was fabulous with him. It helped a BUNCH because we had over 80 patients (a normal load in this clinic is 40-50). We finally finished mid-afternoon and got to eat lunch.

This morning, Don and Lori and their kids packed up to move to the orphanage in San Andres for a few weeks. David took everyone to clinic in the big Ford, then rode his 4-wheeler home (that big truck is a handful on these roads - too much for Leslie or Heidi to drive). Isaac and Matt stayed in Canilla where Isaac continued his recent streak of "good-boy" days.

In San Andres, 40-50 used to be a normal load. Lately the number has crept up to around 80. Today was 108 plus stragglers. Luckily, though, with Don's help, they finished up around 3pm.

You know how things seem to go in streaks? For a few weeks last year, it seemed like we picked up a cleft lip patient every other day. These last few weeks, we've been flooded with moms wanting free milk and malnourished kids - but seldom in the same visit.

We at Agape In Action do not have a milk program, but most of our partner ministries do. For a couple reasons, though, we only give milk to malnourished kids. For one reason, it's too expensive to be giving to everyone. Most of our partners struggle just to buy milk for the kids who really need it. And we don't want to encourage mothers to give up on breastfeeding. It's better for the kids, it's safer (most people here do not understand the importance of ultra-clean bottles and diarrhea is one of the most common causes of death for babies here), and it helps keep Mom in a less fertile condition for a little longer (they SURE can't afford to have five kids in five years!).

We've probably had a half dozen women in the last week come in asking for free milk - mostly because the moms with underweight kids are mentioning that they're getting free milk from us - and they all claim to not have any milk. Every time, Heidi will ask them to demonstrate and nearly every time, milk gets sprayed all over the room. Then it's a long discussion about how breast feeding is better. We are so fortunate to be able to breast feed Isaac - not just because it's better for him and more convenient (most of our clinic sites don't exactly have microwaves or hot water), but because we get to be a good example to our patients.

And we've also had a half dozen moms come into clinic with numbers for themselves and we've noticed that their babies were knocking on death's door. (Case in point: little Roy in Chinique). Today was no different. Number 100 is pictured below. She doesn't look so bad in the pictures, but she was in really bad shape. She was basically panting she was so dehydrated. The family has been buying milk because Mom feels like the baby isn't getting any from the breast (even though they're completely engorged). Well, the baby probably isn't getting any now - she's too weak to eat. As of 3pm, she had eaten once today. She doesn't cry. She's too weak.

Heidi and Leslie worked together to get some formula into the baby using a syringe. She couldn't even suck on a nipple. Leslie offered to give Mom a place to live for a few days and get the baby fed. Mom refused and said that she would just try with the syringe. Leslie stressed that if she changes her mind, the door is always open at their house. Please pray for this baby and for all babies here that are in trouble. It seems to be so common for babies to die here simply because moms are not educated enough to know about proper nutrition for them.

Anyway, tomorrow is our bi-weekly clinic in Chicabracan. Last week was pretty thin, so this week might be crazy. Luckily, Tuesday should be a bonified day off. Our days off have had a way of getting filled lately, though, so we'll see!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Three Month Pics for Isaac, etc.

Last night, Isaac had a repeat of his previous two nights' performances and screamed for a very extended period of time. Heidi was trying to give Matt a little break, so she took Mr. Fussypants outside on the patio and swung with him on the hammock for a while. Matt brought out a space heater to make things more comfortable, and Isaac finally went to sleep.

This morning, he woke up in a significantly better mood. Heidi fed him before leaving for the Hospital Buen Samaritano and he went to sleep. It's a good thing, too! Matt had had Heidi drive home from Chichi yesterday so that she would have a little practice in the Tacoma before she drove it today (it drives very differently from our other two vehicles).

Upon arriving home yesterday, we were so concerned about getting Isaac inside that we forgot to turn off the lights. So this morning, the Toyota wouldn't start (the truck is tough, but it's not THAT tough!) Matt pushed the truck to the edge of our very steep driveway and we had one try to roll-start it. No luck.

Then we tried to see if the extra battery that's been in the shed for God-knows-how-long was charged. Nope. Then Heidi grabbed some guys who were waiting outside the ER to help us try to push start the truck in the road. Still no luck.

Then, as God always does, He sent help. A man walked up, introduced himself as a mechanic, and offered to help us. He helped us with a few more attempts at a push-start, but still no luck. Then, one of our doctor friends walked out to her car. This mechanic convinced her to let us start the truck with the battery from her car (no one here carries jumper cables, including us - which probably should change). He pulled the battery from her car, started the Toyota, put the battery back in her car, reinstalled the battery in the Toyota, and Heidi was on her way.

Isaac slept the whole time. Oh, and the mechanic refused payment. Thank you God for both of those things!!!

When Isaac woke, he was in a great mood. So Matt got to take some 3-month pictures, some of which we'll share here. Heidi will post the others in our snapfish account later, so be sure to look there Moms and Dads.

The first few pics are self-explanatory and the last one is Isaac offering to help with the truck next time...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday at ASELSI

This morning we said good-bye to the SOS eye team and headed to clinic at ASELSI. When we got home, they were gone (and had left us a clean house - THANK YOU!!!!)

We saw about 35 patients at ASELSI this morning, including two diabetics we have been able to control on diet alone (yay!), several prenatals, a couple of malnourished babies (one is a week younger than Isaac but five pounds smaller, another is six months old - twice Isaac's age - and a half a pound smaller than Isaac), a woman with rheumatoid arthritis, a girl with polio, and some sick babies.

After clinic, we went to the Hospital Buen Samaritano to check on Heidi's surgical patients from the last two days. They are all doing well. The woman she had to take back to the operating room yesterday to control bleeding is doing much better and may even be able to leave early next week. She took three units of blood - one each from her brother and sister and one they bought from a stranger (people do not donate blood here, though they may sell it).

We also got some pictures of this patient's surgery from our friends Danny and Janeane. We left out all of the graphic ones, but if you are particularly wimpy...er...squeemish, you might just want to skip the second and third pics.

The first shows Dr. Hoak and Heidi praying over the patient before they start. The second shows Heidi working - soaked in blood. And the third is the extracted uterus next to Janeane's hand for size comparison (a uterus SHOULD be the size of a lime).

Sorry we don't have any three month pictures of Isaac yet (today is his three month "birthday") but unless you want some of him screaming, we probably should wait a day or two (we HOPE that's all!!!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Back at Buen Samaritano

This morning, Isaac let us sleep a little bit - until 8:30 - then we got up and hung out a bit with the SOS team and some other folks who had come by. During the morning, a woman approached the team and told them that she was in a bit of a bind.

Her husband left for the United States 10 years ago. She is now pregnant. Clearly the child is not his. She claims that no one in her family or town knows, even though she plainly looks pregnant to us. She lives in San Andres - a town where we have a clinic. She wants to give up the baby for adoption without anyone in her family knowing what's going on. We did a basic pre-natal check on her here in the house. She's about 32 weeks along, meaning that she'll give birth probably in early December.

Her plan is to give birth here in the hospital in Quiche. Our original thought was that she could bring the baby to us and that we would get him (it's a boy) to the Stuckenbergs, the same family who took little baby Sarah. However, we will not be here in December, so we'll have to figure out how she can get this baby to them. No worries, we have two months to work it out.

About noon, Heidi went back to Buen Samaritano for two scheduled surgeries. When she got there, she learned that one of her patients from last night was bleeding from her drain, meaning that she would have to go back to the operating room. Naturally, they didn't get started on the first new patient until after 4pm (nothing ever happens on time here in Guatemala) and after the take-back patient was done at about 8pm, there was no time for the second scheduled surgery. She will probably get pushed back until tomorrow, meaning that a morning clinic at ASELSI will end up becoming the beginning of another long day.

The SOS team leaves tomorrow morning, meaning we'll have our house back to ourselves, but we'll also be without the services of five experienced grandparents who have been helping with a VERY fussy little boy. He screamed for three straight hours this afternoon. Not even the grandmas could help.

New news on the green truck - the mechanic removed the gas tank and inspected the fuel pump. He disassembled and cleaned the carbureator, the fuel lines, and the fuel filter. No dice. They then took the truck to another mechanic who checked the computer. Still no dice. It went to an automotive electrician who couldn't find the problem. This afternoon it went to another automotive electrician who thinks that it's some device that Jacob couldn't remember the name of, but they're going to try to confirm his diagnosis tomorrow and let us know. Keep in mind that since there are very few Nissan parts even available here in Quiche, much of this is guesswork. A replacement "whatever" will probably require a trip to the capital. Fun, fun, fun!

Again, tomorrow we're at ASELSI in the morning, then Heidi will try to operate in the afternoon/evening. Friday is her clinic at Buen Samaritano where lately she seems to be scheduling surgeries faster than she can clear them. Then this weekend we're back out in Canilla.

Please pray for all of our patients and for our patience with our currently very demanding son!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday - Day Off

Today is one of our days off (our weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday). So at the time of this writing, Heidi has only been at the hospital for about nine hours. She had two surgeries scheduled for this afternoon and two more for tomorrow. Happy weekend!! (In fairness, we had Saturday and Sunday off this past weekend.)

She called at about 7:30pm after finishing her first surgery that started at about 2pm. She got into a royal mess with that Christmas Turkey uterus. Luckily, she and Dr. Hoak were able to repair the problem and keep the patient from bleeding out. Since we knew she wasn't the healthiest patient to begin with, they had her son donate some blood before the surgery, which they used. (The hospital does not have a blood bank - that technology does not exist here outside some very exclusive hospitals in Guatemala City.)

So, after 8pm, she started another long surgery - a vaginal hysterectomy with an anterior repair. If you're anywhere close to mealtime, don't ask what all of that means. In any case, she'll probably call here around 10:30 or 11pm for a ride home. Luckily all five members of our team here are grandparents, so we'll leave Isaac asleep in the house with them for an hour.

Speaking of Isaac, he's still sick with his first cold. He slept most of the morning and then again in the early afternoon, but by 4pm he was wide awake and unhappy. Matt finally got him to bed around 8:30. Thank God for iPods. Tonight's sleep was brought to you by Stevie Wonder, Daddy, and Isaac's Uncle Trip.

We just got an email from Leslie Ficker, too. She was alone in her clinic in Chiminicijuan today (her new daughter-in-law is still on her honeymoon) and was besieged by over 100 patients. She was in clinic for more than 12 hours straight. One of her patients was seven months pregnant but hadn't felt her baby move for a month. Ultrasound confirmed that there was no heartbeat. Since the patient refuses to come to the hospital, Heidi will see her this weekend and we'll see how we can help her from there.

Also, I'm not sure if you remember the patient that Leslie and Duane brought to Heidi and Tom at Buen Samaritano about a month ago with a huge abdominal mass, but the biopsy showed ovarian cancer (almost always terminal, especially here). The local city council (for lack of a better term in English) brought her to the hospital here in Quiche yesterday. We'll go check on her tomorrow morning, but there's probably very little that can be done for her. She only speaks K'iche and doesn't hear very well at that, so she's very, very alone. Luckily, she has been saved and will probably be with her creator in a much, much better physical condition very soon.

The SOS Team continues to do a fabulous job with their patients. The first round of surgical patients went home today, all of them ecstatic that they can now see - many of them for the first time in years. Talking with the local doctor who came to help with the surgeries, though, it seems that the government is working to put a full-time eye surgeon here in Quiche. There is already a full-time surgeon in Solola, just down the road, and they are trying to get another one here in Quiche in addition to the doctors from Guatemala City who will be coming every week next year. SOS is providing many of the consumable and disposable materials that they are using, so not only are they helping patients while they're here, they are directly helping nearly every patient the local doctors operate on! Sending Out Servants, indeed!

Well, tomorrow is more of the same from today. We'll be here in the morning, helping the team and doing some administrative tasks, then Heidi will be in Chichi all afternoon and into the evening.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Monday in Chinique

Today was our monthly clinic in Chinique. We loaded up this morning in the Tacoma and headed east. Something told us we'd have a busy day and we did. Roy had given out 35 numbers, but we always get a few walk-ups, too.

Isaac was a super little helper in clinic today. He only had a few melt-down moments, but they were easily dealt with. He's not feeling especially well since he's still dealing with his first little stuffy nose and cold. Poor guy!

We spent quite a bit of time with several of our patients today. We're focusing some on making sure that we know the spiritual status of all of our chronic patients. We truly dislike treating diabetes and hypertension. They are unbelievably boring and frustrating, but Leslie reminds us that this is a great way to really get to know some people and build a relationship with them that allows us to better evangelize. Since Chinique is mostly chronic patients, we're working on evangelizing a little better.

One of our patients told us that she doesn't really go to church because she's never been invited. Well, as of today, she has an invite. Another is a regular church goer, but her estranged husband drinks and often invites himself over to spend the night. Another is Catholic but says she doesn't know where she's going when she dies. Clearly, we have a little work to do with her! But great news to us is that who we believe to be our two most precarious patients (a husband and wife who were old when dirt was new) are both Christians and are absolutely sure that they're going to be with Jesus when they die.

Anyway, we may have told you before about Roy Espinosa (the pastor there) and a guy he's helping out a little bit. Chinto and Cristina got married last year and very shortly after, Cristina was a prenatal patient. We helped her all the way through her pregnancy. She came to the house once or twice when she was sick and we saw her every month in clinic.

Well, two weeks ago, she gave birth to a little boy (named Roy, believe it or not) in the hospital here in Quiche. He was 7lbs 8oz. Within a week or so, he was back in the hospital with a cephalohematoma (a bruise in the head acquired during delivery). He was also not eating well. We were told that the hospital was not doing a good job of explaining to the dad what was going on, so Heidi went down to go to bat for this kid. However, the doctor explained that she HAD explained to Dad what was going on and he proceeded to recite everything she had told him. Sometimes this job can be VERY frustrating!!!!

Anyway, today, Cristina came to clinic intending to talk about her post-partum pain. We took one look at Roy and switched the whole conversation over to him. He looks TERRIBLE! He's apparently still not eating well, despite the fact that he's eating a whole four times a day and "once or twice" at night. He's too weak to even cry with any enthusiasm.

We spent a lot of time with her explaining that this baby will DIE if he does not eat. He needs to be fed every two hours, whether he cries or not. Mom seems marginally interested in the entire process. Roy (the pastor, not the baby) drove out to the worksite where Chinto was working and informed him of the gravity of the situation. We brought the baby back to our house to weigh him on Isaac's baby scale and spend a little more time explaining to Mom that if little Roy tries to fall asleep during a feeding, he needs to be bothered until he wakes up and resumes eating. We explained that we had the same struggle with Isaac and that the baby's life literally depends on Mom's persistence and faithfulness.

Please pray for little Roy. We are very worried for him. We weighed him at 6lbs 8oz - a full pound down from his birth weight - and asked her to bring him back to the house again on Friday. If he's still losing weight, we'll have to come up with some more ways to help them.

Also, this afternoon, our friend Regina (the widowed mother of seven - three of which have cleft lips and palates) came by with Carolina (whose lip was repaired in January) and her 16-year-old son Isaias who had his lip repaired 14 years ago but still has a very significant speech impediment. We'll do our best to get him into the group that will be operated on again this coming January.

Regina also informed us of another child in her village who is "very poor" (seeing that Regina is practically swimming in money - NOT) who needs help. Well, that's why we're here. We gave her some money to help with her travel expenses and she's going to help bring this family to us (they don't speak Spanish and have no experience in using Chicken Buses).

Isaac was such a helpful little boy in clinic today, but he paid us back this afternoon. He was a bit of a challenge, but we'll take challenging afternoons in return for peaceful clinics!

As far as the eye team goes, they saw a slew of extra patients this morning and operated on every one that was scheduled for the day, with the exception of two that were disqualified based on some chronic health problems (hypertension, etc.). They also do an amazing job of following up on their patients and providing exceptional care. They really, truly demonstrate the love of Christ to each and every single patient they see.

Tomorrow, Heidi will be operating at the Hospital Buen Samaritano (a vaginal hysterectomy and anterior repair as well as a hysterectomy on the "Christmas Turkey" uterus - her son will be donating blood in case she bleeds a lot, which she might). Surgeries don't start until after lunch, so it'll probably be a late night.

Please also pray for the Fickers' vehicles - they lost another 4 wheeler this week. They're down from three to one now, have another truck with a transmission out of it, their 4Runner has an indeterminate engine problem, and we have one of their other Tacomas. For perspective, one of their 4 wheelers has over 18,000 miles on it. These things aren't for recreation - we actually need them to get around!!!

Pic one - little Roy. Pic two - Carolina, our favorite little cleft patient (even though we're not supposed to have favorites).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Weekend News

Thursday, our friends from the SOS Eye Team moved into the dorm. They were here in Quiche all week, but stayed in a local hotel while they were doing clinics in nearby Chinique. This coming week, they'll be operating on the patients they collected and are staying here in the dorm.

They have been working here in Guatemala for several years and have a very deep understanding of the people, the culture, and the way things happen here. They spent a good part of the day yesterday putting together "goodie bags" for each patient. The hospital does not provide items such as toilet paper, toothbrushes, drinking water, etc. (who needs that stuff, right?), so the group gives each patient a bag with their own.

There is a team of Guatemalan eye doctors that comes to Quiche two days every two weeks. They have been operating all year on some of the supplies that the SOS team brought them last year. And this year, SOS is bringing even more! Which is great, because the Guatemalan team will be coming two days every week in the coming year. This is the news we're always looking for - when Guatemalan people are responding to Guatemalan needs. Yes, Americans are helping with supplies, but a need has been identified and the local people are stepping up to the plate.

Tomorrow, some of these Guatemalan eye surgeons will come in to work with the team. We're not sure yet if they'll be staying here with us or in a local hotel, but we'll play it by ear.

The first night the team was here (the night Matt was working to get the green truck back to Quiche), Heidi cooked chili. The next night, they treated us to pizza. Last night, we went to Pollo Campero. And tonight we went to their favorite local restaurant, La Martita's. We'd never been to that place, but it's quite nice. The proprietor, a woman, had spent some time in California and understands how sensitive our gringo guts are!

You may be wondering why we were in town this weekend. Well, with the wedding and everything, we and the Fickers cancelled our clinics to get a few days to breathe. So the Ficker family was at Lake Atitlan, enjoying a few last days with their two children who live in the U.S., and we were here with SOS (Sending out Servants).

One nice thing about being at home for the weekend was that we got to go to church in Chichicastenango. That is always a nice experience and we wish we could go more often, but there are those 100 or so people we always see in San Andres...

Tomorrow, we have clinic in Chinique. Thanks to the Fickers, we have a vehicle to get there. To those of you who already have Toyota Tacomas, congratulations. What a great truck! If you don't have one, get one. It is a completely superior driving experience, especially if you have to take a really bad dirt road to get around yet another semi truck accident between Quiche and Chichicastenango. Not that we've had to do that recently or anything...

In vehicle news, when we last checked with our mechanic, the green truck motor had been torn down and was being cleaned, revised, etc. Once he gets it cleaned and back together, we'll have a little better idea as to what is going on with our lack of power. And that really horrible clunking sound that we get from the front right side every time we hit a pothole (about every six feet on most of these roads) will need to be addressed, too. Matt, David, and Aaron couldn't find anything broken on inspection last week, but the torsion bars look about spent. It's a cheap, easy fix if that's what it is - and if we can find some torsion bars for a Nissan here in Quiche.

In Isaac news, he weighed in this afternoon at 12lbs 8oz - the same size as Jake, our cat. Big milestone - when you finally catch up to your cat! He has his first little cold, though, so we're trying to get him through that. When your parents do medical clinics, you're bound to eventually pick up something, no matter how hard they try to keep you away from it. Good thing Mommy's a doctor, right?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fickers to the Rescue (again)

We got a call from Canilla this morning. They are bringing their Tacoma to us to use for a few days. David apparently got the Ford working again (new front spring and all) and they are helping us out.

Heidi rode down to Chichicastenango with the SOS team this morning. They rented a microbus with a driver to go to Panajachel for the day and had to go through Chichi to get there, so they offered Heidi a ride. With any luck, Isaac and Matt will get to go pick Heidi up in Chichi and prevent her from having to ride a Chicken Bus home.

It's really hard being on the receiving end of help like this, knowing that we are leaving a family of 10 with only one working truck. But they insisted that we are all here working together and we need to help each other out...

While writing this, our friend Roscoe stopped by and is looking for a wheelchair for a little boy who is 12 years old and can't walk. They are working with him to do physical therapy and believe that God is going to heal him (they have seen God heal a dozen or so kids who couldn't walk) but need a way to get him around the house for a little while - he's getting too big to carry very easily. We're now looking around for a wheelchair to help them.

Well, Isaac is waking up and it's time to go...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Adventures

This morning, David and Craig were here. After breakfast, they went to the shop to get their spring made and we started preparing for the SOS team to arrive. Heidi went to market and Matt spent some time with the landscaping. Then we both spent some time addressing flood damage in the dorm rooms. We dragged carpets out into the sun and cleaned the rooms. For the most part, it looks like we'll be just fine.

We talked to Jacob about our transportation situation and he recommended a mechanic that the school uses. We called him and he came over to the house. He said he had a friend who has a wrecker that could go get the truck for us. Guess who that friend is? Yeah, we thought Martin's shop was closed with him being in the United States. Turns out that Geromino, one of his old helpers, has been running the shop for him while he was gone. We SHOULD have just tried calling over there!!!!

Anyway, Geromino and Matt got in the wrecker and headed for San Andres. Lest anything be easy, a pretty good rainstorm blew up. Part of the road was nearly impassable due to a rockslide, but we made it. Then when we got to our favorite bridge (we've mentioned this one several times - it's the one that turned us around with Baby Juana last year), it had about two feet of water flowing over it.

We stood around for a while with about 30 other people trying to figure out what to do. One guy finally got in his Toyota 4x4 and drove right through - no problems. Another Toyota. Then it was the wrecker's turn. Wreckers don't have 4 wheel drive, though, so we got stuck. Bad. Geromino ended up wading through the river with a cable from the winch to try to winch us out. The tree broke. So he climbed a hill and attached to another one, but it was too high up the hill and all it did was try to lift us.

In the meantime, more vehicles had crossed and a chicken bus finally pulled us out. Finally, we arrived in San Andres and hooked up the truck. On our way back, we got stuck in a very muddy spot. So we had to drop the pickup, drive it through the mud (it still only goes about 1mph, but at least it has 4 wheel drive), then reattach it. Then we still had to drive back through the river we got stuck in before. We had better luck this time, but another truck was stuck. So we dropped the pickup again and tried to pull him out. He was stuck so deeply, though, that we almost stuck the wrecker again trying to get him out. So we had to leave him to wait for a bigger truck.

Then, about three hours later (wreckers towing trucks up mountains are not fast), we got back to Quiche. Matt had not had cell phone service for about four hours, though, so Heidi was a little worried.

Anyway, after all that, Geronimo refused payment, so we'll have to figure out how to get them the money (the mechanic told us to expect about Q1000 - about $130) we truly owe them. Probably just an envelope dropped off at the house.

Unfortunately, since the other mechanic originally had our business and he had called Geronimo to drive the wrecker, it would be considered pretty bad form to ask Geronimo to fix it for us. So we'll have to take it to the other mechanic in the morning.

Heidi has clinic in Chichicastenango tomorrow - supposedly. She doesn't really have a way to get there yet and we're debating the relative merits of rolling the dice on the chicken bus. Pray for her safe travel if that's how we go.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wedding, etc.

We headed out to Canilla on Tuesday morning after a run to the market for some last minute wedding items. We got to meet Katie's family, who had just come in from Guatemala City with Aaron. Just a mile or so from the house, the front springs on the F-350 broke. So we went out to the airport and pulled the springs off to be sent to Quiche and have a new set made.

Anyway, we then headed up the mountain to rehearse for the wedding. It's a beautiful location, but nearly a mile from the nearest road - which isn't the greatest road, either! Then all 40 of us sat down to a wonderful steak dinner at the house. The rest of the night was spent arranging flowers, finishing the cake, moving beds and vehicles around, and miscellaneous stuff.

This morning was the wedding itself. It required several trips to the site to get everything and everyone there, but they were able to borrow enough vehicles to get it done. (The 4Runner is in 100 pieces due to an engine problem, the F-350 has a broken front spring, one Tacoma has a transmission out, the other Tacoma is at the airport in Guatemala City, and our Nissan is struggling a little bit.)

The wedding itself was beautiful. Katie's dad (who is a pastor) and our friend Rodamiro co-officiated in English and Spanish, respectively. Ryan Ficker translated both pastors into "the other" language. Craig and Matt provided the music. Isaac tried to participate, but Heidi was able to keep him, if not calm, at least distant from the proceedings.

After the wedding, we shared a wonderful meal back at the house again. After the cake and the presents, we got ready to leave. We took the broken spring from the F-350 to bring to Quiche. We got about halfway back to Quiche when the truck basically breathed its last. We were at the bottom of a hill and couldn't climb it. We were in 4-low and 1st gear and did about 1mph at a maximum of 1000rpm to get to a flat spot. We called the Fickers and they said they'd come get us.

We turned around, since we had been climbing, and descended as far as we could until we got to another hill we couldn't climb. By then, it was after dark. Craig and David came by about half an hour later and towed us back to San Andres where we left the truck. Then they brought us back to the house in Quiche. They'll spend the night here, take the broken spring to their mechanic here in Quiche, then go home.

So now we're safely home, praise God, but without a vehicle. The Mazda is in the dealership in Guatemala City, awaiting the arrival of a head, which needs to be replaced because it cracked. They're not available in Guatemala, so it'll have to be imported, which should take about two weeks. The Nissan is in San Andres with a serious fuel delivery problem. Luckily, tomorrow is a day off, but we'll have to start cancelling clinics until we can get a vehicle repaired.

Anyway, God always provides, so we'll do our best and hope He can get us some good news soon.

Now some pictures. The first is the three of us (Isaac, Heidi, and Matt) on top of the mountain (at the wedding). The second is of Aaron and Katie getting married. The third is Isaac having a happy moment on the ground at the wedding. The fourth is of Heidi and Isaac on the trampoline at the Fickers - sometimes it's the only place we can put him to make him happy!

More news tomorrow...

Oh, and welcome to this world to our newest niece, Isabella Grace Kubera. She was born on Monday. (This makes three new babies in the family: Isaac, Pandora Grissom, and Isabella.)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend and Monday

Friday, Heidi had clinic at Buen Samaritano while Matt and Isaac were home. John went to the market here in Quiche and had some business items to finish.

Heidi saw six patients - three post operative patients and three more she scheduled for surgeries. Not a bad ratio for a surgeon! We're still not sure when Heidi will ever get a real day off, but people keep needing surgeries, so we'll keep operating.

Saturday was our drive out to Canilla for clinic there. Duane flew down to Guatemala City to pick up Craig and Hannah. It was great to see them after what seems like forever! Of course, within minutes, they were right back into the swing of things. It was wonderful to be in Canilla with ALL of the Fickers.

Saturday afternoon, we took some 4-wheelers and dirt bikes and rode out to the clinic in Chiminicijuan to hang a notice that there will be no clinic this Tuesday (we'll be busy with a wedding). Three 4-wheelers and two dirt bikes went out. Two 4-wheelers and two dirt bikes came back (one 4-wheeler finally succumbed to the "road" and we left it in Chiminicijuan to be repaired later). These roads are punishing!

Sunday was clinic in San Andres. We're doing our best to nurse the one truck we have still running (even though it's running poorly), but we got an emergency call from clinic that there was a sick baby there that needed oxygen and feeding tubes, so we loaded up the truck and drove to San Andres (Matt and Isaac skip this clinic and hang out in Canilla due to the extremely high number of contagious sick kids there). If the truck is going to die, it might as well be while we're trying to save a life with it. By the time Matt and Isaac and the equipment got to San Andres, the family had elected to leave. So Isaac got a bonus feed from Mommy and went back to Canilla to wait til the end of clinic.

Duane had to fly to Guatemala City again on Sunday to pick up Leslie's sisters (who were coming in for the wedding) so John hitched a ride down. Twenty minutes in the air sure beats five hours on the road! John spent the night in Guatemala City Sunday night and flew back the US on Monday (today).

Today was clinic in Chicabracan. The turnout was a little smaller than expected - we're told that today is the Dia de los Ninos (Kid's Day). Ironically, we saw several kids and diagnosed a pregnancy! One of our patients there is pregnant for the third time and has no living children (two miscarriages) and looks SO nervous every time she comes in. We were able to show her her baby's heartbeat today and she seemed like she felt a lot better when she left.

After clinic, we rode out to Chinique to check on the SOS Eye Team. They came in from Houston yesterday and are doing clinics this week and surgeries next week. They brought 24 Action Packers full of supplies - 3 of which actually made it. So they went to set up clinic today with only about 10% of their supplies. Ernest and Connie were waiting at their hotel in Quiche for the other 21 boxes to come in from the airport. Sometimes air travel can be SO frustrating. And the airlines wonder why they're all losing money... (oops, was that an editorial comment?)

Tomorrow, we head back to Canilla for Aaron and Katie's wedding (which is on Wednesday). Matt is playing along with Craig and Heidi and Isaac will be wearing traditional Mayan dress, so hopefully we'll get some good pictures!

Here's one of Isaac in a new outfit (many of his first outfits no longer fit). He now weighs 12 lbs. Only another 8 ounces until he catches Jake (our cat)!