Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weekend and Monday

Friday night, Roy came in from Antigua where he has been studying Spanish for the past week. We had a nice dinner, thanks to Heidi (who is becoming quite the chef), and then sat up talking for a while. We're going to miss Roy when he goes back to the States between trips here...

Saturday morning, we went to clinic in Canilla. It was a relatively routine clinic but we did get to see one of our post-op cleft lip patients, Yasmine. Her picture is the first one below.

You may remember hearing about Roscoe, another missionary who lived near Canilla. We had done some very small things with him, such as helping with some OTC meds or loaning a wheelchair, but not too terribly much. We knew each other and had always intended to go visit his home for kids, but never made it over there. Roscoe died a few months ago. Another American family has come down to pick up where he left off. We had heard about them from the Fickers but hadn't had a chance to meet until this last Saturday when they came over and we got to eat lunch with them.

Later in the day, we took Roy out to show him the house and clinic building David is building in Chiminicijuan. Just some more ideas for Roy's construction project here in Quiche.

On the way, we stopped by a Toyota Tacoma that was burned and flipped over on the side of the road (the owner was a thief and the crowd was TRYING to burn him inside the truck but he escaped to Mexico). Roy just bought a new Toyota Hilux but the dealer took the tiedowns out of the bed when they put the bedliner in it. So we swiped the tiedowns out of the burned out Tacoma, cleaned them up, and put them in Roy's truck. So now Roy has an official Frankentruck. Congrats, Roy. You must be SOOO proud!

Sunday clinic was also relatively routine. You may remember the baby we saw the day before we left for vacation in the US who was very sick and was being cared for by the great-grandmother (mom died during childbirth). Leslie took the baby (and the great-grandmother) in for the night and Duane flew them to the hospital in Quiche the next morning. Well, the baby is looking much better. They had been wet-nursing her and finally, Great-grandma started lactating. Yeah, a little creepy, but an indication as to how thorough God was in his design plans. Anyone who doesn't believe the human body has been designed to live through adversity just needs to meet this family. Leslie is holding the baby in the second picture.

Monday, we had a scheduled clinic in Totonicapan to replace the now-closed clinic in Chinique. (There were a variety of reasons the Chinique clinic has been closed - we referred all of the needy patients to ourselves just a few miles down the road in Chicabracan.) For the second consecutive time, the pastor forgot about the clinic and didn't advertise it. So, apparently, God is sending us a message about that. We will continue to pray for guidance and for something to fill that Monday.

One possibility will be in Zona Reyna. Duane and Leslie have been meeting with the mayor of Uspantan, who has responsibilities for all of the villages "surrounding" Uspantan (if you're a bird, the villages are close - if you have to use a road, they're forever away). Things are looking promising for a more permanent clinic there.

So with a surprise day off, Matt finished painting the front of the house and washed and hand-waxed the 4Runner. Heidi spent the day reviewing and re-sorting the pharmacy - a MONSTER job, since it had been a while since that had happened and there have been several re-stocks since. Then our friends Toby and Britney came over for dinner and Scattergories. Afterwards, Matt and Toby (a volunteer firefighter here) took the fire gear donated by the Battle Creek Fire Department over to the firehouse and presented it to them. Those pics are below, also.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Heidi was at the Hospital Buen Samaritano today with her OB/GYN clinic. It was a fairly typical day with some surgical patients and some non-surgical patients. Dr. Hoak is going to have to start his year of government service next week (to get his permanent Guatemalan license). Surgeries at the hospital are pretty much on hold until we find out what's happening with him. Heidi can operate alone but it's awfully nice to have general surgery backup.

Matt and Isaac were home. Isaac has been a very fun little boy for the past few weeks but today was...well...less fun. Something has convinced him that fussing and whining and crying are better than laughing and smiling and playing. Grrr...

Anyway, we did get a few good moments and managed a few pictures. One is of him in his cowboy outfit. The other is a reminder that, even though he's growing, he's got a long way to go to catch Daddy!

Oh, and thanks to the marvel that is the internet, we got to videoconference with Isaac's Grandma and Grandpa Bell, and his Greatgrandpa and Greatgrandma Bell in Michigan. That is, they got to watch him fuss a little... For some reason it doesn't seem to bother them too much.

Roy will come up tonight from Antigua and we'll head out to Canilla in the morning.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Work Day

After yesterday's excitement, what we really needed was a good day in clinic. And we got one.

It was the first time that all three of us had been together at ASELSI since November. Isaac was a great little helper. He was in a really good mood all morning and entertained our patients and their children. No one can believe he's only 6 months old. One woman remarked that he's about the size of a one-year-old here. True, true.

First, we saw several new babies. We had been following their mothers through their pregnancies and it's always neat to see the new babies. We had gotten all the genders right on these today - whew! No surprises.

One was Josefina, a woman we've followed for a while. She had 10 children and developed diabetes. She asked us one week whether we thought she should try to get pregnant again. The answer was a definitive NO! She was a recently diagnosed, uncontrolled diabetic and she had had 10 children already (the first one was a c-section and the next 9 had VBAC'd at home). So, naturally, the next month she came in pregnant. We counselled her each time she came in about going to the hospital to give birth. She apparently listened and went to the hospital for a c-section, even bringing the paper we gave her with all her prenatal visit info on it. But they noticed that her due date was still a week or so away and didn't do a c-section. She stayed in the hospital anyway, and VBAC'd again because their weren't enough doctors in the hospital to do it when she went into labor. She lost a lot of blood, though, and even got a transfusion. The baby was 9 lbs, which is an absolute monster around here. She and the baby both look fine now, though she's still a wee bit anemic. So we're helping with some iron and a few things to help her breast milk come in a little better.

We saw a couple of really little babies, too. One was about Isaac's come-home size - just under 6 lbs. Another was a nearly three month old who only weighs 5 lbs and change. THAT baby got entered into the milk program. And, in picture #1 below, you can see Isaac meeting a new buddy (another one of our former prenatal patients).

This past Monday, we got to see Diego, our hydrocephalic baby in Chicabracan. Today, we got another one. This little girl, Rosio, is almost the exact same age as Isaac - 6 months - but is severely hydrocephalic. Mom and Dad said that she had some type of little bag on the back of her skull when she was born in the hospital in Xela, which was removed, but hasn't gotten any treatment since. According to them, the hospital told them that she's just fine. Clearly, she's not (picture 2). So we told them all about the process they'll have to follow to get her her surgery. They indicated that they're interested in going through the process, which starts at the hospital here next to the house next Wednesday. Luckily, after our experience with Diego, we know what to expect. And they seemed reassured when we showed them pictures of Diego and let them know that we've had some success with getting the surgery with another child.

Later was another little boy with a cleft lip (pic 3). He was actually part of the trip in January and was refused by the anesthesiologist as borderline too small. While it's frustrating to be turned down, it makes you feel good that the anesthesiologist cares enough to say that she doesn't quite feel comfortable with this one (meaning that she DOES with the others!) So we'll try again with them in February. The baby doesn't have a cleft palate, just a lip, so he can breastfeed and is actually growing quite nicely. He's already picked up a pound since early January and should be just fine for surgery in February.

Later still was a young man who came in with his mother. He has a tumor on his face and some scarring on his neck. Mom says that he's had three surgeries in private hospitals in Guatemala City to remove neck tumors. The tumors were supposedly benign, but he was given radiation. This tumor on his face has been growing for two years and they have been denied surgery at each of the hospitals they saw for his neck. The docs have all told them that it's a blocked saliva gland and that they don't think it'll heal well. It's hard to argue with three separate doctors on that count, but we gave them the information on how to contact the Hospital Hermano Pedro in Antigua to see if there is an American ENT, plastic, or oral surgery team coming that can take another look at it. With any luck, there will be a doc who has had a little experience with this type of problem and can either help them or confirm what the Guatemalan docs have said. (Pic 4).

Another patient was a 6 month old whose mother brought him in with the classic complaint of cough, fever, and cold. Apparently, he felt bad a few days ago, but you can see in picture 5 that on the scale of sick and not sick, he clearly falls into the "not sick" category. Cute, though!!

We saw a woman who is about 4'6" and weighed in at 200 lbs. She has, not surprisingly, developed diabetes. It turns out that she's a stress eater and her husband drinks and abuses her. So when she's stressed, she eats. Heidi explained that stress eating is a very common thing, but in her case, she is literally going to eat herself to death if she doesn't break this cycle. The woman is a Christian (her husband doesn't go to church but she does) and we prayed together for both her and her husband.

During the last few patients, Isaac had pretty much run out of good, so he and Daddy took a walk outside. They heard a truck with some difficulty starting and walked over to see if they could help. A guy was trying to start a Nissan that made our old Nissan look like a Lexus (and our old Nissan was, at best, a steaming piece of trash). He had the carbureator apart and suggested that Matt hold his hand over it while he started the truck. Being a musician and pretty protective of his hands, Matt suggested that HE could start the truck while the owner held HIS hands in the motor. The key doesn't work, so it was a hot wire job, but Matt wasn't ALWAYS a missionary, so we managed. Isaac sat on the seat next to Daddy and helped by not putting the truck in gear while we worked.

This didn't work, so we tried to push start the truck. We had a slight downhill, but ran out of road before the truck started. Matt's dad had given him a tow rope for Christmas (among other things - don't laugh too hard), so we got the 4Runner and pull started it - which is MUCH easier than push starting on foot! Later, we saw the guy leaving clinic with about 2/3 of our patients from the day in the back of the truck. Yeesh!

Tomorrow, Heidi will be at the Hospital Buen Samaritano while Matt and Isaac play at home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Every Day an Adventure

Yes, today is our second "weekend" day, since Heidi didn't operate today, but it was still not exactly uneventful.

Again, we're still dealing with less than reliable water. Last night we didn't have any. At times today we've had plenty and at other times not. Time will tell. Perhaps the pump still hasn't filled the water tower yet.

Anyway, after lunch, Heidi went to the market to buy a few things. Upon coming home, the guard casually told her that someone was robbing our truck (the Mazda). She could see two doors open on it. She said that it might be her husband, but the guard said, no, it's not your husband. So she called the house.

Matt quickly ran outside and apprehended a guy in the bed of the truck. The driver door and the rear passenger door were open. Matt jumped into the bed of the truck, questioning why the person was in the truck - loudly. He answered about half of the questions in English - not bad English, either. Matt continued asking questions loudly and angrily, in Spanish. The guy went from crouching and holding on to the bars in the back to standing up and that's when he was... um.... gently placed on the ground.

He was given the advice that it would be better for him if he stayed seated rather than trying to get up again. Heidi quickly called the police. Upon inspection, it appeared that nothing had been taken out of the truck. The guy had recently been in the hospital - he had some fresh stitches over his eye and still had an IV needle in his arm. He kept saying that two other men had offered him a ride home in our truck, but they were nowhere to be found.

The police came, as well as half the doctors and nurses in the hospital, who identified the man as a current patient. His neighbor also showed up, who told us that he's got some money and property but has been drinking for about a year now. People around here go downhill quickly when they start to drink.

We gave a police report - more or less - and they handcuffed him and took him away. The police were very helpful, very friendly, and very professional. Not exactly what we've been told to expect - but we'll take each encounter at face value. We will need to look into getting an alarm put on the Mazda. This is the second time the vehicle has been opened without a key. Perhaps Martin can give us some advice.

The Toyota has a rather loud alarm already on it, but we'll continue to avoid leaving valuables in the vehicle. It's a little disconcerting that all of this took place in broad daylight with Matt in the house with Isaac, but we were parked in such a way that the Mazda was not really visible from the emergency room. We've remedied THAT situation.

Anyway, tomorrow is clinic at ASELSI. Friday is Heidi's clinic at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, then we'll probably see Roy Friday night.

Please pray for this little incident to be completely over. Also, please pray for a friend of ours who just had surgery in the US. We told him we probably could have done it cheaper here in Guatemala, but for some weird reason, he wanted access to blood banks and all that other stuff... Go figure.

Monday, January 21, 2008


This morning was interesting because we don't have any water. We didn't have water when we got home last night and kinda hoped it would magically come back during the night. No such luck. So we're a little stinky today.

Matt went down to the hospital this morning to ask about the water and they said that the pump went out on Saturday and that another one is supposed to come in from Guatemala City today. The hope is to have water back by tomorrow. Imagine the hospital in your town being without water for four days (or more!)

We'll call some friends here in town and see if we can go take showers at their house today. Let's all hope they say yes!!!

Anyway, today was clinic in Chicabracan. Paul and Lindsey had covered for us during the month of December and for the first clinic in January, so at least we weren't swamped today. It's a good thing, too, since Heidi isn't feeling well. We saw several of our regular patients, as well as a couple from our now closed clinic in Chinique. We were very happy that they found us, as they were some of the ones we were a little worried about. Hopefully, they can tell some of the others where we are (we explained it ourselves, but it's always different coming from "the people".)

Our first six or seven patients today were all from one family - one of the few Christian families in town. They just had their 11th baby a week and a half ago. We saw Mom some during her pregnancy and all turned out okay. Mom was in for a cough and a headache. She gave birth in the hospital because her midwife was pregnant, too, and not really in a position to help her! (First pic is Mom, Dad, and Baby). It's hard to believe that Isaac was the same size when he came home...

The second pic is of Isaac in his new walker that we're borrowing from a missionary family in Chimaltenango. It's a lifesaver now but within two months, he probably won't care about it at all - so it's nice to be able to borrow it!

The third pic is of Diego, our little boy with hydrocephaly. He came into Paul and Lindsey two weeks ago and couldn't move his arms or legs. Heidi was still in Antigua, but they called her for advice. She suggested that they give her about $15 to pay for her trip down to Guatemala City for a return visit to the hospital where they operated a few months ago. She went and told us that he's moving his arms and legs again. The docs there suggested that he get on some milk supplements, as he's getting awfully skinny. So Mom got some milk but ran out today. There wasn't any available in Chicabracan, but we bought about a $25 can of milk here in Quiche on the way home and she'll come get it this afternoon. Diego's head is starting to shrink down but is still quite large. In the picture, you can see the shunt running down the side of his head.

Finally, we decided to give you a bonus picture of something a patient brought to Heidi yesterday in clinic. If you've never seen one of these, it's because you live in one of the richest countries in the world. It's an intestinal worm. Nearly everyone around here has had them at one point or another in their lives. Don't worry, if you take an antibiotic, they pass right on through...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Last Few Days

Thursday, Heidi and Isaac went to clinic at ASELSI and Matt and Roy went to Guatemala City to do some showing around and to pick up our friends, Dr. Louis and Victoria de Pena. Since we've been having to turn away some patients at ASELSI (it has become a very popular clinic - more patients come than we can possibly see), we decided to have an overflow clinic on Friday, which Dr. Louis helped with.

Saturday, we were out to Canilla with the de Penas and Roy Simmons. One memorable patient was a little girl about a year and a half old whose mother accidently spilled some boiling rice milk on. She had some pretty ugly burns on her face, neck, and trunk, but with treatment, she shouldn't scar too badly. Matt, having recently been burned himself (last March), can really empathize with her. The mother is in the local church and asked us if we would pray with her before she left.

Also, on Saturday, we had a woman accept Christ in the clinic.

Saturday afternoon, Matt, Roy, and Duane took a short flight around to do some sight-seeing. Roy's construction team built a school in Uspantan a few years ago. It's at least a two hour drive from Canilla, but a five minute flight!!! So we flew over and looked at the school, and also checked out a beautiful lake just outside Coban.

Sunday, Duane flew the de Penas back to Guatemala City and Roy headed back to Chichi to go to the American church there before heading down to Antigua to start a month of language school. He'll be back on the weekends, but will be studying hard during the week.

One of our translators in San Andres, Rosa, turns 18 today, so we celebrated with some tres leches cake. Her sister, our other translator, told Matt that all of her cousins and friends are waiting for her at home with buckets of water - the traditional birthday prize! Luckily, her dad makes the traditional skirts, so she'll have something dry to wear!

Tomorrow is clinic at Chicabracan. Our American friend, Toby, is planning on coming over so we can take the fire gear we brought down to the firehouse. (Toby is a volunteer firefighter here.) We'll try to have some pictures then.

Here's one of Isaac at clinic on Friday...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Busy Week!

This has been an exceptionally busy week. Of course, they all seem busy when you're coming off a month vacation!

Monday was our first "solo" clinic with the 4Runner. All of our clinic stuff, as well as Isaac's play stuff fit perfectly in the back. We figured it would, but you never REALLY know until you do it, right?

We were in Nueva Santa Catarina, our clinic up at 10,000 ft altitude. This was one tricky place for our old truck, since, at that altitude, we could barely climb the hill to the church. Sometimes we were reduced to putting it in 4Low and crawling. No such problems for the Toyota.

Anyway, enough about the truck (guess who's blogging???). It was wonderful to see all of our friends/patients there again. All the kids are growing so fast! And the pregnant women are progressing well. We did have one patient that Paul and Lindsey saw and (probably) correctly diagnosed with a bone infection that he's had for a few years following a nasty collision in a soccer game. We will do our best to treat that, including talking to our orthopedic surgeon friend here in Guatemala. (Picture 1).

Tuesday, Roy Simmons came in to visit. He'll be here a few days, then go to Antigua for a month of language school. We (Roy, Isaac, and Matt) went to Canilla today to consult with Duane Ficker about the building of Roy's apartment here in Quiche. We had talked with a local builder and we think we got a "special gringo price". Duane has built several buildings here and understands the process a lot better than we do. Plus, he knows the vocabulary and the culture.

Heidi had a morning off. No houseguests, no husband, no kid. Who knows what she did here this morning. Hopefully not much. This afternoon, she went to the Hospital Buen Samaritano and assisted on a lymphectomy of a little boy from San Andres, then had two of her own surgeries to do. She didn't even get started on her surgeries until after 4pm, so we will probably not see her until very late tonight.

Isaac turned 6 months old this week, so we took some 6 month pictures. Two of them are below. He has been such a good boy this week. He can now sit up and entertain himself with his toys for extended periods of time. He's eating soft foods and is a very, very happy boy. Today, he probably cried for a total of about 15 minutes all day. And he's getting accustomed to his bedtime routine. Tonight he was especially tired and cried for about 15 minutes after being laid down. The last two or three nights were much less. And about half the time he makes it through the night. The other half he will feed once - around midnight. Anyway, way too much information, but a proud daddy, so...

Tomorrow, Heidi and Isaac will be at ASELSI and Roy and Matt have some errands to run in Guatemala City, as well as picking up some special guests for the weekend.

Friday is another clinic at ASELSI. Since so many patients have been turned away from ASELSI lately, we have decided to add the occasional extra day to try to serve as many people as possible.

Please pray for Heidi's patients today as well as for wisdom and clarity with all of the decisions we are in the process of making. Also please pray for Roy's language school time. It's extremely difficult to learn a new language and even more so when you're in a hurry to do it!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

First Weekend of 2008

This past weekend was our first in 2008 to be back to our regular schedule (clinics in Canilla and San Andres). It was our first chance to take the new 4Runner out to the Fickers', too. And, as luck would have it, we heard that the normal route we take was closed on and off due to road improvements. So we went around. The alternate route is normally one of the more daunting roads we drive, but it was no match for the 4Runner!

Clinic started out with a bang. One of the workers brought her grandmother in, literally on a litter. She looked like she had had a massive stroke. She was completely immobile on one side of her body and couldn't walk or talk. Unfortunately, there was little we could do for her, other than give her something for her very high blood pressure and counsel the family about how to care for a stroke victim. Afterwards, Duane drove the family home rather than make them carry her back.

The rest of the day consisted of a relatively normal number of patients, but an abnormally high number that required a lot of time. One was a woman who came in initially complaining of gastritis, but upon further questioning and looking, we decided that she might have a bleeding ulcer. She told us she had relatively recently had a baby taken by c-section because the doctors were afraid she would seize and die. She was only seven months, though, and the baby died. We asked if the doctors had done any tests and she said yes. We asked for the results and she said they were in her house, but that her husband was outside. When we brought the husband in, he told us that the c-section had been 8 years ago and also changed every one of her answers about her history (including her age - by about 10 years! - go figure!) Anyway, we gave her some medicines for a suspected ulcer and asked her to come back next week with her test results that were supposedly taken within the last month.

Today, they had about 80 or so patients. Heidi's second-to-last patient accepted Christ and promised to go to church this evening with Mateo (our translators' father and evangelist). There was another patient who said that he was ready to accept Christ, but felt better about doing that in a church and promised to find one.

Medically, there was a lady with some type of tumor on her arm, but also some symptoms of other health problems. Heidi referred her to herself at Buen Samaritano for a further exam on some of her other problems - obviously female-type problems - and possibly later to Dr. Hoak for a look at her arm.

There was a little boy a mass on his jaw. Leslie had seen him last week with something affecting his liver (he was jaundiced). Clearly, this leads to some concern about possible cancer. He looked a lot better this week, but will also be sent to Buen Samaritano for a look at his jaw.

In other news, a lot can happen in just 6 short weeks. Lots of progress has been made on Aaron and Katie's house, Duane and the boys made some really nice new cabinets for the kitchen, and Rachel's cat looks to be pregnant. Matt and the boys spent some time doing minor airplane repairs, David worked on digging out one of the tilapia ponds, and we celebrated Rachel's 13th birthday.

This week, Roy Simmons comes in again to start language school and we'll have some other special visitors for this weekend.

In pictures, the first is of the 4Runner on the way out to clinic. It doesn't really show how rough that road is, but trust us - it's no picnic. And the second picture is of the woman Heidi saw today with the tumor on her arm.

Tomorrow, we're in Nueva Santa Catarina.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back to Work

Matt and John arrived in Quiche about 9pm last night with the new 4Runner and a hatchback full of goodies. All of Isaac's Christmas presents, a TV to replace the one Jake broke while we were gone, some donated firefighter gear from the City of Battle Creek, Michigan (which will be presented to the local fire department next week), some motorcycle and airplane parts for the Fickers, and some assorted other things that needed to come down - all made the trip.

In case you're ever thinking about driving from Michigan to Guatemala, be warned ahead of time that it's a very long trip. The driving isn't so bad - the highways in Mexico are surprisingly well maintained and marked - but the border crossings are a little tough. Our vehicle title was taken away from us at the Texas/Mexico border and, against our wishes, given to "some guy" who promptly drove away with it. We eventually chased him down and found out where he would be taking it - he refused to give it to us - and simply drove three days through Mexico praying that God would put it on this guy's heart to bring it to us. After waiting 24 very stressful hours at the Guatemala/Mexico border, he showed up with our title. We could tell stories for the next 50 pages, but we'll spare you... If you're going to do the trip, call us. We learned a few things.

Meanwhile, Heidi and Isaac were here in Guatemala working with the cleft palate kids. Of the planned 13, 12 showed up and came to Antigua for their surgeries. Read some of Heidi's posts in the past few days for more details.

Anyway, today, we are doing some business here in town, getting John's flight back to the US arranged, and unpacking. Heidi is at her clinic in Chichi and is not playing "single mom" for the first time in a week. Not sure when we'll see her again!

Okay, some pics. The first one is of the group in Antigua. The second is the bus Matt Capehart generously loaned us for the trip. The next one is one of our new cleft lip patients, awaiting her surgery. Fourth is one of last year's patients with a repaired lip, awaiting her palate surgery. And last is the 4Runner, all cleaned up and sitting in front of the house.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

YAY and Thanks!

Thanks to lots and lots of prayer coverage, Matt is now less than an hour away from home here in Quiche, with almost all of the proper paperwork done on the truck! Isaac and Isaac's mommy have definitely missed Daddy the last week, so there will be a very joyful reunion forthcoming...

Thanks also to John Villanueva, who braved the trip through Mexico with Matt this week. We're not at all sure what we would have done without him.

We are so thankful that in the end, everything worked out with the trip. The Mexicans did not take away any of our stuff like many people told Matt that they would in the town just before the border. The roads were good and the truck drove well. The Guatemalan border was another hassle, of course (There are many long stories that maybe we'll type later), but like I said, it all worked out in the end! Arrival today is actually one day sooner than we had hoped originally.

Please continue to pray for the cleft palate kids who are still getting their surgeries one by one all of this week. Also for a lady named Anastasia who we met in clinic today. She does not know the Lord and also suffers some pretty debilitating health problems. She will go see Dr. Hoak about her gallbladder, but we had a chance to proclaim the Gospel to her today and need to pray that the seed we planted will someday bloom.

Again, many thanks to all of you for your faithful prayers and love and support. Our next post will be as a complete family again!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Quick Update

Well, we're still "two down, one to go", but making progress. Matt and John were able to cross the border in to Mexico with all of our stuff, which was a huge blessing. They were told many different things by many different people before trying to cross, and we were not at all sure we would be able to get Heidi's and Isaac's clothes and things in. Thank you all for your continued prayer as they travel through Mexico and deal with the Guatemalan border in a couple of days, hopefully.

The cleft palate kids have surgeries underway, and could also use your prayer coverage! There are 7 of the 12 that we took that are receiving their surgery this week. Two will go back in February-- one was sick the night before his evaluation, and the other we still have to clarify with the team. We are not sure that they will be able to help him with his speech, since he is 19 years old with a very large opening in his palate. Three were referred for dental work and retainers to patch the small holes in their palates, and we will work on this with a local missionary dentist as soon as possible.

The team, Medical Missions for Children, is the same one that operated on these kids last January! They are amazing, and you can check them out online at mmfc.org if you want to read more about their work all over the world. We are so appreciative that they came back to help again this year!

Today while Matt is still travelling, Heidi and Isaac are hanging out at home and settling back in. We are working on teaching Isaac to fall asleep on his own (working towards a better sleep routine that will get us through the night) and making baby food. There was also a lot of clean-up work to be done after we were gone for a month, and that will take the better part of these two days. Yuck.

Thursday we will be busy at ASELSI, for sure-- our first time back in over a month. Friday Heidi is hoping to maybe hire one of the girls that works at ASELSI to come to the Hospital Buen Samaritano with her to look after Isaac, since she is sure to be busy there, too!

Please continue to pray for patience for us both as we are apart from each other for longer than we ever have been, and both under stressful circumstances. We believe with all of our hearts that your prayers have made and continue to make a huge difference in our work here. Keep up the good work!

Pictures to follow, when the camera and laptop are reunited, hopefully later this week...

Friday, January 04, 2008

Two Down, One to Go

Yes, two of us are in Guatemala with one soon to be on the way.

Heidi and Isaac flew down this morning and are currently in the Hotel Lazos Fuertes in Antigua awaiting the arrival of 13 cleft palate kids on Saturday. Matt is still in Houston working out some last minute details for the drive down, leaving on Sunday.

Thanks to the generosity of many people and the hard work of our support group and our families, Matt and John Villanueva will be driving our new (to us) 4Runner down through Mexico this coming week. Again, please help us with lots of prayer coverage. Matt will need coverage for a smooth trip. Heidi will need coverage during her week as a "single mom". There really is a reason why God's design has two parents.

This coming year has some very exciting things shaping up already. We have several visitors planned, some med students, a resident, and at least one medical team. We'll likely need at least one trip back to the US in the next few months for some business items. And we ask you to continue to pray for wisdom and clarity on some other things we're working on. As the picture starts to focus a little, we'll share some more. But for the moment, please just pray for wisdom and clarity. Our position is that we'll do whatever God wants us to do, we just need to know what that is!

The last month has been been mostly about us. That's what vacations are all about. But now the focus rotates back to our patients. Thirteen families are coming down to Antigua this week for cleft lip and palate surgeries and one or two ear reconstructions. Please pray for these families, that their anxieties may be alleviated and that their kids' surgeries go smoothly, successfully, and without complication.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2008. Looking back on my life, I'm not sure I ever really believed I'd see this date. Where are all the flying cars? The robots? The food rejuvenators? Did I watch too much of the Jetsons growing up???

Anyway, we're on to the last leg of our journey now. We're leaving Mary Ann's house in Cary, NC and heading to Heidi's cousin Gib's house in Birmingham, AL. Then on to Houston and back to Guatemala. Heidi and Isaac fly out on Friday. Matt hopes to leave on Sunday.

We'll need lots of prayer coverage as we separate for the first time in Isaac's life. We'll likely be apart for the longest EVER so far in our relationship - about a week. Yes, separation can be healthy, but we've grown awfully accustomed to being together - and we really help each other a lot with Isaac. Plus, Matt will be driving through a country where the whole system is designed to trip you up, cause you problems, and cost you money. Prayer coverage just makes things go smoother.

We got word from Guatemala that Jake knocked our little TV off the table and broke it when he was accidently locked in the house. If that's the worst thing that happened while we were gone, we're very thankful for that. It's an excuse to upgrade the 13" TV. Why we'd want to upgrade we're not sure - it's only hooked up to a DVD player - but we're Americans and that's what we do. Maybe they make a 14" TV!

Here's a picture of Isaac at his first Tarheels game. It was a nearly 40 point win over Valpo. We went to a 40 point win at Michigan State, too, but we were Isaac-less that night, remember? A pic might have been nice, but a night out was nicer!