Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend Fun

Well, Friday, we put Charlie on a plane for Guatemala City. He returned to New York a day early to surprise his fiancee for her birthday. Now that the day has passed, we feel like we're not letting any cats out of the bag. It was super nice to have him here and we wish him the best of luck. He'll be heading to St. Louis to start his residency in orthopedic surgery in just a few short months (right after he gets married!)

After Duane dropped Charlie off in Guatemala City, he had to hurry back to Canilla to pick up Leslie, then immediately fly up to Zona Reina for a medical emergency there. A woman was supposedly having a miscarriage, but Leslie managed to deliver a healthy baby. They tried getting Heidi on the phone, but phone reception is so horrible there that you literally have to stand in a certain spot under a certain roof to even get signal. Then we got the most Guatemalan call we've had in a while. Someone called us to tell us that Brother Duane HAD wanted to talk to us but then he left. Then they told us to wait five minutes and hung up on us. In any case, Leslie did a great job and got a healthy baby delivered.

One funny note on that. This particular location is quite a bit closer to sea-level than we are. (Read: it's stinkin' hot there!) Leslie and the patient were in a little hut with a tin roof and it was HOT! Leslie suggested that perhaps the mom would be a bit more comfortable if she put her hair up - she was practically swimming in it (all Mayan women wear their hair quite long). The midwife explained that the local custom is for women to give birth with their hair down, as it would be bad luck to put it up. At this point, the outcome was still a little in doubt, so the hair stayed down. (How bad would it have been if she had put her hair up and then had a bad outcome????)

Anyway, clinic on Saturday was pretty crazy. Over 90 patients!!! And this in a clinc that usually sees around 50-60. Of course, last week was Easter, so there was no clinic. Then, in the late afternoon, we all went down to the river to play beach volleyball. Thanks to Kaitlin, we had a new volleyball. We are all much better players with a real volleyball! (Unfortunately, Kaitlin had to fly out before the game...)

Today in San Andres, there were around 80 patients - a few less than the 100+ we were anticipating.

Tomorrow is our bi-weekly clinic in Chicabracan, then it's two days off. We haven't been alone in the house in over two months, so it'll be a nice little break.

The first pic below is Heidi draining a mass on a guy's jawbone. The second is our cute son.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

This Week

Well, a few things have happened since our last entry. On Tuesday morning, about 5am, Heidi, Matt, Isaac, and Kaitlin left for Antigua. The plan was to arrive around 8:30 or 9:00, then have Matt run some errands in Guatemala City.

Just before 6am, all that changed. We bumped into a traffic jam on CA-1, the Pan-American Highway. We had had some rather unexpected rain (since it's still the dry season here) and a mudslide dropped nearly a million cubic meters of mud and rock on the highway. It was over 12 hours before they got one lane open. We figured as much and turned around to go back.

So we took the long way around. We had never driven down near the coast, but that's exactly where we went. For those of you who know the geography here, we went back to Quetzaltenango (Xela), then down to Mazatenango, over to Escuintla, then up to Antigua. We live at 6700 ft altitude. Antigua is around 5000 ft. Well, at one point we were around 600 ft altitude - yeah, a little out of our way.

Isaac didn't really appreciate the extra several hours in the car, but we all made it. And Matt even got his errands run. So all's well that ends well.

Wednesday morning, we got up and headed back to Chichi, where Heidi, Kaitlin, and Charlie had a surgery. Since you might have noticed that Charlie wasn't mentioned in the story above, it's because he took the day and made a Chicken Bus run down to Lake Atitlan. The first picture below is of Heidi and Kaitlin with the uterus they took out on Wednesday afternoon.

Today, we all went to ASELSI for clinic there. Heidi diagnosed one patient with a miscarriage, which is always sad, but the upside of being at ASELSI is that there are always plenty of K'iche speaking pastors there to pray with people and minister to them. In addition, we saw Fredy, our little imperforate anus baby. And Charlie got to sit in with Dr. Edgar, our orthopedic surgeon friend who comes up once a month from Guatemala City.

Charlie will start his residency in orthopedic surgery in a month or two, so it was good for him to see some patients more along the lines of what he'll be able to expect then. They saw a couple of hip dysplasias and a really severe scoliosis, among other things.

After clinic, the docs went to go round on their patient from yesterday and hit the tourist market in Chichi. Matt and Isaac went home to check on the construction crew.

The two last pics are of the foundation for the new addition. It's 80cm tall and has a rebar cage in it with 12 inch spacing (vertical and horizontal). This place isn't going ANYWHERE! So far, there are over 4,000 lbs of rebar and 20,000 lbs of concrete in the foundation alone!

Tomorrow is Heidi's OB/GYN clinic in Chichi.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dios Es Mejor Utz

Can't believe we forgot to share this story from yesterday. So consider this "part 2" of yesterday's entry.

One of the patients we saw (well, Charlie, really) was an 87 year old man who had little to complain about - I think he just got some vitamins. He looked, physically, to be about 87, but his mannerisms, internal energy, spryness (is that a word?), etc. were more like about 50. That's pretty unusual around here, since people tend to age very quickly.

He was SO energetic and upbeat and positive that we felt compelled to comment. We told him that he looked and acted more like 50. He said, "50?! I'm almost 100! In 13 more years, I'll be 100!" First, that's an amazing feat of mathematics for most Mayans. Second, he then told us his secret.

He told us that he was a Christian and that if we were Christians, too, we would see him in heaven. He told us that "When you walk with God, you don't get tired." And my personal favorite, that "Dios es mejor utz."

Dios = Spanish for "God"
es = Spanish for "is"
mejor = Spanish for "better"
utz = K'iche for "good"

The literal translation doesn't really capture the meaning, but you can figure that he's telling us that God is the cat's meow. We laughed quite a bit with him and agreed. Mayans always think it's the funniest thing ever when a gringo understands a word or two of K'iche.

Anyway, that's that. And for more on God being mejor utz, check out Rachel's blog today and join us in prayer for them.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday in Chujuyub

Apparently, someone was not too excited about our plans for today. Heidi didn't hardly sleep at all last night, including a stretch where she was awake listening to Jake and some other cat fighting in our living room. Tomcats aren't too fond of other tomcats, so that's all we can figure out.

Also, our friend Bill Basey was supposed to come with us today to preach and translate (he is fluent in K'iche and is also a tremendous preacher). Matt Capehart from Casa Del Rey Hotel called this morning to tell us that Bill was up all night with severe abdominal pain and that he's headed to the hospital today to find out if it's stones or appendicitis.

So we said a prayer of protection over ourselves as we left town this morning with one sleep deprived doctor and no preacher. Matt delivered a short message in Chujuyub when we got there - not exactly his forte, since it was in Spanish - but we got across the point that we're not just here to hand out medicines, we're here to share the love that Jesus has for all of us.

Fortunately, a good number of the patients there were Spanish speakers and we were not in dire need of a translator.

Remember that this clinic was a first time visit for us. Our friend Regina lives in this village. She's the one who has brought us close to a dozen cleft palates (including three of her own children), a spina bifida, a couple of malformed ears, and a woman with the worst case of mastitis Heidi has ever seen (we actually saw her back today and she's completely cured and is happily breastfeeding again!)

We had driven out to this village last month to meet with the local Comite (town council - more or less) and asked their permission to do a clinic there and asked if they would organize it a bit for us. Regina had set up that meeting for us and we've been very impressed with all of the authorities out there. They agreed to hand out 40 numbers for us and provide us with a room to do the clinic.

When we showed up today, there were 36 people waiting for us in a very nice room with electricity, a concrete floor, and some nice tables. During the morning, a few more showed up, so we ended up seeing around 60 patients, but we had Kaitlin and Charlie helping, so it worked out quite well.

Anyway, we will definitely be back, probably next month. This village definitely has need, the people are very friendly (one neighbor lady brought us coffee and bread for a snack) and the town authorities are very well organized and concerned for the well-being of their people. The head of the local Comite was there all day with us and never asked for anything himself, but was very thankful that we were able to bring medicines to people who can't afford to go to the doctor.

We saw some quite interesting patients, too. Some we couldn't help, which was frustrating, such as the lady with a thyroid problem, or the woman whose knee we tried to drain but it wouldn't drain, or the woman with a large abdominal mass. But some we could, including a man who has been having seizures for a few years (hopefully the anti-seizure drugs will help), several people with colds, a couple of sick kids, a couple pregnant women, a woman entering menopause, several people with rashes, etc.

Anyway, we got home after 4pm - a long day - and have tomorrow off. So we'll get up early to beat the construction and head to Guatemala City for an errand or two, then to Antigua to meet some folks who are down from North Carolina and to show Kaitlin the city. Charlie may try to catch a chicken bus down to Lake Atitlan, so pray for his safe travel!

Anyway, here are a few pics from the day...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday

No "day off" really ends up that way when you're in the mission field. Well, not very often, anyway.

Our plans were to hole up in the house on Good Friday and avoid the craziness that usually accompanies holidays here in Guatemala. Many holidays start out as good ideas and just degenerate into drinking festivals. Drinking, at least out in the country here, is not considered an acceptable thing for Christians to do. Unfortunately, among the indigenous population, social drinking as we know it in the United States doesn't happen. If people drink, they drink homemade liquor and they drink it until they pass out in the streets. Alcoholism rates are frighteningly high and, in a culture where many are living hand to mouth, when Dad starts drinking, he stops effectively feeding his family.

But to make a long story short - we avoid places where there is a lot of drinking just on the principle that it would severely damage our reputation if we were seen around that stuff.

However, we were in need of a few things from market, which was still more or less running, so Heidi went in to get some fruits and vegetables. At least early in the day, there wasn't too much partying going on yet and we did get some great pictures of the alfombras in town (see those below). These "carpets" are made of colored sawdust and are all made by hand. In the last pic, you can see a guy keeping his sprayed down with water to keep it from blowing away.

Sometime in the early afternoon, a pastor we've worked with in Xepocol (a village outside Chichi) called and said that his wife was about 9 months pregnant, but had been having some issues that made him nervous. Heidi said that we were at home and if he really wanted us to take a look at her to just bring her by.

About an hour later, he called and said he was coming in. We opened the front door and heard a vehicle coming up our driveway. This was a bit of a surprise, since probably no one in Xepocol owns a vehicle. We were shocked to see the Chichi AMBULANCE park in front of our house and the pastor get out. Keep in mind that our house is about 50 yards from the Emergency Room at the hospital and is in full view of that entrance.

We explained to him (and the ambulance driver) that you cannot call an ambulance, tell them that it's an emergency, and then ask them to give you a ride to a private residence a stone's throw from an actual emergency room. It's a misuse of community resources, and if we were to see her instead of the emergency room, it would constitute malpractice. (If it really is an emergency, you need an ER - at a hospital. If it's not an emergency, you can't call a community-paid ambulance.)

He was a little surprised, but the ambulance took him down to the ER. (Now we'll have to go meet with the hospital director next week - who will invariably have heard about this - to make sure they know we didn't tell someone to bring an ambulance to our house. Politically, that would be pretty dumb on our part.) We went down a few minutes later to check on him to make sure he was being taken care of and didn't feel abandoned.

When we got down there, we found that his wife had been discovered to be 6cm dilated and in active labor. Good thing we didn't have her come in the house. She could have delivered in our entryway!!! (Not that Heidi couldn't have handled it - it's just bad form to deliver babies in your house when the hospital is RIGHT THERE!) He understood what type of situation he had placed us in and wasn't angry or upset. I mean, we really wanted to help him, but circumstances wouldn't allow us to do what he really wanted us to do, which was take care of his wife here at our house. We did give him and his wife a really nice baby gift, consisting of some blankets, some baby clothes, and a few items that we know the hospital doesn't provide. We want him to feel good about calling us when people from his village need help.

While we were in the ER, we noticed a couple of gringos holding a little Guatemalan baby. So we introduced ourselves. They are volunteers from Tennessee who are working in the orphanage in Lemoa (10 minutes away) for a year. They had brought a couple of sick kids in to be seen. We told them that if the docs would write them a prescription (or twelve, as is the norm here), to please bring that to us and we'd see what we could do to help them fill it. (They had been in such a hurry to get here from the orphanage that they forgot to bring formula for the 7 month old, too, so we made up a few bottles for them out of Isaac's stock. Surely, Isaac won't mind sharing with a buddy, huh?)

So, an hour or so later, they came up with a pile of prescriptions for the kids. Heidi dug into our pharmacy and came up with everything they needed.

Thus went another "day off". No worries, there's not really that much to do here in Quiche and things like that help keep us from getting bored.

We don't really have TV but we do have internet access, so we've been following March Madness. Keep rooting for Michigan State and North Carolina. They both made it out of the opening round, but Round 2 looks to be a lot tougher for both of them. (Hey, entertainment is hard to come by down here. The longer our teams are in it, the more fun it is.)

Oh, this afternoon, we'll be getting another medical student. Kaitlin will just be here for the week, but we'll have lots of good stuff to do. We have five clinic and two surgeries scheduled. Duane will fly her here to Quiche, saving us 8 hours (or more) on the road.

And since we forgot to put up a link to Toby and Britney's page (we thought we had), here it is:

Check it out.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Semana Santa in Antigua

Those of you who have been following along for the last year remember that "Semana Santa" means "Holy Week". Here in Guatemala, we have the second largest Semana Santa celebration in the world.

Last year we went and were glad that we did but didn't feel particularly called to go again. But we have Charlie here with us and it's only fair that we try to go. So we called our travel agent and, miracle of miracles, she found us two rooms. (Rooms usually book up a year in advance.) Unfortunately, they were only available on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. So we went down Tuesday and stayed through early afternoon today. Charlie got to see some of the famous alfombras (carpets) being made. Reference our post from last April to see some pics. They're pretty impressive.

But last year we were pregnant and taking lots of pictures of carpets and floats. This year, we took lots of pictures of Isaac. Go figure.

We were lucky enough to be able to hang out with our friends Toby and Britney from here in Quiche. They came down, too. So we went out to dinner with them last night and met up for breakfast this morning. Actually, we had had dinner here at our house in Quiche a few nights ago and played cards with them until midnight, which is a REALLY late night for us. (Sad, isn't it?)

Anyway, we're happily back here in Quiche where it's much more tranquilo (Antigua is quickly becoming a madhouse) and we'll get to go to church in Chichi on Easter (clinics are cancelled this weekend - partygoers tend not to get sick for some reason).

The first pic is of us, Charlie, and Toby and Britney. The next is of Heidi and Isaac, Isaac destroying... er... holding a map of Antigua. Next is Isaac's St. Patty's Day pic we forgot to post. Thanks to Aunt Catherine for the cute jacket. Then just a few more Isaac pics.... surprise, surprise...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wild Weekend

First and foremost, we'd like to make a special request for healing prayers going up for Aaron Ficker, who was burned this week in a gas and electrical fire at home. He is okay and should recover quickly, but we know how scary and painful these incidents can be first-hand!

Well, where to start covering the rest… I guess with clinic on Saturday morning. Several interesting patients to pray for, please! One is a young girl (By young, I mean 14…) who missed her period this month. Her pregnancy test was positive, but we couldn’t see her pregnancy in her uterus on ultrasound. This can mean lots of things (Heidi’s OB friends are holding their breath right now…), but what we need to pray that it does NOT mean is that there is a dangerous pregnancy outside of this young girl’s uterus which could mean emergency surgery or internal hemorrhage any time soon. Her name is Joselyn.

At the same time, Charlie was examining a little girl (By little girl, I mean 7!) with a mass in her belly. By ultrasound and on physical exam, it looks like this little girl has an ovarian tumor about the size of a grapefruit! We are praying hard and will be calling for guidance on this one, but right now the plan that Heidi has the most peace with is scheduling her for surgery at Buen Samaritano on the 26th of this month. We are asking for LOTS of prayer coverage on this, as it is ordinarily way outside of her comfort zone. So far that seems to be the plan that God is placing on her heart, and the family really wants it to happen that way. This young lady is named Maria.

The very next patient, Juanita, was on the ultrasound table by then—and Leslie was concerned because she couldn’t see any fluid around the baby. Heidi confirmed this on ultrasound, then tried to determine if this lady’s water had broken or if there was something genetically wrong with the baby to cause the problem. Either way (and we still don’t have a clear answer), the baby is only about 28 weeks along and unlikely to survive if some new fluid doesn’t soon collect around it to give it room to grow. Please then also pray for Juanita and her baby—and special prayers for us to have clear guidance and boldness in our dealings with her as she does not yet know our Lord and Savior.

The next patient—Now already in the room and being seen by Katie—is pregnant near term with a blood pressure of 180/120, headaches, lots of protein in her urine, and other reasons for Heidi’s OB friends to be panicking right along with her at this point… For the rest of us, let’s just say—this lady was SICK and in grave danger of seizing at any point until this baby is delivered! Matt and Katie drove her home because we couldn’t get her husband by cell phone, and the town’s ambulance is currently (and indefinitely) out of commission. We were at least assured by the family that they had access to a vehicle and would get her to the hospital immediately. Pray that she and her baby are doing well by now; we will try to check on them tomorrow.

The rest of clinic, thankfully, was fairly calm… We weren’t sure how much more excitement we could handle!

Today in San Andres was better, but not by much. One of our earliest patients was a 3-month old baby with very severe pneumonia who we sent to the hospital in an ambulance—a feat that is by no means as easy as it should be! Leslie had to go find the mayor to ask permission to dispatch the ambulance, which she and Charlie did on foot while Katie tended to the baby until they found him. The ambulance (really, a pick-up truck… that the family and sick usually ride in the open bed of!) then came and picked them up, for which we were very grateful.

Another little boy was dehydrated but doing better after we bought him some water and a bottle with some oral rehydration salts. We thought we might have some excitement when the husband of a breech pregnancy we have been following came in and announced he would be bringing us his wife who has been in labor since Friday! We waited around for her, of course, but she showed up a little differently than advertised. She was having some occasional contractions, but was nowhere close to delivery, so they were going to go ahead and bring her here to the hospital for a cesarean section since the baby is really in a dangerous position for vaginal delivery.

So that about sums it up, thankfully. Now we are all packed up for clinic in Chicabracan tomorrow, but will need to hit our knees hard in the meantime for all of these patients who do not have the gift and blessing of good health that we enjoy. Please join with us… People need our help!

Oh wait… the pics for today remind me that I left out two of the best parts… Charlie—our hero!—removing our ex-roommate from the clinic in San Andres, and the six HOUR old baby with the double cleft lip and palate that the family brought in to us Saturday morning at the end of clinic! The third picture is Leslie patiently explaining how to feed this baby, mix formula, use a breast pump, and sterilize all of the baby’s bottles to the aunt and grandfather (since mom is still home recovering from delivery) Another one to add to the list for surgery when we can get it done… and to the prayer list.

Last picture is just for fun... Heidi and Isaac helping Charlie do an ultrasound in clinic! Don't ask about the blood pressure cuff attached (loosely! I promise!) to his leg... It kept him quiet for a few minutes of exploration while Daddy had to go take that patient home. ;-)

Friday, March 14, 2008


Last night, we got a nice present from Charlie. He offered to watch Isaac while we went out to eat - on an actual date. We don't get too many of those, so it was pretty nice. We got Isaac to bed before we left, so Charlie had a relatively easy go of it, but while he was feasting on leftover spaghetti, we had a restaurant meal. It wasn't anything to write home about, but it was a date. YAY!

This morning, Heidi and Charlie headed off to Heidi's OB/GYN clinic in Chichicastenango where they rounded up a surgery for two weeks from now when we have another student in.

Matt and Isaac supervised some more work on the addition. They sure are going through a lot of materials! Guess that's what happens when you build a house.

We also got to "watch" some basketball (if you count following games on GameTracker). Both MSU and UNC won their first round games in their respective conference tournaments. WEE!

Below you can see some pictures of the building project. In the first one, you can see the forms laid out for the bottom of the foundation. In the second, you can see how cement gets poured in. They're using a gas powered cement mixer to mix cement into a wooden box. Then they shovel it into buckets and hand pour it into the forms. That is a LOT of work. Isaac, study hard in school, buddy.

In the third pic, you can see the finished bottom level of the foundation on that end of the building. Now they start to build forms for the foundation itself, including the rebar frames you see. That'll be poured tomorrow. The fourth pic is another angle.

And the last pic is a little fun we had with Isaac and Photoshop. He has to support both Mommy and Daddy's schools. Ah, the joy of being caught in the middle of that!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday at ASELSI

Today was our weekly clinic at ASELSI, and it was a little more chaotic (and perhaps a little more fun!) today than usual-- There was a medical team of students and residents here from the University of Missouri who have been working with Sharon all week. They saw tons of patients upstairs while Heidi and Charlie took care of mostly regularly-scheduled people downstairs.

We saw one lady with that team who definitely needs your prayers-- Her name is Julia, and she claims to be 28 (she looks to be at least in her 40's...) She weighs only 69 pounds! She is losing her hair, has no appetite, feels very tired all the time, is very jaundiced, and has been told by different docs here that she has Hepatitis C, gallstones, anemia, and needed vitamins. We do not know what the truth is for her actually, but are sending some tests to try to narrow it down. We will do the best we can to help, but the truth is that there is likely a very chronic illness going on that has little available treatment. She does know the Lord and has accepted Christ, so we prayed with and for her and will continue to do so.

Other patients to keep in your prayers are three pregnant ladies who have breech babies and are nearing term. We prayed with them all and are seeing them back in two weeks, but would appreciate your continued prayers for their babies to turn around! Breech babies delivered at home by the untrained midwives here have very high complication rates-- mostly either death or severe cerebral palsy. They simply do not know how to deliver breeches safely in the home for the most part! Most patients are so scared of going to the hospital (where they will likely have C-sections) that they are often more likely to take the risk of delivering a dead baby at home. This is hard for us to understand, of course, so we just have to pray for the best outcome possible!

The pictures are from a diabetic lady whose prenatal care we did and her new baby, a month younger than Isaac. She is working to control her diabetes and we will continue to work with her on that. The man is also diabetic, but came in today complaining for the first time of these knots on his right knee and elbow that he has had for 10 years! They sometimes hurt worse than others, and so we gave him some ibuprofen and got him an appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon who comes once a month. We thank God often for him, as Heidi's gynecologic skills are pretty useless in this case!

After clinic, we made a home visit to another missionary family here-- The mom, Emily, is feeling very feverish and flu-like so we stopped by to check on her. We are not able to help much except offering reassurance that she's doing all the right things for herself as far as we can tell. Please pray that she is able to get some rest and that she and her family will soon feel up to serving more soon. The last picture is of Isaac playing with one of the boy's toys there-- There's still quite a bit of growing to do before he's really ready for his own scooter, it seems.

Tomorrow is Heidi's clinic at the hospital, then it's off to the weekend with the Fickers as usual.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Isaac 2/3 Birthday

Yes, Isaac is 2/3 today. 8 months. We're not sure if time is flying or creeping.

Since today is Tuesday (or OUR Saturday), we got up this morning, made some pancakes, took a nap, went to the gym, bought some rebar and concrete, supervised some building, painted some doors, did some laundry, and took Isaac's 8 month pictures.

Now we're listening to some blues and blogging. Full day, huh?

The first three are some of Isaac's "official" 8 month pictures - as official as we get, anyway. (This from people who emailed invitations to their wedding.) The next two are our attempt at being artistic and taking some "Isaac asleep" pictures.

Monday, March 10, 2008


We're still having problems loading pictures - it only took about 8 tries to get these up. Yuck!

Anyway, today was our monthly clinic in Nueva Santa Catarina. It's nice to have help out there because it can be a long day. It's a two hour drive out and a two hour drive back, plus the clinic itself. Isaac needs a little more attention on days like that and when we have help (like Charlie), Matt can attend to Isaac while Heidi attends to patients.

As we write this, we're actually getting some rain! Since we're still in the dry season, this is pretty unusual. We'll take it, though. It'll at least knock down some of the dust and dirt in the air. We'll have some beautiful views tomorrow!

While we were at clinic, a backhoe came to work on the foundation of the addition. It was originally scheduled to come on Saturday, but Guatemala being Guatemala, it came today.

Oh yeah - clinic. Our possible osteomyolitis patient came back today. It's not improving with meds, so we'll refer him to our orthopedic surgeon friend who comes to ASELSI every month. We saw a baby or two whose mom we saw as a prenatal patient.

A pregnant woman with high blood pressure we've been seeing is still hanging in there. She's now at 33 weeks. She still doesn't have any protein in her urine but the blood pressure isn't getting better. Matilde (the pastor and translator there) is going to see her every couple days and is planning to take her to the hospital if anything changes. He's also working on her spiritual life. She's not a churchgoer yet, but we'll keep praying for her.

Also, the young woman we wrote about a few months ago who came in with an obvious HPV infection (she's single and a member of the church - she told us in a different setting with a translator other than her pastor that she was raped) seems to be completely healed up. Praise God!

We actually did see a couple of diaper rash patients today. That's a little unusual here because our patients can't normally afford disposable diapers. They usually use a cloth rag tied around their waist with a belt. Luckily, we had some of Isaac's diaper rash cream with us, so that went out the door.

The pictures are a little out of order because we had to upload these one at a time and they got scrambled. Anyway, the first one here is a shot from the roof of the house of the construction zone. It's amazing how much dirt comes out of a trench, isn't it?

The second picture is what happens to Jake when he gets too close to Isaac. Isaac REALLY loves his big brother - often to his big brother's detriment. We watch very closely, but Jake has yet to even act like he's going to defend himself. He usually won't even get up and leave until he's been thoroughly molested.

Next is a shot of Isaac right after he woke up from his 90 minute nap during clinic. The back end of the 4Runner makes a perfect place for him to sleep - especially if you tie a reboso over the window to keep the sun out. After he woke up, he entertained all the neighborhood kids by... well... sitting there and playing with a plastic ring. Slow day in Nueva Santa Catarina.

And last is Charlie with our favorite little girl from out there (Sandra) and her mom. They are about the only Mayans we've ever gotten to smile for a picture. Usually Mayans will be all giggly and smiley and the moment you break out the camera they get completely serious. Exactly the opposite from what we're used to!

Tomorrow is a day off. We'll be supervising some more work on the construction project and probably seeing a patient or two who just called to let us know they'll be dropping by.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Okay, the people at Blogspot are apparently asleep on the job because after four attempts we still couldn't load any pictures, but we do have some stories.

Saturday was our normal early morning (left the house at 6am) drive and a relatively routine clinic. After clinic, though, a pastor brought his pregnant daughter in telling us that she was having a baby. She had had some contractions earlier, but then they quit. She was only about 37 weeks by her recollection of the due date we had given her during her pregnancy, but she forgot to bring the card we gave her that had all of her visit information on it. One thing was clear, she was not in labor. So we checked the position of the baby (head down, just like you want) and sent her home.

This morning around 5:30am, her dad called again saying that she was having the baby and that they wanted to come over. Apparently, her first baby was born in the hospital and died a month later. The family's perception was that the hospital had done something to cause her baby to die, so they were a little nervous.

This morning was different from yesterday. She was, in fact, in labor. Her water broke shortly after she arrived at the house and she was starting to dilate. Heidi did some checks and then turned the delivery over to Hannah Ficker. Hannah is a PA (physician's assistant) student in Houston and was here for the Zona Reina trip. She headed back to the US later this morning.

In the meantime, Matt and Isaac took Katie and Charlie to San Andres to start clinic there, since we usually have around 100 people waiting for us there.

Hannah did a great job with her first delivery, helping to bring a healthy 7 lb. baby boy into the world. The Guatemalan custom is to wait a little while to name the baby, so he doesn't have a name yet. Heidi was, of course, in the role she really enjoys - teacher and coach.

We DID have a great picture of Hannah, Mom, and Baby, but like we said, Blogspot isn't cooperating, so just try to imagine it.

Also, we had a pic of Charlie (a soon-to-be orthopedic surgeon resident) doing a prenatal ultrasound in San Andres and a pic of Joe, Duane, and Matt helping to set up a volleyball net on "the beach" next to the river in Canilla from yesterday afternoon. We had a good time playing beach volleyball Saturday afternoon. Life's not all clinics and surgeries, you know.

Anyway, here's an attempt at imbedding a video Matt shot of Duane, Leslie, Heidi, Isaac, and Rachel flying out of Zona Reina last week...

and here's one of Duane coming in to get another load...

Friday, March 07, 2008

More Construction

This morning, Heidi and Charlie headed to Chichicastenango for her OB/GYN clinic. Charlie is going into Orthopedic Surgery, so it's not exactly up his alley, but he IS a medical student and all types of learning are useful.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), depending on how you look at it, they only had one patient. It was a Christian lady who Heidi diagnosed with a miscarriage last year. This time she had better news. She's pregnant with what we hope will become her 8th living child. It's a very nice family. The husband was hit by a car last year and walks with two canes, but he credits God with his ability to walk at all. When you take away all the "stuff" we have in the U.S. and all the "scientific explanations" we have, you find that God moves in more obvious ways.

When God moves, He wants you to know it was Him. Sometimes in the U.S., we don't give God "room to work". Not that He can't work or doesn't work, but we often feel like we have other explanations for the things that happen. We can credit medical science or luck or whatever, but when a man is run over by a car, receives little to no medical attention, and can later walk, even when it's with canes, it's a little more obvious that there was some supernatural intervention.

Anyway, some more pictures of the construction project. In the first pic, you can see that the guys were burning off the tall dead grass that is in the way of their work. It hasn't really rained here in about five months, though, and things are awfully dry. That's why you can see a guy in a yellow shirt RUNNING on the left side of the picture. He's trying to fill a bucket to get control of a small chunk of that fire that got away from them a little bit. Note the horses on the other side of the fence - owned by the guy who has that very nice house in the background. He's a lawyer. It would probably be best if we didn't barbeque his horses.

Next, you can see that guys marking off where the foundation will go on the extension. Tomorrow, a backhoe will come in and dig out the footings. This ground is HARD and full of football size rocks. The builders' original idea was to dig it out 80cm deep by hand. Duane, David, and Matt suggested that perhaps a backhoe would be better (and cheaper - even though manpower here is pretty cheap - around $13 per man per day).

The third pic is for Roy to see that we are actually using the plans he sent down. Of course, one guy is looking at them upside down, but these are details.

Matt climbed on the roof and got a couple shots of the layout just so you could see where everything is going to go. Roy, if it doesn't look right to you, please call immediately, as they start digging tomorrow! ;)

We leave at 6am to go to Canilla for the weekend. More stories and pics to follow!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Work Day and Good-Bye to Beth

Today was Beth's last day here in Quiche. She'll fly out of Guatemala City early tomorrow morning. She was a huge help and a joy to have around, and we hope she enjoyed her time here with us! Please keep her in your prayers as she travels and returns to her U.S. resident physician's life...

So Duane and David came in this morning to meet with the builder and discuss some details on the next step of the expansion project here at the dorms. The security fence is essentially complete (minus a sliding gate to be built in Canilla) and work will begin tomorrow on the foundation of the house.

After the meeting, Duane, David, and Beth headed for Guatemala City (by air).

Tomorrow is Heidi's OB/GYN clinic in Chichicastenango and Matt will work with the builders to get started on digging/grading.

The first pic is of Beth and Isaac in their favorite place in the house - Matt's office.

The next two are of the fence all in place and painted. And the last pic is of the "Executive Committee" meeting in our living room...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jungle Trip - Last One for Today

Here are just a few fun pictures...

First is Rachel crossing the mouth of a spring where we "bathed". This means that we sat in three inches of freezing water and did our best to wash off the day's funk.

Second is Isaac just hanging out. Note that Matt's head is significantly higher than the level of the beams - a fact he managed to forget at least once.

Third is Duane with a couple of schoolkids who were our de facto guides. Very few adults in the area speak Spanish but most of the schoolkids do. The guy who was helping to sell numbers had to step out for a few minutes this morning when he saw his son running across a field and playing instead of being in school. He explained to Matt later that it's very important for the kids to be in school, even if the kids don't think so. There are no truant officers, so the parents have to police the kids themselves.

Fourth is a sheet hanging over the door of the local church. We projected the "Jesus" film overdubbed in Ke'kchi on that door last night. The entire town showed up and sat in complete silence through the entire film. One guy told us that no one in the town had ever seen a movie before, let alone one in their own language. We're hoping to go back in a few weeks and have them invite some neighboring villages who are in the same situation. (Note the "ladder" underneath the screen.)

And last is a picture of the runway. The local people had done some pretty significant work at Duane's direction to widen the runway and fill in some potholes. Even then, at one point (in the middle of the picture), the runway was only about 6-8 feet wider than the plane. That's a little too tight when you're coming in and out as fast as we are. So Duane, Matt, Tomas, and some local guys climbed down the cliff there and chopped back the foliage with machetes this morning to get it out to a little more comfortable width.