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: http://guatemalanadventures.blogspot.com
Check it out.