Sunday, June 29, 2008

Almost a week already?

Holy cow! It's already been nearly a week since our last post. Sorry about that. We have perfectly good excuses, though. Like we said last time, it's amazing how fast time is flying right now and how many things we still have to do before we go.

Since we last posted, Matt drove out to Nueva Santa Catarina to help the builders get started on digging the foundation for a new church there. Our regular readers know how badly they are in need of a new church. Roy Simmons and his group, Savior's Sons, are helping with money, materials, time and labor. They're paying for the foundation to be dug and poured (hopefully before they come down in a few weeks) and will start laying block when they get here at that time. We just needed a bit of a North American perspective on exactly where everything should be placed.

Later that same afternoon, Heidi went down to the hospital to do a follow-up clinic for all of the surgical patients that the Women's Team operated on a few weeks ago. All but one were doing extremely well and that one just needed a wee bit of extra attention and now she's doing extremely well. All of the surgeries seem to have been successful, there were just a few routine post-op issues. No big deal. Everyone was very thankful for their surgeries and Heidi even ended up with a couple of gifts from grateful patients.

The next day (Wednesday), Matt went down to the church he's been recording at and spent 8 1/2 solid hours behind the console. No break for lunch or anything - which is a pretty big deal if you know Matt! But at the end of it all, we thought we had everything we needed on tape to finish the project. We knew that Matt was going to have to record a few things himself (and the list has grown a bit on review), but for the most part, recording was done. On further review, though, it appears that we may need one more day of lead vocal work. Pretty routine stuff - the lead vocal is the most important track and the one we're the pickiest about - so nothing unexpected from Matt's end, but the singer may be a bit surprised! As soon as we have an open day, we'll try to arrange that.

Thursday, Heidi was in clinic at ASESLI and Matt was with the builders here at the house. Isaac was, of course, assisting Matt. Mostly waving to the workers while Matt was talking. ASELSI has a new Physician's Assistant named Cathy. She and Heidi have been working together the last few weeks with Heidi teaching some prenatal care items, especially ultrasound techniques, which Cathy is doing a great job of picking up. Also, our translator, Cecy, is still in nursing school and doing great!

Friday was Heidi's OB/GYN clinic at the Hospital Buen Samaritano. She's scheduling a few more patients for surgery, hopefully in about a week and a half.

Saturday was our clinic in Canilla with Leslie and Katie. This week's clinic was a little weird. They basically thought they were done at 11am or so. That's weird because they don't usually finish until 1 or 2pm. But they looked outside and there were no more patients. So they came in to get started making lunch. Naturally, a dozen or so more patients came straggling in later, but it's weird to think you're done so early!

Today was clinic in San Andres. Heidi's first patient was a woman she's been witnessing to for a few months now. The woman attends a Catholic church here but has not accepted Christ. She has been saying that she wants to but that her daughter doesn't want her to. On the health side, she has a heart condition that we really can't treat but she doesn't really have access to anyone who can (the closest cardiologist is in Guatemala City and she can't even afford the trip, let alone the treatment. Plus, even if we paid for everything, she almost certainly wouldn't go.) So the best thing we can do for her is get her prepared for her meeting with her creator.

Our translators' dad is a wonderful evangelist (and K'iche speaker) and he has been very diligent and patient in working with this woman - praying with her and reading her scriptures - but she is still reluctant to commit. All we can do is keep praying for her and with her and hope that God changes her heart - both literally and figuratively!

Heidi's second patient was a prenatal patient about four or five months along who said that she stopped feeling her baby move a little while back. Unfortunately, there's a good reason for that. So some counseling was in order for her.

It can make for a very long day when you have nearly 100 patients to see and the first two are very time consuming, but that's the biz, as they say.

Also, today, a woman brought her baby in with a very severe case of spina bifida. Given the extremely poor level of care here in Guatemala for babies with spina bifida, there is quite a bit of internal debate about what to even do for her. Leslie has had experiences with spina bifida babies here who have been operated on, just to fight and eventually succumb to infection (the baby's behind is pretty close to a wide open spinal column - get it?)

Meanwhile, Isaac found out what it's like to be an 11-month-old missionary. Sometimes the job of serving others is less than glamorous. We had to make a run from Canilla to Chichicastenango (about two hours, about half of it off road - always fun during the rainy season), then another 30 minutes to Quiche, grab a quick bite to eat, then an hour and half, also off road, out to San Andres to get Mommy from clinic, then an hour and a half home. So Isaac spent 5 1/2 hours in his carseat today. He fussed for about 10 minutes, total, during that whole time. What a little trooper!!!

Anyway, in one town we came into, we were intending to make a shortcut that would trip about 30 minutes off our trip. We bumped into Geronimo, one of Martin's helpers, who moonlights as a Tuk-tuk driver (three-wheeled taxi). Geronimo asked where we were headed. We told him and he got this concerned look on his face. He said that the road ahead was pretty bad. We've driven on worse, and we've got this awesome Toyota that's one of the best off-road vehicles in the country. He said, yeah, the road's bad that way, too, but what he was more concerned about were the number of people he'd talked to so far in the day who had been robbed on that road. It was market day in Chiche and there was a band of robbers just hanging out on that road (which is pretty narrow with cliffs on either side - nowhere to run) waiting for people with money to come through.

So we skipped the shortcut on Geronimo's advice, probably missing out on an opportunity for a cool story and a great blog entry. But sometimes the point of life is to miss out on good stories. So instead of an exciting testimony of how we fended off a band of machete wielding robbers using only a Pooh-bear and a can of Diet Pepsi, you're stuck with what you just read. Sorry.

Tomorrow we drive two hours off-road back out to Nueva Santa Catarina, hold what's sure to be a VERY long clinic (the last time we were there the weather was so bad we only had a handful of patients), then drive two hours home, unpack, repack, then drive two trucks to Guatemala City. We have a few doctors' appointments on Tuesday, we need to visit Dr. Hoak, we need to visit a patient in the hospital in Guatemala City, we have some shopping to do, and then we'll pick up a friend from the airport on Wednesday. We'll leave the Mazda in airport parking for Russell, Bethany, and Tye, who are coming in on Thursday to prepare for the team from The Woodlands United Methodist Church, which arrives on Saturday.

Two pics. One of the road we drove on today. Another of Isaac being cute.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Our time here is really winding down and we're starting to feel that. Today was our bi-weekly clinic in Chicabracan. We will only be at this clinic two more times before we leave. Because we have not identified our replacements yet, we are going to be referring our chronic patients to a nearby village where our friends at Health Talents have a clinic. You can read more about their adventures at their blog, which is linked on the right hand side of this page under "The Dunhams".

Replacements not identified, you ask? Yes, we thought we had worked all that out, but a last minute change of plans left us looking again. We are in the process of working with some folks to make that happen and we ask for lots of prayers for guidance, wisdom, and clarity - not just for us but for everyone involved.

So clinic this morning was a combination gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, and dermatology test. Luckily, Heidi's pretty well trained for the first two. The other two we've learned a lot about since we've been here, but we still ask for help every now and then.

We have an American dermatologist we consult with by email and will be sending some pics that way very shortly. See the first two here for a preview of that.

Also, it seems like Isaac wasn't the only kid in this area to have had diarrhea in the last week. So we treated a bunch of that. Isaac's seems to have passed (no pun intended) so he's in a little better mood now. We can only hope that all the other kids have similar luck.

And there were the standard pre-natal patients and several with some questions about their periods. Women here tend not to know terribly much about periods for a couple of reasons. One is that there are a lot of cultural misconceptions about periods that are pretty persistent. There is the belief that if you do not have your period for a few months and you're not pregnant, it'll start coming out of your nose.

Another reason women don't know too much about periods is that they don't have many in their lives compared to American women. It's usually not too long after a girls starts getting her period that she gets married and pregnant. Then, after giving birth, women usually breastfeed for two years, thus suppressing more periods. Shortly after they start up again, there's another baby on the way. This more or less continues through their reproductive lives until a fairly early menopause - again, at least by American standards.

So we get a lot of questions. Again, Heidi's pretty well qualified to answer these and Matt's becoming a lot more knowledgeable about this stuff than he ever wanted to be - at least in Spanish. Who knows what he knows about this stuff in English?!

The third pic is of a really cute kid we just happened to take a picture of. Hard to resist, huh?

This afternoon we played with Isaac a lot (since he was more or less ignored during clinic this morning - thank God for Baby Einstein DVDs and laptop computers) and answered a bunch of emails. Oh, and Matt spent some more time with the builders on the expansion project.

Matt is already planning a short return trip to Guatemala in September to help another missionary family get set-up here. Read about THEIR adventures here:

Tomorrow, Matt will make an early morning run to Nueva Santa Catarina to supervise the initial digging on the foundation for the new church there. Roy's group, Savior's Sons, is planning to start laying block for the walls when they come down in less than a month. So we've got a lot of work to do before then! Matt will try to make sure we're at least digging in the right spot.

Tomorrow afternoon, Heidi has a clinic in the hospital here next door. This is pretty unusual, since we don't work there, but it's a follow-up clinic for the patients the Women's Team operated on a few weeks ago. Most of the patients went home with catheters, so we hope that those are all cleared up now.

Wednesday morning, Matt will be recording with the church group near Los Encuentros. Thursday is ASELSI and Friday is Heidi's OB/GYN clinic in Chichi. Then it's back out to Canilla again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Clinic

Friday was relatively routine (in the jungle). Today was a little less so.

Remember the friend who was robbed at gunpoint in her house a few weeks ago? Well, her male help needed to leave for a week or so and she is going to be there "alone" with another girl and 11 kids.

So David and Craig hopped on their motorcycles and rode down there this morning to help out for a few days.

Also, the plane is out of commission for a week or so now. It's time for the annual inspection and Aaron is tearing it apart for that. It's weird - we don't have any flights scheduled - but it feels a little unusual to know in the back of your mind that that option is not available.

In clinic today, we had a pretty sick and dehydrated woman come in who needed an IV. Katie's the best stick we have and even she took two tries to find a vein she could use. After a liter or so of fluids, the patient hopped up and headed home. The stuff works, apparently.

Shortly after that, a woman came in in labor. A little while later, Heidi, Katie, Felicia, and Leslie delivered a healthy baby boy. 5lbs 15oz. (Picture 1 is Mom and Baby).

Isaac is not only getting a new top tooth, but he's also suffering from a bout with diarrhea and his poor little butt is paying the price. Diaper changes are accompanied by lots of crying now. It LOOKS like it hurts! He's being a good little trooper, though. He's a lot cuddlier than usual but is more or less in decent spirits. He even felt good enough to pose for Daddy on the hood of the Mack dump truck. (Picture 2)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Zona Reyna Clinic

Last night we drove out to Canilla to spend the night and be ready for a possible early flight to Zona Reyna. This is the same village we've been to a few times before - there is no road that goes there, so it's a Cessna flight into a runway only about 8 feet wider than the airplane.

There is only one little spot in the village where anyone can get phone reception and since it's in a completely different climate (though it's only about 20 miles away by air) we have no idea what the weather is doing there until someone walks to the top of a hill and calls us.

Well, at 6am the phone rang and they said the sky was open. So two flights later, clinic was in full swing. Leslie, Katie, Heidi, Craig, Felicia, and, of course, Duane (the pilot) spent the day there seeing a few hundred patients.

We're still struggling to evangelize there - there basically are no Christians in this village - and since we don't speak K'ekchi, we depend on translators who aren't Christians, either. We keep praying for a breakthrough - which hasn't happened yet - but God hasn't given up on us so we won't give up on these people.

The skies here in Canilla were starting to look pretty dark and we have no way to contact the group in Zona Reyna to tell them this, so we were a little nervous that they were going to have to spend the night out there. Then, almost out of nowhere, the plane appeared with the first load. Duane went back for Craig and Leslie and the skies here in Canilla started closing fast. They made it back in with minutes to spare. God is good!

Anyway, we're all safe back on the ground here in Canilla. Don't worry, though, if anything had gone wrong, we'd have sent Isaac out to take care of things. He's been working out...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No News is Good News...

There's not much new to report today except on the construction front, but we wanted to touch base since we will gone for the weekend. David Ficker, Craig, and Juan came in yesterday from Canilla and have been working hard with Matt on the construction project. They had some electrical wiring to finish up and are now working on getting the gate installed.

Otherwise, the last two days have been spent planning and working on some administrative things. Heidi and Isaac have a one-way ticket back to the U.S. now booked, which is very bittersweet. It made us realize in a more tangible way that we really are "short-timers" down here now. There's a lot of loose ends to tie up for patients before we leave, so we've been working hard on that. Please continue to pray for our replacement to be found soon!

Today Heidi had clinic at ASELSI, which went very smoothly. It was the first time in a long time that we've gotten in and out of ASELSI without seeing at least one patient who required a lot of time and follow-up (Think new cleft palates, new hydrocephalus, six-year olds who aren't talking yet, etc...) We did have one lady who we referred to the hospital today with classic symptoms of appendicitis, though. Please pray that she does well and is taken good care of.

Sorry no pictures from clinic today-- saw lots of very cute kids, but unfortunately we forgot the camera! So the first one is of the boys working on putting the gate up. You can see that things are getting greener here with the start of the rainy season. The next one is of Isaac supervising the work... It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it, right? The last one Craig and Juan have yet to come up with a plausible explanation for...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday Clinic in Chujuyub

Yes, today is Wednesday and we're just getting around to blogging about Monday. Maybe we've been in Central America too long...

Anyway, Monday was our monthly clinic in our friend Regina's village of Chujuyub. We told them to give out 30 numbers, so we ended up seeing between 35 and 40 patients.

As usual, many were non-specific pain complaints, headaches, gastritis, etc. In the US, these people wouldn't go to a doctor, they'd go to a Walgreens. Those aren't too plentiful here, though, so they come to us.

We did see a man who broke his leg a year ago and is still walking around with about six pins and a rod sticking out of it. He seems to be doing all the right things as far as getting to his doctor's appointments. We gave him some medicine for pain and some confirmation that he's doing everything he can do. It's just that people who aren't as nourished as they should be don't heal that fast.

We saw a young man who told us that he works at a computer all day and by the end of the day his eyes get dry and itchy. He says it happens when he watches TV a lot, too. (Not your typical Indian patient, huh?) We gave him some eye wetting drops and the advice to take some eye breaks every now and then to make sure he's blinking. (Matt informed him that back when he used to play a lot of video games, sometimes his eyes would dry out because he was focusing so hard he wouldn't blink!)

We also saw two cleft lip patients. Both of these are patients Regina brought to us. One we've been following for some time now. His name is Tomas. He's the one who we give milk to, but also gave Mom a breast pump. She says she's breast feeding the baby as best as she can, plus pumping about 4 ounces each time and giving that in a bottle. Plus, they're using the formula we give them to supplement. We're willing to bet that they aren't purchasing any and the baby is still growing. He should be plenty big enough for his surgery in January. (Picture 1).

The other one is named Angelica. We actually saw her at our house a while back but they haven't been back to see us since. It looks like they should have. She is a year and a half old and only weighs 14 lbs. For comparison, Isaac is 11 months and weighs 23 lbs. They don't live too far from San Andres, so we're referring them into Leslie's nutrition program in San Andres. It's a lot easier for them to make that trip than into Chichi. Regina offered to come with them so she could know where the clinic is in San Andres, too. (Picture 2).

Just in case you were feeling good about yourself today, here's a little more of Regina's story. Many of you know that she is a widowed mother of seven. She was pregnant with her seventh child when her husband was killed in an accident. (There's no insurance or social security here, so she's basically on her own.) Her baby was born with a pretty severe cleft lip - as were three of her previous six kids.

Regina didn't really speak Spanish at the time, doesn't have a job or a skill to make money, and basically has very little to fall back on. She knocked on our door one Friday afternoon and said that she heard there was a team here who could fix her little girl's face. Unfortunately, there wasn't, but we promised to help her. That's when we started finding out about cleft palate kids and what resources there are here to help them.

In partnership with ASELSI, we got Carolina her surgery, along with her brother Otto. Regina has learned how to speak Spanish and navigate the transportation system here - from Chicken Buses to hitchhiking in the back of pick-up trucks passing by, she can get anywhere.

Since she learned about us and what we can do to help people, she has brought us nearly a dozen cleft kids, maybe two spina bifida babies, a baby who was becoming malnourished because her mother had the worst case of mastitis we've ever seen, and a couple other pretty hard luck stories. All of this is done of her own initiative and willingness to help families in her village. Often, the travel is done on her own dime. (We almost always give her some money to help with her "pasaje", but she had to come up with it on her own to begin with.)

Nearly a year after we met, we found out that her oldest son also had a cleft lip and palate. His lip was repaired but his palate wasn't. He speaks with a severe impediment. We've been working to try to find some help for him, too. The speech therapy place here in Quiche basically said that he needs a plastic insert for his palate before therapy will do him any good.

Anyway, with nearly NOTHING to work with, this woman has become a lifeline for so many people in her area. And with us leaving at the end of next month, we're working to get her tied in to the other missions that we partner with so that she can continue to help people. She also has the number of our funding group in Houston so she can call them if she needs more assistance than what she's getting here.

Okay, the other pictures. The third pic is of Heidi handing some medicine to a patient in clinic. You can see her bins sitting next to her on the floor. When we do clinic, we put four of those trunks in the 4Runner, along with our ultrasound and Isaac's playpen.

And the last pic is of Isaac in the back of the 4Runner, shouting at a stray dog that's walking by. He loves animals! Just behind the truck is the local school. During recess, all the girls come out, press their faces against the fence, and ooh and aah at the little gringito. Isaac just hates all that attention, you know...

Today, David, Craig, and Juanito are coming over to do some more work on the addition. They'll probably spend the night and work tomorrow, too. Then Thursday night, we all head to Canilla for a Friday morning flight into Zona Reina for another day of clinic there. Saturday and Sunday will be business as usual in Canilla and San Andres. Monday we'll be back in Chicabracan where we'll probably be flooded because we only saw patients with chronic care cards last time (the team was here and Heidi wanted to be around to help them).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekend Stuff

The Women's Team finished up their last two surgeries on Thursday morning while Heidi was at ASELSI and they left mid-afternoon on Thursday.

It's always a dramatic contrast from a house full of 20 people to just the three of us. Luckily, John and the team did a great job of cleaning before they left, so we just had a few little things to do to finish up.

Also, since the boys' workday got cut short on Wednesday due to a wicked hail storm, Matt had a few things to finish up on the electrical system in the addition so the workers could continue raising walls.

Friday was Heidi's OB/GYN clinic at the Hospital Buen Samaritano, plus a visit to the National Hospital here to check on the team's patients. Then our friend Virginia (from ASELSI) came up to spend the night so we could head to Canilla in the morning.

Saturday and Sunday were our clinics in Canilla and San Andres. They were more or less routine.

Thursday, before the team left, our friend Regina brought two-year-old by the house. This is a boy we've seen before. He's a pre-op spina bifida patient from her village. We told the parents to really watch the bag on his back that contains the tail end of his spinal cord. We told them that if it starts to leak or anything, they are to put down whatever they're doing and RUSH to the emergency room.

They called us last week to tell us that the baby's bag had started to leak a few days before and they wanted to know what to do. We begged them to come to the hospital that very minute. Two days later, they came. The docs at the hospital here saw him and referred him to Guatemala City. We gave them some money and some advice on how to get to the hospital there.

We did hear from them (indirectly - through Regina) and heard that they are in Guatemala City, the baby has been admitted to the hospital, and that Dad is trying to figure out how to navigate the system (to get permission to visit his son - hospitals here are very different from hospitals in the US) but the important thing is that the baby is in a hospital.

In other news, Isaac's Great-grandma Arquette turns 90 this coming week. So he painted her a picture we'll scan and email north. Here are some pics of that... uh... adventure.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Women's Team Day 3

Today was the third day for the Women's Team from Houston. They had three more cases today. There were four scheduled, but due to a freak hail storm and the resulting power outage(s), the last one got scratched.

Tomorrow morning, they'll try to pick up the last case or two and get ready to leave.

Also, today, the Fickers flew in to do rough electrical work on the addition. Duane dropped the boys off and then had several more errands to run with the plane. Thanks to Martin, the Ford is now functional again and the plan was to drive it back to Canilla tonight with the trailer behind it (with the rest of the stuff that just came down from the US). As the boys were leaving, though, they blew a trailer tire and didn't have a spare. So, hopefully, a local tire guy will be able to help out.

Below are some pics - one of John in the kitchen, looking quite chipper for 6am. Another is of Dr. Chavez and Dr. Mata. Then there is a shot of the air hockey tournament. And, for fun, a shot of what our courtyard looked like after the hail storm. See, we weren't kidding!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Women's Team Pics - Day 1

Clinic this morning, then two pretty difficult cases this afternoon and evening. Several more scheduled for tomorrow...

Women's Team!

The team from Women's Hospital in Houston came in last night. All of their stuff made it okay, which is nice. We had some time when they first got here to get organized for the week, have a nice dinner (thank you, Gencha), and get some sleep.

This morning, Heidi and Malachi went to clinic, Matt and Isaac worked with Martin to fix the broken torsion bar on the 4Runner ($25 and about 30 minutes - not a tough repair), and the team started on clinic in the hospital.

Thanks to the advertising the hospital did and the contacts we made through Ceritas, they had plenty of patients. In fact, we're already scheduled into Wednesday. With any luck, we'll fill up the rest of the week's surgical schedule tomorrow morning with some late comers.

We hadn't forgotten how fun this team was from last year and had really been looking forward to this week. And even with some new faces, they are just as fun and easy-going as they were last year. And Isaac LOVES all of the attention he gets! He'll probably be a royal pain when he has to entertain himself for five minutes at a time next week, but this week is a blast!

John is meeting with Eliseo (the pastor whose school our funding group is helping to build in San Pedro), then he'll meet with the director of the hospital here. The main thrust of that meeting is to assure them that we are here to help them in any way we can, and to assess their changing needs and how we can help fill those.

When Jim and Kathleen first came here, the hospital needed EVERYTHING! After several years of support from them, the hospital is pretty much on its own two feet from a day-to-day operation standpoint. Now we need to figure out how to address more specific and more focused needs. Hopefully, someday, when we ask what we can do to help, they'll say, "you've already done it - we're fine". Then we can help somewhere else!

Anyway, we'll try to post some pictures tonight.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekend in Canilla

Here are some pics from the weekend. The team just showed up so we'll explain most of this later...

You can see clinic, the Fickers' new truck, us towing another truck up the mountain because he didn't have enough power or traction to make it alone, and the torsion bar we broke on the way home.

Clinic in the morning, a trip to Martin's to fix the Toyota, and surgeries...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cleaning Day

Heidi went to the Hospital Buen Samaritano for her OB/GYN clinic today. Matt, Isaac, and John were here at the house cleaning and preparing for the arrival of the Women's Team on Sunday.

One of the dorm rooms had basically been turned into a full storage room because of the building project. So we moved the four extra beds out and took them to the Utatlan School to join Roy's stuff.

Also on the to-do list today was an attempted repair on the washing machine. It died a few days ago. Matt and John got the thing mostly apart but couldn't find the problem. Working on putting it back together was a little entertaining, at least for Heidi. Check out the first picture for "you might be a redneck if..."

The second pic is our 365 picture of Isaac today. Don't forget to look up our little project. The link is in yesterday's post.

Tomorrow we head to Canilla for clinic. On Sunday, the team comes so we'll head home from San Andres a little early to meet them.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

400th Post!

So we've been busy here around the house the last two days, preparing for the Women's Team to come in this weekend.

Yesterday, while Matt was recording some vocals (some went better than others - there's a bit of touchup to do - sure wish I had pitch correction!), Heidi was deep-cleaning the kitchen. Fun, fun, fun.

Today, we were both busy working and cleaning. It started last night when one of the washing machines died. It's nearly ten years old and has washed countless scrubs, sheets, towels, and assorted other team stuff - not to mention the Street's and Bell's clothes. Naturally, it died when it was full of water.

So Matt siphoned all the water out and took it partially apart in place - enough to see that he's going to have to get it out of the laundry room to try to fix it for real - so we'll just wait until we have a little more beef here (John, we're waiting!).

Also, since the rainy season has started, the weeds in the garden have gone crazy. Some weedwhacking was in order. Naturally, the weedwhacker wouldn't start. You know, after living here for nearly two years, we still had no idea where to buy a sparkplug for a small engine. Forget buying one at the places where they sell weedwhackers and lawnmowers - we got sent to the auto parts store where they had one that was... well... apparently close enough. Weeds whacked.

With the building project going on, we have tons of construction materials laying around. When we're here by ourselves, we use some of the dorm rooms for storage. So the bodega had to be re-organized to make room for all of that.

With a fun day of deep cleaning the kitchen behind her, Heidi continued her efforts in the living room. She also watched Isaac for most of the day, since we figured that washer disassembly, engine repair, and weedwhacking were not really suitable activities for him. Isaac has been SOOOO good the last few days. Not that we're trying to jinx ourselves or anything, but what a fun little boy he's become. A pleasant and welcome (and stark) contrast to his first six months.

Anyway, here are a couple of pics - one from the recording session and one of Isaac clowning around on the couch.

And here's a link to a little project Matt started three months ago. It's called Project 365. The idea is to take a picture every day for a year. The idea is to make you a better photographer, and in our case, to document a year in the life of Isaac. We'll try to update every single day (we've only missed one so far), so swing by every now and then. (We didn't mention this before for fear we'd lose interest in the project, but now that we're about 25% through, it looks like we have a decent chance of making it!)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Stormy Monday

We haven't really talked much about the tropical storm (Alma) that came through, but we're still getting some effects from that. We didn't get any wind, but it's raining a little more than usual and that's probably from the storm.

We drove to Nueva Santa Catarina this morning. In the past, we had usually gone through Chichi and Los Encuentros, providing a rare opportunity to enjoy some pavement, but with the construction on CA-1, it could take up to three hours to get to clinic. So we took the "shortcut" through Totonicapan today. It's off-road and pretty difficult driving, but Matt and the Toyota were up to the challenge.

As an extra added bonus, we had Malachi with us. He has been a tremendous help. For clinic today, were expecting about half the countryside to be there. We weren't there last month, so a full house was scheduled - somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 people. On our arrival, there was exactly one patient. Maybe the 40 degree temperatures and the steady downpour were a factor. In all, we saw around 8 people - 3 pregnancies, one newborn, and a few random other patients.

The original plan had been for Malachi to stay as long as possible, then we would drive him about a mile to where the chicken buses come by and he could get back to Xela like that. Since we got out early, we just drove him into Xela.

Duane and the boys had planned on coming to the house today to do the wiring for the addition. As on the previous three attempts, there was another emergency. One of our missionary family friends who lives near Lake Atitlan was robbed by four gunmen last night. Duane was going to try to fly down to help with the aftermath and was waiting hopefully for the weather to clear. At press time we have no idea whether he made it out or not. We called from Xela and offered to pick up anything they might need at Hiper Paiz (think: Walmart) and drive it to them, possibly spending a few nights to help with security. (The parents are actually in the US trying to raise support money and their 21-year-old daughter is running the orphanage essentially alone.)

We suggested that perhaps we could pick up some groceries and a microwave as a minimum and bring it over. After all, people still need to eat. Maybe some money, too. Deb said that the robbers had disconnected the microwave and had it set out to take but that they forgot it so they were good on that count. Also, she had asked them not to take her purse, since it didn't have any money in it. They rifled through it and decided there was nothing of value to them there so they left it. So at least she still has her passport and her bank card. She's afraid the house is being watched, so she won't go get any money, but she can if she needs to.

Also, her brother-in-law lives in Guatemala City and is coming up to spend some time so our presence, while welcome, isn't necessarily needed. So we came home and we'll just stay on high-standby for them.

Anyway, that was the day. After leaving Xela, we had another bumpy, muddy ride home, but we're here now and will be until Thursday. Matt has some recording scheduled for tomorrow (please pray for that - in the nearly two years we've been here, we've heard a VERY limited number of decent singers, and we're recording vocals tomorrow!)

In pics, the first is of Malachi doing a prenatal ultrasound. You can see our translator/pastor Matilde next to him. He is actually dressed pretty appropriately for the weather.

The second is what happens when you say, "Hey Malachi", then take a picture. Hee hee!

Third is the newborn baby we saw along with his mother. She is the one we told you about earlier who we had diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and sent to the hospital. She didn't go but delivered at home. Within a day, she seized. They took her to the hospital and we were not too hopeful about her chances, but she pulled through - probably due in large part to the huge number of people praying for her.

Fourth is a shot of the clinic room with Isaac trying to see what's happening on the exam table.

And last is what your shiny, clean truck looks like after four hours driving through greasy muddy roads. As the rainy season just started, there isn't too much deep mud yet, but all of the dust that had been on the roads just got turned into this 1/2" thick layer of slickness and slime. Fun.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Every Day an Adventure

Friday was Heidi's birthday. Matt had cooked for her and had a surprise present. Isaac had a surprise, too. His was a screaming wake-up every two hours starting at 10pm. Every time, it took an hour or more to get him back to sleep. So we "woke up" on Saturday morning pretty stunned and really sleepy.

When Matt stumbled into the kitchen to get some caffeine for us, there was another surprise. The Fickers' F-350 was parked in our driveway. We checked to see if anyone was in it, perhaps having slept there instead of waking us up, and needed a ride to Canilla. Nope. Empty.

So we arrived in Canilla to find that the Scaggs family had arrived as expected, but they were a little more tired than we had anticipated. That's because they had had a 10 hour trip from Guatemala City. BOTH vehicles they were in had broken down!

So what do you do when you're broken down on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and it's about to get dark? You call Martin. He came out and towed the Ford back to our house since it had a bunch of construction material in it. Aaron and Joe drove out to get the crew in two other vehicles and everyone eventually got home.

Anyway, clinic was good on Saturday. Mostly routine - and we had lots of help. Malachi has learned some Spanish in his last two weeks of class and was an even bigger help than last time. Plus, Felicia Scaggs is about to start medical school and was helping out, too.

Saturday afternoon we continued our tradition of playing beach volleyball. Except that since the rainy season has now started, it's a little soggier than before. Oh well, it's still fun!

It turns out that Malachi is also a worship leader, so we had a chance to do some worship on Saturday night, too. It's nice to be able to do that since we're always working during church and never get to go.

David Ficker is in the US right now with Craig, getting ready to drive a truck down through Mexico with a load of goodies. With any luck, we'll see them this coming weekend. Please keep them in your prayers. The trip through Mexico can be pretty stressful and this is David's first time "flying solo".

Today was clinic in San Andres. We had a false start when the keys in Leslie's 4Runner turned out to be the keys for her clinic in Chiminicijuan instead of San Andres, but Aaron made a high-speed run on a dirt bike and got them going.

Heidi got a chance to continue to evangelize to two families she's been working on (with the help of her translator and her translator's father) for a few months now. She also got to take a possible bullet fragment out of a guy's chest. She had to carve into the "H" in the patient's "Hollywood Gangster" tattoo - also a first. The piece was small enough and shallow enough that it really could have been anything, but the bullet fragment story seemed believable enough...

She also got to work on a big swollen bruise about the size of a baseball on a woman's stomach. It seems she was on the receiving end of her husband's bad temper a week or so ago.

Leslie and Malachi got to work on a woman who fancies herself a "natural medicine" specialist. Apparently, natural medicines don't work too well on diabetes because her blood sugar maxed out the machine we have. She was feeling pretty bad and they started her on an IV. A few minutes later, when Leslie stepped into Heidi's room, Heidi asked how the patient was doing. Leslie indicated that she was feeling well enough to be giving her own (unsolicited) consults... Yeesh.

Anyway, the first picture is a little deceiving. It looks like the mouse we found in the pharmacy is about to have a pretty bad day. Yes, but not what you think. Leslie asked Matt to "handle" the little visitor she found. Matt grabbed one of the kittens and tried to put it to work. Turns out the kitten is afraid of mice - at least living ones. Once we had addressed the mouse in an alternate fashion, the kitten was pretty intrigued with the remains. Go figure.

Next is a shot of Aaron and Joe trying to catch some of the Tilapia in their backyard pond to transplant them to the pond at the airport. Now that the rainy season is here, the airport pond will keep water in it a little better and the backyard pond is getting a little overcrowded.

The next two pics are why we insisted on a Toyota. The roads are now pretty muddy and it's SO nice to have lots of power, a good four wheel drive system, and relatively new tires. Some of the other vehicles on the road struggled a little more than we did.

Tomorrow is our monthly clinic in Nueva Santa Catarina. Malachi will go with us and help as long as he can before he has to head back to Xela. Matt will also get a chance to take a look at what work has been done since we were out there last to kick off the construction on the new church. Roy's group, Savior's Sons, will be down in July and we're hoping to have the foundation wall complete so they can start laying block at that time.