Monday, November 7, 2016

Little two year old Juanito came late one evening, screaming with pain. He was badly burned when a pot of boiling soup was spilled on him, and most of both of his legs were burned.  Don and I worked for about two hours getting him cleansed and bandaged. We sent some photos of him to a friend who is a pediatrician for advice. He thought he definitely needed to be hospitalized.  After much discussion with his very distraught parents, we decided to take him into the government clinic as they have an ambulance and could take him into the hospital which is two hours away. Juanito's dad was opposed, saying that he knew that they would just pour alcohol over the burns. Unfortunately, that was pretty much what happened. The on-call physician there was seemingly annoyed that we awakened her and did not think it necessary to take him into the hospital. She proceeded to take off all the bandages that we had just put on. As we sat outside and listened to his ceaseless screams, I knew that we had once again mistakenly thought that we would find compassion there.

Juanito came each morning for about two weeks so that we could change his dressing. And by God's amazing grace, he is doing very well and healed so much better than any of us thought he would.

We are in the cold season here, and we have seen so many really sick children. Up in the mountain in the village of Chiminisijuan where the air is much cooler, it has been the worst. If you add pneumonia to an already undernourished body, they don't have the strength to fight it. Last week, we saw a one month old who was struggling for air. Her oxygen levels were so low, we knew that short of a miracle she would die. We sent her mom home to get what she would need in the hospital, finally convincing her of the need to go. After clinic, we drove to her village and waited for her as we were not sure where her house was. She never came.

Another little one, the week before, needed to be hospitalized. His mom just said "no" she would not take him. All of these instances (and there are so many more) just confirm to us the need to get this hospital open. We have a ways to go yet and are still missing some big things....like a pediatrician! But we know that God will provide all that we need in just the right time. In the mean time, we offer up to Him the little bit that we can do, and we ask Him to multiply it. Just as He did with the fish and loaves....that small offering that was so far from enough, we offer what we have, trusting that He will make it sufficient.

Monday, May 30, 2016

I have been praying about what the Lord would have me write, knowing that I did not want to write about a construction project….which takes much of our time and energy…as it should. We know that it is what the Lord has asked of us but it is still just an “assignment.” Quite honestly we have a hard time keeping our priorities in right order these days. In the business of building a hospital, trying to hear amid the noise of so many voices of how we should do it., all the while trying to host the endless stream of visitors and trying to maintain the ministry that we already had going and trying to care for family….it is easy to just fall into bed at night without asking if this is how He wants it. I guess that is why I have not written.

There are constants though...the faces of sick children, of pregnant mamas, of old men telling of hurting knees and backs. These are the things that keep me steady, that keep me going. To be able to share a bit about the hope that we have in Jesus to people who find themselves in hopeless situations means everything. We have been seeing Wilson now for about a month. Katie and I go to his house every 12 hours to change the dressing on his very large and deep bedsores. He fell from a tree about 8 months ago and had a spinal cord injury which has left him paralyzed and in constant pain from a surgery to try and repair his injury. Jesus is his only hope. Raymunda, aged 10, lost her mama to leukemia a year ago. She is the oldest of 6 and had to move in with her aunt recently when her dad left. Her aunt has five of her own children and is pregnant. Pretty hard to feed that many mouths with just a little corn and a few beans. Raymunda cannot go to school as she shoulders most of the care of her  young brothers and sisters. Knowing her Heavenly Father’s love for her is her only hope.  Last week 14 year old Maria came in for an ultrasound. She was raped by her cousin when her family had to move in with her aunt. Her father left 11 years ago for the US and has not returned, nor paid his debt for his passage there. Mom lost their home and property. Maria’s baby was dead on ultrasound…. 
I could go on and on. But in each situation, Jesus is really the only answer. He is the only hope for this lost and dying world. So I pray that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


Friday, April 1, 2016

The end of this month marks 17 years for us here in Guatemala. It has been an amazing journey of faith from the moment that we started down the road in our schoolbus, headed for San Andres. Many days have been difficult, but always God has been there to sustain us. This last year has not been any different from the other 16. I would probably have to say that it was one of our most difficult in that we lost two infant grandchildren and very nearly lost our daughter (and even though she is really our daughter-in-law, she has become our daughter). But even in the midst of those long days in the hospital, God was so faithful to speak. He held Katie and Aaron and the children in the palm of His hand and faithfully met them in each difficult moment. (For more on their story please see Katie's blog - theaaronfickers.wordpress.com). 

As we look back on the last year, when we started the construction of the hospital, all that we can see is His faithfulness. He has supplied every single need, from finances (even though we have not asked for a dime) to supplies for the hospital, to an excellent group of men to do the majority of the physical labor with attitudes and hearts that are...unbelievable, to the medical help that we need each day. We should be ready within a month or so to begin our outpatient services in the new building. I will try to attach some pictures...
Outpatient waiting area.


OR with concrete ceiling (govt requirement and quite the project). 
Inside courtyard area

He has been so good to us, as we have the very great and very uncommon privilege of working along side of our children. We are so blessed to be able to see most of our grandchildren each day....that is a blessing that we do not take lightly! We are also so grateful to Him for sending the Aquinos (Dr. Luis and his family) and the Allison's. They have come alongside to shoulder the growing responsibility in the clinics and soon to open hospital, as well as the hosting of the endless stream of visitors. 

So as I look ahead to the actual opening of the hospital, I would not be honest if I said that I was not nervous. There are so many things to consider...and we have never done anything like this and we are so NOT qualified. But then I look back on His faithfulness....and I know that He will supply whatever we need, whenever we need it. From obstetrician, pediatrician, or anesthesiologist to the wisdom to direct....I know He will supply exactly what we need. This is, after all, His.

 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness," Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.        
 2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, September 10, 2015


I have decided that building a hospital is kind of like raising toddlers. They are so much work! And you can't really see anything except how much your life has changed, and how messy they are and unqualified you feel, and how exhausted you are at the end of the day. But then you step back a little and you realize how they have grown and they are really beautiful and how great they will be....someday. I cannot tell you how much our lives have changed since January. But I can tell you that God continues to move in amazing ways....bringing in the right people at the right time who can do exactly what we need. He continues to bring in just the right amount of provision....just when we need it. His faithfulness is unfailing - even when we feel weak and tired and faithless - which is most of the time!
This is the view from the front - the roof is almost ready to go on. Each beam has to be individually welded and painted, then insulation goes on followed by the metal roof.

 
We are hopeful that by the beginning of 2016 we should be able to move existing clinics here. The x-ray equipment is in Guatemala City ready to be installed. Equipment is being loaded from a warehouse in Texas. We are in awe of all that is being gathered - from operating room equipment to the dental room.
 
 
For those of you who follow Guatemala in the news, you know that these have been unusual days. First the vice-president was arrested and convicted of illegal activity. Weeks of peaceful protests followed, which immobilized the City mainly but later most of the main roads all over Guatemala. Finally congress voted to lift presidential immunity which was quickly followed by the arrest of the president. For many years we have prayed - along with most of the body of believers here - that the spirit of corruption would be lifted off of this country. To have both the president and vice-president arrested seems to be an answer to that prayer. On Sunday the people voted for the next president. The final vote will take place next month but the leader turned out to be a little known man who did virtually no campaigning because he didn't have the money to do so. It appears that people are ready for a change! Please pray that change - for the good - will continue! 

 

 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Canilla, our little town here in Guatemala has the terrible honor of having the highest suicide rate among young people under the age of 21 in all of the country. It hit really close to home a couple of weeks ago when a 12 year old boy, right down the road from us, hung himself. There is a desperation here that is almost palpable. Many grow up in poor homes without fathers (95% of the fathers either are in the US or have been, working almost always illegally). There are not many choices for young people; no jobs, few career opportunities, etc.  Add all of that to the spiritual darkness which hovers here, and you get desperate kids willing to do anything to bring change....even death. 

Today, a group of young people will arrive from a church in Iowa whose entire goal is to pray. Tomorrow we will begin 72 hours of uninterrupted prayer for this valley, and for the church here but mainly for the young people. Our own prayer room (while the physical prayer room does not yet have a roof) has begun 3 times a week plus the nights of worship and prayer on Tuesday - in English, and on Thursdays - in Spanish. We know that prayer, while some count it as the smallest and weakest part of ministry, is actually the most important part. Unless our all powerful, all wise and perfect God intervenes, all that we do is futility....small acts of kindness which have no eternal benefit. Please join with us as we pray for these young people who need Jesus so desperately. Only He can fill the emptiness in their hearts. 

Psalm 62:5 "For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is in Him."

Monday, May 11, 2015

One of the most wonderful changes that has come lately (and there are a multitude of changes!) are the increased times of prayer. There are over 30 of us now who are permanently here in Canilla and we all go in different directions each day whether to clinic or school or construction. We start most of our days with prayer together and then breakfast in an effort to stay connected with each other and all of our needs. It has been really good. In the last couple of weeks though, several of the young people have started to come early (5:30) to worship and intercede. It is such a privilege for me to be able to be in the kitchen cooking breakfast and still be a part of these amazing times. We believe so strongly that all of our efforts - wherever we are working - are really worth nothing if we are not connecting with the Lord in prayer. In addition to our regular Tuesday night services of prayer and worship, we have started a spanish service on Thursday nights. Dr. Luis and his wife, Noemy are heading this up and it is so amazing to see our living room filled with young people worshipping our Savior! As you have probably read in some of the other blogs coming from Canilla, the prayer room will be up and functioning soon. I have to admit that I will be pretty sad to see all of this move out of our home and onto the hospital property. 

The hospital construction is moving along well. Block walls are up for not only the prayer room but the emergency room, the observation room (an extention of the ER) and the kitchen as well. The "rough in" plumbing and electrical work is underway. Every day when I go it is a little scarier as this dream of ours is quickly becoming a reality. 

We went out last week to another rural clinic site for the first time. Cruz Chich is an area that I have prayed for for many years. It is a very large village, completely indigenous and has been "closed" for as long as we have been here. The community leaders came last year asking us to help there but I had to ask them to wait until we had more help. They came again a few weeks ago and we agreed to go on the condition that they gather their leaders and the leaders from the surrounding villages and write up an "acta" (a legal document asking us to come). Within less than a week, they returned with their "acta". Last Thursday we went and saw around 100 folks. Almost all of them are without a relationship with the Lord. Again, we find ourselves driven to our knees as we pray to the Lord of the harvest to soften hard hearts and open blind eyes. We would so appreciate your prayers for them as well!

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work with us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus thoughout all generations, for ever  and ever! Amen."         Ephesians 3:20

Friday, March 20, 2015

It has been so long since I have written. Everything has and continues to change each day. It is all good....just not so easy. We find ourselves daily asking for wisdom - Godly wisdom - to help us with what He has placed under our management - not ownership. We constantly remember the definition of "bondservant" as one who is the owner of nothing, but manager of all that He places before us. We are so not qualified....

The hospital construction continues to go well. The foundation is almost complete and the team of plumbers arrive in a couple of weeks to do the "rough in" plumbing. Then the walls will go up. It is pretty exciting and at almost every clinic we have a couple of people who would qualify as "admissions". It will be so great to have a place to send them. 

We have had a pretty continuous stream of guests and it seems that it will accelerate as the summer months begin. I am grateful to have Katie Ann and Lori here to help care for this area which tends to overwhelm me. The sweetest part of our day is always morning prayer right before breakfast when all who are here gather together. We find our Tuesday nights of worship have grown from just our family to 40 or 50 each week. And last night we started the same thing...only in Spanish. Dr. Luis is heading that up and from all reports, it was a time of sweet fellowship and worship. (I stayed home with the girls who have been sick.)

The nursing school started up in January and I am so proud of Katie and Aaron as I watch them step into their role as directors. They started with 40 students - which is bigger than they anticipated. Please pray for them as it is an enormous task to get all up and running well. Pray for them as they attempt to integrate a North American perspective on education into the Guatemalan system...it is quite a challenge.

We know that The Lord is "enlarging the place of our tent" (Isaiah 54:2). Please pray that we are in step with Him; that our priorities remain in right order...The Lord, our family and then ministry; and that we have ears to hear what He is saying - each moment of each day. Thank you!