Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas traditons...

This month has certainly flown by! Here in this area of Guatemala, there are not a lot of preparations or advertisements for Christmas. No one has money to buy gifts, the story of the birth of Jesus is not really talked about much - even in the churches, and thankfully, no one knows who Santa Claus is! So we have tried to carve out our own traditions. For me, Christmas is a time to remember and to celebrate the fact that God loved us so much that He was willing to send His son - in the form of a baby, born to poor, humble parents. The fact that most of the people that we work with are poor and humble makes the story easy to relate to. Yesterday, we attempted to share that story with the people in Chiminisijuan. Even though we really didn't advertise, about 175 people came. The Bontrager family shared a little music and then Armando told the story of Jesus' birth in the manger. We did a coloring picture for them to take home - which we hope will help them remember the story. I love doing that sort of thing - what would normally be a children's activity is fun for everyone. I showed one older woman how to hold a marker for first time. She smiled with delight as we put glitter (gold!) around her work. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, passed out cupcakes, apples and grapes (traditional Christmas food here), and everyone went home happy. Check out the Allison's blog for pictures - Caleb took lots!

Our Hannah came in on the 9th and joined us for 4 very busy days of clinic, including a day out to San Pedro where we saw about 250 people. She is a tremendous help in all of the clinics. Shortly after that the Bontrager family of 11 came in. They will stay for the months of January and February. They have come for several years and worked with Rosco (the other missionary here in Canilla who died a year ago). They have a real heart for the people here and have come to serve...very neat family. Yesterday they moved into a little adobe house that they will rent for their time here - along with the bus that they drove down from Michigan in! And today, Ryan, Katie and our grandson Jacob will arrive. Traditional Christmas celebrations here in Canilla take place at midnight with fireworks starting at dusk and lasting well into the night.

No matter how or where you celebrate this Christmas, may it be a day filled with peace and joy and may your New Year bring health, prosperity and a closer walk with our Savior!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving here in Guatemala doesn't really feel like Thanksgiving. Today promises to be warm and sunny. There has been no television hype to prepare us, no one to say that we will have the weekend off, no college football to watch. But of all the holidays that we celebrate in the US, this is the one that I want my children to appreciate. A day set apart to remember all the good gifts that our Father has given us - how great is that! So today, I will bake a turkey with all the fixings. We traditionally invite all the North Americans who are in our area. This year there are only the Allisons - and we are thankfull that they have become like our family here.

Our weekend in the clinics was as busy as usual even though the fiestas are beginning here. Sunday was the start of the weeklong celebration in San Andres. It will begin the following week here in Canilla. We had to drive carefully to avoid all the men passed out drunk laying in the streets. We are thankful that we no longer live in town as the mirimbas play all night long, marked by the "bombas" which expode at frequent intervals, making sleep difficult.

Little Helen Diana (the baby with hydrocephalus that I wrote about last time) came in with her mother on Saturday. They spent several days in the City again, seeking someone who would help them with her - but to no avail. They did not repeat her CT scan, nor did they ever even get the chance to speak with a neurosurgeon. They asked her to return to see the dermatologist! I was so frustrated! However, through a series of "circumstances", we were able to speak with the pastor of a large church in the City who has said that they will help us help this family. We have asked them to help us connect Helen's family with a family there who is willing to help them navigate this system and provide them with a place to stay while they are there. Please remember to pray for them.

In the morning, we will travel out to the Zona Reina to do a day of clinic in San Pedro. It has been a while since the weather has cooperated enough for us to be able to fly out there. When Duane took Fredi (who had his cleft palate repair done 2 weeks ago) back to this village, he was met by the entire community who had worked all morning cutting the grass on the runway - with machetes! There were shouts of amazement and joy when they saw Fredi's repair. Silvia told us later that the community had wanted to get rid of this little baby, thinking that he brought a curse to them. For the first time, this Momma took the towel off of his face so that everyone could see him. Tomorrow we will meet another baby born with the same problem - along with many pregnant women and the sick children that they have asked us to see. Would you pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal the love of Jesus to these people?

Today as you celebrate Thanksgiving, we pray that the Lord would bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tractors, Planes, and Clinic Buildings

As the cold winds come in and the dust and brown so characteristic of the dry season start to settle into place, we have also found ourselves starting back in on outside work that can be done without the needed shelter during the rainy season.

Last week David and Juanito (our Guatemalan friend who helps out with construction, especially the welding work) were able to help out some of the guys in town when the canal became blocked due to rocks that had fallen in it during the heavy rains. The canal, which was put in place several years ago by a European company, is the main supply of water during the dry season as it travels from the mountins and down throughout the town of Canilla. They were able to work on it for a couple days with about 10 other men using lots of cables and pulleys and one chain hoist to lift out 3 huge rocks. Although they tried to remind us how much work it was, we knew that they had a fun time, and it was great to be able to use the equipment we have to be able to help out a project that would have taken these guys days to do by hand.

David and Juanito have also been working hard on the clinic in Chiminisijuan, working to get a fence built completely around it as we have had trouble with tools and other supplies being taken. It has been encouraging to all of us to see the construction coming along again on this building; we were able to spend a day up there a few weeks ago, and it reminded all of us of the various dreams that God laid on our hearts for this building outside of the weekly use it gets for clinics. Please continue to pray for the hearts of the people up there as they are very very slow to trust anyone, let alone us gringos.

Aaron has been working on the Aztec which is now almost complete and ready for the propellors. Duane hopes to fly up to Brownsville with Joseph in the next few weeks to get the props and bring them back. After that we will just be waiting on the paint, and then it should be up and running shortly. Aaron has also been able to help out a missionary friend of ours recently by doing an annual insepction on his airplane. This is his second annual (including our Cessna) he has gotten to perform since getting his Inspection Authorization, and he has not only enjoyed the work itself, but also being able to help out another missionary.

Duane and Joe have also gotten to get in a lot of airplane time these past couple weeks between medical flights and a few flights these past few days for speakers at a church conference in Guatemala City and a couple other towns in the country. Included in the medical flights was little Fredi from San Pedro who returned to his village on Thursday after a successful cleft palate surgery! We continue to thank God for His provision of safety as we travel by plane and on often less-than-ideal road conditions.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


As Duane said this week, our lives are like a roller coaster ride - somedays up and some down but always God is faithful. Last week I wrote that the social worker came to evaluate our home for Abi's adoption. We thought this a very good thing. However this week, our lawyer called to say that the judge (whose signature we need before we can proceed any further) was threatening to take Abi out of our home and place her in an orphanage. The social worker's recommendation to us (as she is a friend of our lawyer's) was to hide if anyone came to our door. The judge had no legal grounds to do this and there was talk that she wanted money. We were scared and prepared to take Abi out the back door should anyone come. And we prayed - alot! Early the next day, the PGN (the government agency which gives final approval for all adoptions) called to set up an appointment with us to sign a resolution saying that Abi is to stay in our home until the final paperwork is done. To have them call us was an enormous miracle - we waited months to see them to finalize Grace's adoption. God is so faithful - I don't know why it always surprises me when He does what He does! As a result of this judge's harrassment, we think the adoption will go much faster now - they had to move our paperwork to the top of the pile!

All 5 of our cleft lip babies will have their surgeries this week - 3 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday. Please remember to pray for them. Duane flew out yesterday morning to bring little Fredi in from the Zona Reina but the weather was too bad so they will make the very long bus trip into Antigue. We are so grateful to our friends at ASELSI who have organized all of the details of not one, but two trips into Antigue for this; and to Agape in Action who have helped to offset the costs. Once again, God is faithful to provide!

Clinics were pretty routine this weekend. San Andres was unusually quiet. Preparations are being made for the anual celebration to Saint Andrew, the patron saint of San Andres and the corn god. It will be a weeklong celebration marked by Mayan ritual and drunkeness - not our favorite time of year! Canilla will celebrate two weeks later. Here, there is less Mayan influence but the drunkeness and sexual sins will be no less distressing.

Would you pray for a 3 month old baby girl named Helen? She was born normally here in Canilla but within days after her birth a large hemangioma (birthmark) began to grow over the right side of her face and head. She was in the hospital in Quiche for a few days and then sent to the City where they spent all of their money and were never actually seen by anyone who could help them. They returned home, the growth of this hemangioma continued until her lip broke down to the point where she could no longer nurse. That is when we began to help her as we would a cleft lip baby - with formula and special bottles. In the last 2 weeks we have noticed that her head is growing too fast and believe that she now has hydrocephalus. She needs surgery asap so we will take her into the City in the morning and try to help them navigate through the frustrating maze of the national healthcare system. I cannot explain how distressing it is to know what someone needs, to know that it is available but to have no idea how to help them get that help.

And so throughout rollercoster ups and downs of life, God's amazing faithfulness has remained evident. We praise Him today and thank Him again for His constant provisions in our lives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

His grace is sufficient!

Well, all five of our families who traveled to Antigua will be rescheduled for surgeries in 10 days. Apparently when they arrived, there were so many children there who came for cleft lip/palate surgeries that they could not care for them all. So Duane will go into Quiche this morning to meet the family from San Pedro (in the Zona Reina) and fly them home. The rest will travel home by bus. It is disappointing but definitely a "Guatemalan moment" and an example of however well planned something may be, it is always subject to change - even in the last moment.

Last Thursday,we had an unexpected visit from the Social Worker - and her 2 fully armed body guards. It is a little disconcerting to serve lemonade to men dressed in military garb carrying M-16 machine guns! But this was a moment that we have been waiting for for some time now. It is an indication that finally, work is being done toward Abi's adoption. She charmed the social worker - and the guards -by giving them all hugs and saying "It's nice to know you!" and then going outside to bring in her 'popcorn popper' and make as much noise as possible. Please pray with us that her paperwork will finally be completed.

Duane made 2 emergency flights out to the Zona Reina last week - both for the same woman who needed a C-section. Unfortunately her baby died somewhere in the midst of that - we are not sure what happened. His second trip was to return her to the hospital with a very severe infection.

On Friday, David saw the surgeon who repaired his finger. They removed his dressings and he has a complete finger and will soon have a fingernail as well! God is so good to us! Thanks for all of your prayers.

This weekend in clinic was especially busy - probably because we didn't work last weekend due to the Day of the Dead celebrations. We saw about 75 people here in Canilla - most of them pregnant women. However, one very emaciated young man named Mariano came in saying he was loosing weight and could not eat. He tested positive for HIV. He lives alone in a village called Cruz Chich - a Mayan village where a lot of guerrilla hid during the war. It has been my experience that there is very little help here for those with AIDs. None of the medications available in the US are available here. So we had nothing to offer him medically - but we spoke with him about a God who offers eternal life to those who accept his gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. He knew nothing about this God but allowed us to pray for him and said that he would return in a week. Please remember him in prayer.

Yesterday we were greeted by over 100 people waiting to be seen. Armando (our translator in Chiminisijuan) was waiting as well and asked us to visit a gentleman in his home. He was too weak to walk and they had carried him down from his village the day before. I found him in bed, very thin and weak but without anything physically obvious. He did not look any of us in the eye but listened to every word that Armando and his son were speaking (in Quiche) about Jesus. When we asked him if we could pray for him, he said "please" and as we prayed, I saw his eyes fill with tears. It is very unusual to see any of the Mayan people cry, but to see a older Mayan man with tears was amazing and an indication to me that God was touching him. Armando told me as we left that he was a good friend of his father's - who was a brujo (a witchdoctor). Please pray for this gentleman as well. The rest of the day was filled with a seemingly endless line of sick children and pregnant women.

I have to admit that I yesterday morning, after a sleepless night, I did not feel that I had to strength to face what I knew would be waiting for us in San Andres. As I got ready in the morning, I just felt like crying but I didn't say anything. We always begin our clinic days with prayer and Katie prayed 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." How perfectly He meets our needs! Sometime in the early afternoon when we always begin to feel hungry and ready for the break that we never take, I realized that I no longer felt tired...and that His grace is always sufficient!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sparrows and such...

October 29, 2008

Autumn here is not really Autumn with the midwest's cooler days and the changing colors, but after almost 10 years I have begun to understand Fall here as well. The rains have stopped and the pace has slowed after the steady stream of summer visitors. Clinics are slower as many of the men - some with their entire families - have left to work on the "coast'. The "coast" is not really the coast but the lowland where there are huge sugarcane farms. They burn the fields before they harvest the cane so the men work, chopping by hand the burned cane in the heat and humidity. It is exhausting work with little gain. All of the laborers sleep together in one large open polebarn-type building. The spread of disease - particularly sexually transimitted disease - is rampant. Men often come back sick and unfortunately, San Andres now has one of the highest AIDS population in Guatemala.

We have been busy getting 5 babies from our nutrition program ready for their cleft lip and palate surgeries. A group of surgeons from the US will arrive in Antigua next week and we have been working with 2 others missions here to get all the details finalized. Little Fredi out in the Zona Reina is scheduled to go but it has been raining steadily there for almost 2 months. We would like to fly out to get him but probably will not be able to so they will walk three hours over the mountain to the road where they will catch a ride into Uspantan. We will pick them up there either in truck or plane - depending on weather and get them into Antigua. It will probably mean a 3 days trip for them - a mere 100 miles.

We have also had the great pleasure to have 4 month old Enrique Benancio with us for the last week. He is a resident of the orphanage in San Andres but our good friend Oralia (the director of the Home) has not been getting much sleep. She is responsible for 30 other children during the day so we volunteered to help her until he sleeps through the night and gains a little weight. Between the Allison's, Katie and Aaron, and our household, we only miss out on sleep one night out of three - we've all agreed that it is the perfect way to have a new baby in the house.

About 3 months ago little Sebastiana came to clinic in San Andres with the worst malnutrition that I have seen here. She had a huge belly and was edematous and listless with sores all over her little three year old body. This type of malnutrition develops when children have very little protein in their diets. So we began to give her lots of protein along with her milk and vitamins and she began to slowly improve. Her parents thought her progress was too slow so they put her in the nutrition program in the Orphange. I am happy to report she is greatly improved. As I watched her toddle around in the Home the other day, she looked so much like a little bird with her big belly and skinny legs, and I was reminded of Matthew 12:7 when Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What We Do in Medicine

The department of Quiche was the hardest hit during the civil war which ended only a little bit ago in 1999. Because of this, we still see many of the effects of trying to rebuild this area including corruption, poor road and living conditions, lack of medical equipment, buildings, personnel, and medicine, general malnourishment due to ignorance, poor diet, lack of food, money or crops, and death due to ignorance and the inability to or desire to go to the hopsital in times of need. Our regular medical staff is two nurses, and we are set up to run clinics with the nearest hospital being one and half hours away (lacking in most equipment such as intubators) and the governement hospital being two and half hours away (often equipped a little better). In light of the poor hospital conditions and the peoples' unwillingness or inability to travel to them, we stretch ourselves to try to offer as many services as we can within our clinics, although we often feel the gaping hole of the presence of reliable hospital services. And as we confront the many medical and socio-economical conditions of the poeple we treat, we are often humbled by our own limitations, reminding each other and ourselves that Jesus Christ is the foundational and often only hope that these people have.

We currently have three regular weekly clinics in the towns of Canilla (where we live), San Andres (a town about 10 miles or a 30 minute drive from here), and Chiminisijuan (about a 45 minute drive from here. In our Canilla clinic, our patients are about 75% Latin, and we usually treat around 60 patients each week. Most of our patients in this clinic are right from Canilla and the surrounding aldeas (villages), although we have had some coming from as far as a 4-6 hour walk to get a consulta (appointment/consult), traveling from a township located in a department near us. About 90% of our patients in San Andres are indigenous and we usually treat right around 80-100 people each week. Because San Andres is a pretty large township, people will come from aldeas that are a three hour bus ride or longer to get a consulta. Chiminisijuan is located in a small aldea, and our clinic is actually set in a small clearing on the side of the mountain on the border of three different townships - Canilla, San Andres, and Zacualpa. We usually see about 60 patients there as well, all of them indigenous. The majority of the patients we see there dome from aldeas no more than an hour walk away, although we have had a growing number of people come from an aldea that is about a 4-5 hour walk away called Tintauleu.

Since coming here in '99, we have a felt a burden for an area in northern Quiche called the Zona Reina, near the Ixil Triangle. This area is one of the neediest medically in all of Guatemala, having the highest infant mortality rate in this country and being seemingly cut-off from the rest of the country due to poor road conditions which allow it to be accessible only by air for up to 10 months of the year. We made our first jornada (medical-evangelistic weekend trip) into this area in April of 2006 to a village called San Marcos. That weekend began the opening of other doors into that area as God started to lead and provide means to work in that area. Over the past two years, our ministry has been provided with two different aircrafts (more info can be found under the aviation section) that have allowed us to fly into villages 3-5 hour walks from the nearest roads. We have also been able to do emergency flights into this area, flying people to a hospital that would otherwise be a 9-11 hour drive after the 3-5 hour walk to the nearest road. We have also been able to make monthly trips into a town called San Pedro since January, although we continue to pray for God's direction as to whether and where we should set up a regular presence.

Although all of our current work is set up in the department of Quiche, we have found the two areas that we work in (our three surrounding villages versus the Zona Reina) to be quite different in what we encounter in all areas, including medically. In our three regular clinics, we have three areas that we primarily focus on: our nutrition program, prenatal care, and continuous management of chronic conditions. These three areas are further described below.

We have anywhere from 70-100 children that we treat in our nutrition program. The majority of children that we treat are children that were still primarily dependent on breast milk when the mom became pregnant with another child, leaving the first child with a short supply on food and nutrients. Also in our area, people are almost always only able to plant once a year during the rainy season since water is so precious and scarce during the dry season. Because of this, our numbers will gerenally increase at the tail end of the dry season as well. A few of our children are also in our program due to medical conditions such as a different types of heart defects, and then of course some are just malnourished due to general lack of food and poverty. All children in our program receive either formula or NIDO (powdered whole milk), incaparina (a protein-enriched formula that can be made into a drink), and vitamins. They are seen every two weeks to be weighed and re-assessed, and most of them will be on the program until they are about 1 1/2 - 2 years old. Although this is not a set nutrition program, we also frequently give out beans, rice, oatmeal, and other foods to widows and families that are in need of it.

Our prenatal program has taken off in even greater numbers over the past two years in large part due to the presence of the OB/GYN (Dr. Heidi Bell) who worked with us for the past two years. (More about her, her husband and their son can be found on their blog Agape In Action by clicking on their link on the left side of our home page.) In Canilla, about 60% of our patients are prenatal patients, in San Andres about 30-40% are there for prenatal care, and in Chiminisijuan we continue to add patients almost weekly and are up to about 10-15%. We give out prenatal vitamins and check blood pressures at each visit, although one of the greatest pieces of equipment and attractions that we have is our ultrasound. One of the largest reasons for the high infant mortailty rate in this area is due to fetal (and maternal) deaths during a breech delivery. Because almost every birth here is performed in the home with a lay midwife, there is no option for an emergency c-section in the case of a breech delivery discovered during the bithing process. However, we have been able to help the moms and midwives know the fetal presentation before delivery with the use of the ultrasound, and can make referrals to the hospital ahead of time if the baby has a breech presentation close to the due date. We have also found the ultrasound exams to be something the mothers enjoy coming back for monthly which has increased compliance, allowed us to check for other prenatal conditions such as pre-ecclampsia, and most importantly allows us to build relationships and trust with these women in the hopes of leading them to or dsicipling them in the freedom a relationship with Jesus offers.

We also have about 50 people which we see regularly for chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, asthama, and seizures. The majority of patients we see with chronic conditions have either diabetes or hypertension and we are able to supply them with the needed meds while also helping them control their sugars or blood pressure with diet and activity. Obviously, as with anywhere in the world, we often fight the non-compliance, apathy, and ignorance that can accompany patients with these diseases, although we have found again that the monthly contact have been a bridge to building trust and relationships.

Other than these three focuses, we treat acute cases with about 90% of our patients being women and children. The number one killer of kids here is diarrhea, which we treat frequently with anti-amoebic and worm medicine or oral/IV fluids or referrals to the hospital in the cases of a viral infection. The second cause of death is pneumonia which we can treat with oral antibiotics and oxygen if needed, although we are unable to provide IV antibiotics or intubation. After the common refusals to go to the hospital to receive these services, we often send them away with an oral Zithromax and prayers. Other acute cases we see range from ENT infections, hepatitis, and scabies to machete cuts, dog bites and burns. We also have performed deliveries, although we refer all deliveries to the hospital or home and usually only deliver in emergent situations. We do not see many cases of malaria or jungle fever type conditions in our area.

In our experience with the people of the Zona Reina, we have found some interesting contrasts. Because it rains almost year round, they are often able to get in two growing seasons, and will tell you that they are not poor or malnourished people but are really just lacking in good medical care. Because of this, we have not found our nutrition program to be of great need out there, but our ability to provide prenatal care and care of chronic conditions has been the most beneficial in addition to the acute cases we see.

In addition to regular clinics, we do weekend medical-evangelistic "jornadas" (like what we started with in the Zona Reina area) which are a way for us to not only be exposed to the needs of other areas and help medically, but also try to partner with other churches or Christians in the area to present the gospel with films, preaching or various Bible-school type activities.

What We Do in Agriculture

As it is our desire for the people to be prosperous in this land, we have found agricultural work to be one way that we can help them provide for their families, and we continue to experiment with various types of crops to produce income and to provide a more balanced and nutritious diet. Almost every family has a small piece of ground that is their main source of supply for the corn that they will use to make their tortillas (the staple food in their diet); while everyone in this area use oxen and hoes to cultivate and plant, our equipment is able to till deeper into the soil, bringing up fresh nutrients each year, in half the time and cost to them.

We have also started raising Talapia as they are a good source of protein and multiply quickly. We unexpectedly found that the Guatemalans (especially the indigenous people) love fish, and we have been able to encourage them to use the fish as another source of variety and nutrients in their diet. We currently have a couple ponds and are still learning how to best manage them with the hopes of being able to encourage and help others in beginning their own ponds.

In the past couple years, we have also partnered with a few families beginning chicken projects. The families either raise them for meat or eggs, in the hopes of using this as a way to not only feed their families, but also to make some money.

The Beginnings and Why We Still Do It

We are a typical Christian family who lived in a small Illinios town about 30 miles from St. Louis. We were serving God in our local church when we felt called to the mission field. We, as a family, went on 2 short term trips to Guatemala in the late 90's. When we felt the call to move to Guatemala in 1999, it was a decision that wemade as an entire family, and we all packed up the bus and truck that brought us down through Mexico and into Guatemala. A "road trip" that tested our faith and obedience to God's leading from the beginning, it was the start of a journey that has proven over and over the faithfulness of God as we have surrendered to His will in serving the people of Guatemala through various outlets of ministry. We intially started with a one year commitment which we served working in an orphanage in San Andres. While there we learned the culture and the language. We felt a strong calling to expand the ministry to include more medical outreach, we moved to Canilla and our ministry continues to grow. We live in the department of Quiche it was one of the department hardest hit during a 30 year civil war that ended in the past 10 years. The area still feels the effect of war today: poverty, corruption, lack of education and resources, lack of basic health care, and often a struggle to simply find food for families.

As AIM was birthed, so did the foundational verse Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" We also committed to serve the Guatemalan people by meeting not only their physical needs, but more importantly their spiritual needs by seeking to lead them to a relationship with Jesus Christ through intentionally building relationships with those that they come in daily contact with.

When asked why we do what we do, we point back to our Statement of Beliefs:

We believe both the Old and New Testament are verbally inspired by God: the revelation of God to man: the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. II Timothy 3:5-17

We believe in one God existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:18

We believe in the creation and the fall of mankind. We believe in man's spiritual depravity and inability to attain righteousness. Romans 5:12

We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, fully God and fully man. We believe that He died on the cross, was buried and on the third day was resurrected. We believe that He personally appeared to the disciples and ascended into heaven to the right hand of the Father. John 1:18, Isaiah 7:14, I Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 4:25

We believe in salvation by grace through repentance and faith in the perfect and sufficient work of the cross. Eph. 2:8-9, Heb. 9:12,22

We believe in the present supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit, including the indwelling, inner workings and baptism of His person in the believer. We believe in the multiplicity of spiritual gifts and supernatural signs that follow those who believe. II Cor. 7:1, Acts 4:30, Rom. 12:1, Heb. 2:3-4, Acts 2:1-41

We believe in the resurrection of believers into everlasting life and blessing in Heaven, and the resurrection of unbelievers into everlasting punishment in Hell. John 3:16, John 5:24, Mark 9:43-48, II Thess. 1:9, Revelations 20:10-15

We believe in the personal, literal, and bodily return of Jesus Christ in power and glory as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I Thess. 4:13-18, Zech. 14:5, Matt. 24:27, Rev. 1:7, Rev. 19:11-14

We are honored to have been called to serve the people of Guatemala and continue our efforts to build His kingdom. The people in this area are hungry for anything that brings hope to their lives, and we are confident that the gospel is the most precious gift we can give to them.
In the years that we have lived in Guatemala, God has given us numerous opportunities to minister to the people who live here. He has opened many doors allowing us to use our abilities and experiences to spread the gospel. We see our ministry growing in ways that we could never have imagined. We have come to love these people and our lives have become intertwined with theirs. We have been with them through births and deaths, hurricanes and droughts and through it all we have seen the love of God. We may not always understand what is going on but we know that we serve a God who is faithful and will never leave us. The verse that comes to mind is James 2:23-24 which says “And so the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in God and this was accounted to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is justified through what he does and not alone through faith (through works of obedience as well as by what he believes)”

Please stand in prayer with us.
In His love and service,
Duane, Leslie, and family

Grace and Abi

Grace, born in February of 2005, and Abi, born in November of 2005, are our adopted children. Although from different families, they quickly and easily became a part of our family and we cannot imagine life without them!

Grace’s mother was extremely sick when we met the family in a village near us. They came because Grace’s 7 year old sister was caring for her and Grace had been dropped several times. Grace was very malnourished and had really bad pneumonia. We took her in to make her well, and it was only by God’s grace that she lived (hence her name). Although her mother got better, her family felt they could not take care of her any longer and she has been with us ever since, officially becoming a Ficker in 2008. She is shy, although quite talkative, always watching out for everyone, and always ready to snuggle up with you and a good book.

Abi came to us only 3 hours after she was born. Her mother died during childbirth and no one knew who her father was, so her grandfather brought her here. After much prayer, we knew very strongly that we were to adopt her, a legal process that we are still working on. Abi is completely full of life, joy and energy and enjoys keeping us on our toes! However, she is also quick to laugh and, if you can get her to sit still for more than 5 seconds, also enjoys sitting down to read a good book.


Rachel is 13. She is thinking about being a elementary teacher possibly down here. She loves Guatemala and her family.


Joseph is 18 years old, and he is planning on being a pilot. He helps out with keeping the planes maintained and anywhere else help is needed. He loves Louis L’amour books and riding his horse.


David is 20 years old and he is the fix-it-man. He oversees the agricultural work and maintenance of all the vehicles - of which there is much down here! He loves living in Guatemala.


Hannah is the oldest daughter and now in school at Baylor University studying to be a Physician's Assistant. She likes to be here in Guatemala whenever she gets a chance and helps out in the clinics whenever she is down here. She also helps keep the ministry going Stateside.

Ryan, Katie and Jacob

Ryan and Katie got married September 2006 and they just had a baby! Ryan and Katie help the ministry from the US. Ryan is a manager at a local business in Marine, IL. Katie now stays home with little Jacob and takes care of him. Jacob was born on the 21st of December 2007 and he weighed 6 lbs and 3 ounces. He is so cute!

Aaron and Katie

Aaron and Katie were recently married on October 3 2007! They moved into a little house by our hanger at the runway here - only a mile away. Aaron is the oldest of the Ficker family children, and he is a licensed airplane mechanic and oversees all the maintenance on the aircrafts. He is also working towards his pilot’s license. Katie is a nurse who came down and stayed for one year before they got married in October. She works in the clinics and helps out with anything else that is needed. They both love working with this ministry and helping out their family.

Duane and Leslie

Duane was raised in rural Illinois, and throughout his life he has worked as a carpenter, corporate pilot, and flight instuctor - all three of which were valuable training for his work down here in Guatemala. He is currently the head of the aviation department, the chief pilot, and is using his instructor's license and experience to train Aaron and Joseph. He is also the head of the construction department, both overseeing and personally involving himself in the maintenance and repairs needed. His farming background also allows him to reach out to the farmers in the area through various agricultural projects. Leslie has had experience in a variety of settings within the nursing profession, although the majority of her experience was in the NICU. She is the head of the medical department out of which we currently run three established weekly clinics and monthly weekend medical-evangelistic outreaches to remote areas in Quiche. She also keeps the house running, including heading up the home-schooling of her children.


We will now be updating on our new blog! Please feel free to continue to float between here and our website (link can be found at the left).