Thursday, March 26, 2009


It always takes me a few days to process all that has happened after a trip like Unilla. We planned and prayed for so long beforehand that I need time to pray through and understand it all. The trip itself was great - the people were welcoming and helpful. The mayor had organized everyone so well. The building where we worked was clean and adequate in all ways. There was even a bathroom, of sorts, which is always a bonus. The weather cooperated although we were praying pretty hard when we woke up to rain on Friday. And most importantly we learned that there has been some evangelism done in this tiny village as there are 2 small but seemingly thriving evangelical churches.

Disturbingly though, were several facts that indicate a deeper spiritual need. One is that this village in the middle of nowhere, is famous for the sugar cane liquor that they make. We had many men confess to drinking problems and in the evening, that drunkenness became more visible. The other problem was that very few women or children came. They were there - in the evening, as we walked through the village they hung back, lots of the children appearing malnourished and many visibly sick with skin infections. When I asked, I was told that they were afraid of us. But the other thing that concerned me was the lack of an advocate for the women. Always in the past the local mid-wives come either to translate or to be with their pregnant patients. Here, there was no one speaking for these women. And in a culture were woman are considered servants - at best - this was disturbing to me. My prayer is that we will be invited to return and that the Lord will provide someway for us to be able to reach this overlooked group.

We returned from that trip Friday night and turned around to do 2 more busy days of our normal weekend clinics. We were so grateful to have the help of our friend Arlen. His energy and humor always keep us going! By Monday night though, I was so tired all I could do was cry. So Tuesday after clinic, Duane packed us all up and we left to spent our Sabbath at the lake in Panajachel. It was great to get away and relax for a little bit.

This weekend will be a busy one as well as Katie and Aaron are scheduled to take 2 of our cleft lip babies into Antigua to have their surgeries done by a visiting team of surgeons. That will leave Don and I alone to work in the clinics.

Enough whining.... Here are some pictures from Unilla. It is a beautiful place!

For those of you who wait for news about the airplanes, the props are on the Aztec! The boys hope to get it started up this week.

And some other good news...Abi's hearing for her adoption is finally scheduled for the 16th of April. We will take her in and meet with the judge. If all goes well - and we are not anticipating any problems - we should have her legal Guatemalan adoption within a few weeks. Please pray that the judge will rule in our favor!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

God is faithful!

For those of you who were praying for Joseph and Duane's safe return home, thank-you! They got home just before nightfall last night. I am overwhelmed this morning with gratitude to the Lord for His amazing faithfulness to us. He asks us to do difficult things at times and always asks that we walk in integrity, but as we do all in our power to follow His ways, He always provides a "way out". This trip was no exception.

It was an 11 hour flight in the 182. They left in the morning Thursday, arrived in Brownsville late in the midst of rain and fog, spent one day there and left to return to Guatemala yesterday morning. As you may have been reading in the news, the situation in Mexico is volatile right now between the drug enforcement agencies and the drug rings, so all of the airports are on "red alert". And when you fly internationally, you must pass through immigration in whatever country you pass through. Yesterday when they landed in Tampico Mexico, they were immediately surrounded by 3 heavily armed guards and the supervisor of the "aduana" (the agency which assesses taxes). They demanded that Duane and Joseph unload the plane and open all the boxes so that they could determine the value of each item for taxation purposes. This of course, was totally illegal because they were only passing through Mexico - they were just looking for a pay-off. But they were angry and threatening so of course, Duane and Jo did exactly as they ordered. Our policy since our arrival to this country is to never pay bribes as it feeds into a system of corruption that runs deep within this country - and Mexico - and unfortunately our own country as well. One of Duane's best gifts is his ability to talk fast without a trace of intimidation, and because we know that the Lord honors integrity, He always provides us a way to get out of bribery. Oh, the stories I could tell.... Anyway, these "officials" demanded receipts for all the items in the plane. Duane said that they were all "regalas" (gifts) and thus he had no receipts. Some friends had had boxes sent to Brownsville for us to take back which Duane had not even opened. And the props, which were very expensive, were lain flat, on the floor of the plane. Duane was a little fearful as the guards began cutting the boxes open. But when they opened the first box, it popped open with plastic toys, the second box was filled with books, the third with candy and after that, they didn't open anything more, realizing that they really were gifts and of no real failure to them. They never opened anything that would have been "taxable" nor did they even see the props! The supervisor grudgingly stamped all of his paperwork and they loaded the plane back up and flew off. On arrival in Guatemala, he again had to pass through immigration where they could have legally searched the plane and assessed the contents for taxation, but they never even looked in the plane. They just stamped his paperwork and he was off. The men in the control tower here in Guatemala know Duane now and knew he was eager to get home before dark, so they offered to file his flight plan for him and they arrived in Guatemala about 5 minutes before dark - safe and sound and exceedingly grateful for God's protection and provision!

For us here at home, it was an interesting day as well. As we finished clinic yesterday, a young man came to the door asking for milk for his baby. His wife had given birth 6 weeks earlier in their home in the mountains. She bled heavily afterward and the local midwife had treated her by having her lie between two very heavy rocks to stop the bleeding. After several days of treatment, this young woman became gravely ill and was taken into the hospital were she stayed for 3 days. When she left the hospital, the doctors gave Juan (her husband) prescriptions for antibiotics that cost over Q500 (about $70). Juan didn't have the money so they just returned home and 3 weeks later she still is unable to get out of bed. So after lunch we hiked up to see her. It is the dry season here and each day the smoke gets denser as fires rage through the forests. So when we met Juan in his village, he pointed to his house - which was right next to a huge cloud of smoke. When we arrived at the house, we could hear the crackles of the flames as they moved closer, but we were assured that there was no danger. Fortunately Juan's wife was better than we anticipated finding and little baby Kati was fat and healthy. So we left her with antibiotics, lots of vitamins and hydration drink, and prayer, and will check on them in a week. When we came out of the house though the flames were within 50 feet of the house and there was lots of scurrying around as they were concerned - not about Juan's house but for his in-laws house which was directly above them. People here usually do not attempt to put out the fires but accept them as they accept everything else that this life has for them. And fortunately, adobe does not burn well. So we left amid the smoke. Don and Lori took lots of pictures so check out their blog.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

prayer requests...

I have two requests for prayer this morning. One is for Hannah Allison who broke her arm last weekend. We have been debating about whether or not it was really broken for several days. She is so sweet and never complains and said it didn't really hurt that much but after watching her, her parents decided to take her into Quiche yesterday for x-rays. Unfortunately it is broken. So they drove on into the City to have it set this morning. Please pray for them. It is always a little troubling to be at the mercy of doctors about whom we know nothing and to have the extra problem of communication. You want to really understand when they are talking about the health of your child!

My second request is for Duane and Joseph as they took off this morning in the 182 for Brownsville Texas. We have not talked much about the other plane that we have - the Aztec - which had a nose gear failure in our first trip out to the Zona Reina. It has been sitting for many months waiting for Aaron to have the time to do the necessary repairs and for the finances to buy new props and paint for it. In His great faithfulness, that funding has come, so they will bring those parts back with them, hopefully on Saturday.

An update on little Mari....she had surgery last week and we are awaiting the results of the biopsy. The doctors say that she definitely has osteomyelitis (infection in her bone which will require long-term IV antibiotics) and possibly also has a malignancy. Please continue to keep her in your prayers. And some really good news...remember Helen, the baby with hydrocephalus? About 2 months ago her parents decided to not pursue further medical treatment and to leave her in the hands of God. She is now alert and responds appropriately and her head is no longer growing disproportionately. Her parents are thrilled and we are rejoicing with them at the goodness and faithfulness of God!

When we are not in clinic, we are busily preparing for our trip out to Unilla - scheduled for nest Thursday. It is not an easy task to anticipate the needs of around 400 patients plus our team's needs. We cannot just run out to Walmart if we forget something. Fortunately, each one on this team is experienced in "flexibility - Guatemalan style". What we are finding as we continue to work in this area where resources are so scarce is that we are being bombarded each day with emergency calls. Unfortunately our definition of emergency and theirs do not always agree. So we have been trying to set up a system of triage through one person in each community. In this way we hope to be able to screen out those who really just want a ride in an airplane from those who are truly emergencies. Managing the resources that we have been given with both integrity and generosity is sometimes a difficult task. But we are very aware that we are only bond servants of the Lord's - owners of nothing, yet in charge of everything.