Saturday, May 30, 2009

on the field....

We made our second trip into Unilla on Thursday of this week. For those who do not remember, Unilla is a small community of about 7,000 on the border of Coban. It is inaccessible by road so we fly in - this time making 2 trips in with loaded with medicine, equipment and medical personnel. As we unpacked and set up the clinic, Francisco, (the medical advocate for the community) asked us to go and see a young woman who was "grave" (very ill). We walked into a wood shack to find Juana lying on the dirt floor, covered with woolen blankets in the 100 degree weather. She emaciated and appeared semi-conscious. Her family told us that she had been sick for 3 years and that they had just returned from the "spiritist" (witchdoctor) - a two day trip away. She was vomiting 10-12 times a day. We gave her some IV fluids, and did an ultrasound to find that she was 5 months pregnant (which they had vehemently denied). Her husband was not there - he had gone to get medicine for her. He arrived later with a two liter bottle of green liquid that he had been instructed to pour over her head in an effort to cure her. He immediately left again to bring back to the house another witchdoctor. The house was crowded with 30 - 35 people who had come to watch as Juana continued to vomit, never making eye contact with us, never changing expression when we told her she was pregnant with a baby boy. We prayed and tried to express to them the power of our God to heal, to save. We returned the next day to give her another liter of fluids, her vomiting had slowed some but she still would not eat nor would she make eye-contact with us. Please pray for her. I felt such darkness in that house and we know that only the light of Jesus' love deliver them.

We returned to the clinic and began seeing patients - working until 5. Craig and Malachi stayed the night and showed the Jesus film to well over 300 people. The rest of us returned to Canilla for the night and Duane and I returned in the morning to finish the second day. We saw around 300 people - with more women and children coming this time. We know that these first trips are times to gain the confidence of the people. We were told repeatedly that they are afraid of us. I spoke at length to the midwife - a woman who never smiled. I tried to explain that we had no desire to steal their children or their gold (a common belief here) and that we came only because the Lord has put a incredibly deep love in our hearts for the Mayan people. She stayed in the clinic area the entire time that we were there - both days - just observing. By the end of the second day, she began to smile. We are hopeful that God is beginning to break down the walls of fear and distrust.
Well, maybe I'll get this post done soon...a week has gone by already! Tomorrow we fly out to San Pedro. We don't usually plan trips out to the Zona Reina in two consecutive weeks as they require so much planning and are so physically draining. But since it is sometimes difficult to get medical help that is willing to make this kind of trip, we are taking advantage of the time that Malachi and Heather are here - since they both have willing and adventurous spirits! We will also be accompanied by Dr. Pedro, the dentist from Guatemala City who went with us last month. Although he saw over 60 patients last time, he had to turn away many people. The community leaders were very happy to hear that he was willing to return. Please pray that the weather cooperates, that we have safe flights in and out, and most importantly that the Lord will open hearts to receive salvation.
Our clinics in the past two weeks have been extremely busy with lots of sick children. Yesterday in Chiminisijuan we saw over 100 people - many who were very sick. Again, we were very thankful to have Malachi and Heather here to help us. Last week was almost as busy in this small community and I saw one little baby who really needed to be in the hospital. She had pneumonia and needed more medical attention than we could give her. When I asked her mom if she could take her into the hospital, she said no, that it was impossible. So we prayed and asked Jesus to heal her. Yesterday she came and when I asked how the baby was, thinking that she was probably still sick (my faith is so small sometimes!) she said, "Oh she's fine. I am here for my other daughter." She did not understand what a miracle it was that her daughter was alive - but I certainly did! We also had a young woman whom we had seen a few months ago. She and her husband had been together for almost five years and she had not conceived. In this culture it is assumed that infertility is always the woman's fault and many times men will not stay with women who cannot give them children. So we had prayed for her...we have no way of addressing that problem here. She came in yesterday, 3 months pregnant! God is so faithful!!
Here are some pictures from our trip to Unilla.
The runway...
Our greeting "committee".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On our knees...

Prayer is probably the most important thing that we do here. It is always a temptation to skip that part, to relegate it to the last thing that we do. But we know that without it, nothing is really worth the effort. Lately our hours of prayer have increased. Guatemala's newly elected president was recently implicated in several murders and there has been talk of removing him from office. And in typical Guatemalan fashion, those in support as well as those who oppose him have been demonstrating in the streets of Guatemala City. So we pray...

On a more positive note, on the 30th of this month, there will be a service in San Andres designed to unite the pastors not just in San Andres but in all of the surrounding villages. This is something that we have prayed for since our arrival 10 years ago. The mayor, who is a Christian and our good friend Pastor Rodi are organizing everything and met with over 50 pastors on Monday. They are anticipating around 5,000 people who will attend the 2 day event. We pray that God will grant these congregations to be like-minded toward one another...that they with one mind and one mouth will glorify the Father. (Romans 15:5-6 - my paraphrase). We pray as well that this will be the beginning of a powerful movement of God in this place.

And today, after much prayer and many hours of preparation gathering paperwork from all parts of this country and the US, we submitted Abi's adoption to the final agency for approval. With regulations changing daily, we are told to anticipate another 3 months but this, we are told, is the final hurtle. We are hopeful that all will be complete so that we can attend Hannah's graduation in December.

And always, we pray for those we see in clinic. Yesterday was an especially difficult day in Chiminisijuan with so many sick children. We saw 2 little babies who needed to be hospitalized but as is so often the case in this village, they will not go. So we do the best that we can do medically and then we pray, trusting in God to do the miraculous. As we arrived here in Canilla after clinc, I was greeted with a woman who comes frequently for her asthma. She was very sick and gasping for every breath. We did all we could do here, started her on some oxygen and then Duane quickly flew her into the hospital in Quiche. So, much of my sleepless night last night was spent praying for these and others.

As we anticipate 2 trips to the Zona Reina in the next two weeks, we ask for you prayers as well. Please pray that God will touch hearts with His love and mercy and that these people can know and understand the free gift of salvation that only He has to offer. Thank you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Pastures

"He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He refeshes and restores my life... I will fear no evil, for He is with me..."

With everything becoming more and more green, it is hard to not feel refreshed as well. Of course this refreshing goes beyond simply the external refreshing, but as we come to understand more and more what it means that "He is with us..." in the midst of death or life, the refreshing waters pour over our souls as well.

A few weeks ago, a prophet came to San Andres with another call towards unity for the Christians, specifically the pastors, in San Andres. We have known this Truth for a long time, not only because of its obvious Biblical roots, but also because we have watched the town fall apart as the unity among the pastors has been destroyed. After leaving the service, we felt that it was time to start a weekly prayer and worship time, interceding for San Andres - for unity among the Christians, for the salvation and discipleship of those not saved, for forgiveness for the sins of the past and present, of Guatemalans and Americans. Our prayer is that this will be a time that will join together believers regardless of race, age, background, and the biggest stumbling block here - the church you attend. We know that we cannot move forward without His lead, and we know that nothing moves us along like prayer. So a couple of weeks ago we started meeting in our clinic in San Andres, and as we get ready to meet for the third time, would you also pray with us that this will be a time that will bring unity among the people and bring all of our hearts in rightness before God again?

As this greeness continues, so does David's tractor work. He and some of the other boys have been out working each day, trying to dance around the rain to get the work done before the rain saturates the ground too much and they have to wait a day for it to dry out. The men continue to line up daily, and it is great to see these relationships being built.

Clinics have continued to keep us busy as well, although God always shows His grace and faithfulness throughout each one. The lady from San Pedro who slipped and broke her arm had her surgery a couple days ago and we should be able to fly her home as soon as the doctor gives the okay. Due to some miscommunication, we were unable to do a clinic in San Pedro as planned for yesterday, but we are planning for trips out to both San Pedro and Unilla in June.

We also look forward to some visitors in the next couple of weeks. Heather, a friend who will start medical school in the fall, will arrive tomorrow and stay for five weeks, and Malachi, another friend who will start residency at the end of June, will also be coming for a couple of weeks. We are looking forward to catching up with these friends as they come to help out and work alongside of us for a little bit this summer.

We pray that today you also feel the comfort of knowing that as you walk through this life, God is with each and everyone of you.... bringing you by green pastures and refreshing and restoring your life.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's raining!

It is raining today! For those of you who have never experienced 6 months without it, I am not sure that I can explain how wonderful it is when that first rain of the season begins. The smell of it, the sound of it on the is just that...wonderful! The children are all outside standing in it, screaming with delight. Now, our desert will turn green and the river will flow once again. This week as the skies signaled the beginnings, the men have come each morning asking for their turn with David to have their fields cultivated. He has been working all week to get the tractor and equipment ready. What a great time of year!

It has been a quiet week here with time to catch up on school work and all that has piled up in the last few weeks. Grace and Abi have officially started their pre-school activities. It is quite the challenge to keep Abi's attention for more than 30 seconds, but when we can, we find that she has a remarkable memory. And Grace, typical "first" child is a perfectionist and very emotional when her hand does not cooperate.

Duane was called out to San Pedro yesterday to pick up an elderly woman who fell and broke her arm. When they say that she broke her arm, they really mean that she almost completely broke it off. With the bone exposed, her arm hung at an odd angle as Duane carefully transported her to the Quiche hospital where she was immediately taken to surgery. She will have another surgery on Monday as well. Unfortunately, she waited more than 24 hours in that condition and the risk of severe infection is high. Pray for her if you think of it, her name is Dominga. What seemed like the entire village greeted Duane as he landed there in San Pedro. It has rained there pretty continuously for the last 3 weeks and the grass had grown up on the landing strip so all of the available men had been called out at dawn to cut the grass - with their machetes. "Community" takes on a whole new meaning in these remote villages.

As the rain continues to fall outside, I am reminded of God's promise..."I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit." (Lev. 26:4). He is a faithful God!