Friday, December 24, 2010

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is the Messiah, the Lord." Luke 2:11

Here in Guatemala, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th at midnight with fireworks and tamales. Our family will wait for Hannah and Matt to arrive on Monday. It works quite nicely...while everyone here is celebrating, we are finishing up our own preparations!
This has been a busy week, first with a Christmas party given in Chiminisijuan for close to 200 children. Our good friend Oralia went to share the story of Jesus' birth in the language and form that they can understand. I loved watching the faces of the children as they listened intently. The story that we are so familiar with is new to many of them and one that they can relate to...a child born into physical circumstances similar to their own, angels appearing to shepherds - which many of them literally are. Our desire of course is that they realize the reason for His coming. We really strive to avoid the temptation to make the celebration look like ours...with gift giving and traditions that our culture brings. So after the story we had them color and glitter a craft to hang in their homes with the text above and then gave away apples... the traditional Christmas treat here. It was quiet and simple...but lots of fun for both the children and the adults.

The next day we invited all the children and staff from the orphanage in San Andres to come for the day. They love to "pasiar" (to leave the Home). We fixed lunch - an enormous amount of it - and everyone ate until it was all gone and then we played. The older kids played volleyball and the younger ones...hours of freeze tag. The Hogar de Vida (Home of Life) has always held a very special place in our hearts and it was wonderful to have everyone here.

Early yesterday morning we recieved a call from our good friends, Rosa and Armando. Armando is a pastor who helps us in the clinics. Rosa gave birth to little Samuel on Tuesday. He struggled for life on a ventilator until he finally died yesterday. Duane flew to Quiche to bring them home with the casket next to Rosa. Pray for them when you can...their faith is strong but their hearts are broken.
We pray that this Christmas brings joy and peace to you!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We have had a long spell of cold weather - well, relatively cold. It gets down into the 40's at night which I know for many of you sounds wonderful right now. But for those of us who have no heat in our homes it is...uncomfortable. Saturday morning it was really cold and I always feel so badly for those who have walked early in the morning to get one of the first numbers for clinic. They begin to form a line at about 4 in the morning so I know that by the time we open the door, they are really cold. So when moms push forward asking for their babies to be seen first, I understand. Saturday when Martina's mom asked to be seen first, I let her in thinking that she was just cold. But when I unwrapped her, I found that she was breathing about 60 times a minute and her color was not good. We started her on some oxygen and asked if we could take her into the hospital - about 2 1/2 hours away. Mom's tearful response was that her husband was traveling from the coast where he had been cutting sugar cane, and that she could not go to the hospital without his permission. So with Tomas's (our translator) help, we finally were able to talk with dad. He thought it better to meet mom at their home in the mountain and then make a decision. Although we did our best to try and convince them that waiting was probably not the best, mom could not - and would not - go against her husband's decision. So we kept them as long as they would stay, gave them all the medications that we could, and we prayed. When mom finally said that she needed to go, that the last car was leaving, I really struggled as I turned off her oxygen. I knew that without a miracle from God, that she would die within a few hours. I wish I could say that I know that the Lord stepped in and healed her...but I don't. I only know that we did all that we could humanly do, that we did all that God asks us to do, and that the only thing left to do was to trust in the sovereignty of God who "gives and takes away." Not always easy..... Please pray with us for this family who has been so heavily on my heart this week.
On a much happier note, yesterday was the Canilla's annual "enduro" motorcycle competition. David and Joseph both helped to set it up and participated in the race which started with a sort of obsticle course involving jumps and crossing a balance beam, and climbing a teeter toter sort of contraption....all of which greatly enhanced my prayer life! Then they raced off up the mountain for a 45 minute race of endurance over difficult terrain. There were riders from several surrounding villages and about twice as many spectators this year. It was fun for everyone!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Luke 14:13 "....when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. And you will be blessed..."

We have been given the great privilege of helping in the local drug and alcohol rehab center, directed by our good friend Victor. He goes out into the streets and the cantinas looking for those whom he can help. It is cold now and the police bring to him those who are passed out in the streets, for a night of warmth and shelter even though they may leave again in the morning to repeat the same behavior. They will not leave without the word of God however. About once a month we take a meal to the men (there are usually between 15 and 20 men) and to encourage Victor. His is a difficult call, taking in men who are as low as they can get, working to sober them, feed them physically and spiritually and many times, only to have them return to the same lifestyle. They do not leave though without having experienced the love of Christ. Often they return time and time again asking for another chance. The temptation is to say many times should we do this? But Victor takes them in, time and time again. And so thankfully, is Jesus with us...forgiving us over and over again. It is an honor to encourage and support him in this work.

Yesterday Duane flew to Santiago to pick up a young couple who are working in an orphanage there. They have recently taken in 5 newborns and their Home is full! For those of you who remember Martina - a young child who lived with us and is physically, emotionally and mentally handicapped- she is in their home and doing well. They came for a night away from the stress and labor of caring for a house full - literally - of young children. Since adoptions out of Guatemala have come to an almost complete stop, there is a flood of babies coming into the system. They are difficult and expensive to care for and most Homes are not accepting anymore infants. Duane flew this young couple into Quiche last week to pick up 3 new newborns - two were found near the river, left to die. And one came from here in Canilla. She has a fractured tailbone from being thrown down to the ground and left to die as well. Please pray for strength and wisdom for this young couple, and for laborers to come to help them.

Much of what we do, in addition to medical outreach, involves encouraging young people who have been called by God to serve. Last night as I looked at our living room filled with young people - from our own, to those who have come briefly to visit, I remembered the word of Malachi 4:5-6, "Look, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to (their) children and the hearts of children to their fathers." What an honor it is to serve Him in this way!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good; because His mercy endures forever! Psalm 118:1

Of course, Thanksgiving is not a holiday here in Guatemala. But as I began to teach Grace and Abi about why we celebrate today, I realized some similarities in the pilgrim's story and ours. The Pilgrims left their homes and traveled to a land that was not their own, to live among people who lived very differently than they. And the indigenous people came to their aid, they taught them and protected them. So are our friends who have helped and taught us so much. We are grateful to God for each one,,, (and there are so many more than those who are pictured here...but my computer is not cooperating.)

Today as you celebrate with friends and families, I pray that you will take a moment to remember to thank Him for all of blessings to you. Talmud Berachot 35A says, "If you enjoy something in this world without saying a blessing, it is as if you stole it." All good gifts come from Him and He is deserving of all of our praise! May your day be blessed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

It was a joy to spend time with Matt and Heidi Bell and their son Isaac along with Dr Calvin Williams, his wife Latrice and daughter Brittany this past week! These two doctors came to do surgeries in Chichicastenango with Dr. Tom Hoak and then came to spend some time with us here for a clinic out in the Zona Reina on Friday and Saturday clinic here in Canilla. As Leslie mentioned in the last post, we are immensely blessed knowing that we have a referral system through Buen Samaritano Hospital for those patients that we see that are in need of surgery. The girl that we mentioned in the last post who received Christ did not show up for her surgery; we are unsure why, but we continue to pray for her, remembering again that so often once they leave the door of our clinic, all we can do is leave them in God's hands.

Our clinic in San Pedro also brought about a feeling that change is in the air there. Their leadership changed about 6 months ago to, as far as we understand, a non-Christian mayor. This trip, we noticed that the usual cheerful and excited atmosphere was replaced with an apathy and seeming sadness even on the faces of some who often bring the most smiles. We had about one third of the amount of patients we have ever had show up in about two years of working there - further signifying a change - and one of our favorite Christian translators listened to music in one ear the entire time he translated and also displayed a Catholic symbol around his neck. Please pray for the leaders and people of San Pedro that God will turn their hearts back to Him with the passion and joy that has always characterized this village. We know that God never gives up on those He loves, and we pray that his love and mercy will once again draw these people back to Him. Please also pray for discernment for us as we seek guidance on our role at this time.

We look forward to friends Bob and Jodi arriving this weekend for a week long visit, staying through Thanksgiving... it is always a blessing to be able to celebrate this American holiday with fellow Americans!

Please also note that you can keep up with us on Facebook under our page - Adonai International Ministries (just make sure to check out the one based in Guatemala, as there is another Adonai International Ministries as well).

Friday, November 5, 2010

We have been blessed to have a group of doctors who are committed to doing surgeries for those who cannot afford private care and who cannot find resolution within the government health care system. Dr. Tom lives in Chichicastenango (about 2 hours from here) and gave up his private general surgery practise in the US to come and serve here. He works out of a private Methodist hospital in Chichi. Every three months our good friend Dr. Heidi (ob/gyn) comes to serve alongside of him. It gives us a really good option to present to people who are in need of surgical intervention. We know that they will receive caring, compassionate, excellent care and that they will be presented with the Gospel and covered with prayer as well.

This last weekend when Maria came into San Andres, we were so grateful to have this option for her. She was brought by a cousin who is a Christian and knew that this young girl had been repeatedly raped. She brought her to us because they were afraid that she was pregnant. They told us that she was mute as well...although she could obviously hear. Her pregnancy test was negative but her ultrasound showed what looked like a very large abdominal tumor. We talked with her and her family for a long time about her options and about a God who sees and who has compassion for His children and in the end Maria prayed the prayer of salvation - and she was not mute! It is so great to know that as she goes to Chichicastenango this weekend to consult with the surgeons there, that she will be cared for with the love of Jesus. Please pray for her - that God will supernaturally heal her body and her heart.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fifteen year old Juana came Sunday to our clinic in San Andres from a village about 2 hours away. Her two front teeth were badly decayed, painful and needed to be pulled. The medical team from McAllen Texas examined her and said that they could do not one, but two root canals for her. It took some time to convince her that this would be a good thing for her and that it was worth her missing her ride back to her village. I was amazed...normally those teeth would have just been pulled and she would have gone the rest of her life without her two front teeth. No one is our area does that kind of dental care...bad teeth are pulled...not even filled. This team came with excellence and compassion - a rare combination - and we were honored to have them in our clinic. At one point one of the men came down fro the dental area with a little boy whose face was already swollen. As George came into the pharmacy area, he began to cry, telling me that they had had to pull all of this little boys permanent teeth...that he would for the rest of his life be without teeth.

In a culture where people are mainly concerned about where today's food will come from, dental hygiene is not a priority. And while it seems that we have given out enough tooth brushes and toothpaste to supply the entire population, there are still many who do not own or use a toothbrush. Teeth rot slowly and the nerve dies slowly as well, not producing tons of pain...or at least that is what I have been taught. I am unconvinced though when I look into mouths full of teeth blackened with decay. All of this to say, that it was a huge blessing to have this team here.

Yesterday, Duane, Ivan and I flew to Quiche to visit the men in Victor's drug rehab center. There are 15 men there at the moment - all sober and recovering, receiving care for their bodies and their souls. Ivan made them a nutritious lunch of beef stew and rice. It was a treat as they rarely have meat. Victor told us about one of the men whose 8 year old son brought him to the Center. He came in a Tuk-tuk (a small taxi - with a motorcycle engine) with his dad's suitcases packed. He knocked on the door asking that Victor care for his dad. It is so often the children's responsibility to care for their drunken parents. It is not uncommon to see men passed out, lying in the dirt, with a small child sitting nearby, waiting, watching over his father. Again, we are grateful for people like Victor who are making a difference in the lives of these people whom we have grown to love so much. It is a small difference...a drop in the ocean of need. But we do not "despise the day of small beginnings." And we know that as one person's life is affected by a demonstration of the love of Jesus, the ripple effect that it has upon that person's family and friends is often very great. So we wait...and trust...knowing that what is impossible for us, is an easy thing for God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tuesday after clinic, Tomasa - a woman whom I have known for many years - came and asked for help with her son oldest George. George is 22 years old and has taken the role of provider since his father's death 6 years ago. I have watched him grow from a little boy to a man. Tomasa told me that he was sick with a fever and unable to get out of bed. I gave her some antibiotics and Tylenol and promised to do all in my power to visit them as soon as possible.

Yesterday Duane, Abi, Tomas (our Quiche translator) and I hiked down to their home. It is an incredibly difficult walk - descending about 3,000 feet - and an incredibly beautiful one as well. George, thankfully was better and had been up that day to work in their fields, harvesting their corn. We prayed for him...mostly because he has chosen to leave the church - and God - for the moment. Tomasa then began to cry and ask for prayer. She has eight children, lives in a two room house perched on the side of this mountain. Her husband, before he died, had planted coffee which has sustained them over the last 6 years but now has reached the end of its productivity and yielded very little harvest this year. Her corn crop was stricken with a blight and produced only 2-100 pound bags, which will feed them for less than a month. She had no other food in the house. She did not ask for prayer for all of this was only after we had prayed that I began to ask. She asked for prayer because she is lonely and although she did not express it, she is weary as well. I tried to put myself in her shoes...and found them unbearable. And yet I know that God sees her struggling to provide for her children, to raise them in the faith, to love them, and I know that He is pleased. I know as well that He will provide justice...whether in this life or the next. Psalm 140:12 says, "I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." And I trust that His word is true.

We will help Tomasa with food for her family - hopefully in a way that will not defy her dignity. As always, we remember, "that too whom much is given, much is required." And we have been given so much... Please pray for her and her family when you think of it - pray that the Lord will give her the strength to perservere and that He will allow her to feel His presence and His love in her daily life. For it is in those moments when we feel His presence that we are refreshed and strengthened to continue.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Katie Shaw wrote the last entry but the scripture is so fitting..."let the children come to me..." as Little Winter went home to be with Jesus on Monday. Duane returned to the capital to help them maneuver the completely foreign process of taking the body out of the hospital and to fly them back out to their village in the Zona Reina. He landed briefly here in Canilla to re-fuel and they stoically held the little casket on their laps. They spoke not a word nor shed a tear.

And the triplets... We found a doctor who was willing to care for the mom until she delivered. He asked that she come into the hospital on Thursday where she was to stay until they are born. We walked out to her village Sunday to give her that good news and to let her know that we were available to help her get there. We even talked about resources to help her with her other children (as she has no other living family) while she is in the hospital. We left our phone number, agreeing to talk on Tuesday. She didn't call. As is so often the case, we do all in our power to help, but we cannot make them accept that help.

Our constant prayer is that in all that we do, that the love of Christ will shine through and men will be drawn to Him. In both of these families, we are left without seeing any miracles, no hearts changed. The temptation is to become discouraged and to give up. However we know that we are just laborers, planting seeds where we can, watering when we can. But the harvest comes in the timing of the Lord. Only He can make those seeds grow to maturity.

On a happier note, the baby who we took back to the orphanage last week will go home to his family this weekend! We are rejoicing in this happy outcome...that he will not remain an orphan...and this is a miracle!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Let The Children Come

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matt 19:14

In a land that is sometimes seemingly made up of primarily women and children, these verse often seem fitting for this land. And as we have seen many children that have needed a savior to come to, they have been a source of comfort this week as well.

Little Winter has continued to struggle, and the hospital placed him on life-support a couple days ago. His family has decided to take him off life support and home where he can pass into the arms of His Savior. Once again, our prayer is that this whole situation has been an opportunity where they might all find the grace, mercy and love of Jesus.

We have also had the privilege of helping a local orphanage take care of a little baby born premature. While we have full confidence that he will be loved, taken care of, and taught Truth, it has been another reminder of the sad situation that some babies enter into in this world, fighting against a sense of rejection and loss from the get go.

And last week in clinic, we saw a woman who was pregnant with triplets! Aside from the reminder of the creative God we serve, there is a level of stress that comes with delivering triplets in our area of the country, mostly stemming from the fact that there is such a high risk that they will deliver prematurely. This particular indigenous family is very poor, has two children, and no living family members to help them. So, for the mother to go into the hospital on bed rest (the recommended situation for how far along she is) means that someone will need to watch her other two children and that the husband will be unable to work for that time while he stays with his wife. Then the issue becomes supporting these three babies should they be born early; we have a good friend in the City who has hooked us up with a doctor in the government hospital system, and so the family will move forward to work within this system to get the help needed, praying that the equipment and skill is available when these babies are born. And then of course once the babies are born, the mother will need help also with general care and most likely formula to help supplement breastfeeding.

And the stories could go on...

And yet, in the midst of these children and more, I am reminded that while there are times that our human hands can do no more, each of them has a Savior - arms wide open - continuously asking that we not hinder in any way their ability to come unto Him, but instead point them in the direction of His welcome embrace... this side of Heaven or the other. And that there, inside His loving arms, they will find an end to their physical suffering, a sense of belonging beyond any they could ever find in the things of this earth, and the miracle of life... even three at once!

Please pray today for these five children and the children of this country... that we will not ever hinder them to find the arms of their Savior, and that they will find life there in His embrace.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7.

I am writing quickly this morning, before we take off for the City, to ask for your prayers for a baby who came yesterday. Little Winter (yes, that is really his name - but in Spanish it is pronounced Weenter) is from the Zona Reina. Silvia called last week about this baby but because of all the rain we could not fly out there nor could they make the 6 hour walk across the mountain to find a micro-bus. This week, thankfully, the rains have stopped and Silvia with her year old son, Winter and his mom left their homes on Tuesday morning and made the two day trip to get to Canilla. Winter is 5 months old and is gravely ill. His belly is enormous and his body is wasting away. We talked with our friend Dr. Pedro in the City (which is the only option to get the kind of help that he will need) and he informed us that both of the national hospitals were closed. One because the staff is protesting and the other because they do not have water! Seems a little hard to fathom... However, he graciously made some phone calls to a couple of his friends and we will be seen this morning by the chief of pediatric surgery. Please pray that little Winter will find help and healing for his body and that his family will be drawn to Jesus.

Thank you for your friendship and prayers!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Clinic today in Chiminisijuan was...challenging. We have had so much rain that the road was impassable with the truck so we took 2 four-wheelers loaded with as much milk and food as we could - plus 3 of us on each one. It was a load for even the four-wheelers which never really complain about whatever abuse we give them. But we made it. Fortunately for us, today was vaccination day so almost all of our patients were waiting on the side of the road for the tech to come and give vaccines. With the new president, if families have their children in school and have them vaccinated, they receive Q300/month (~$50). So they do not miss vaccine days. Even with all of them gone, we still had about 75 people there waiting at the clinic.

It was a pretty normal day until little Ana and her father came in. Ana is three and was obviously ill. Her father told us about how he had taken her into Guatemala City where they told them that she has cancer. I am assuming it is some sort of leukemia. Chemotherapy for them would consist of 6 months of hospitalization and then monthly trips to the City for follow-up chemo. He told of how his mother-in-law had stormed into the hospital and said that they could not afford that kind of care and so they brought her home. They, of course, were asking if there was some way that we could help. He was pretty disappointed to know that we could not give her the treatment that she needs. He and his wife are not Christians but were very willing to talk about it. We told him that of course, salvation would not guarantee that God would heal Ana. But it would guarantee her a spot in heaven should she die. He was agreeable but wants his wife to be with him. So we prayed - and we ask that you pray as well. Pray that God will stretch forth His hand to do signs and wonders; pray that this family would see the power of God and understand the love that He has for them; pray that God would perform a miracle that would lead an entire village to repentance; and pray that Ana will live.

And then for the most frustrating part of the story...They are from a village where there is only one evangelical church and we have heard many things about this church. It seems that the pastor charges his congregation for prayer - among other things. So while you are praying for Ana, would you also pray that God sends laborers into that area who will speak the truth and will love and care for these people who badly need a shepherd.

Thank you for reading this and for praying for Ana. "For where two or more are gathered...."

Monday, September 27, 2010


Well, after a month of hearing "Goodbye... we'll see you on Facebook," we now have a Facebook page! We hope to be able to use this for quick updates, while the Blog will still be used for more lengthy posts.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home again! It was so good to sleep in our own beds! We are thankful to Cali, Juan and Rolindo for keeping things going here...and to God for His protection over our ministry while we were in the US. There have been several robberies in town and some drug related incidents so we are especially grateful for His hand of protection over our home. We are also grateful that although the roads are horrible now because of all the rain that has fallen in the last few weeks, we made it home without incident. Many of the bridges have been washed away and lots of roads are closed because of mudslides. The roads that remain open are knee deep in mud in some places - so travel is...challenging.

Clinic should be busy this morning but I am ready to get back to work!

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 136:1

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Psalm 68:5 "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

The Real Life Church team left Canilla early yesterday morning. They were a great group who came to work alongside of us - and they did it with pure hearts of service. Together, we built a small house for a widow and her son up near Chiminisjuan. Estella and her son Juan Daniel have been living in small room made of corn stalks and the remains of their adobe home. Estella's husband died about 5 years ago from alcoholism. She and her 11 year old son have been receiving food in our nutrition program since the beginning. And it gave us great joy to be able to bless her with this new home which is way beyond anything that she could ever have hoped for. What a privilege it is to be able to be the hands and feet of the Lord as He defends the cause of the poor!

We also spent three days working in village schools teaching the children about the miracle of our bodies which are "fearfully and wonderfully made." It was a great opportunity for us to teach young children about simple things like covering your mouth when you cough, and how to protect our bodies...not smoking, drinking, taking drugs etc. We are given an open door in the schools to talk about the love of Jesus as well - which we did! We go each year with this group and this year the director of all the schools here, asked if we couldn't somehow go into each of the 28 schools in our township! Maybe next year.....

That, in addition to our 3 weekly clinics, made for a very full couple of weeks. We also made two trips out to a village way up in the mountains to see a young man who was sick with a severe infection. We gave him the medication that we could and then asked if his heart was well with Jesus. He prayed for forgiveness and accepted the gift of salvation. And then both of his parents asked to pray as well. So the entire household knelt in prayer as they asked Jesus into their hearts. This week, I heard that this young man died. What a blessing to know that he is with the Lord now and is no longer suffering!

We continue our countdown of days until we leave for the US - as of today, only 4 more. Grace and Abi have their backpacks packed and are ready!! Although they have no idea really, of what to expect as the travel for the first time outside of their country, the anticipation exceeds that of Christmas. They ask about a thousand questions each day about what they will see. We, too, are anxious to be with family and friends as we celebrate the marriage of Hannah and Matt. We hope to see you soon!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

we have a website!

Our website is now up and running again. Please visit us at:

Sunday is the day when we distribute corn. The truck is fully loaded and waiting this morning to go to San Andres. Thankfully, this year has brought lots of rain and the fields are green. A few people are beginning to harvest the early corn. Yesterday I saw beans drying on the street in front of our neighbors house. Once the corn is fully harvested( in November), we will bring an end to this project which was designed to meet the need of those who were hardest hit during the drought of last year. However, what we discovered when we began to evaluate the need last fall, was a large number of women - mostly widows, but some women abandoned or whose husbands are incapacitated by alcoholism - who are hungry. Some are "viajitas" (older women) who for some reason do not have families to help them. Others are women with young children. Women here who do not have husbands to plant and harvest the food that will be needed for the year, are left without a way to earn money. Some will make patates - which are large woven sleeping mats made of grass. A weeks worth of work will yield Q25-30 (about $3.50) - not enough to buy corn, much less the other (more nutritious) foods, or clothing, or school supplies, or medicines that their children need. So we began to help these women with "viveres" ( a 25 pound bag of beans, rice, oatmeal, and sugar) which we distribute every two weeks. This project will not end. Even though we are financially stretched as we buy more 100 pound bags of food each week, we can find no way around God's repeated command to feed the widows and orphans. For we know that this is the fast that He requires. Isaiah 58:6-7 says, "Isn't the fast I choose: to break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and to not ignore your own flesh and blood?"

Here at home we are busy getting ready for our annual visit from the Real Life church in Washington. We will again be going out to several of the local schools to teach a lesson about how God has created our bodies, and how to care for them. They will also be building a small house for one of the widows up in Chiminisijuan whose house is falling down. It should be a fun week! Four days after they leave, we will close down the clinics and leave for Houston to celebrate the wedding of Hannah and Matt. We will continue food distribution during the time that we are gone but will not operate the clinics. It is challenging to make sure that all those folks who get monthly help with their medications for diabetes, or hypertension or asthma have enough to continue their treatments during that time when we are gone.

We will be at home in the Marine for a few weeks after the wedding (from September 2-23). We hope to see some of you during that time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This has been a busy two weeks with lots of visitors. We have also had lots of rain which is wonderful...but sometimes makes life a little more...challenging. Last week we had so much rain for so many days in a row that the main road out became impassable. On Tuesday there were lots of vehicles trying to get to Quiche and onto the City by way of the road to Zacualpa - the road that we use to get to Chiminisijuan. Anyone now who tries to get by with a two-wheel vehicle is doomed to hours of pushing their way through knee-deep mud...and slowing down the rest of the traffic. So it was on Tuesday as we attempted to get to clinic. We finally reached the path we can walk now (the road to the clinic is too muddy to drive) to get to clinic at about 10:30. After a brisk 30 minute walk we discovered that we were missing the key to the front door - so we had everyone enter through the window! People here are so accustomed to being flexible - they never even bat an eye, much less complained when we arrived 2 hours late and they then had to climb through the window!

The mud also makes flights in and out more challenging as the runway now is pretty slippery. We had planned a day out in San Pedro on Friday but by Wednesday night, the runway was so slick that Duane made the decision to cancel. On Thursday the sun began to shine a little in the afternoon and as we had not been able to reach the community leaders there, we decided to wait until morning to see if we could get out. Dawn on Friday morning proved to be beautiful and sunny, so Duane flew out to see how the runway was in San Pedro. He came back smiling and said it was a "go". So we packed up and flew out, saw about 125 people with the help of Dr. Lisa and her husband Brad, Heather and LeAnn who are all three in medical school. We treated lots of sick children and about 35 pregnant women. As soon as we got back home to Canilla, it clouded up and was raining again during the night. God's faithfulness to us, as always, is so much bigger than we can ever anticipate! Even when circumstances seem to scream that it is impossible, God seem to make a way. I pray today that you will see God's faithfulness even when it seems that the road is closed, that there is no way out. "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." Psalm 31:24.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We have visas!!! Thanks so much for all your prayers and support!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Juan and his family live in a three sided one room house made of sticks and aluminum sheeting that someone gave them. They have 4 sons ranging in age from 3 - 15 all whom appeared malnourished. We went to see them last week when we were told that they had no food. It was true. We found mom sick in bed with a fever, along with her 3 year old son who was sicker than she was. There was a campfire going with a small pot of corn cooking for tortillas to be prepared later - but that was it. We have had lots of rain in the last few weeks (thankfully) but there was nothing to keep them dry. They had a long story about how they arrived at this property, no money, no work. It is a familiar story. And the dilemma is the do you help someone help themselves - how do you teach them to fish instead of just giving them fish. It is a conversation that we have had around our dinner table a thousand times. Of course, we help with the immediate need of food and medicine but how can we help all of the Juans in this area for more than just a few weeks? How can we help them to help themselves? We don't have any good answers but we pray for Divine wisdom. And we pray that somehow He would be glorified, not just in our words to Juan and his family, but in the acts of kindness and service...that the Lord would be lifted up and honored. Because we know that when His name is lifted up, that men are drawn to Him. And that is the greatest need - but difficult to see when your belly is empty.

We ask for your prayers today as we go to the US Embassy. We have one final step before we can make our trip to Houston for Hannah's wedding and our time in the US. Grace and Abi need visas before they can travel outside of Guatemala. So we are praying for favor...that the US Embassy will not view our little girls as a "national threat."

Rachel is in Kentucky this week at the national "Life 2010" conference for young people. She left last week and will spend two weeks with our friend Adrienne who very generously arranged this trip for her. It is not an easy transition for our children to go from life here to American culture. They don't seem to "fit" anywhere (nor do we!) - not in the culture here or in the US. So before Rachel goes off to college, we are hoping to expose her a little to a country that she knows very little of...she has been here since she was 3. Thankfully, she is having a great time and we are grateful for this opportunity for her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I spent a wonderful weekend in Houston with Hannah and Matt. It was great to get to know Matt a little bit more and to help Hannah with wedding plans. They will have a very simple wedding celebration in Houston at the end of August. Matt works as the worship leader at a large Methodist church in the Woodlands (an afluent area close to Houston). The church is enormous and beautiful, and it is there where Hannah and Matt will be married.

I came home Monday afternoon and got ready for clinic the next day in Chiminisijuan. It has been raining quite a bit and there was a new mudslide covering the road to the clinic so we walked through the mud to get there. Each week as the men share the Word with those who are waiting, we sit and (while we listen) we try to assess those with the most need. Sometimes it is a child who is having difficulty breathing, sometimes it is a little one with the sunken eyes of dehydration. Tuesday it was a very thin mom leaning against a tree with her obviously malnourished baby. She waited quietly in the line with those receiving food and milk and when it was her turn she stated only that she had very little milk to give her baby. When I asked her what she and her 5 other children had eaten that day, she told me they had had only herbs that they had gathered. I know from the experience of questioning many women that if they did not eat tortillas, then there was no other food in the house. Many times people will say that they had only salt to put on their tortilla and I will know that they are in distress but this family did not even have a little bit of corn to make tortillas with. So we loaded her up with food and vitamins and talked to her about the Lord. She is a Christian but her husband is an alcoholic who remains drunk for weeks at a time. She was so quiet and heart broke for her.

There were several others asking for food as well that day. It is always difficult to make the transition from US culture to the culture here. The contrast from life in the Woodlands to life in Chiminisijuan is...overwhelming. Most of the time I find that I prefer the simplicity of the lives here that are not complicated with things and the striving that comes from that lifestyle. However, when people are hungry...the injustice saddens me. I am not saying that in any sort of judgment. When I look at our home and the accumulation of stuff, I am ashamed and convicted. Jesus said to the rich young ruler, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." (Luke 18:22) to go - I have some things to sell.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I did not write last week. It was a challenging and frustrating which we lovingly call "a Guatemala hug" week. We spent 3 days (plus the two from the week before) in the City, with both of the girls, waiting on paperwork for their passports. Grace and especially Abi are not very patient waiters and it was more than a little challenging to keep them occupied all those long hours. But it was worth it Friday evening at 5:15 (the office closed at 5) with two Guatemalan passports for both of the girls. Now...on to the next challenge...visas for two.

At the same time while we were waiting, David, Juan and Joseph traveled to the coast to buy our first load of corn in bulk. They transported pounds of corn plus pounds of sheet metal for a project in the Home in the tractor trailer that was recently brought down. It took them 20 hours to return home - with a short nap on top of the corn. Here is a picture of the boys putting the finishing touches on the grain bin just before the corn arrived.

And from out of somewhere...I really have no idea where...a profecy spoken over us probably 8 years ago found it's way to my desk today. I had forgotten all about it but it was given to us while we were still working in the orphanage by Angie, a long time friend who we have not seen for many years. She wrote, "Give to Me the rice and the grain in which I have placed in your path and watch the grain bins double. You are not caught by your imaginations but by your beliefs. That is what will strengthen you in the rough times...." The amazing thing is that that is exactly what we have...two grain bins stacked on top of one another. And we have felt, in the the last few months that we were caught in our think that we would be able to afford to continue this project. Our beliefs though, say that it is the right thing to feed the poor and the widows. And so we press on....
I leave in the morning for a three day trip to help Hannah with wedding preparations. With the wedding only a few weeks away, we have lots to do. And it will be so much fun!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

I am sure that most of you have heard by now about tropical storm Agatha which poured down 10-15 inches of rain over about a 36 hours period of time this weekend. Once again, the country is in a state of crisis as over 152 people have died and many thousands are homeless. Mudslides have closed countless roads and many bridges have been destroyed. Here in our area, two families lost their homes but fortunately no one died. I was a little concerned about those up in Chiminisijuan who live in very poor housing on the side of mountains. When we went this morning we found the road completely closed with two large mudslides (so we walked) but life was as it always is there.

One of the many things that I love about the Guatemalan people is their acceptance of circumstances beyond their control. I have heard almost no one complain about delayed schedules or lack of supplies because of impassable roads. I will never forget one occasion up in Chiminisijuan when is was so cold and raining. The people walked to clinic in the rain and many were soaked to the bone, the children shivering with the cold, some without shoes or coats. I was whining about how cold I was to one man who told me very kindly, "but my sister, the rain is a blessing of God." I felt thoroughly rebuked! But I have remembered it. Life is so hard here and yet it is taken with gratitude. There is no insurance company to call to fix the leaky roof or replace the crops that have washed away. There are not even washing machines to wash all the muddy clothes. And yet life continues...without complaint.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

We are celebrating here in Canilla, the completion of Abi's adoption! Last Friday we were finally given her birth certificate with her official name - Abigail Esperanza Ficker Ficker. In keeping with the Latin culture custom of taking both the father's and mother's last name, she is Abi Ficker if one Ficker were not enough! Now we start the next process of getting visa's and passports for both of the girls so that they can travel with us. We hope to be able to take a few weeks after Hannah's wedding to be at "home." It has been over 5 years since we have had time as a family, in the US.

Duane broke down last week and made a larger table for our dining room. It is one of my most challenging tasks each day to figure out how many will be at our table for lunch. Today it will be 18. Our good friends Oralia and Sebastian together with newly arrived missionaries, Vicki and Norm will be with us today from the orphanage in San Andres. When I think back on my "other life" in the US, I remember how stressed out I became if I had to cook for more than my family. Now I love hosting guests and sharing our table with friends. How God has changed me! Here in this culture, it is an honor to have visitors - announced or unannounced. So 18 may grow to 25... but relationship is so important here, so much more important than work accomplished.
Clinics have been really busy with lots of sick children. In Chiminisijuan especially we have had so many kids with pneumonia. They are so sick and need to be in the hospital but almost none will go. It is times like these, when we feel so inadequate with what we have to offer, that we learn to lean into God; when we begin to understand that all of our most valiant efforts amount to nothing if God doesn't show up; that only God can heal. So we do all that we can physically and then we pray, trusting ultimately in the power of God. "And He has said to me, "my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9. May His grace be sufficient for you today!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I have known Manuela for many years and I have never seen her smile. She has 11 children and a husband who is an alcoholic. She takes good care of her children - they are always clean and well groomed. But more than that, she fights for them to the point that, honestly, she has always irritated me. When she comes, her list of complaints and requests is seemingly unending. She asks for food and corn and medical help...and still she never smiles. About a month ago, I asked her how her heart was, if she was sad. And she began to cry and tell me about her husband who is drunk almost all of the time, how he beats her and throws the little children (the older ones run away as soon as he comes in). She told me how he threatens to kill her and to eat her flesh, how he gets on his knees and prays that God will kill her. We talked with her for a long time about the Lord, about how He sees the injustice of her life, how He knows and understands the pain in her heart. We told her to pray for this man who torments her - not to pray that the Lord would strike him dead, but to pray that the Lord would bless him and set him free from the alcoholism that is destroying both he and his family.

The next week she was back and we prayed with her again. She came again the following week, this time asking for prayer. This week she came again, now asking for us to pray with her for salvation...and I actually saw her smile for the first time. I don't know when the Lord will change her circumstances. But I know that He has changed her heart. I know that she has hope now in a place where there was none - hope in a God who loves her enough to lay down His life for her. Pray for her when you think of her - and pray for her husband. Pray that his eyes will be opened to see that which his heart is longing for.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our friend Arlen joined us this last week to help in the clinics. We have known Arlen for many years and he always brings us encouragement and perspective. Times of worship are sweet and refreshing. He also comes to work so we planned a trip out to San Pedro when we learned that he was coming. Thursday, it was too cloudy to fly out early in the morning. So we waited until about 11 to cancel and reschedule for another day. 30 Minutes later they called from San Pedro to say that many people had arrived from the Coban area – a 4-5 hour walk. They asked us to just come and see those folks who had walked so far. So of course, we got into the plane and went out. We thought we would be able to finish quickly but more and more people trickled in and we (just three of us) saw over 120 people. It was incredibly hot and humid and we were completely exhausted when we returned home…just 5 minutes before the rains started here in Canilla.

Sunday’s clinic was very busy with many sick children. We have been seeing lots o
f children with pneumonia recently and they are so sick and often need to be in the hospital. Most of the time, they will not go so we pray and give what little help we can. As we ended the day, little Pedro came in. He is 15 months old and weighs just 7 pounds. I have never seen a baby so malnourished. He has, I think, Down’s Syndrome and cannot sit or roll over. He mom was gentle and quiet but did not seem overly concerned…just with the fact that his belly was so big. Pray for him when you can.

Monday we h
ad the honor of joining with our friend Victor (who has the Drug and Alcohol Rehab center in Quiche) in a celebration of gratitude to God for the purchase of property where the new center will be built. We have known Victor for many years and a little over a year ago he began a ministry that God placed on his heart. He takes men literally off of the street, men who have no homes, men whom no one else cares about and takes them into the Center, helps them physically through detoxification and then gives them a Home. He shares the Gospel with them and becomes their “family.” We have watched God supply all that he needs to care for these men in miraculous ways and have helped in small ways as we can. And we have seen men’s lives changed. We are honored to be a very small part of what God is doing in these men’s lives.

And finally, on a personal note, our daughter Hannah announced this week her engagement to Matt Brouwer! She and Matt have been friends for several years and dating for several months now. Matt is a very talented musician and has a heart after God’s. We are pleased to know that he will be an official member of our family!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

" Whenever you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." Isaiah 43:2,3.

We are so grateful to the LORD our God, who kept and protected David. Duane and I have agreed that seeing David lying unconscious, with his motorcycle on top of him, was probably one of the worst moments in all of our years as parents. And traveling to the City in the dark, trying to keep David from slipping back into unconsciousness, holding him as he vomited over and over again (a "danger"sign after a head injury) was one of the most frightening moments of my life. I knew that the emergency room staff was very concerned as well. But once again, God was faithful and so very good to us! David is completely back to normal.

Friday Duane and I were invited to attend a retreat with a group of pastors from Esquintla. Pastor Phil came, working with fellow missionaries, Don and Barb Castelbaum, and spoke to a group of about 50 about being a father to the church. It was excellent and really good to get to know Don and Barb. We flew back in to Canilla early Saturday morning for a very busy day of clinic. Duane flew back into the City with a woman who we think was having a heart attack. We spent many hours ministering physically and spiritually to a woman from one of the villages. She lost her husband 8 months ago when he took "veneno" (rat poisoning) and killed himself. It is fairly common here...for men here to commit suicide in this way. He left her with 4 young children and no way to feed them. She weighed about 70 pounds and unless God intervenes, those children will lose their mother as well. Please pray that she not only recovers physically but accepts the salvation that Jesus offers as well.

Sunday we were greeted by the one hundred people who had come for clinic the week before (when we were in the hospital with David). They all had their numbers and then those who came for a normal day of clinic as well. So we saw probably close to 150 people. I was thankful for the help of Jason (a visiting nurse practitioner) and Sally. She and her husband have come to live and work alongside of us for an indefinite period of time. They have been a huge blessing to us! And of course, I am so thankful to have Katie back. I realized during her time off after the birth of Anna, how much I have learned to depend on her. And I have learned as well the truth in the scripture that says that God will not send us more than we can endure. We were able to see all of those people and we hope that no one left without feeling better...whether from the medicine that they received or the prayers spoken over them.

We will fly out to San Pedro on Thursday for a day of clinic. It is so hot here, I cannot imagine how hot it will be there but weather permiting, we will go. One of the local volcanos has erupted a large cloud of dust and may make it impossible to fly for a while. Please pray, once again, that eyes will be opened to see the love of Jesus.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

home safe and sound

again, thanks to everyone for all their prayers... david was released from the hospital today at 1:00 with a complete recovery of his memory and all four arrived safely home at around 3:00 . again, we find all we can do is thank our Father for His constant grace and mercy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


if you read the post below, thank you for your prayers, and here is a follow up. everyone made it to the hospital in the city safely, and it looks like david has a concussion, a broken nose, and some bruises from the fall... his memory seems to be improving, but we are still praying for a full recovery. the doctors say that everything looks okay, but they would like to keep him overnight and all day tomorrow to monitor him. thank you so much for your prayers.

please pray

i am writing this on saturday night... coming up from the river about 1 hour ago, david fell on his bike and hit his head on some rocks. he does not look like he broke anything (other than maybe his nose) and he is currently conscious, although he does not remember anything. we are guessing that at the least he is suffering from a concussion. duane, leslie, david and joe all flew into guatemala city to a hospital there and are in the air right now. we ask for your prayers right now... for safety during the flight, david's safety and health, and peace and clarity of mind for duane and leslie. thank you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grace in all things...

One of the things I learned long ago, working as a nurse in the pediatric ICU, is that it is easy to build walls around your heart...walls of protection against the pain of watching children and parents suffer. But I also learned that once those walls are there, you become hardened to the suffering and you can no longer feel the compassion of God - either flowing to you or through you to others. I remember the days of asking God to make my heart soft again, to make me compassionate again. And He did.

It is a temptation once again, to build those walls, as I spend yet another sleepless night, remembering the faces and conversations that I have had in the last few weeks with people who are desperate. They are desperate because they are running out of food, and there is no work and no rain. Food prices are soaring as corn becomes more scarce. So they come asking, many times begging for food. Now, I know that some needs are not really legitimate...but many others are - and how do I know? And how do I tell people about a God who loves and cares for them and then say "no, I can't help you." So "I earnestly ask for your prayers..." (Psalm 38:22). Pray that our hearts remain soft, that we have discernment to judge rightly the need, that we manage the resources that we are given wisely, and that we can effectively share the love of God.

Not everything has been difficult. The arrival of our son Ryan, his wife Katie and our two grandsons has brought us much joy. How blessed we are to have all three of our grandchildren so close! One of my favorite quotes is from a man named Graham Cooke. He talks a lot about the kindness of God to us each day - but that we have to look for that kindness. He says, "God always gives us grace - some days it is grace to enjoy, other days it is grace to endure." How true....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6.

Craig announced last week that he will be leaving by the end of the month. After much prayer, he feels that this is what God is calling him to do. For the last year, Craig has lived with us and has become like one of our sons. He helps me in the clinic in so many ways, evangelizing, praying for people, leading us in worship and prayer before each clinic day, organizing and managing the corn project, helping with all of the nutrition children, helping in so many ways each day. I have to admit that when he said that he was leaving, I was very sad. My biggest enemy is self-pity and I was wallowing in it last week! The thought of facing over 1,000 patients each month without Craig's help was...and still is, overwhelming.

We do not recruit people to come here but choose to trust that the Spirit of God will draw those that He chooses to come. It is much the same with our financial need. We almost never ask for money, but trust that God will supply for the need by touching hearts to give. There are so many times when we (well, mostly me) want to jump in and take over when it seems that God is slow to answer. But trusting in the Creator of the Universe has always proved to be the best path to follow. And so we trust now, that God will provide someone to fill the gap that Craig will leave. We trust as well, that God will bless Craig in this new direction that he is heading in. Pray for him - and for us - as we walk through these changes.

We will say good-by to the Allison's tomorrow as well. They have been here for the last three weeks helping in so many ways. Don has filled in in the clinic in Katie's absence, Lori has organized our bookwork, and their children have played with ours. They planned their trip many months ago, not knowing when our need in the clinic would be the greatest. But as always, God is faithful to provide exactly what we need, in exactly the right timing. He is so good...always!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yesterday was our "Sabbath" and as always, it was wonderful to rest and spend time with our family and the Lord. This has been a difficult week for a lot of reasons...but as we set this time apart to pray and reflect on the goodness of the Lord, we find refreshment and strength to start again this week.

Yesterday morning two nurses from the Puesto de Salud (the government clinic here in town) knocked at our gate asking for help with twins that were born early Tuesday morning up in one of the villages. We have been helping them prenatally and with milk for the one year old sister. It seems that mom gave birth in the morning but the placenta did not descend afterward and 12 hours later she died. Her husband is away working on the coast leaving grandma to care for all their children and now these twin babies who seem amazingly, very healthy. It is hard to believe that they did not seek help when mom was hemorrhaging but there is no 911 here and I am sure the grandma had no way of calling for someone to help, nor the means to pay for a rented car to come down to Canilla where someone could have helped them. Senseless...

Then in the afternoon, we received a call from our friend Victor who runs the drug and alcohol rehab center in Quiche. One of the young men who lived there for almost a year...a young man who had recovered from alcohol addiction and whose diabetes had come under control, who had accepted Jesus as his Savior and who had begun to live and work and recuperate...was dead. He started drinking again a week ago and although Victor had chased him down and pleaded with him to return on two different occasions, he did not. He said he didn't want to live. They found him dead on the street yesterday and the autopsy showed that he died of intoxication. Senseless...

Sunday in clinic Armondo and I spent over an hour talking with a woman who has 11 children and is beaten almost daily by her husband. I have known her for several years and never seen her smile. By law here in Guatemala, if she leaves, she will loose the right to her home and she will be destined to live on the street with her 11 children. So she continues to live with the fear that this man may kill her or one of her children. Senseless...

I could go on and on telling stories of the suffering and pain that we are faced with every single day. The weak words of encouragement and the little bit of food or medicine that we offer seem so inadequate in the face of such huge need. But prayers offered up to the Creator of the Universe, to the only One who can bring this we trust that true change can come. In Him we trust that hearts can be healed and pain be relieved...because we know and we rest in the fact that God is a righteous judge who sees and understands. And as I laid all of these - and other situations before the Lord in prayer, I could almost hear Him say, "Be still...and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) We trust that somehow out of all of these "senseless" situations, that He will be exalted, that He will change "mourning into dancing."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

We leave in a few minutes for San Pedro (out in the Zona Reina). We are waiting for the call to say that it is safe to land there. We have not been out to San Pedro since the end of December to do a day of clinic. But we have been out several times for emergencies. One little boy who was shot in the head while at school, another who fell off a horse and was unconscious several hours later, another two day old baby who needed emergency surgery. At times like these we are so grateful to have the airplane and the ability to get out to these areas to help. And at the same time we become so frustrated with the lack of help once the children get to the hospital. The little boy with the gun shot wound was left waiting in the ICU in Xela because the CT scan was "broken down". But at least now they have a CT scan...that works sometimes.

I have postponed our clinic day in San Pedro until today because I have been a little short of help with Katie recuperating from the birth of Anna. Thankfully, Don Allison is here to help me shoulder some of the responsibility that I feel. I have several others who will come to help as well...Craig, Sally and Armondo. As I was praying this morning, I remembered what my friend Bonnie always said to me, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He calls." I am feeling pretty inadequate this morning but trusting that He will give to us all that we will need today.

More when we return....

Friday evening... We had a great day in San Pedro. We made it in even though it was pretty cloudy and drizzly all day. Duane is so familiar now with the area that it was "no problem" as he said. It was cloudy all day so it was cool that I never took my sweater off! Normally you start to sweat the moment you step out of the plane. We saw around 100 people - lots of sick children with pneumonia and ear infections. We did one house visit to a young woman who could not get out of bed. She had been told by the traveling medicine salesman that she had an incurable disease and that she would die soon. She was afraid and started to cry when we talked to her about Jesus. Amazingly, her husband told us about his recurring dreams where the Lord was calling him to "come to Him." So they accepted the Lord and we are believing that she will begin to recuperate quickly. That made out entire trip worth it!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Praise God for the safe arrival of Joshua and Anna!

I went back to Illinois last Monday to help Ryan and Katie during the planned induction of Joshua. It turned out to be a very easy, (much easier than the first!) gentle birth. Joshua weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and seems to be a very peaceful little baby. His older brother Jacob is already protective and very much the "big brother" who became very upset when the nurses carried Joshua off to the nursery. Katie came home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening I recieved a call from Katie Shaw...who was in labor in Guatemala. So early the next morning I left Marine hoping to make it home in time to help her in whatever way I could. Duane and Aaron flew her into the City early Thursday morning, barely making into the birthing center in time for Anna's arrival. 13 Minutes and 5 pushes later she was born - also a very easy delivery for a first time mom! By God's grace, both Katies and both babies are healthy and strong and most definitely beautiful! Two grandchildren in two my sister said, "my cup overflows!"
Without Katie's help in the clinics for the next several weeks, I have been concerned about how I would care for everyone...but as always, God is faithful to supply for every need. Dr. Heidi "just happened" to be here for the week doing surgeries in Chichicastenengo and finished a day early so she came out here to Canilla to greet baby Anna. Saturday morning, before Duane flew her into the City for her return flight to the US, she helped me finish care for all the pregnant women. About 15 minutes after she left, we had a small team of medical students and Dr. Richard arrive to help finish the day and they stayed to help me yesterday in San Andres where we saw about 120 patients. Don and Lori Allison arrive on Thursday with their family. They will be here for the next few weeks to help in clinics as well. God is so good and His faithfulness to supply for all of our needs never ceases to amaze me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I feel like I am in a "holding pattern" - a term that I am familiar with, being married to a pilot for many years. I am circling, waiting...for many things to fall into place. Both of our daughter in laws are pregnant and due any second - one here in Guatemala, the other in the US. I want to be there for both births, knowing that to do that, I will need a miracle from God. But beyond that immediate waiting, I sense that there is more.

Early Saturday morning we recieved a call from a health care worker in San Marcos, out in the Zona Reina. He had a mom in labor who needed to get to the hospital right away. So Duane and I rushed to get out there as quickly as possible, only to find on our arrival, that the baby had died. She was born breech ( feet first). That is the second call that we have had from that village in the last few weeks for a complicated birth. None of the women there recieve prenatal care. I am frustrated by that - knowing that we could provide it - but knowing as well that I cannot take on much more responsibilty without more help. And so we that holding pattern...trusting that God's timing is perfect.

We have several construction projects going, in the anticipation of many folks who are coming this year. We are adding a room onto the clinic, and re-modeling another here in the house. Most of those who are coming are not medically oriented but we have learned that when God has a plan, He begins to move people around like puzzle peices. We don't know what His puzzle will ultimately look like but we are confident that it will be beautiful...and so we wait.

In this season of waiting, the Lord has led me several times to Psalm 23. If you are like me, waiting is frustrating and difficult. But I find great comfort in knowing that He is my Shepherd and that I lack...nothing. And when I let Him, He leads me to grassy pastures and beside quiet waters where my spirit is restored. I find that in those times, I can wait patiently, trusting that He has all things in His hand.

Here is a small family update:
Grace will be 5 tomorrow. We are still waiting for her final name change (at the moment she is "Grace Ficker Ficker" from the Latin tradition of taking both the mother and the father's last names. (One Ficker is bad enough!). Abi's adoption has finally made is through the national process and we are waiting for approval from our local judge.

Hannah will start work today at MD Anderson. We enjoyed getting to know Matt a little better during his brief visit. Rachel is working now as well, teaching an English class to a small group of bi-lingual secretary students at the local high school. She is younger than most of her students! Aaron, David, and Joseph remain busy repairing vehicles...from airplanes to motorcycles...some our own and some for others here in the community. They, along with Craig, have quite a ministry going to a group of young men here in this community who need to experience the love of Jesus.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

2010 has come in with a flurry of activities that have kept us on the run. The first week found Duane and Craig in the US at our home church (Destiny) for a missionary conference. They, along with Ryan and Katie, met lots of new friends and were refreshed. They returned home with a renewed vision and energy. Thank you Destiny Church!

The day after Duane and Craig returned, I left to go home for a few days to be with my Uncle Tom (who was like my grandfather) as he went home to be with the Lord. He was 94 and his death was peaceful. My family is small, my parents have both died, so it was good to be with my 2 sisters...even under the difficult circumstances. And to spend a few days with our grandson was wonderful!

As I returned to Guatemala, I was accompanied by our friend Bob Gay and later in the day by Pastor Phil and Kent Henry. Our pastor comes each year to encourage us and this year was no exception. Kent ministered especially to our children in times of sweet worship. It was wonderful and just what we needed to start the New Year off right.

Clinics have been busy but easier with the help of Hannah who has been here since Christmas. She passed her Physician Assistant Boards in December and is waiting for all of her license paperwork to be completed before she starts working at M.D. Anderson as part of a surgical oncology team. We are very proud of her accomplishment and grateful to the Lord for keeping her during that long and difficult process.

This year will hold many changes here with the birth of our two grandchildren in February. Katie Shaw (Aaron's wife) will give birth to Catherine Anna and Katie Ann (Ryan's wife) will have a baby boy - whom they have not yet named. And the best news is that Ryan and Katie will be joining us here in Guatemala in April for a 6 month visit which will hopefully extend to a permanent move. How good is God who has blessed us with the privilege of watching our grandchildren grow up near us! It is an answer to many years of prayer for me and I am so very grateful. We see this coming year as one of change in which we see the Lord expanding our "tent pegs" in many ways and we are excited as we wait upon Him. For we know that "those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31. And that is our prayer for you in this new year...that as you wait upon Him, that your strength would be renewed to persevere in that to which He has called you.