Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grace....Webster's dictionary defines it as "unmerited divine assistance." Grace was what I experienced last week as we hosted the largest team in our short history. Joyce Meyer's ministry sends medical teams all over the world and when they first approached us, we said "no." They send large teams into heavily populated areas of great need...and they do an amazing work. They typically stay in hotels and eat in restaurants but there are none of those least not to their standards. When they agreed to cut their team in half, we agreed to host them. They all arrived on Saturday - a wonderful, Godly group of people from all over the US and even Victoria who came from the United Kingdom. It was awesome to hear their stories of trips from all over the world.

Because virtually all of the villages that we planned to visit speak Quiche and very little Spanish, we needed not only English to Spanish translators but also Spanish to Quiche translators as there are very few people who can translate from Quiche to English. So we traveled with a group of over 35 each day....slightly overwhelming logistics - for me anyway. We went to three different villages in five days, treated around 1200 people, planted seeds of the Gospel in each heart and prayed for most.

On Thursday Little Ethan Aaron (Katie and Aaron's second child) made his entrance into the world. Duane and I flew them into the City early in the morning for the birth. Our daughters, Hannah and Rachel, stepped in to prepare and serve breakfast and get the team up to Cruz Chich. Thanks to God's grace, Ethan was born without problems and we were all home in the afternoon, just in time to get dinner ready for the team.

Even as I write, I am overwhelmed by God's grace to us. There was not a moment when we did not feel this completely "unmerited divine assistance." Our prayer is that each one who was touched last week - whether team member or patient - felt a touch from God and was changed in some way by His power and love. Because that's what it's all about.....

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rosa came to clinic at the end of the day last week. She was obviously pregnant and obviously trying to hide it, waiting until everyone left for the day. She is sixteen and the oldest of 7 children. Her father died several years ago leaving her mother to care for the family alone. Rosa, being the oldest, was sent to Guatemala City many months ago where she worked 15 - 16 hours a day, making tortillas. She met a young man who promised to marry her and care for not just her, but her family as well. And as so often happens, she was left pregnant with all the promises of security broken. So she came, asking us to hide her until her baby is born and then asking us to keep the baby.

Yesterday, she returned with her mother who we immediately recognized as one of the widows that we have helped with food over the course of many years. She is a sweet and humble woman who rarely asks for help. As we sat down to talk with her, she began to weep into her apron, her heart broken for all that had happened to her daughter. And although she did not express it, I knew as a mom, that much of her grief was guilt - guilt for having to put her daughter in the position of fending for this family. Even though our circumstances are very different our hearts as mothers are the same - wanting only good things for our children. We will, of course, help them in every way that we can.

I often ask God about this - why was I born in such different circumstances...why was I born in a country of opportunity? Why was I born to parents who could afford to give me a good education? Why have I never known hunger? Why have I been blessed with such a good marriage and children who love God? And as always, in my mind, I hear a voice saying, "To whom much is given, much is required." Last night as we worshiped together as a family with our son-in-law Matt, he played one of my favorite songs...this is the chorus -

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring
To so faithful a friend, to so loving a King?
Savior, what can be said, what can be sung
As a praise of Your name
For the things You have done?
Oh my words could not tell, not even in part
Of the debt of love that is owed
By this thankful heart (I will offer up my life - Matt Redman)

I pray you have a very blessed Thanksgiving day tomorrow. And as you remember all that you are blessed with, that you too will ask, "What can I bring to so faithful a friend?"

Friday, November 4, 2011

This is my friend Cidiaca. I have known her for many years as we have helped her with her diabetic medications. We have a few people that we help with insulin and she is one of them - so I see her every two weeks when we check her blood sugars and fill up her insulin syringes for the next weeks. She accepted Jesus as her Savior several years ago. Her life is bleak - she and her children often do not have enough food. Her husband is uncaring. But the Lord has blessed her with physical healing. Last year she came in and on both of her feet, her toes were black and necrotic. I knew that she would probably need to have both of her feet amputated if the Lord did not move. So we bought her some shoes, taught her how to care for her feet and we prayed! Gradually over several weeks, the necrosis disappeared and her toes returned to their normal pink color. It was truly a miracle!

About 6 months ago, after she left our clinic on a Sunday morning, she fell when some young people shoved her in the market. We ran up to the market to find the ambulance carrying her away. They told us that she had fractured her leg. I did not see her for a couple of months though her pastor came by to let me know that she was still in the hospital. One day a couple of months later, the ambulance pulled up in front of the clinic and there she was. They sent her home with her fracture unhealed - the surgeons unwilling to operate because of her diabetes. She was unable to even sit up. So Armando and I began to go out to her home and check on her. The first time that we went, we found her lying down on a straw mat, still unable to sit and barely able to turn from side to side. She gave me her x-ray which showed that the neck of her femur was in what looked like a thousand pieces. As we knelt on the ground to pray for her I noticed that her right leg was at least two inches shorter than the other. We left her that day promising to see if we couldn't find someone who would help her. During that week we made lots of phone calls and finally found a surgeon who was willing to help her...out in the Peten. So we returned to her home to give her this news and there she was up and walking! She told us that after we had prayed for her, she slept that night without any pain for the first time since her fall. The most amazing part was that her legs were the same size! I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical - which I guess comes from working in medicine for too many years. But this was undeniably a miracle...and we are all praising the Lord for His power and for His grace and kindness to this woman who has no where else to turn but to a faithful God!

And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always
having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

We talked with Cidica recently, encouraging her to ask God what it is that He has for her to do now...begining with testifying about His great love and power to those who believe! She just smiled...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 19th and it is still raining...alot. Usually the rains stop at the end of September but this year, thanks to a couple of tropical storms, the rains have continued. The Guatemalans, specifically those in Chiminisijuan where it gets pretty cold when it rains, have taught me to be grateful for the matter how much mud there is or how cold and wet one might be. I have never heard anyone complain here about rain. It is however, making life a little more challenging. 2 out of the the 3 roads out of Canilla are now completely closed and the third - which is usually a 21/2 hour drive to pavement - is now a 5-6 hour drive. The road that we take to get to our clinic in Chiminisijuan lost a bridge so that is only passable with the four wheeler. So for the last few weeks Duane has driven Armondo and I up on the 4 wheeler. Katie, now in her 35th week of pregnancy is not able to make that ride. So I have worked that clinic by myself - making for really long days. We Fickers, however...particularly the men .... like challenges, especially if it involves mud and vehicles! We have a clinic scheduled for Friday up in Cruz Chich where the road has been closed with a pretty significant mudslide. I am hoping that David will help us get through that with the help of the backhoe!
Here are a few pictures...
Sunday the cleft lip/palate team arrives at the hospital in Quiche from Texas. We have 8 children from our area who will have surgeries. Please be in prayer for good experiences and outcomes for each one. A portion of that team will also come to San Andres on Monday and Tuesday to do dental work. This group came last year and were a tremendous blessing as they not only pulled rotten teeth but filled and repaired - and even did a few root canals. There is a huge need for them here and we are grateful for their willingness to wade through the mud to get here!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September has proven to be a month of change....not my favorite thing.

We said goodbye to Dr. Sherwood and his wife Areli this month. Dr. Sherwood came faithfully every week for two years to help in our clinic here in Canilla. He is currently in Mexico with Areli's family but will return to the US in December. You can follow them at In his place, Dra. Lindsy has come. She recently graduated from medical school here in Guatemala. She is gentle and very kind and we are grateful for her help each week. Her husband Paul will join her when he graduates as well in January.

Our son Ryan, his wife Katie and our two grandsons Jacob and Joshua left as well this month. They have returned to Illinois and are seeking God's plan for their future. They have left a huge hole not just in the ministry but mostly in my heart. Pray for them if you think of it. Waiting on God is not easy...

Katie Shaw (our son Aaron's wife) is starting her eighth month of pregnancy. Little Ethan will arrive late in November. Please pray for a safe and easy delivery...not in the plane this time as is what nearly happened with Anna! I try not to think too much about clinics without her help. I have e learned that God, in his great faithfulness, always supplies all that we need, just at the time when we need it.

Guatemala passed through the first phase of presidential election this month as well. The second phase will be in November. We had several municipal buildings burned in our area as voters expressed their discontentment with results. Fortunately we had no least not in our local area. Living as foreigners, in a country where violence is so close to the surface, is a little nerve wracking at times...especially in election times.

As changing circumstances swirl all around me, and I stress about the future, I find myself looking more and more to the Rock of my salvation. He alone is that safe and secure place where I can find rest for my soul, and my emotions. All else is "shifting sand"....

Psalm 62:2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation: he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Last week, I wrote about little Paula who the Lord supernaturally healed. This week I want to tell you about Alex. I got to know 11 year old Alex and his parents several years ago. They moved from Guatemala City because of Alex's asthma. They felt that the air was purer here. We helped him with his medication and often he would come when he was having an especially difficult bout. Last Sunday he was at a birthday party with his friends when his asthma began to flair up again. He finally left the party to go home and use his nebulizer. But the power was out in town that day. His parents borrowed a truck to take him into the government clinic. But they didn't have power or a generator. So they tried to bring him here. This is an election year and last week there were endless parades and parties in the streets in an effort to gain favor with voters. Alex's parents tried to get through town (and Canilla is very small) but they could not. But the time he arrived, he was unconscious. Ryan and Joseph were the only ones at home. I was in clinic in San Andres so they called Duane who ran home as quickly as he could. They began oxygen and started the generator. By the time they started to nebulize him, he had stopped breathing. Duane tried to do CPR and was still working when I arrived many minutes later. I wish I could say that we prayed and the Lord supernaturally intervened. But He did not.

All week we asked ourselves why? What could we have done differently? We have all had sleepless nights. I would like to say that we have had a revelation that has helped us understand. All we know is that HE is sovereign - He knows the beginning from the end, He understands all of our human suffering. And we trust Him - even when circumstances are impossible to understand.

It has always been a dream of ours to open an acute care center - where we could have someone here 24 hours a day to provide care. As I was talking our children though all of this by phone on Sunday, Ryan kept saying with such anguish, "what else can we do Mom?" Unfortunately, for Alex, there was nothing else that we could do. We do not have a hospital, I am not a physician.We do not want it to happen again though. So we are once again asking the Lord to send all that we need to that - physical and financial help.

Show me your way, O Lord
Teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation;
On you I wait all the day.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for you.
Psalm 25;4,5,21

Friday, September 2, 2011


Clinics have been so busy in the last few weeks with little ones sick with pneumonia. I have no way of knowing for sure but I think it is RSV - a virus which causes severe illness in children under a year or children whose immune systems are compromised. Since it is a virus, antibiotics
do not work. Two Tuesdays ago in Chiminisijuan, we had 11 children from the same village who all had pneumonia and were so sick. We always ask mom's to take their little ones into the hospital knowing that, especially there, that they probably won't go. So we give them oral medications and pray for them and send them on their way. Rarely do we know what happens to them.

This Tuesday was no different. As Armando and Bob were praying with the people, I noticed a little girl who was breathing about 60 times a minute and appeared to not have enough strength to hold her head up. We brought her in right away and put on the oximeter (a little machine which reads out the oxygen level). Paula was reading in the 60's (normal is above 90). We asked her mom if we could take her into the hospital - but she would not go. Her husband died 7 months ago and Paula was the youngest of 6 other children. There was no one to care for the other children. I cannot explain the sense of helplessness that we felt as we watched this little one struggle to breathe. Kim (a visiting nurse practitioner) and I agreed that we would try to get some IV fluids going and give her the strongest antibiotic that I have through her veins. And we all started praying and didn't stop until she left. She was so weak that she didn't even cry when we started her IV. Over the course of about 2 hours, her oxygen levels gradually dropped down into the 40's. Kim and I agreed that it would be better for her to die at home than in the clinic. We gave mom a bag of food and drove her as far as we could with the 4-wheeler and said good-bye. Under normal conditions, there is no way that she should have lived. But today Tomas called with the, that she was "doing well"!!! Now we pray that her mother - who is not a believer - will understand what a miracle God has done!

I will sing about the LORD's faithful love forever;
With my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
For I will declare, "Faithful love is built up forever;
You establish Your faithfulness in the heavens." Psalm 89:1,2

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yesterday we made our monthly trip up to Cruz Chich. We were greeted by over 140 people...more than we have seen there and way more than Katie and I can usually care for by ourselves. But they were all there waiting so we dug in. We are getting to know many of the faces as people return each month. One gentleman who came 3 months ago for the first time, comes each month now. He initially came with what I thought was pneumonia or possibly lung cancer or both. He had been sick for some time and was wasted and febrile. I encouraged him to go to the hospital but he said that he would not and I was concerned that he would die within a few days. Armondo and I talked with him about Jesus and salvation but he was not too interested. He is a brujo (witchdoctor). So we gave him his medication and asked if we could pray for him. He agreed...poor thing, he felt so bad...any other time I am pretty sure that he would have refused. But we prayed that God would heal him, that he would understand the power of our God to heal and to love. I honestly was surprised to see him the next month but he was there smiling and healthy. He waited until the very end, watching all that was going on that day. I asked him if he realized that God had supernaturally intervened to heal him. He just smiled. Yesterday he was back...and again, waited until everyone left before he came in. Again, we talked about the Lord and His power to save. He just smiles but I know that he is thinking... I know that the Spirit of God is stirring him. So we pray, trusting that as we have planted and watered, that God will bring forth the harvest.

There is a lot of need in Cruz Chich - lots of folks with hypertension and diabetes. We continue to see mostly adults. I know that they do not trust us yet with their children. They are still testing us, waiting to see what we will do....waiting to see if we will snatch away their children to eat them or make soap out of them. I know that sounds so ludicrous but it is a common thought among the indigenous. It began during the war and has continued in these remote areas. Interestingly, it is the same rumor that the Nazis spread about the Jews before and during World War II. The enemy has no new tricks...just the same old lies. So we wait and continue to love and serve these people whom I have grown to love so much...trusting that God will open their eyes and their hearts to Himself.

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jeremiah is the nine month old son of our good friend Tomas. He has 8 older sisters and one brother who all adore him. He is not Tomas's natural son - he was "gifted" to them as they say here. Now, Tomas often does not have enough food in his house, but he has lots of love to give. And when this little baby was offered to him, he and his wife really prayed about it before they took him. He has thrived...and is spoiled rotten!

Tomas called last week and asked if he could bring Jeremiah in because he was sick. He arrived in record time (it is normally a three hour walk) and he was pretty sick with pneumonia. It was late in the evening so we put him on oxygen and decided to keep him here for the night...which means that I did not get much sleep. He was still sick in the morning and I told Tomas that we really needed to send him on to the hospital in Quiche. I am not qualified to care for children that sick without a physician's input. But Tomas has been around enough in the clinics to see God miraculously heal children on many occasions. So when I told him that he just looked at me and said, "No mi Hermana (my sister) I don't want to take him to the hospital. I feel peace with him here. I know he will get better care here than in the hospital." Now, I know that he did not say that because we can actually give better care - but that we will pray and love him. So, he stayed for three days. It is more than a little unnerving in the middle of the night watching him struggle to breath with his oxygen levels dropping. But Saturday afternoon, after 2 sleepless nights and countless prayers, we turned off the oxygen, watched him for a few hours and then sent him home. His parents cried tears of gratitude to our God who cares for and heals His little ones.
He is faithful!

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26

Monday, July 25, 2011

power in prayer

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them.
Psalm 145:18-19

Every Sunday in San Andres, we have women who come at the end of our day - when we are tired and ready to go home. We call them "the stragglers". I have learned that many times they are the ones who come for prayer. Yesterday, two women came who I remembered from some months ago. They had come asking for food. They told me similar stories of their lives married to men who drink too much and cannot care for their families. They told me about how there was no food in the house, about men who were angry and violent toward them and their children. We of course, gave them a small bag of food. But more importantly, we talked with them about a God who sees and hears the cry of His children, who had seen the injustice in their lives. As we prayed for them they both cried tears of anguish and pain. We promised to continue to pray for their husbands - that the Lord would open their eyes and soften their hearts to Jesus. I always write down the names of husbands or other family members and take them home to add to my prayer list. So yesterday when they came, they told us about how, since we prayed, their husbands had stopped drinking and how their homes had changed. They - along with another friend that they brought with them - expressed a desire to accept the Lord as their Savior. Their husbands however, had said that they could not until the men had (women are not allowed to anything here). But they asked that we write down all the names of their family members that we could continue to pray for them.

It is not uncommon for women to come and say that they want to have a relationship with Jesus but that their husbands will not let them. Indignation always rises within me when I hear that. But I have learned that this is how this culture is and to ask a woman to defy her husband only creates confusion. So we pray for a heart change in her husband and we encourage women to begin to pray themselves, for their husbands. Often, we have to clarify that to pray for her husband doesn't mean that she can pray that the Lord will stike her husband dead! So many times we have seen the Lord begin to move in the hearts of these men and as a result, entire families come to Jesus. He truly is "near to those who call upon Him..."

Friday, July 8, 2011

The rains have come and we are so grateful...but they do create some challenges. We have been without power off and on for almost a week. The roads are so muddy now that the buses have to use chains, and although they help for the moment, they pretty much destroy the road, which is precarious at best. But we are so thankful to see the green and to watch the corn beginning to grow. No matter how wet and cold one is, they always say the same..."it is a blessing from God!"

We have worked now for years to establish trust up in Chiminisijuan. So no matter how wet or muddy the roads are, we work as hard as we can to get there. Usually those times when we have to work the hardest, when it would be the easiest to just say, "lets not go today", those are the times when we really need to be there. No exception Tuesday. Both of our translators called to say that they would not be coming, our back-up translator was not available either. Finally Armando called back and said he would come...fever and all. We can drive to a point now, and then we walk, as the road down to the clinic is impassable when there is more than a little rain. Duane usually drives the 4 wheeler down with supplies, but he was unavailable so David agreed, but he planned to come later. We arrived late, with mud squishing between our toes, to find one of our ladies in active labor and about 2 months early. After some discussion, we realized that they would not take her into the we started her on some IV fluids, gave her some antibiotics for a possible urinary tract infection and PRAYED...hard. When we finished getting her situated we turned to another woman whom we know well. She had her 3 year old strapped to her back and began to tell us about how she had been burned. Little Berta had fallen into a pot of boiling water. As she uncovered her, Berta began to scream. Her momma had packed her wounds (which turned out to be severe burns over one fourth of her body - from the waist down) with some kind of grass and a little bit of burn cream that she had been given in the government clinic. The smell was overwhelming and it took me over half an hour to remove all of the grass. We dressed it as well as we could, started her on antibiotics and ibuprofen for pain....such a pathetic little bit for so much suffering. It seems however, that God takes the little bit that we have and multiplies it to make it more than enough...much like the loaves and fish. The woman in labor didn't have another pain after we prayed and snored her way through the rest of clinic as her IV fluids ran. And Joseph took me up the next day to see little Berta. The smell was better and although she will be in pain for some time to come, she was smiling a little when I left.

As always, I am so grateful for His graciousness to us!

"My grace is suffficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, June 26, 2011

These have been a couple of very busy weeks...beginning with the youth team from the Woodlands church in Houston. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to go out to several of the local schools with them. They taught a lesson on world cultures and how different we are but that ultimately we all have the same need for love...for a Savior. We have an open door with the local schools and still have the freedom to openly talk about Jesus which is a tremendous blessing. The youth left each school with a map of the world painted on the wall and various activities for the children to finish. Most people here have a very limited, very small view of the world...I guess because most do not have television nor computers. Even the teachers all said that this was new material for them - that they focus mainly on Guatemala. It was fun! And it is always fun to work with young people who have so much energy!

This week we did an additional clinic in Cruz Chich. This was our third trip out to this very large, very needy village. We had to limit our numbers to 100 and turned many away...which I do not like to do. In our past visits, we have mainly seen men - which I have learned is their way of "checking us out". When we talked with the community leaders a couple of weeks ago, I told them that we would really like to see their wives and children as well - that we would not steal away their children - which is a common belief here. I guess they believed me because we saw lots of children this time, and more women. Little Diego broke my heart. I knew his mom from previous visits to the clinic in Canilla. Diego had a high fever when he was a few months old and was left with brain damage. He could not sit or hold his head up at that time - which was several years ago. We helped her with milk and some very basic physical therapy. She had seven other children at that time and in the four years that have passed since then, she has had two other babies. Diego is five now and weighed 13 pounds on Friday. Mom gives him just two bottles of corn "atol" (corn meal, sugar and water) each day. He is starving - literally - to death. This is so often what happens to children like Diego who are unable to help themselves. There is no help for these families so these imperfect children are left on the floor, being fed when they cry and nothing more. Diego's dad drinks alot and is angry and abusive. When we prayed for Diego, his mom cried huge sobs of grief. I cannot imagine how difficult her life must be. Please remember this family in your prayers for only "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Thursday, June 9, 2011


This is Maria. Her parents brought her into our San Andres clinic two weeks ago. She was 4 days old at that time and was very sick. She had fever, was dehydrated, limp, not able to nurse and was spitting up blood. I strongly encouraged her parents to take her into the hospital but they wouldn't. I know there were several reasons for this - the first being economic. It cost about $5 now to travel to Quiche. That is nearly a day's wages for most men here. The second reason was that she is a girl...not highly valued in this culture. And the third reason being that if she were to die in the hospital, it is expensive (relatively) and complicated (if you don't speak Spanish) to get a body released for burial. So after realizing that they would not go, we began to tell them that they really needed a miracle....a miracle that only Jesus Christ could do. They agreed to prayer somewhat hesitantly. And we sent them away, thinking that she only had hours to live. But there she was again on Sunday...not only alive but healthy and nursing well! Her parents are "thinking about" accepting Jesus as their Savior. They do not understand what a miracle God has done in their lives but I do....and I am - once again- amazed at His power and His love! Please pray that their eyes will be opened to that love.

Thank you for your prayers for the men as they traveled through Mexico. Everyone is home safely and we are grateful for God's protection and provision.

We will host a team of high school students from Houston in the next week. Please pray for their safety and health...and more than anything that they encounter God and grow in their relationships with Him in the time away from their culture. Thanks for standing with us!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Please Pray

Hello friends!

We would like to ask you this morning and for the next couple days to join us in prayer for the two men, Byron and Edwin, who are driving our trucks down through Mexico, and our good friend Martin, who is driving one of his own trucks down through Mexico. Martin crossed the border into Mexico a couple of days ago, and our two trucks crossed this morning.

Please pray for favor, that God's protection will be over them, that the trucks will remain in working order, and that they will not confront situations where their integrity is at stake (bribes and such).

Thank you for your prayers, and God bless you all today!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I don't have pictures very often. I almost never carry a camera but last week Rachel went with us to our newest clinic in Cruz Chich. The people there are from the township of Joyaba and their dress is very different and beautiful, I think. We saw about 80 people with Drs. Heidi and Chris.
It was good day of "sowing seeds". Hearing the good news about Jesus is a relatively new event there. One woman who came a month ago, came again this time. She felt much better with the tylenol that we had given her but her headaches persist once the medication's effect wears off. We talked to her a little more about her life here as her headaches appeared to be from stress. It seems that her husband has been in the US for 14 years and has another family there. She is raising her two children alone and living with her inlaws - who talk with their son each week about his new family. So many women have similar stories. We talked to her about the love of Jesus and how although it seems that her husband has rejected her, Jesus never will. We asked her if we could pray with her but her response was, "Next time maybe." She left smiling though and I think she'll be back.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Rachel is getting quite good with her camera...not that I am biased or anything!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Twelve years ago we made the decision to come to Guatemala. We sold almost everything we owned and took our kids out of public school and basketball and dancing classes. We bought an old school bus and loaded it with everything we thought we would need for a year. We didn't speak a word of Spanish and we were not really sure what we would be doing. We only knew, without a doubt, that this was God's plan for our lives. There are times when God asks us to do things that require so much more faith than we have but when we step out in obedience, He always meets us.

I was so scared to take our children through Mexico. We had been told about bandits and hazards all the way through. I remember sitting in line to cross the border, crying...telling the Lord that I didn't think I had enough strength to do this thing that He was asking of us. Our little Rachel was only 3. But as I was crying to God, Duane and the boys were talking to the man who was in the truck in front of us. There were only three of us in the line and this was the route that led not just through Mexico but all the way down to South America. As Duane asked this gentleman where he was going, I listened from the back of the bus and was amazed to hear that he was going to the very same town that we were going to in the same department of Guatemala! The man, Martin, started to cry as the Lord touched him. He said in his broken English that he knew that he needed to help us get to Guatemala. And help us he did! He helped us navigate the paperwork and legalities of crossing the border and he showed us the way to go. When there were bandits ahead, he knew and would tell us that we needed to stop. When we had an accident that totaled the truck we were driving, he was right there, calling all of his friends who came from all over. They fixed the truck so that we could one day! At the border of Guatemala, we got separated and did not see him for many months. I truly thought he was an angel that the Lord had sent to help us! Now we know that he is a very good friend who has helped us so many times, in so many ways in our twelve years here.

It is Martin who will be driving the trucks through Mexico for us now. Please remember to pray for him as he makes this long and now, very dangerous trip through Mexico. He will fly into the US in the morning and will hopefully get to Guatemala by the end of the month.

"The Lord your God, who goes before you. He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes." Deuteronomy 1:30

Thursday, May 5, 2011

everyday life...

This is an election year here in Guatemala. Already every rock and electric line pole has been painted. Because of the large illiterate population, voting is done by color or symbol so each party makes itself as visible as possible. The" free gifts in exchange for your vote" has already started as well. Anything from fertilizer to machetes are given from now until November. Government agencies such as the medical clinics find themselves out of money and supplies now. Many teachers have not recieved their salaries for many months. There is a feeling of unsettledness and frustration as voters try to sort out which direction to go. Please pray with us that God's will will be done and His purposes accomplished here in Guatemala.
Here at home, we are gearing up for a busy summer. We have two big teams and lots of individuals coming from now until the end of August. Our good friend Victor (who directs the drug and alcohol rehab center in Quiche) will be married this weekend. We will help with the flowers and decorations - a task that we all look forward to! And the next week our good friends Heidi and Chris will arrive in country to do GYN surgeries in Chichi. Then they will come out here to help us with our second outreach in Cruz Chich. We are looking forward to meeting Heidi and Matt's new baby girl, Micah who will be 6 weeks old when they arrive.
The tractor trailers wait at the US/ Mexico border to be brought through by our friend Martin. Please pray for him as he is having some health issues. I am so grateful to have all of the boys back home and for God's faithfulness to guard and protect them as they loaded and drove those two huge trucks to Texas. We pray that God will protect the second half of this journey as well!
Thanks for reading and continuing to pray!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Juana came into the clinic on Sunday with her friend Candalaria, a woman who I have know for many years and whose family we have helped on several occasions. Juana is the mother of 5 small children. Her husband recently became ill and has been hospitalized and unable to work. Juana and her children have been living on a little piece of property which they bought on payments. It does not have a house, so they have been living under a 10x10 piece of plastic...which is fine until the rains begin in just a few weeks. She came with Candalaria asking for help. So today we flew out to their village, met with one of the local pastors and went to visit Juana. What she said was true and her pastor came as well. The church is willing to help with the labor and some of the materials and we will help them with the roof. So it becomes not just the "rich Americans" helping, but the body of believers reaching out to a family in need....just the way it is supposed to be. The best part of this morning however was to see Candalaria. She is a woman for whom we have prayed for for years. Her husband drank, was unfaithful, left her for a time, beat her and the children - in short, they have been a family in great distress since I met them. Recently however, Felipe (her husband) gave his life to the Lord, has stopped drinking and is working to feed and care for his children. They live in a tiny adobe one room house...but it is theirs. It is such a testimony of the faithfulness of God to hear our prayers and His power to change hearts! Please continue to pray for them though, they are so poor. We have reached the time of year now where the corn, which is the main staple of their diet, is gone. No one can plant until the rains begin and then there is the 5 month wait for harvest. So folks who are out of corn now have almost 6 months in which they will need to buy corn - which is unaffordable for this family. In the last month I have noticed the change, the desperation in the faces of women who come into the clinic, battling for their children. It happens every year but every year it hits us the same. The burden to help overwhelms us. Knowing how is the problem. So pray for us too if you think of it. We need His wisdom and His provision. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cruz Chich

This has been a really busy month with lots of visitors. As the last group left, we did too. We spent a couple of days resting with our daughter Hannah and her husband Matt in Costa Rica. It was just what we needed! Hannah had a continuing education course that she needed to take and we couldn't miss the opportunity to see them when they were so close! I am including the post that I wrote and never sent before we left. We were so thankful for all the help from the Destiny team! "In the fullness of time" was the phrase that kept going through my mind as we climbed up to Cruz Chich yesterday. Cruz Chich is a large village at the top of the mountain that I have prayed for for many years now. I have always asked that Lord to open a door into that community as we have felt that it is an area in great need. It is on the outermost edge of the township of Joyaba but closer to us here in Canilla so we often see folks from this community in our Saturday clinic here. And although it is a good sized village of about 5,ooo, it has been neglected. There is very little government help there, no government clinic, they are just now building a school, and only recently have electricity. Three weeks ago we met with the community leaders to ask if we could bring a large medical team in December. They responded that they would not only welcome the team but asked if we could start monthly clinics there. So yesterday we went for the first time with the help of the team that has been here all week from Destiny Church. I expected to see only a few patients but was surprised by the well organized reception of the community and we saw 120 people. The village is very strongly Catholic - there is only one very small congregation of evangelical Christians - so I was unsure how our request to speak to the people about salvation would be received but they were very open and receptive. We prayed with many people...planting seeds and we pray that the Lord of the harvest brings many out of the darkness into the Light! Please pray for David and Aaron as they are in the US preparing a load of equipment to be brought down in the next month or so. Joseph will go to help as well this week. They will load two tractor trailers of donated equipment and drive them to the Mexican border where our friend Martin from here in Guatemala will meet them. He will drive the loads through Mexico as we have been advised that it is not safe for us to make that trip. We are so grateful to those who have donated this equipment and have been talking and planning for months about how to make all of this happen. It is a huge undertaking to get two tractor trailers...and to get them loaded and down the road safely. We are sorry that we cannot get our blogger to put this post in paragraph format! So, you can put in the paragraphs wherever you see fit :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Email Address!

Our email address is no longer working, but please use to contact us from now on. If you have tried to email us on Fickerfam anytime in the last 6 weeks, we have probably not received it, so if you would not mind resending it to our new email address, that would be great.

Thanks so much!

Monday, March 7, 2011

One of the hardest parts about living in this country is saying goodbye. Friends come and we have fun and fellowship, we share and serve together and then they are gone. Our children have grown up this way and I wonder sometimes if they are quiet and reserved because of it. It is hard to stay in touch once people return to the US. Despite promises to stay in touch, it is difficult...our lives are so different. So this morning was hard...saying goodbye to Lori and Don and their children. Our little girls had so much fun playing with them. And Don and Lori have become such good friends - we will miss them.

Although Duane and Joseph tried to get on the same flight as the Allison's with their buddy passes, they could not. They did get out this morning however. Joseph is ready to take his final exam for his private pilot's license and Duane wants to get the load of equipment that has been donated a little more organized. We are hopeful that we will be able to get that load down sometime this spring. I tend to get pretty whinny without my husband so pray with me that they will get home quickly.

We had an interesting morning in clinic today. After we finished with our normal patients, we were asked to do a home visit for a young man who had had an "ataque" (seizure) earlier in the day. As we walked into the house, the odor was overwhelming and an older woman was hidden behind the door, next to this young man's bed. She was vigorously rubbing his legs and feet and intermittently spitting....on him. As we tried to figure out what had happened to him, she continued and gradually moved up from his feet until she got to his face. She would spit into her hand and then rub it on his face. I soon realized that she was chewing up garlic and rubbing that on him. Then she changed and began to use "Kofal" which is a menthol rub. I was told later that whole process was to ward off evil spirits. As it turned out, he probably did not have a seizure but only passed out. He had recently returned from the "coast" where men go to cut sugar cane. It is horribly difficult work...working in hot, humid conditions, in the sun all day, cutting sugar cane with a machete. Often men take "pills" to make them work faster and harder so that they can earn more money. That, in addition to the fact that he had not eaten for 12 hours, probably caused him to faint. Just when I think I have seen it all..... So we prayed for him and trust that the Lord will touch this family.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

David and Joseph were asked a couple of weekends ago to participate in another enduro race in Joyaba, a town about an hour away. They went with their friends from here in Canilla and at some point during the race, two of these young men were stopped, robbed, and their bikes were thrown down off the side of the mountain. The men who stopped them said that they were looking for the "Americanos". They were angry because the Americans are stealing their gold! Fortunately our boys were warned by their friends and they just changed their route a little.

We have not mentioned going out to the Zona Reina recently because... we have not gone. Just before Christmas the president declared that part of the country "under a state of siege" and sent the military out to protect the local people there. Apparently the drug cartels are crossing the Mexican borders and coming in, stealing land and killing those who get in their way. Any planes coming in or going out are suspect and we have been advised to wait until things settle down. That along with the murder of two men here in Canilla - gunned down by the Zetas, has made us pray for protection more faithfully. We are very grateful that the Lord has placed people in our lives who care about us and who give us wise counsel about what is really happening. As outsiders, it would be so easy to stumble into danger without really understanding what is happening.

We are not afraid. As cliche as it sounds, we know that there is not a safer place to be than in the center of God's will. As the news blasts disaster and unrest in all the world, I pray that you have the peace of knowing that you are right where God wants you today.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My father, who was part Native American, always told me, "You can't really understand someone unless you have walked a mile in their moccasins." I always think of that here. There are so many times that I try to squeeze into the shoes of people here - to try and understand what they are thinking, how they make some of the decisions that they do. One of the hardest things for me to understand is why so many young people want to leave their homes to travel to the US illegally, making a very long, costly and dangerous trip - much of it on foot through the desert areas of Mexico. Why do young people who are equipped here to make a living here want to work in the US - many times in factories doing the least desirable work, living in the slum areas of large cities? I used to be very vocal, expressing my opinions about why they should not do leave. On one occasion we had a young man stay in the clinic overnight until we could take him into the hospital the next morning (he had broken his leg). He was so disappointed because he was scheduled to leave in the next week for the US. He had borrowed his Q40,000 (about $5000) to pay for his illegal transportation across the border. We talked for a long time and I tried to convince him of the foolishness of his decision. At one point, he looked at me and said, "How can you ever understand? You have never had to go without food, you have never felt hunger, you have never had to make the decision to not take your child to the hospital because you could not pay for the trip to get there." In that moment, I realized that he was right...I could never squeeze myself into his shoes. I have always had options. Here, young people have basically one career choice. If they are fortunate enough to be able to get an education, they are almost always trained to be teachers - whether they want to teach or not. And when they leave school, the jobs that are available are controlled by politics and money. Those who can pay the bribe required to those who hire, are the ones who will work. And even if they are able to work, they will never earn enough to buy property or build a home for themselves. As I was praying this morning for two young men who came yesterday to tell us that they were leaving, I was reminded of the scripture in Hosea which says, "...I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way."(Hosea 2:6) Hosea's point of course, was that in those times when there seem to be no options, when our paths appear blocked, He is the way out. But it requires trust in a God that we cannot see. Please pray for these two young men, men of God whose paths are blocked on every side. Pray that they can see God in this difficult time - that instead of feeling hemmed in by circumstances, that they see that they are hemmed in by God. "Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." (Psalm 133:4-5) Pray that they will understand that true security is only found in by being in the center of God's will for our lives.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I thought it would be good to update you on several of the families that I have written about. Remember the mom who was pregnant with triplets? She did go to the hospital and waited there until the babies were big enough. They did a C-section when she was about 34 weeks and all three babies did really well. They are home and came this last week to the clinic in San Andres for formula. They are beautiful and their parents are taking such good care of them!

And remember the baby with pneumonia that I wrote about a few weeks ago whose parent would not take her into the hospital? We prayed for her and sent her home. Honestly, my faith was pretty small and I expected to hear that she had died...she was so sick. But Tomas took their phone number and called them a few days later. She was not only alive but well! All the honor belongs to God!!!

For those of you who were praying for the pastor's meeting this went really well. We were able to serve about 35 pastors and their wives a lunch of fish and steak (favorites here) and afterward we had a time of worship, teaching and prayer. Before it was over, several of the pastors had recommitted to meet and pray together monthly. It was a privilege for us to be able to serve in this way! Thanks so much for your prayers!