Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Needs in Guatemala

There have been a few things on my mind that we could use here in Guatemala at the clinics where I work!  So, I wanted to let you know in case you are interested and able to help us reach our goals in meeting those needs.

Ways that you can be part of helping: 
1.  PRAY
3.  Talk to somebody else who might be interested and able to help!!!

Corazón de Amor clinic in Zone 3, Guatemala City
*Volunteer Nurses, Doctors, and Dentists to come help us provide health care
*Medical supplies: ask about specific needs, this changes from time to time.  
*Handheld portable doppler

Salud Que Transforma in Palin
*Volunteer Nurses, Doctors, and Dentists to come help us provide health care
*Donations for staff salaries
*Help with fundraising or advise on how to seek funding for the clinic

Nursing School in Palin and Iztapa
*Projector to help with teaching classes and provide quality education materials
*Scholarships for nursing students
*Stethoscopes for nursing students
*Expired medical supplies for teaching purposes

Let me know if your interested in being a part of supplying one of these needs!!!
Donations can be made directly to my TEAM account, just let me know how you want me to direct the funds!!!  Just click on the link below!!!

Checking vital signs during a clinic day
Filling meds in the pharmacy

teaching in the nursing school!
this day we were roleplaying
how NOT to give a community health teaching :) 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Behind the beauty of Guatemala

Violence and Extortion in Guatemala

I've hesitated to focus too much on the amount of crime that happens here in Guatemala.  However, since it has recently come closer to home and touched ministry partners that I know personally, I wanted to share a little more so that we can be praying together!

A little background . . .
The country of Guatemala is about the size of the state of Tennessee.
It's has a population of around 16 million people, with about 1 million living in the capital of Guatemala City.
Indianapolis has a population of 853,000 and Chicago about 2.7 million.
Last year, there were 144 murders in Indianapolis, 468 murders in Chicago,
and in Guatemala over 4,000 (in 2014 there was an average of 96 murders per week)
Last year there were over 8,000 reports of extortion, however, not all of the cases of extortion are reported.

Here is a little excerpt from the OSAC website:
"Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in Central America. Violent crime is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and weak law enforcement and judicial systems. 

Extortion calls are commonplace, and many times originate within prisons. In recent years, the number of extortions has risen dramatically. In most cases, changing the phone number and not responding to the threats will resolve the matter. However, cases involving gang members must be taken seriously, as they will not hesitate to back up their threats with violence. 

However, Guatemala’s homicide rate is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.  Guatemala’s worrisome murder rate appears driven by four key factors: narco-trafficking activity, gang-related violence, a heavily-armed population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm) and a police/judicial system that remains either unable/unwilling/both to hold many criminals accountable. Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished." 

I've never felt in danger here, but I am aware of the danger and make sure that I'm cautious and take extra precautions.  And, I know that the Lord is in control and trust that completely!

What is hard, is to see the effects of the violence here.  Orphans, mothers weeping for their children who have been murdered, fear caused by death threats, and a general devaluing of human life.
The situation of orphans and orphanages here is a whole other story.  Due to the effects of poverty and violence and closure of the international adoptions due to corruption, UNICEF estimates that there are over 370,000 orphans in Guatemala.  There are horrifying statistics reporting the number of physical abuse and sexual abuse suffered by children in this country.

Pray with me for Guatemala!  Pray with me for Lord to work in the hearts of the people here, and for those committing these violent crimes to realize their need for a Savior!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just another days work

One thing that I have learned over the past year is that Guatemalans work very, very hard!  They are willing to work long hard days over and over again to earn just a few pennies, but they do it in order to sustain their families.  Of course there are a wide variety of jobs here in Guatemala.  There are the doctors and lawyers and bankers.  But, the majority of people have to be very creative with how the earn money.  Here are just a few examples of the types of jobs that are commonly seen!

Making beautiful fabrics!

And then selling the fabrics and other handicrafts in markets and on the streets!

Agriculture is a huge part of how Guatemalans make a living
Trucks are often seen carrying large amount of foods, flowers, or other things to sell at market!
or people sell just a few things near their homes
roasting corn alongside the street
various staples like beans and rice and herbs sold in the market 
even children have to help out their families by working
cutting up onions for the day 
or cutting up meat
making tortillas - something most Guatemalans think you can't live without!
walking goats around the streets and selling fresh goat milk!
goats here have to learn to cross the street and can even be seen walking up stairs!
bus drivers
garbage truck drivers . . . and people scavenging through the garbage
Pinchazos - they fix tires!
walking the streets selling cotton candy.
or it could be coconuts or juice or car chargers or flowers or various other things!
Guatemalan coffee is wonderful, and it is a huge part of what people do to earn money here!
each bean is hand picked, and then after it is processed, hand sorted and then roasted. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Adventures with "Killi La Kia"

The last few months have been busy and fun and full of all sorts of various adventures!
I finally decided on a name for my car, Killiana.  Killian apparently use to be the name for a female warrior, but has more recently become a boys name.  So, I decided that adding an "a" at the end and making sure that it was a known girl's name, and of course she has to have a nickname which is, "Killi the Kia".

My mom and I spent time in Coban which she was here visiting.
We joined a group from New Mexico and went on a week long medical trip up in the mountains.  It was great, we loved it!!!  I really enjoyed having my mom along on one of my trips and getting to spend the time in ministry together!!!
My car Killiana did great and had no problems.

Mom working hard in the pharmacy!!!
Doing home visits to check on mom and newborn baby!!!

Then my friend Jackie and I went to Belize.  I had to leave the country for my visa, but it was an awesome excuse to enjoy a few days on the beach!!!  We traveled by car, boat, bus, and foot to get to and from our destination!  It was quite the adventure, but it all went surprisingly well!!!  We got to spend my birthday on a private island in the middle of the ocean surrounded by crystal clear water - it was amazing!!!!!

We picked up my car in one of the port cities of Guatemala at the end of our trip and drove the 6 hours back to my apartment.  We had no problems and everything was great!  We pulled into my garage and Jackie noticed that the front passenger tire was mostly flat.  No idea why or how.  So, we jump back in the car and drive just a couple blocks to a Pinchazo - or tire guy.  He had taken a nail out of my tire before so I figured it would be on ok person to go back to.  He checked the tire and couldn't find anything wrong, so just filled the tire up with air and we went back to my house.  When I turned off the car there was still a strange noise, which we realized was air leaking out of my tire!  We promptly began to change the tire to put on the spare, however, we couldn't get all of the lugnuts off.

Jackie working at getting most of the lugnuts off!
I tried to call a friend to see if her husband could come help, but he was out of town.  But she was able to send another guy over to help us.  However, he also had a hard time.  The jack that came with my car bent a little bit and he had to go borrow another one.  It was quite the ordeal.  The next day I took the car to a mechanic that changed the messed up lugnut and took the tire somewhere to get fixed.  When I picked up the car I was just slightly worried about the way the valve was on the tire because it looked like it would be hard to put air in the tire.  I asked a few times and was assured that it was fine.  I drove the car back to the house.  The next day Jackie and I ran a short errand in the morning and then the car was parked back in my garage until evening when we were going to run to the store.  When we walked down to the garage, the same tire was flat again.  I wanted to cry, Jackie couldn't stop laughing.  My friend's husband was in town this time and came to help us - because I no longer had a reliable jack to prop the car up to change the spare.  

And the second tire change, thankful for the help!
The tire was easier to change this time, but he realized that the whole part of the valve had come off, so there was just a hole left in the tire.  My plan was that the next day I would drive to a nearby Pinchazo, except that I didn't really know where to go.  In the morning I stopped by the downstairs neighbor/landlords apartment to ask if he had a recommendation since he has lived in this area for around 50 years.   He told me to just stay here and he walked town the street to a Pinchazo that he knows and he asked the guy to come to the house and look at the tire there.  Ends up that I really just needed to get a new tire because it was too complicated and uncertain to just try to fix it.  Then he was rotating the tires on that side and noticed that there was a nail in the other tire.  So, he took that tire on his moto and went back to his shop, repaired it, and then brought the tire back on his moto.  Excellent service!!!

A few short days later, our team along with a visiting group, went to Panajachel for a few days.  It was a 3 hour drive, but thankfully, no more tire troubles!!!

My car really has been such a blessing from just being able to drive where I need to go, to driving for clinic days, to taking people to church with me.  The other Sunday after church we had a celebration and then I brought home a family and 2 students - there were 7 of us piled into my car!!!  Even thought there have been some minor problems and little adventures, I super thankful for the Lord providing "Killi La Kia" for me to drive!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Unexpected

I guess one thing about living here is that I don't really feel like I ever know what to expect!!! 
These past few months have been full, lots of adjusting to new ministries, never knowing what a week will hold, or even what's at the end of a road.  There are many times when I'm fine with the unknown and unexpected, but there are other times when it's hard or tiring! 

A few things recently . . . 
I was driving to Monterrico to spend a little time with a friend who was staying there.  I drove with the other nurses to clinic on Thursday like usual, and then using my GPS, I started off for Monterrico.  After a hour and a half or so I thought I was close to my destination.  I turned a corner and in front of me was a river with cars on wooden boats and a person telling me I could pay and get on the ferry right away without waiting.  I was so confused, I had no idea that the road didn't lead all the way to where I was going. One problem was that I had no money on me, and there was no ATM.  So, the guy said that there was an ATM on the other side and I could get money out once I crossed over.  When I realized I really had no other option I drove my car onto the boat behind the pick up truck watching it sink lower into the water.  We made it down to the other end of the channel, about 15 minutes.  I explained that the guy on the other side said that I could get money out of the ATM to pay them, only to find out that the ATM was about a 5 minute car drive away.  The guys were all very skeptical but pointed me in the direction of the bank.  Part of the way there, I realized they were following behind me on a moto and then followed me to the bank so they could collect their payment. 
This was the ferry I had to drive onto and off of . . . scary!!!
Add captioBut this beautiful view awaited me at the other side!!!! The black sand beaches of the Pacific Ocean!
Another day I was on my way to clinic just like any other day.  When I got there, 2 vans were full of people and supplies waiting to drive off.  I was 30 minutes late without realizing it and as soon as I arrived we left for a day of clinic in a little village about an hour away.  I still don't remember having a conversation about leaving for the day, so I felt quite disoriented with the unexpected surprise of the day.  

We had lots of patients that day!!!
Another missionary nurse and I decided to visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal.  When I realized that the towns of Puerto Barrios and Livingston, towns on the Carabean Sea, were not far off of our route and we could visit there on the way.  When we arrived at the small hotel, I asked the owner where we could see the sunset.  He said that the best place was from the water and offered to let us go out in his kayak.  We took off and thought we were supposed to follow around the island.  So, the water in the bay where we were was mostly calm, as we started to get more into the ocean the water got a little choppier and water was coming into the kayak as the waves crashed against the kayak.  We laughed about it and then a few minutes later the waves were coming stronger and more water and it was now about half full of water and had sunk down a little more into the water.  Then, a big wave came, tipped us to the side enough to drop one side below the water causing the kayak to be submerged just below the water.  We never fell out, but we had basically sunk.  So we paddled with all our might to the shore of overgrown bushes and trees.  Since we had no phones with us, we memorized the hotel number on the side of the kayak, tied it up the tree, and started walking to the closest building.  Sadly, that building was abandoned and surround by barbwire.  We could see people just on the other side of the pier portion of the property.  So, we climbed through the barbwire and asked the Guatemalan family on the other side if we could use their phone.  They were laughing as we talked with them, but imagine, 2 white girls with bright orange life jackets and paddles emerge from an abandoned property, I started laughing as well!!!  The hotel owner's wife shows up, walks out into the ocean in the dark and drags the kayak back through the water to the shore where we were.  Then, we put the kayak on top of a car and drove it back to the hotel.  The misunderstanding was that we were just suppose to kayak out 500 feet into the bay and turn around to see the sunset, not keep going like we thought.  I expected to be banned from ever coming back to the hotel, but quite unexpectedly, we were invited back!!! 

The abandoned pier with the barbwire that we climbed through - this was the next day after the crazy kayak adventure!
Beautiful lake . . . we had to jump in after hiking around Tikal all day and it felt so good!!!

Visiting the Mayan ruins of Tikal
Last week I went on a trip with the clinic called Salud Que Transforma to a remote area 8 hours drive from the city.  There we have to use a generator to have any electricity and the dentist ended up having to finish up taking care of the last patient in the dark because we ran out of gas for the generator. 

Working in the dark!
Clinic at "La Perla"
The nurses!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Introducing - new ministries!!!

Just a little bit about the new ministries that i'll be working with here in Guatemala!

Corazon De Amor 
This clinic is about 5 blocks from my apartment in zone 3 of Guatemala City, in a community that is close to the garbage dump.  The clinic is run by Dr. Layla, who is a Guatemala who grew up in zone 3 and who now faithfully serves the people who live in the garbage dump communities.  Her husband is a Pastor of a church in a nearby community!  On a normal day, we see about 35 patients come through the clinic.  When a medical team came and we had a few extra doctors and nurses, we were seeing 200 patients a day! She does not charge for visits or medications, all the money and supplies to run the clinic comes from donations!
My teammate Alaina is also a nurse, and in May we will begin some community health teaching projects alongside of the clinic!!!  Our first topic will be prevention of mosquito born diseases as rainy season will be coming!
It's been exciting to see the Lord connect me to this ministry and open the doors for me to work with them!  I look forward to being a part of all the Lord is doing through this clinic!!!  I will mostly be working at the clinic on Monday and Wednesday and doing community health teaching on Tuesday.

The street leading to the clinic, Corazon de Amor
The outside gate
Courtyard shared by clinic and a school - the clinic is the green building
Inside Corazon de Amor, overflowing with people!!!!  

Salud Que Transforma
This is a clinic that is about 1 hour away in the city of Palin.  The clinic is run by Dr. Erick, who is also the Pastor of a church in the same community.  The clinic is staffed by Guatemalan doctors, dentists, and nurses, and is open 24/7.  They also have a nursing school that meets every Saturday for a year, as well as community outreaches 3 times a week.  The community outreaches have been my main area of involvement and I really enjoy that!  A community outreach involves a couple nurses, a doctor and a dentist going to another community within maybe an hour radius and holding clinic in a school or church.  Then, once a month, there is a small group that travels up to the rural mountain clinics to hold clinic in very remote areas with little access to health care.  There are some individuals who live there and they have trained so that they can provide basic medical care and education!  
There is a small fee associated with medical/dental visits, but all medications are then free.  They still depend on lots of donations to keep the clinic running, and pay salaries!!!

It's been wonderful to work alongside of the nurses at this clinic!  We have many laughs when I end up driving my car to one of the rural clinics because there always seems to be some sort of adventure that goes along with it!!!
I'm currently committed to work with this clinic on Thursdays and Fridays.

A view of Salud Que Transforma from the church.  The clinic is the 2 story building on the right side of the photo.  You can see that the volcanoes are much closer to this town than where I live in the capital!!!  To the left is Volcan Fuego, which is the active volcano that you can see a gray cloud of ash coming out of the top, and from this clinic you can hear rumblings when it's erupting!!!  Next to that is another volcano, but it's hidden behind the clouds, that one is inactive!!!  To the right is Volcan Agua, also inactive!

Just a few of the amazing nurses I get to work with!!!
Starting an IV at a community outreach

Both clinics have so many other things happening as they try to improve the health of their communities.  They both have water treatment programs to provide clean water at a lower cost, as well as programs for children to provide a meal, a Bible lesson, help with homework, and medical care!

Most importantly, these clinics desire to provide excellent healthcare, and serve the people with dignity, while also helping them to understand that their ultimate hope and healing can only come through faith in Jesus Christ!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Trips to the mountain clinics

I've been so thankful to begin working with Salud Que Transforma who has a wonderful health ministry!!!  I was thankful to be able to join them on their monthly trip to the Quiche area of Guatemala which is an 8 hour trek kinda northwest of Guatemala City!   
Unfortunately I do get car sick =(   The first day was the worse as we drove the first 6 hours through constant windy roads.   The second day we only had 2 hours to drive and about half of that was on dirt roads so we were going fairly slow.  I pray that I can continue to travel there on a regular basis and find ways to prevent the car sickness!!!

The clinic is on a working coffee farm called La Perla!  The yellow building you can see in this photo is the clinic!  Salud Que Transforma has been able to train a nurse from this village and she works in the clinic daily!  The interesting story to this coffee farm is that during the Guatemalan civil war this was a very dangerous area and one of the most violently attacked areas by the Guerrillas.  The Guatemalan Government stationed troops here at this coffee farm, in fact we stayed in what use to be their barracks!  After that, the area became safer and many people started moving in from surrounding areas.  The people who now live in the area speak a few different Guatemalan dialects. because they come from different areas!   Many of the women in this area don't know how to read, they often don't know their ages or their birthdays, and they live without electricity and with dirt floors.  

The second day we drove to a second village about 20 minutes away.  On the map that they showed me this village was straight north, however the road was anything but straight, instead it was up and down a few mountains!!!  At this village there are two nurses that have been trained by Salud Que Transforma who are able to provide some minor medical care and medications.  

Above is a photo of our group with the 2 nurses from the village.

I found out about Salud Que Transforma through my friend LyMarie who is working with them!  
It's been fun to work alongside of her!!!

This is one of the nurses helping us take care of the patients!  It's good to have nurses from the community working in the clinics!  It's hard to change beliefs and health practices in these areas because they believe what is traditional and not always willing to listen to teaching new practices.  Sometimes it helps to have somebody from their village reinforcing what we are teaching!   
It's similar with sharing the Gospel.  They have a mix of beliefs that come from their families and tradition and don't believe in the one true God.  
We pray for opportunities to talk with them about the truth during our time with them at the clinic!!!

Taking a little break to get to know some of the little kids running around the clinic! 

These red fabrics represent the typical handwoven material worn as skirts in this area.

I was also able to go on a second trip with Salud Que Transforma to a clinic in Coban, an area of Guatemala just north of Guatemala City.   This clinic is also on a coffee farm, the owners live just up the hill from the clinic and help the clinic run so that their workers and the families nearby have access to health care!
I drove my car on this trip which meant NO carsickness!!! 
This drive was about 4 hours through windy mountain roads to the turn off, and then an hour on windy dirt mountain roads!  These mountains were quite steep, but we hardly got to see our surroundings as we arrived in the dark and then the next 2 days were so rainy and cloudy that we could hardly see the beauty around us!  The rain meant that the steep roads were muddy, and we were a little concerned about my car making it up and out on the roads.  
However, with much prayer, my car made it and we didn't get stuck!!!   

We saw lots of patients while at this clinic!  I was reminded of the lack of personal space =)  There were about 100 people crowding into this area at the beginning and waiting to get checked in and then seen.  Since it was raining, everybody wanted to be under the roof.  I was having a hard time concentrating and taking blood pressures with everybody pushing in around me and talking.  There was some space and so I asked them to move back.  They looked at me funny, kinda moved back after about the 3rd time asking.  Then after lunch there was just this line of patients waiting to see the doctor.  Some people were cutting in line and so they just kept standing closer and closer together, eventually there were about 8 women all squished together just standing there waiting!  For me it would have been uncomfortable, but totally fine and normal for them!

This sweet little guy is malnourished.  He's already spent time hospitalized for malnutrition, but since discharge he hasn't been gaining much weight.  The nurses that work with this clinic were going to track him and try to do more education with the mother.  Malnutrition is a big problem in Guatemala, praying that this little guy grows and develops normally!!!