Gary, Ginny and I make quite a team!! We laughed so hard over dinner last night that my ribs hurt today!! Gladys will be happy to know that we revisited her 'ribs' place, and had an equally interesting dining experience!! Gary, the techno geek keeps us all on our toes with his wise words and sense of humor, and Ginny with her servant's heart, is willing to do ANYTHING needed at any moment!! She even listened to me babble until midnight last not after a really long day... What a friend!!
Nearly every visit contains a story of grief or despair if enough time is spent digging deep. A 21 year old teacher with chest pain when she lies down at night. She can run and play with the children without symptoms. She is otherwise thin and healthy. Her exam completely normal. I reassure her and go on to the next patient who happens to be her mother. She reports headaches for 2 years...'what happened 2 year ago', I ask? (I had also asked the daughter with no significant response). Her son, who was also a teacher, was murdered while walking to school one day. They don't know why...but 'the susta' (extreme worry and despair) has overtaken them.
A woman who hasn't slept for 8 days... 'What happened 8 days ago?' It was the 1 year anniversary of the death of her husband in a moto accident. She and her 4 children barely survive on the money she makes doing odd jobs.
My goal was to tell every person I saw that God loves them and cares about them. I was overwhelmed by some of the responses. Many told me that they would pray for me. One woman told me that she always prays for all of the people in the United States because she knows we can help her people. A few looked away, not wanting to meet my eyes, but hopefully the words will ring again in their heads as they close their eyes tonight.
Nearly every visit can contain a moment of hope if enough time is spent... There is always something for which to be thankful, and tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to serve Christ, for friends who are willing to serve beside me, and my family who is understanding and willing to let me be away at this time I the year!!
Can't believe tomorrow is Friday!
The pictures above say it all!! I know that for you in the United States who are so used to "conferences", this is status quo. But in Guatemala this is huge!!! The fact that there are a whole room full of health promoters and midwives listening to Dr. Coral Matus and Dr. Gary Collins is huge! These are people who live in the poorest of villages in the world. These are people who have absolutely no resources and have so much suspicion of the outside world. The fact that so many of these people are there gives so much testimony to the work of these doctors.
Dr. Matus wrote.....
Three gringos educating 80 guatemalan health promoters and comedronas (nurse midwives)...now that was quite a sight! The women (and men) were delightful and very interactive. After everyone arrived (around 8:50) for the 8:00 training session, and the leaders of the training session (from the local health center) spoke for about 20 minutes. Gary, Ginny and I spent about 30 minutes talking about safe delivery, pre-eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, and helping babies breathe in the first minutes of life. They seemed to enjoy the talks, but became quite animated when we broke into 'small groups' of 25 and did some 'hands on'' stations to practice what we had learned. The stories that some of the comedrona shared were amazing. There were women with 36 years experience delivering babies in their own homes (on their own beds), and young ladies who were just starting training. One more experienced comedrona demonstrated a flawless breech delivery! Most had stories of delivering footling breeches or other malpresentations successfully. They also shared many sad stories of unavoidable deaths- fetal and maternal- due to difficult circumstances with lack of emergency care. They asked some insightful questions and appreciated the 'goodie bags'.
As if Orfe doesn't have enough to do, she and her sister made sandwiches with a mixture like chicken salad for all of the people who came (120 sandwiches!). We spent some time with several of the comedronas listening to their stories and offering them support. They are very interested in learning and really truly want to help their people!!
Can you believe that several of the providers had travelled over 2 hours to come to the session!! Of course, we so happily agreed to see them in the clinic.
I have never seen so much activity on the island of Flores as there was tonight. Ismael was explaining to us yesterday that today is a special holiday in Guatemala: quema del diablo. ("burning of the devil"). The tradition is to get a piñata that is shaped like the devil (or some other doll) and burn it to get rid of all the bad/ sin in your life. 6 pm is the official time that the burning commences, and there are lots of fireworks. When we went back to the island around 7 PM, all the roads were blocked off and we had to walk to our hotel. In the streets there were dozens of tables set up with traditional Guatemalan food (they call is 'mesita', or 'small table'). We weren't brave enough to try any of the street food, but have enjoyed watching the people having a great time, enjoying the evening. The kids had sparklers and light-up toys and balloons...I'm just hoping that the fireworks settle down soon so we can get some sleep!!
Thanks for all your prayers today. Between my modest Spanish and Ismael's adequate English we seemed to connect with the group today... The courage and hope that we see in these people is amazing despite so many challenges! Thanks to all who have had a hand in this ministry!! Giving them hope and telling them that there is a God who loves them and that they are worthy of being loved is sometimes the only and best gift we can give them
Another steady day of patients. Some patients are familiar faces who used to come to pueblo Nuevo but found us in our new location. Many new faces who seem grateful to be seen by an American Doctor. Even though he 'Centro de Salud' is close by in this community, there is not a Doctor available there, and the limited training and limited resources of the nurses and health promoters makes it difficult for them to treat even simple things at times.
Many times the women especially seem so thankful to just be able to talk ad express the many discomforts they feel. They often have no other outlet for expressing their concerns, so a therapeutic listening ear and some encouragement goes a long way. We are really not so different...
A 60 year old with an obvious breast cancer had been seen at a couple of different clinics and given antibiotics. She was so skeptical when we recommended that she go to the government hospital to be evaluated so Ginny and I finally attempted a core biopsy...hopefully the sample we for will give some answers, but then what?
We have been spending so much time talking about the big picture of our mission here, but I never want to lose sight of the many little pictures we see each day... There are still children without enough food and families without a father and mothers who have lost babies and children and sadness and fear and hopelessness. The only hope we can bring comes through Christ, and that is what I hope is apparent in every interaction this week.
Tomorrow, we will be meeting with 60-80 comedronas and health promoters to talk about basic life support in obstetrics and neonatal resuscitation. We made some goody bags tonight (80 of them!) with 2 pair of gloves, 2 band aids and a cord clamp (umbilical!) for each one. Although basic, these are luxuries they often don't have.
Please pray that our language skills will be adequate to convey our message!
We arrived at our new rented clinic building today to find that Ismael and his family have once again outdone themselves. They managed to move all of the supplies (including exam tables, ultrasound and colposcope machines, many many meds, and countless misc. medical supplies to our new location and have it organized enough for us to hit the ground running today. The new building is very nice, a bit bigger than the one in pueblo Nuevo, and much closer (30 minute drive in paved road instead of 90 minute drive on road that Gary thinks is almost as bad as my driveway!). For our first day in a new location, people seemed to know where to find us, and we were steadily busy throughout the day.
New location, but so many of the same health issues we have seen In other villages so many times. Kids don't eat well, have worms, have bad teeth from too much sugar. Women have headaches from much physical labor, carrying heavy loads, getting dehydrated, not drinking enough water. How do we change behaviors here when it is so hard to even change little things in the U.S.?!
I got my 'OB' fix today. After not doing OB for the past 5 months, it felt good to do some prenatal care, paps, ultrasounds...
What do you do in Guatemala with a stroke is progress? Bp 240/160... Fatigue and headache... Numbness in her left arm and leg...Aspirin, metoprolol, and enalapril (because it is what we have...)
Met up with Daryl (see their website @ www.hopeforhome.org) to load up his van with food for the families they serve. It was great to have dinner with Daryl and his son and his 2 friends. The Kids Against Hunger food will be such a blessing to their ministry in Aguascalientes Calientes just south of Antigua.
Anita is a beautiful baby, and keeping Orfe and Ismael quite busy. She is so sweet and they are obviously in love!! ;)