Yes, like all of you, I too am facing "Christmas"! The very fact that it is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year makes it all the more heartbreaking for so many. In my office, I'm already hearing the despair from so many of my patients because they know that it will not be the season they envisioned. Perhaps they have lost their jobs. Perhaps they have lost a loved one...maybe a breakdown of their marriage or a great sadness with one or more of their children. Perhaps they are facing cancer or perhaps they have lost their home. Perhaps they are struggling to even find a reason to get up in the morning. Like many of you, I too face my own heartbreaks. This past year has been one of the most devastating for me. Yet, unlike the vast majority of the world, I am one of the very small percentage that has clean water, more than enough to eat, a more than comfortable home, and the best of health. AND, I have a job that I love, an incredibly loving husband and family and a deep relationship with the God who has never forsaken me. Even in my darkest moments, I never despair because I feel His presence right by my side.
Sometimes I wonder how the birth of the Savior of this world came to be connected not only with the biggest merchandising spectacle of humanity but also with a time where all the "non-profits" come to bother you all with too much begging! There are so many new and innovative ways for those who want your financial help to annoy you at this time of the year!
I am a doctor, a passionate follower of Christ and a much-flawed human being. I'm not a "fund-raiser" and honestly, our organization is so consumed with helping the most impoverished of the world that we can't justify hiring one. We count on so many people who have so unselfishly given endless hours of their time for really not much reward. I don't have the energy nor the know-how to come up with great ideas of how I can convince you all to contribute to our cause. If you feel that God is leading you to contribute, than please do. Any contribution you give will be blessed abundantly.
I truly believe in what we are doing. I watch the effects we have had in Guatemala and I watch how our work has changed those here who work with us.
While we have all been shattered with the death of Flori, we know that her death has truly not been in vain. When I think of that afternoon when she walked into our poor little clinic in the middle of nowhere just over a year ago and I see where we are now, I am amazed at the power of God. Her story has spread throughout the Peten and throughout Toledo. One of our board members has been able to get us really significant grant funding to start a real cervical cancer prevention program in Guatemala. So many doors have been opened. I would have never imagined a year ago that we would now be partnering with huge organizations to truly find a way to stop the injustice of women like Flori dying.
Another one of our board members found a way to partner us with DELL computers to work toward truly educating the children in the most remote areas of the world. When this grant came our way, I wondered how we would even be able to use this money to make an impact. In this past year, we have worked on developing school infrastructure and supplying books but this grant has now opened us up to working with another organization so that yes, we can actually provide computers to many schools and open the eyes of the most poor children to the great world that is out there.
Our little clinic in the smallest of villages was such a success that now we have moved to a bigger area. We now have the trust of all the health promoters in all of these little villages. Four years ago this would have never happened. But because of all of your support and because of the incredibly wonderful people that God has put in our path, there really are so many poor people in so many poor little villages who now have hope that perhaps there really are people out there who care enough to be the hands of God for them.
There are so many stories. I think of the receptionist in my office who put me in touch with a woman who had all the talents to really make a difference in this poorest of countries. She had the language, the education and all the "people-skills" to broaden our work. She and her husband have worked tirelessly over this past several years to send food for these starving children. I think of the most compassionate doctors in Toledo whom we have had the great privilege to work with. Their efforts never stop humbling me. I think of the people in Guatemala whom God has put in our path who now work with us to end all of this injustice.
Yes, maybe one day I'll write a book - a book that would be devoted to the never ending faithfulness of our God. Like so many of you, this Christmas is one that is filled with much heartbreak for me. Yet, it is also one that is filled with great joy because I have learned to choose the light of God and to fight the darkness. I have been blessed with an incredible church and a pastor who never stops inspiring me to come closer to God.
So....I only write this to all of you who are already supporting us to tell you that you are all in my prayers. I imagine that many of you have the same struggles that I have. It has been my privilege to work with you all to do our part to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Above, please see the photos from our newest microenterprise projects!! With Ismael leading the way, the community of Pueblo Nuevo have planted 7000 tomato plants which should be ready for harvest in September. This will be one of the first real sources of income for the women in this region!
Thanks to Deena Ellis, we have found a master weaver who will be going out to Pueblo Nuevo to teach the women professional weaving. Above, see photos from the first class - there is great excitement for all the potential that this project may mean for these women.
Hola everyone! Just want to tell you how full and productive the trip has been so far.
Started off a little frightening when we were told that we couldn"t land in Guatemala because of bad weather so we had to go to El Salvador and site there for 4 hours. People were starting to get slightly hysterical (yes, even our own Deena!!) when they finally got smart and broke out the "snacks" that previoulsy cost $4 a pop!
Once we were no longer starving, we were able to laugh at the poor Spanish language skills of the stewardess. Even I knew she wasn't even close - and that sure says a lot!!
But we finally crawled into bed at 1 AM last night and slept well. The alarm was promptly set at 5 AM by the know-it-all doctora Ana so she could get her training run in - but alas she forgot her sneakers!!! AHHHHH!
Well, then off to a delicious breakfast.
Then Deena and I went to our meeting with the executive director from WINGS Guatemala. They have done phenomenol things in this country in regards to women's health. It was a privilege to know that they would be willing to meet with us. We learned tons from our meeting and by the end of the day, they already have us set up with a wonderful attorney who will arrange for our NGO status in Guatemala.- They are also arranging for us to meet with the physician who leads the cervical cancer and contraceptive efforts in Guatemala!!
They have 2 employed health promotors that work in the Peten and they will be joining us next week.
Then, Deena and I very, very seriously took to shopping!!! SewHope will have a huge spike in fundraising dollars when the people see the incredibly beautiful things we have bought for the next fundrasier!!! Randy spent the day enjoying Guatemalan coffee in the central square while assisting locals with their English skills. No shopping for him! Then a sumptuous dinner and lots of great conversation...much more to come!
We're leaving in the morning at 4 to get the flight to Flores so off to bed.......
Please keep us in your prayers as we get to the real tasks at hand.
Want you all to know how much each of you mean to us!!