Sr. Pamela Marie Buganski
“God is always talking to me when I am in Guatemala.”
"Life Changer" is a term used by Rudy. In his usage, it means an event that makes a difference in the life of a person. I believe that it also applies to people who make a choice to make a difference in the life of a person.
The stories below have all come to pass in the three days that Dr. Coral and Dr. Gary's team have been in the Peten. I continue to be mystified as to how does this. How do you do this, God? Thank you for touching the hearts of so many persons to give as they can, to come as they can, to do what they can. Your presence and hope is known here in the Peten through the love of your people.
Rudy is the director of the organization Living to Serve www.livingtoserve.org. Rudy's organization helped Dr. Anne Ruch and team to do a surgery trip in San Cristobal. Rudy arranged for additional Guatemalan doctors, nurses and translators to join our American team. He also arranged for licenses for the American doctors and made the connection with the hosptial and other area organizations who advertised about our presence. Being Guatemalan, Rudy adds a level of understanding of the culture and the people. Since meeting Rudy, he has also made the five hour trip from San Cristobal to the Peten to join each of our clinic teams. He serves as a translator and is also on the look out for persons in the villages who can benefit from the other surgical teams that he works with in Guatemala. Rudy is a Life Changer.
Two months ago, Rudy accompanied Dr. Anne and team to the village of Purushila for a clinic. There he encountered an eleven-year old girl with a cleft pallet. The young girl had had a repair of her cleft lip, but the family simply did not have enough money to ever have the internal cavity repaired. Rudy was aware of another team that was coming to perform this type of surgery. Rudy arranged for the transportation and also found donors to pay for the costs of the surgery. Two months later, at our clinic yesterday in Purushila, Rudy once again met this little girl and her mother. The girl had had successful surgery and both mother and daughter were back to give thanks. Below is a picture of Rudy working with Dr. Nate and a picture of a little girl who experienced a life changer because of the googness of God and the collaboration of the two groups SewHope and Living to Serve.
Then we have Alex and Lindsay Matus, the twin ninth-grade daughters of Dr. Coral Matus. Alex and Lindsay have made many trips with their mother to serve in the Peten. On this trip they are assisting with some of the lab tests. But their work for the young people in Guatemala continues even when they are home in Millbury. Together the girls started a sponsorship program for students who need monetary support to continue their education. The girls have two projects to this end at present. First a group of 14 adults have donated $200 each to sponsor a particular student attending grade 7 or beyond. Lindsay and Alex were able to meet the students that are being sponsred in Purushila and share with them a letter from their sponsor. Tthe letter was written in English and the two girls translated the message to Spanish. The girls also received letters written in Spanish which they will translate to English to bring back to the sponsors in the Toledo area. In addition, their former school Lake Middle School (the one that was demolished by the tornado a few years ago....actually the two girls were in Guatemala with their mother when the storm hit) is having a fundraiser for SewHope. The goal is to raise $2000 with the intent to give 20 $100 scholarships to students. Our hope is that soon Purushila will have access to the internet (God willing! and we need prayers for this project tomorrow!) and that the youth and their sponsors will be able to communciate by email and Skype. Below are some pictures of Lindsay, Alex and some of the scholarship recipients in Purushila. Thank you to LIndsay and Alex for being Life Changers.
Through God's grace, Daryl joined our team for just one day. He drove for 10 hours to get here and then drove 10 hours back. God's children were worth it to him. Daryl, himself is a testimony to life changers, after experiencing much adversity in his youth, turned to gangs and drugs and spoke about God with disdain. On one particularly dismal evening, he was about to take his life when God sent the most beautiful sunset that Daryl had ever seen. This beauty made Daryl think twice. He made a deal with God: I'll give you two months to show me that You exist or I will be right back here. Darly went home and marked his calendar. Within two weeks, Daryl had met two teenagers who witnessed to God's love, something that Daryl had never experienced. After giving his life to God, Daryl felt called to the ministry. But Daryl's whole life is dedicated to the ministry. He and his wife have 10 children. As Daryl says, they are all my children; five of them are adopted. Of these five, one is from China, one from Korea and one from Guatemala. Of the five three have disabilities. Daryl is the director of Hope for Home Ministries http://hopeforhome.blogspot. Daryl and his family moved to Guatemala two years ago to extend this ministry of providing wheelchairs and other medical supplies and services to those without access.
Ismael, Daryl and I visited disabled children and adults in their homes in El Chal and in Purushila. Daryl was very caring and took measurements when a piece of equipment seemed necessary. When therapy seemed the better help, Darly will seek money for the therapy if we can find the occupational therapist. For the worman in the top right picture, Daryl believes that he will be able to arrange surgery for the knee. Daryl will ask his donors to assist those in need here in the Peten. Daryl hopes to return with the equipment in about two months. God bless you, Daryl. Thank you for being a Life Changer.
(Since I already have a long blog, I have to tell you more about the man below. He is paralyzed from the waist down. He was injured by another vehicle when he stopped to help a person whose vehicle was stopped at the side of the road. He is a young man with a family. Each day he has help to load his wheelchair into a vehicle where he is driven to work in the fields with his two boys. In the afternoons, the boys attend school. Ismael hopes to be able to assist Lindsay and Alex to enroll these two boys in their scholarship program.)
There has been tremendous progress on the Birthing Center in El Chal. Yesterday about 30 men of the village came to help pour the concrete floor and to continue to dig the cistern. The Birthing Center is the dream of Dr. Coral Matus. Dr. Coral and her family and other friends of SewHope have raised the funds to raise the community to raise the building. Local masons and others came together under the direction of Stephen the Menonite who has a cement mixer and other simple equipment. Catalina, the midwife, and some women from the village came at noon with a lunch of chicken, rice and tortillas. Truly this building is a Life Changer.
A new team led by Dr. Coral Matus and Dr. Gary Collins began work today in the clinic in Santa Ana. Accompanying them are Dr. Nate, Dr. Kim, Josh, Alex, Lindsay and Rudy. They join the regular team of Peter, Ismael, Orfe, Anita and me. Here Dr. Coral works with her daughters.
Rudy brought a special stroller along for our friend Genesis, the little girl with brittle bone disease. The chair fit her little body perfectly. We added some extra padding to make it a bit more comfortable. As usual, she was all smiles!
Catalina (in blue), the midwife from El Chal, came to the clinic in Santa Ana in a large chcken bus with 25 members of her community. Ismael gave a presentation on the water filters, stoves and solar lights to them. We are hoping that the next team will be able to hold a clinic in the new Birthing Center being built in El Chal.
Dr. Kim jumps right in where she left off from the last time she was here. Her excellent use of the Spanish language serves the people here well. Dr. Kim has been coming on mission trips with SewHope since her early days of medical school. Thank you, Dr. Kim for sharing your love with the children.
In addition to his regular duties, Peter enjoys serving as a translator for the clinics. Dr. Gary has picked up a good amount of the Spanish language over the years and his research on diseases afflicting children in Guatemala has helped the doctor teams.
Dr. Nate is teaming with Dr. Coral in the area of general medicine. Though it is his first day here, he appears to be very comfortable with the patients and the established system.
Other things that happened today!
Orfe invited employees of BanRural, the local bank, to talk to the children about opening bank accounts. The gentlemen wtll return several times to work with Orfe's various groups.
Since the clinic porch was the waiting room for the clinic, we moved Orfe's group outside under the tree. Peter held English classes there and then the children worked on the computers practicing their mathematics facts and thinking skills.
The morning found Peter and me in Purushila. While I was helping with computer class with the six-year olds, Peter was working one-on-one with teeth brushing skills with the same students. Our hope is that each day each student will brush his/her teeth as the day of classes begins.
Computer classes began today for the telesecondary students in Purushila. Today 22 students became acquainted with word processing skills. The second set of students will meet on alternate days. The kindergarten teachers offered us the use of their classroom so that we did not have to move the computers so far.
Today I spent a lot of time with Josselin who is 15 years old. Josselin was the youngest student to graduate from the third year of basic education last year which would correspond to our grade 9. She was one of eight students in the village of Purushila who graduated at this level.
All eight of the students have gone on to collegio. The other seven work during the week and attend school on the weekends. Josselin does not have a job during the week. This gives us a bit more freedom to work together during the week. She also attends collegio on the weekends.
Today we studied English together for an hour. We do this each Monday, Wednesday and Friday beginning at 9:30 am. Today we focused on English words beginning with the letter 'T'. (This also gives me a chance to practice the corresponding Spanish words). On various days we review pronunciation and word meanings, practice spelling words in English, or practice translating Spanish sentences to English sentences to see the corresponding structures. We are also reading the classic Go, Dog, Go! in both English and Spanish. Josselin takes the book home and practices her reading and teaches her younger brothers by engaging them with the book.
Today our schedules allowed us to spend even more time together. I asked Josselin many questions about her studies and her schedule, her classes and her teachers. These are some of the things that I learned:
1. Josselin has 8 one-hour classes on Saturday and 2 classes on Sunday, one lasts one hour and the other one-and-a-half hours. She has a different teacher for each class. She has homework in some of the classes and not in others. There are about 60 students in the same class with her. She does not have any books for her classes. She copies notes that are dictated by the teacher. If she wants a handout for the class, she pays for it.
2. Her class schedule is as follows:
7:30 am Matematica I
8:30 am Introduction to Economics
9:30 am Administration I
11:00 am Sociology
1:00 pm Computer
2:00 pm Study Techniques
3:00 pm Marketing I
4:00 pm Business Compositon and Correspondence
7:30 am Accounting
9:00 am Statistics I
3. Her favorite classes are Accounting and Administration. The teachers of these classes are also her favorite teachers.
4. In collegio, the students are allowed to use a calculator. Josselin uses a Casio fx-82MS. It appears to be a four function calculator with other screen and memory features.
5. Some classes require online research. To do this, Josselin travels by bus to Santa Ana which means that she has to pay to get there. She also has to pay about Q5 per hour to use the computer. If she has to ride the bus back home, she has only three hours to get her work done as there is only one bus from Purushila to Santa Ana and back each day.
6. Today I watched as Josselin completed her Accounting homework. She is a very focused student. I can tell that she is learning the material and that she likes her studies. Her homework in this subject took over an hour.
7. Next she showed me the homework that she had completed in math. She is studying the number system as well as simplifying numeric and algebraic expressions containing positive and negative exponents as well as radicals. She was stuck on the last five problems and was ready to ask her teacher about those. Instead we got to work on them together. When I used the concepts to give her more difficult problems, she was eager to learn and we both had that mischievous look in our eyes which I love to see in students whom I am trying to trick and they know it!
I hope to be able to spend time with her on her other subjects as well. My hope is that in the upcoming weeks we will be able to install the internet in this village. Then we will need a place and time to open a set of computers to the students for their research. I am not sure how difficult this will be considering that most of the collegio students will likely need the computers at night....and night is not the safest of times to be working especially with items that are valuable. Pray that we can come up with a workable solution.
These are some of the wonderful things that happen on the front porch of our rented clinic building in Santa Ana. Most of all....love is shared....friends are made....encouragement is given....and smiles abound!
It has been some time since I have written. I have not forgotten you all! I was back in the USA and have just gotten back into things here in Santa Ana.
I was delighted to see that the computer program in the kindergarten not only continued while I was absent, but FLOURISHED! After having worked with the computers and the teacher for ONLY four days, I left the for the States. Livy, the teacher for the 20 six-year olds, set up and took down each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, ten computers for the students, as well as a computer and projector for the class to view a lesson together. When I returned, everything was working and Livy had even introduced the students to new activities involving letters and numbers.
Isn't this exactly what we hoped would happen?? Isn't the mission fulfilled when we can step out of the picture and the show will go on AND progress? I would have never guessed at such progress in such a short time.
Since things were running so well, we put 10 more computers in place at least until they are needed in another location. Can you imagine running 21 computers and a projector from ONE electric socket with only one place of connection? Well, that was what was going in this classroom--an organized network of extensions and power cords and wires everywhere!
Well, over this past weekend, that all changed. They surprised me yesterday by having put in conduiting so that there are now 6 double wall sockets around two walls of the classroom! What was so wonderful to me was that this was done all on their own. To me it is evidence of each party giving 100% all the time.
Isn't this exactly what we hoped would happen?? Isn't the mission fulfilled when those served take ownership and are empowered to determine their own progress?
It is a JOY to see the forward movement and the number of persons of the village involved in so many activities which revolve around this school. A little bit of encouragement goes a LONG way!
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012