Monday, October 29, 2012


With two kids on the move now (Ethan is almost walking, but in the meantime has mastered crawling at impressive speeds) it is that much more obvious to me how quickly life flies by.... and that there is no stop button. I cannot believe that Ethan will be a year old in a little over a month... I cannot believe that I will have been a mom for three years in February... that I have been married for five years, and lived here in Guatemala for six. And while I know these sound like incredibly small numbers, I have realized that if this is how quickly these times go by, I will blink and tomorrow Anna will be heading off to college.

I recently watched a movie about a working mom, and one of the main points was in learning how to juggle... and I liked that. "Balance" has a way of feeling like trying to attain the impossible, but juggling allows you to constantly be a little off - there are always 2 or more balls in the air - and yet attain an overall balance... as long as they don't all fall on the ground :)

Plus, it makes me think of clowns... which makes me think of children laughing... which makes me smile. And what mother doesn't appreciate happy children and smiling as we continue to juggle all on our plate? :)

Aaron, Duane, and Joseph have poured every free moment of time they have into getting the addition done which will give us a second bedroom and bathroom and the ability to get the kids in their own room! While we have done just fine in the house we have, the extra space will be a huge blessing, and it has been done beautifully.... definitely scored on marrying into a gifted hard working family. We head to Guatemala City this week to pick out some tile, and then it is just a couple more things (like windows) before it is completed.

Clinics continue to keep us busy as we rarely have less than 70 people in canilla and never less than 100 in San Andres. Rachael and Leslie said yesterday that we now serve over 80 people with diabetes and/or hypertension in Canilla, and over 50 people with the same in San Andres! While many people here can easily be diagnosed with these conditions, few can afford the meds/trips to Quiche (the nearest city that can provide this care) that are needed to maintain/treat their condition. Most importantly, though, the continual relationships that are built as these patients come back regularly are an opportunity to lead them to Christ and/or encourage them in their relationship with him.

I have cut down now to doing just the two weekend clinics (Rachel and Leslie continue to do the Tuesday clinic in Chiminisiguan and one other monthly clinic) which will allow me more time to focus on things like starting schoolwork with Anna and getting stuff in order for the nursing school - and also give Aaron more time to work on other ministry things. We met with the head of all nursing schools in Guatemala about a month and a half ago; she informed us that there is no way we will open in January 2013, but was great as she discussed how she will help us get everything in order for opening January 2014. It was wonderful to actually be talking with the very person who will be approving our school and hearing it all "straight from the horse's mouth." Part of what she encouraged me to do was to go ahead and start the process of getting my Guatemalan nursing license - something that will require a lot of work, time and God's hand and favor. (For example, just in order to get my college nursing diploma accepted, I will need to have a notary verify that the college's signature is accurate, a county branch verify that the notary is accurate, a Guatemalan consulate in the States verify that the college, the notary and the county branch stamps are accurate, then bring it here to have it translated, and then bring it to another place here in the City to have the translated copy - which includes all the previous stamps - authenticated one last time before it can be handed in!) So, this week when we arrive in the City, we will also head to the department in charge of "incorporating" my American nursing license into the Guatemalan system to get the process started. Please continue to pray that the Lord's favor will be over this long process! We are hoping that if we can get this all taken care of in the next year, I will be able to serve as the director over the nursing school when it opens.

And while life happens anywhere, and we all continue walk the road before us one step at a time, praying for and giving to those around us even when it feels routine, there are times when I long to know that God is hearing our prayers... that He is still moving. And the other day, He did just that as a little girl and her mother from Cruz Chich come to know Jesus during one of our clinics in Canilla. We have been praying for this area for years, and our monthly clinic is in a village right next door. The little girl came in complaining of stomache aches and head aches. As I further prodded, I felt compelled to ask about her home life, and watched as her eyes darted to her mother, and then went wide as she explained that her father was usually drunk and then would beat them both... sadly, a story that is more common than not here. As the little girl further explained her desire to achieve in school (she is the only one in her entire family that can read in Spanish - something she is learning in school) and the failure she felt when she didn't succeed as she wished, my heart went out to her; her young innocence and honesty was so raw. I explained that there was someone who could be a friend to her... someone who would be right there with her always... not that it would always be easy, but she would never be alone again. And as we explained all this to her in front of her mom, her mom asked if she too could be friends with Jesus. And as I watched this little girl and her mother repeat a prayer after our translators, asking Jesus to forgive them of their sins and committing to walk with him from now on, my own heart rejoiced with the angels in Heaven as two more lost ones came home. We continue to pray for this area that is so set in the Mayan ways and traditions... that God will raise up a church that will faithfully continue to disciple in Truth.

And so, God continues to remind us often that He is not done with us yet as we continue to learn to juggle all before us - and we are so grateful for His grace and encouragement to get back up when balls are dropped! His daily faithfulness is apparent, and life lately has definitely further humbled Aaron and I to the point where we know that each day we make it through is a visible sign of His mercy and grace over our lives. We are so thankful for good family and friends that love on us, and a Father and Friend that allow us to let go of the "things that so easily entangle" and enjoy "the abundant life" that He has called us to.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, emphasis mine)

Aaron and Antonio working on the roof line with Duane and Joe...

The little girl who came to know Jesus during clinics
Ethan helping Daddy, Uncle Joe, and Grampa work on the plane

Our town of Canilla nestled at the foot of the mountains.
Anna ready to fly to the City!

Monday, August 27, 2012

the important things

sitting before me in a beautiful black huipil (shirt) with handsewn embroidery around the neckline, i look at this thin little girl in front of me as my mind travels to what her life most likely entails on a daily basis. although she has not told me any of this, i know that a few years ago, she would have left her father, mother, and siblings to move in with her husbands' parents and any siblings that are still at home (the custom here for all families). and as a young girl in love, i am sure that she had dreams and hopes of the life that she and her husband would lead as she knew she would follow him anywhere... even to a bedroom in her in-laws' home. and as i notice the weariness in her slumped shoulders, i am led to see more... she is not worried about her washing machine breaking - as all of her clothes are hand washed - and she has never heard of a dryer. she is not worried about her "second home" having a two car garage or a beautiful array of kitchen cabinets - she does not even have a first home. she is not worried about whether her children will make it into the "elite" preschool and go on to be doctors or lawyers - she is happy if they make it past their fifth birthday. and i am sure that she has long ago forgotten those dreams that were so set in her heart as she ran away into this night with the man that was to be her husband. i see the exhaustion set in the lines on her face, and i know that at the young age of 19, she has already aged well beyond her years. and i know that a few years and two kids later, the sacrifices she has made for her marriage and children are already great...

and so, she emphatically shakes her head "no" as i repeat the question "are you sure you aren't pregnant?"... although even i catch the small tremor of fear pass through her face as she turns to her husband, her eyes begging him for agreement. and as he looks at her with a shrug of his shoulders that says, "how am i supposed to know?" my mind goes to the fears that he also has tucked away in the recesses...

she and her husband are from a village (cruz chich) that we also work in on a monthly basis - a very large, gorgeous village set up high in the mountains. the primary source of "employment" (as is true in all of the villages that surround our area) is agriculture (corn for sure and beans if they are wealthy enough to buy and plant them), and in this particular village, the corn is all planted by hand on extremely steep mountainsides... mountainsides that often wash away with the torrent of rains that drench the ground this time of year, washing away all the hope of a harvest along with the soaked earth. although we have witnessed personally how extremely family-oriented cruz chich is (a seemingly rare characteristic in our area), i know that despite their high regard for their children and their beyond willingness to help each other out, a third child will not only add to their work load, but also add to the many mouths already in this household that will need to be fed... that a pregnancy will mean that the mom will not be able to do all the work that she normally does as her level of exhaustion and belly continue to grow... that this young man's mind must be already turning back to the baby girl sitting on his lap - 1 yr old and 15 pounds; she is the real reason they came in today... to see if there was anything we could do for her swollen little belly and diarrhea.

and so, as i place the ultrasound probe on this thin mom's abdomen after much persuasion on my part, my heart already starts to go out to them as i find a very much alive little 8 week baby inside.

as i watch shock and confusion and then a resigned overwhelmedness register on their faces, i sit down next to them, praying that God moves me aside and speaks His words of hope at this time, especially as i am aware of the "coat hanger" methods that, in desperation, they use for abortion here. i start with how i KNOW how much work kids are... to which they both emphatically shake their heads up and down, eye wide with understanding! but, then i remind them also what a joy they can be, that they will not be this young forever, that they will not be this much work forever, that this is a season of work - and a work worth doing. they quietly listen, nodding their heads every now and then. i continue on, asking them if they know Jesus. the husband actually smiles and gets a teasing twinkle in his eye as he says, "when we go to church... which is rarely." glad for even a small smile as an open door, i smile back and talk to them about how great our God is and how much love He has for them... how when we are at our weakest (and really, how often are we more weak than when we are exhausted from having been up 63 consecutive nights feeding a baby every few hours with one or more active toddlers in tow along with housework and normal life functions? ha), His strength is that much stronger.... how He is longing to reach them through a relationship with His son jesus... how His Spirit will give them the power and strength to get through each moment of each day. while i know that the wife, who speaks primarily quiche only, was not understanding all of this, i was somewhat amazed as i watched the husband focus on the words and process what was being said. i implored them that when they go home and think and talk through all of this, if their thoughts turn to abortion, to please come back and talk to us, as we know many families who long for a baby of their own and would love to adopt. and then i asked them if they had a bible. the husband was quick to say no, and i asked them if they would read it if i gave them one. the husband answered yes, and accepted the bible i handed them more readily than i would have expected.

as we finished getting the wife's vital signs and her little one year old set up on our nutrition program, i watched as her husband took the bible outside, opening it up to some of the books i had tagged as good ones to start with.

as i have prayed and thought of them since then, God has also reminded me of so much... how much sacrifice and work the important things in life take! how the key to life is giving more and more and more, and in the irony of this faith we live, it is through this process that He fills us, blesses us, takes care of us, comforts us, and shows Himself the greatest. that at that point where we are absolutely sure that we cannot possibly give anymore - that we cannot possibly have this third or tenth child or we cannot possibly continue to pour out to those around us without the help of a spouse or cannot possibly daily juggle work, family, and all the financial responsibilities on our plate - that at that moment - when we turn to Him - we discover that we are just starting to understand how to truly live... that when everything is taken out of our control, we are finally starting to see who we really are and who He really is... that we are able to see how blessed we really are and that even though it may still be hard, how GOOD our God really is!

"the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; i have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!" john 10:10

Thursday, August 16, 2012

dorms, schools, 24 hour care centers... and kids

Things continue to move along in our usual "ever changing," yet "always seemingly the same" way... I think this is mostly due to the fact that projects are always in the works - just at Guatemalan speed :)

Jacinto, or "Chinto," and Angel continue to plug along on the well and wall that will need to be in place by the time the dorm structure itself will be started. The front of the property where the house sits has already had a block wall base with a chain link fencing in between the cement posts, but the back half, which has all been just pasture up until now, has only had a barbed wire low lying fence around it to keep our animals in and other animals out. Now, with the prospect of people living back there, we are continuing the block wall so as to provide more safety for future construction and inhabitants of the dorm. With already a couple teams in the works for helping with the building construction, we continue to move forward one day at a time.

We have also been able to monitor a couple pregnancy patients with the fetal monitor that we were given; while this will be extremely useful during a labor/delivery process, we have been able to use it to monitor heart accelerations and decelerations with movement or contractions in a couple concerned/post-term patients, which was very helpful in determining whether these patients needed to be referred or not. We have also started a more formal physical therapy program, which we were able to structure with a good friend and physical therapist who came to visit a couple months ago. With some new generalized paper charting forms and a couple physical therapists interested in creating a rotation schedule for visiting here, we are hoping that this will continue to grow into a program that will be able to train up any interested Guatemalans with a focus on teaching the parents how to continue the exercises in the home, as well as provide a source of encouragement to the families that care so diligently for these children day in and day out without a break or resources for help. As most of these children are already on the nutrition program, they continue to be at risk for many of the illnesses that we hope to be able to serve with the 24 hour acute care center; with the public department hospital (2 1/2 hours from us) now serving a population of over 1 million people (due to the lack of resources available in the other public hospitals), we feel more and more the urgency to get a place up and running where we can offer these services and help monitor patients that the hospital physically cannot take.

Things are also falling into place for the nursing school to open! While it will not be ready to open in January of 2013, the paperwork is almost completely in order (a pure miracle and completely due to the help of our friend Victor's wife, who has worked hours upon hours getting our proposal set)! We are still in prayer for a director and teachers, two positions that the government mandates must be filled with a doctor or professional nurse (master's level) that has their Guatemalan license; our prayer is to find personnel that will have a heart for God and His people here who see this school as another mission field, not just a job. There are a few different ways that we can move forward with this, especially as we have had such a difficult time finding people willing to serve in these capacities; we greatly appreciate any and all of your prayers in this area!

And our family continues to thrive here in Guatemala as well. The biggest cause for crying and temper tantrums is when Anna and Ethan are forced to stay inside for any period of time, and I marvel at how much they cherish the Guatemalan farm life we have here. Anna's morning routine includes "coffee" with mom and dad and then out to milk the cow, with sometimes a mid-morning dip in the cow trough on hot days. Ethan shows signs of following in his father's footsteps, as he loves to be in the hanger with the planes, hammer (or really anything big) in hand, pounding on whatever surface we allow him to... or out with the cows :) I am beginning to wonder if this "cow loving" trait is imbedded in the DNA, as both of our kids seem to love to be with them as much as their father does! Aaron just finished up an annual inspection on the Cessna, as well as continuing work on the Aztec during the rainy season. We also continue to produce various dairy products with the milk our Jersey provides, hoping to continue to introduce the area here to products such as yogurt and different types of cheese. We have also added two new monthly clinics to the schedule, doing three clinics one week and four the next. It has been a privilege to continue to serve in this capacity, and I am so blessed and thankful for a husband who helps with the kids on the days that I go off to clinic!

Below are some pics that show a little better some of the happenings lately...

Here is the new wall being put up; this is the beginning stages when they
were still setting the concrete posts

Here is a little boy that was helped through the nutrition program;
a few months ago, he was severely malnourished, but with just
a little bit of beans and protein supplement, he improved greatly!

One of our good friends "meaching" Ethan
(this works as well as a car ride for putting him to sleep :) )

Rachel got a shot of Anna on a walk on one of our favorite paths

Friday, August 10, 2012

a simplehearted faith

i see it every now and then... glimpses of it in anna and sometimes even ethan... and it hits me. that's what it looks like.... that's what jesus is talking about.... that is what i am called to...

a childlike faith.

God continues to open and close doors, confirming each step of the way that He is moving and growing us! and yet, while especially the thought of getting to be a part of opening a nursing school here is something that should have me wrapped up in excitement, i find myself often nervous, apprehensive, leery of what this change will bring, and mostly scared that i will somehow mess up what God is doing. God has taught me and continues to teach me many things through this whole process - a lot of "His ways are higher than our ways" stuff! - but the other day, i read this scripture and one phrase in particular stuck with me...

"The LORD protects the simplehearted {"those of childlike faith" in the New Living translation}; when I was in great need, he saved me." Psalm 116:6

simplehearted. how often i come to God with all my worries and the pieces of this puzzle that i have been trying to figure out... i do my christian thing and lay them all before Him, only to pick them up as my prayer time ends and carry them with me as i head on my way.

yet, again, i watch my daughter. she laughs and plays, exploring the world around her daily as if the cares of the world are far from anything she will ever have to worry about. she comes to aaron and i daily, full of questions, eager to learn... not because she is scared she is going to fail a test we have for her at the end of the day or week or year, but because she wants to be a part of the world around her... because to her it is still a great adventure, a world of treasure waiting to be discovered. and because we are the people - her mother and father - who God has placed before her to help her navigate, to help her discover, to help guide her, holding her back with discipline when necessary and excitedly showing her the wonder before her when there is something she should dive into.

i know we are adults, parents, people with jobs and responsibilities. the projects that God is opening before us are going to take a lot of work, a lot of perseverance, a lot of grace, a lot of communication, a lot of planning and creativity, and a lot of just "doing what needs to be done whether we feel like it or not!" but we are also children.... right?

and as anna - who with childlike faith wakes up every morning excited to be a part of something bigger than herself, looking for her place to fit in and help out, aware that she is not going to do this all on her own (although, her independent streak and strong toddler will does often challenge this aspect!), excitedly asking questions, watching the world around her with wonder, and learning to listen to our voices as her guide on this journey - i too hope to approach my own Father and life this way... choosing to let the worries and the pieces of the puzzle stay at jesus' feet beyond just my daily prayer times and instead coming to God with a childlike wonder, asking Him questions about what is on His heart and what He is doing, and seeking to learn better how to hear His voice in place of my own.

there are lots of pieces still missing in all these doors that God is opening - a 24 hour acute care center, a nursing school, a dorm... as well as the aspects of ministry life that are already in place - medical, aviation and agricultural work. and there are lot's of different ways to get involved. if you are interested in learning more about any of the things that God is doing here and how you can plug in, please feel free to contact me in any of the following ways: leave a comment here, email me at, and/or Facebook (Katie Eleiott Ficker).

may God bless you richly, and may you too carry out the tasks that He has placed before you with a childlike faith and wonder a little bit today :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

winds of change

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

Just as Ecclesiastes says, there are times and seasons for everything under the heavens... we seem to be in a season in which God is propelling us forward, reminding us that He is in control and our job is to join in what He is already doing. It is always an amazing thing when God allows us glimpses of what He is doing, and these past few months, I have had a lot of those "A-hah!" moments, as He reveals another piece of a missing puzzle, or gently directs us towards something and then blows us out of the water as He shows that He has already thought of everything and we watch things fall into place.

When I very first met the Fickers almost 6 years ago, Duane shared a vision that God had given him years before about a hospital coming to our area. What I loved most was that Duane did not then go home, sit down, and plan out how that hospital was going to happen; instead, he praised God and left it on the backburner, knowing that God would work it all out in His own time. And we have been faithful to see God move toward that in His own way, bringing certain people into our lives and placing certain burdens and dreams in our hearts. We sat down a few years ago to look at what it would really involve to bring a hospital to our area and realized that there are some basic things that need to be in place first...

First of all, we could have the most beautiful hospital building in the world, but without staff, it would be simply a beautiful empty building. Certain family members and friends mentioned to us that really one of the first things that should go into place is a nursing school, something that the very mention of made my heart flutter a little as I thought of the girls that I had already been informally teaching basic science/nursing lessons to each Saturday morning before Ethan was born.

Second of all, we felt that we would need to start small. One of the biggest areas of need here is pediatrics (children). While we are able to see children on an outpatient basis right now, many families are unwilling to make the long 2 1/2 hour trip to the nearest hospital simply to have their child stay for a few days to receive IV fluids or IV antibiotics... something that they definitely have their reasons for, but something that also often accounts for the deaths that we see in our area. (Respiratory infection and dehydration are the two leading causes of death among children here.) With Rachael here now to help, we took in a little baby a few weeks ago who came in with oxygen saturations levels in the low 60's (please go to Leslie's blog for the entire story), and while it was a blessing to have extra hands as Leslie and Rachael did every two hour nebulizer treatments, it was another reminder that if this is something that will be long-term, we will need more staffing.

Along the same lines, we have sat down and had some conversations lately about what we could offer that would help complement the services that are already offered by the Guatemalan hospitals/clinics here. Ie: the Guatemalan hospital does a fine job with surgeries such as c-sections, appendectomies, gall bladders, etc., but they do not have the staffing or physcial capacity to hold patients that need chronic care. This little baby that came in a few weeks ago is a patient that will probably need to be on long term oxygen delivery, and would benefit from around the clock respiratory care for at least a few months, but there is not a place that we know of (without paying extreme amounts of money for private care) that can provide these services. Special needs children in our area are another "forgotten" people group, and one that we have long desired to be able to help; with properly trained staff and the physical capacity, we would also be able to start to serve these children through physical therapy/other chronic care services.

However, as we started talking about opening the clinic for more services, it quickly became apparent that there was another obstacle: housing. Right now, the three rooms in the back half of the clinic are used to house teams/individuals that come to visit or stay long or short term, and are therefore rendered unusable for clinic purposes. So, we have been in discussion and prayer over land for and a dorm that could house people who come...

And it seems that when God moves, He moves! The moment that land became available, things started to happen...

We started having people come to us asking if we taught nursing classes and telling us of the need for something better to come into our area - something that offers better education, and something that offers better medical care.

So, we connected with another private nursing school in a town about 5 hours from here (they are one of only 5 accredited private nursing schools in the entire country) that is helping us understand and go through the steps that are needed to open up a school that will be accredited by the Guatemalan government. We have been able to sit down with the director who does all the paperwork for these schools, as well as some American friends who are very interested in seeing this happen, and things are underway!

We have received our first couple pieces of "seed" equipment: oxygen regulators that will calibrate low enough to deliver oxygen precisely and efficiently to little babies that will need future help, as well as a fetal monitor in which we can do non-stress tests on pregnant mamas - another form of deciding whether a patient needs to be referred or can be monitored here.

And the day after we sat down and made floor plans for what the new dorm structure would look like (a mere two weeks ago), we received a phone call stating that someone wanted to pay for the well and wall to be built - the very first steps that would need to happen before a foundation could be laid for the dorm. We also received emails from two other individuals asking if there were specific projects that their church/friends could support. As we do not believe in going into debt, we knew that it would take an act of God to see the ball get rolling financially, and we sat back amazed as God began to unfold things and put all the pieces into place!

If you would like to be involved in any of these areas, please do not hesitate to check out our ministry through the website or contact me directly at There you can find ways to continue to pray for us, check out blogs from other people who serve with the ministry, or other ways to get involved more personally.

Thanks for reading and joining us in the work God is doing here! I pray that He will bless you as you bless those around you!

Friday, October 07, 2011


i have spent many days over the past seven months wishing this baby "done" and into my arms.... now with the time nearing a close, i have found myself in full blown nesting mode with about seven different "before baby" lists going :) we have decided to name this little baby boy ethan, with the middle name still in the works. aaron actually discovered this name while we were in the midst of some complications and not sure what was going to happen with the pregnancy. when i looked up the meaning for the name, we found out that ethan was actually a worshipper in king david's court in the old testament and authored psalm 89.... a psalm all about god's faithfulness. the name itself means strong and optimistic, solid and enduring, or permanent.... all the same things that we had been praying over our baby... we were both pretty excited to have discovered it :)

anna continues to discover new things daily, with her latest loves involving horses and babies and helping clean the house. she amazes me with her continuous energy and drive to give life all she has, her big eyes aglow and full of laughter constantly. she has now entered the heights of toddlerhood, knowing exactly what she wants at any given moment (and willing to do whatever she thinks it will take to get that!) and wanting to do absolutely everything by herself. at a little over 17 months, she decided it was time to start potty-training, and is well on her way.... i continue to pray that her independent spirit and strong desire to help will be a positive in a few months when i will cherish the help! she gives little ethan a "kiss" almost every night (which really just turns into pressing her mouth into my belly, blowing and laughing over the noise it makes) and enjoys talking about the baby... it will be interesting to see how much she enjoys the baby after he is no longer inside of mommy's belly...

we enjoyed many visitors coming and going this summer and then were able to take a three week trip to the states in september. although we literally crossed the entire country during these three weeks (we started in arizona, flew to new york to visit my grandparents, then to chicago to visit friends there, then drove to st louis for almost a week to visit friends and family there, and then a last day in chicago to see friends at a church there before flying back home) and were on the go from the moment we arrived (something that is much easier to handle without a toddler and 7 months of pregnancy), it was a truly blessed time in which we got to connect with many people we haven't seen in years as well as new people, all of whom were an encouragement to us in ways that cannot be described in words. although we are very fulfilled in our life here and surrounded by family dear to our hearts, there are times of loneliness and isolation that times of fellowship and worship with other americans cannot replace, and it was a blessing to have been encouraged in this way.

a couple days before we left for the states, our jersey cow gave birth, and we returned home to two gallons a day of extra milk after the heifer calf is fed her portion by bottle. i am so grateful that this came before baby when i still have a little bit of time to figure out how exactly to make the most of the milk that we have coming into the house..... i quickly discovered that cheese making is not my calling or love in life, but found that butter, yogurt, and cream cheese are not only things that are relatively unavailable in our area and high in nutritional value, but are also easy and profitable ways to process the milk to sell. it has been an overwhelming, yet fun journey to have begun.

leslie and i have also started doing a monthly clinic in a village near us called cruz chich in addition to the three weekly clinics. a completely indigenous village, it is extremely large and full of need.... amazing me actually with how much need there is there in spite of the fact that they are about 45 minutes from a hospital and about 30-40 minutes from us. we often see people from this village in our saturday clinic, and i have to admit that i did not expect that there would be much need for us to start a clinic in the village in addition to the people we already saw.... however, i was wrong. we have asked them to limit numbers to 100, but have easily seen 120 people each time as they always add "emergencies" to the already sold numbers. although the days are long, it has truly been a joy to work there and get to know these people and move ourselves to reach them instead of asking them to come to us. they are a very very reserved village and do not trust many people... after about 5 months of working there, we have finally started to see women and children (it is typical in every village we work in for them to send their men to us first to check us out, and when the women and children start to come we know that steps are being made), and the malnutrition and poverty we have seen has broken our hearts. with many of the men having gone to the states and returned with money, certain parts of the village are starting to raise their standards of living, but the signs of extreme poverty are everywhere... and we believe mostly stemming from the spiritual poverty that is evident on almost all of the faces we see. in this way, it has been a joy to not only be able to offer them a lovng touch and listening ear as well as a prayer when appropriate, but we have even had a couple people come back already and tell us that they know that they received healing due to the prayers they received! i have learned to be content knowing that most often in life the seeds that we plant are never seen by our eyes, but what a joy it is to be able to witness someone experiencing for the first time the sweet joy and peace that jesus offers, especially in a land where the people face such difficult and hard lives.

thank you for sharing a little bit in our journey of discovering more of Him and His goodness to us... i pray that as you read this, He has made His blessings in your own life evident to you as well!

below are just a few pics, but if you are interested, you can find more on our facebook page under katie eleiott ficker.

here's anna playing in the river on a hot day, and below you can see our newly finished dining room and living room...

here's our jersey cow and calf, and below is our first batch of butter!

here is a little baby that came to us malnourished and dehydrated... you can see her taking her oral rehydration solution through a little dropper as her gramma helps her

Thursday, June 23, 2011

motherhood... again

yes, we are pregnant again! (well, i am...). at 16 weeks, we are excited at the prospect of welcoming our second child into the world somewhere around december 4th, 2011! although this pregnancy doesn't hold the "newness" that my pregnancy with anna held, i find myself still amazed at the fact that God allows us to carry a life that He created inside of us for 10 months, even enjoying the fact that my belly has started to make room for and show signs of the little one within (despite the rising numbers on the scale!) however, if i had forgotten how exhausting first trimester pregnancy can be, i was reminded these past few months full force with a toddler in tow... hence, my current excuse for the long stretch in between posts :)

life over the past few months has been ever-moving as usual. in april, anna, i, duane, leslie, rach, grace and abi all took a few days in costa rica with hannah and matt while aaron, dave and joe headed to the states. it was great to see hannah and matt, catch up, and hang out on the beach a little. it was quite the experience for anna with an ocean on one side of the condo and an outdoor pool on the other side! i quickly learned how much trust and how little fear she has as she would quickly abandon the shallow "kiddie pool" section of the pool for the deeper end, even after a few dips with her head under... she would come up sputtering, but laughing and wanting more. we were a little more conservative with our time in the ocean as i quickly learned the equation that one 1 year old child + big waves + no fear = disaster :)

as mentioned, the guys took turns heading up to st louis to work on getting stuff together for the load, which finally arrived safe and sound (after many obstacles) in early june. (for the full story on all of those workings, please visit the ministry blog at or the ministry facebook page:!/pages/Adonai-International-Ministries/152761264756336.) aaron was gone for two weeks, at the end of which i found myself with a new found respect for military wives with husbands gone all the time and a new found appreciation for god's grace over me that this is not a life that i have been called to! the load came down with a few pieces of equipment that have already proven to be quite invaluable in keeping the runway and local roads in working order during the rainy season, as well as construction work which always seems to find itself a part of daily life here. it also brought down various personal items (like furniture, motorcycles, dishes, etc.) for each member of the family, and in that way was almost like a little hint of christmas in june :)

with a new baby coming, we have also realized the need to expand our current living quarters. our little three room house (one kitchen, one bedroom, and one bathroom and alcove area for anna's room), which has worked fine for us and one baby, is somewhat resistant to another addition (even a little one), and so the remodeling has begun! our porch has been bricked in to create a living room/dining room with four large windows to still allow the light, breeze and gorgeous surrounding view in each day while still providing the homey-private feel as well as safety that walls and a door can provide with young children. this will then lead by hallway past an entryway into a new bedroom and bathroom that will become ours while the kids will take our old bedroom. all of my "inability to see things that are not actually in front of me/lack of decorating skills" have been put to the test, although with the help of those around me who can see things in their heads and some better home and garden guides and pictures, i have gone from overwhelmed to enjoying helping to plan and watch our house turn into a home a little more with each step. we still have a ways to go, and with the obstacles that often face us in our lives here, as well as the laid-back guatemalan mentality, it will be a few to several more months until we move rooms around, although the living room is steadily plugging along and will hopefully be finished shortly. pictures of all this can be seen on my facebook page (katie eleiott ficker).... please feel free to check out our home pics as well as some general life and anna pictures there.

our two jerseys have now become one, as one of them took a tumble over the side of a mountain shortly before she was due to calf. i did not realize how much of myself i had invested in little paloma (dove), whom i fondly called oma, until she and her promise of 3-5 gallons of milk a day were no longer visible from outside our kitchen window. aaron and ryan jumped into action immediately after she tumbled and passed away, even using their leathermans to perform a c-section (pretty good for two men who will not even come into the clinic on days when cconsults are in session), but the little heifer calf came out not breathing. so, after a long process of learning how to butcher (you can also see pics of this on facebook), the whole family has been enjoying her for her meat instead of her milk. i realized how much i have changed since my "coffee shop suburban college life" as i watched our dreams of a small form of income as well as the introduction and availablity of certain dairy products in our area be chopped up and placed in the freezer. however, it was also in that moment that i was reminded that God holds all life and death in His hands, and that His plans and thoughts are higher than ours...

and i have said it many times before in my life, but God continues to remain faithful and bless us beyond what we could ever deserve in all areas of life. throughout a few early pregnancy complications and some serious family health issues these past few months, God has continued to provide us with the comfort, love, grace, and peace that only a relationship with Him can bring, holding our hands and healing our hearts as He has walked through the ups and downs right by our side. i cannot imagine a life without His presence "to guide and to cheer" (to borrow some lyrics from one of my favorite hymns) each step of the way.