Monday, July 14, 2008

a day in the life of...

"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." psam 90:1

well, it is the "green" time of the year here (otherwise known as the rainy season), and once again i have been amazed at how quickly it can go from dirt brown to green in what seems like a matter of minutes, bringing with it the smells and sights of new life. although it also brings with it muddy roads and 2 feet deep ruts, these realities can often be drowned out by a good rain on our tin roof, the smell of warmth that a clothes dryer brings (thank you matt and heidi), and a good game of pictionary on a wet saturday afternoon.

these past couple weeks have been busy as always. as a break from the norm, i got to "scrub in" to surgery with heidi in chichicastenango, although as she graciously did not mention in her blog, i ended up observing about half the time due to a weak stomach. however, while i decided that surgery is probably not the place for me unless i have lots of practice and mental preparation, it was amazing to watch heidi calmly and steadily remove a uterus that looked closer to mickey mouse ears than the nice round ball we hope for and work in very closed conditions to help repair a fallen fallopian tube. and what a testimony to the intricately creative God we have our bodies are, thinking down to the details as He weaved everything together to work in functioning order. in clinics, we have been seeing over 200 people weekly. as always, there are sad stories and stories that bring hope. we have had two different women in the pat two weeks come into one of our clinics not being able to see out of one eye due to their husbands beating them... because we have no emergency eye care centers here, there is a large chance that their sight will never return. we have also had two different experiences with aids this week, one being the mother and father of the little baby, juana that we took care of almost two years ago... after being with us on a feeding tube for a couple days, we sent her on to the hospital where she died a couple days later. we praise god that the mother is a christian, while we continue to pray for her husband, who still seems to have no interest in returning to God, even with his recent diagnosis. we had another little baby in chiminisijuan today, only 18 months old, who was born to two hiv infected parents. although the parents both look fairly healthy and continue to stay physically well, their little baby is severly malnourished, and the father has decided that he does not care about the state of his child since it is a girl. and equally sad, and of far greater eternal value, is the fact that this family, who rededicated their lives to the Lord last year after they learned that they have aids, has left the church, and we are unsure where their hearts are spiritually at this moment. however, as stated above, there are also the stories which can bring a smile to the face and raise some hope in your heart. it is a custom here that the mother does not leave the house and just rests for the first forty days after their babies are born. although there are also strict dietary guidelines that we sometimes wish the mother would skip and simply eat the food her body needs, the upside to this is that it is the only forty days for most women here that they actually get to rest! so, while we would like to respect the culture that we live in, we have also been encouraging these mothers to bring their babies in so that we can check them for many congenital defects that are often overlooked and many times result in death, such as heart defects or even something seemingly obvious to us like a cleft palate, and have offered these moms and babies a gift of clothes and soaps and lotions and diapers if they bring their babies in before their forty days are up. so, i was very excited to see this little baby (and actually there was a different one the week before) come in for a "well-baby check-up" at which time tomas was able to give and explain the gift. (a picture of this baby is shown at the bottom of the blog... the last picture in the list.) yesterday we learned of another belief in one of the towns in our area that brought a smile to our faces. (for the non-medical people, you may want to skip this story...) yesterday, leslie helped out in a clinic being run by a group of doctors from the states that came down to visit for the week. one man came in and informed them that he thought he might have diabetes, although he has been doing his own self checks. the way that he was taught to do them was to sometimes just taste his urine: if it is sweet, he has diabetes and if it is salty, then he is safe. however, even better is the treatment: if you do have diabetes, then you need to drink your urine everyday for a month! amidst the laughter is also reminders of the gentleness and appreciation of these people as we received (and often receive) gifts of fruit and other produce or poultry as a thanks. while there are times that i feel we are all from such different cultures, there are then moments that unite us all to remind me that we are all God's children, all falling under the same grace and love that draws us all unto Him.

below are some pictures from recently: the first ones are some fun times with the family: aaron and i after we got back from taking the motorcycle to and from chichicastenango and the surgery with heidi, craig and grace taking a nap "together," the girls washing dishes in the pila (from left to right: abi, jessie, and grace), and duane helping get some fish out of the pond. and then some clinic pics from chiminisijuan: a man and his son posing at the top of the bank that contains their "milpa" (their corn), leslie and tomas counting numbers, david starting a fire, joe and tomas and salvador working to get the four-wheeler through the muddy part of the road on the way to clinic, rachel catching some good reading time in front of a warm fire, a couple kids eating their "atol" (a rice drink) before clinic officially started, and last of all, the before-mentioned baby. at the top of the page is a picture that rachel took on the walk into clinic; it overlooks one of the aldeas (villages) that many of our patients come from and is one of the prettiest views i have seen in guatemala as the sun hits the top of the hill creating a place of light amidst the surrounding dark green.... of course it is always hard to capture these views by camera. we also have a few videos on YouTube if you are interested. just go to and under the search part type in adonai2540 and different videos of clinics and airplane take-offs and landings should come up.