Thursday, October 30, 2008

welcome winter

well the rains have stopped, the air has become cooler, and i instinctively found myself looking for the first snow this morning... i guess it is a little harder to break our natural tendencies than i would have expected after two guatemalan christmases. despite the need to pull out my old winter sweaters, the days have been beautiful with blue skies only dotted with clouds, green grass, the in-between of muddy roads and blowing dust, and the deep blue of the mountains against the afternoon sky. which has been nice for the long drives that this country often requires.

as anyone who has read rachel and the allison's blogs know, david smashed his finger last tuesday night while working on one of the trucks. after doing all they could here, we flew him into the city wednesday morning (another thank you god for the airplane...) where they were able to bring him into the OR under the care of a hand specialist who told David at the end of the operation that he should fully recover and there is a good possibility he will also get his finger nail back. now, almost a week later, he is doing well with almost no pain (well, he is a ficker man, so at least we get no reports of pain - haha).

last wednesday also found aaron and i in nueva santa katarina (about a four and a half hour drive each way from here) to help out again with one of agape's clinics. we have found the people in this town to be very welcoming and accomodating, and as we talked with the pastor/translator, we learned that this entire town had been re-built by the government after hurricane mitch came through 10 years ago. this was quite surprising to us in a country where government support is often subject to corruption and not properly delegated or carried out.
our very first patient was the mother of a lady we had been treating for diabetes who showed up last month 7 months pregnant with a history of ecclampsia and emergency c-sections with her past two babies. i asked her to come back in a month (wednesday) and said that we would talk with her again then. so, when her mom showed up, i immediately asked her how her daughter was doing to which she replied that she had delivered her baby by emergency c-section in the hospital after having started with seizures again. we went to visit her and her family after clinic, finding a healthy baby and mom, and very welcoming and fun-loving family. as i took her blood pressure (normal) and we laughed over some warm milk, i couldn't help but be amazed at the grace and power of our God as i left the home of a lady who had three healthy children, all who had delivered under ecclamptic circumstances, and all three born at least one month early.
yesterday brought us to chicabracan for another agape clinic. we have again found the people to be very welcoming and surprisingly compliant in taking care of their health. all of these clinics have been different than our weekly clinics, mostly because almost all of our patients are there for chronic conditions. i have been very surprised at their willingness to take care of their health, even having one patient come in yesterday who hadn't been sure when our next clinic was, but had asked around to find out the date for sure so that she could get back on track with her medication for diabetes. it has also been enjoyable to get to know these patients better since we see them each month.
in our own weekly clinics, we have continued to see about 230 a week. we continue to be thankful for don's help, as it has helped lighten the load for leslie and i. i was calculating the other day different figures for our clinics and realized that about 60% of the clinic here and 40% of the clinic in San Andres is prenatal care, and we have been having a growing number of prenatal patients in Chiminisijuan. again, we have found this to be such a wonderful way to build relationships with these women we see each week.
this last saturday, we had a young pregnant girl come in with her mom. after doing the girl's ultrasound, i turned to her mother and asked how we could help her that day. she told me that a doctor in the puesto de salud had refered her here for an ultrasound, but she told me that at 42 years old, she was sure that she couldn't be pregnant in addition to the fact that she had receiving injections for birth control for the past 8 years. i agreed with her as i put her on the table, almost wondering if it was worth it to even perform the exam. however, when i put the porbe on her stomach, i found not only one, but two heads and heart beats!! they each measured at about 15 weeks, only 2 weeks behind the measurement of her daughter's baby! i gave the mother the news almost hesitantly, although after the initial shock, she told me that she and her husband would both be glad to hear this news, and she laughed to herself and her us as if she still couldn't believe it for the next five minutes as i filled out her card.
in other news, we have started a new "ministry" blog, so if you are interested you can visit us at or click on the link on the side of my blog screen titled adonai internationl ministries. we plan on doing weekly updates on this page, since we have had some troubles with the website.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

tools in his hands

this is from an update that i wrote on september 11, also published on our website. please note that there is this post and the one below.

She walked into clinic looking no different from many of the other woman who walked in that day. She had waited all day for this consulta, yet as my last patient of the day, my mind was already starting to think ahead to what needed to be done before we would get home and to all that waited for us there. She sat down in the chair across from me, starting her story with a sure voice. She was here because her stomach hurt and because she got nervous when her husband yelled at her. I smiled quietly to myself at her complaint as I checked her blood pressure and listened to her stomach. As I got ready give her the tums for her gastritis, I thought of how I would explain that there is no medicine for nervousness when her husband yells at her. So, thinking that there is really only one sure remedy for nervousness, I asked her if she was in a church. She looked down at her hands briefly, and then charged ahead (talking through Rosa, our Quiche-Spanish translator) with the reason that we so often hear. “My husband will not let me go.” As I was getting ready to ask her to explain further, she was, to my surprise, already talking again; she was not forceful in her explanation, but she was missing the apathy that appears to accompany so many of the talks about God that we have, and I was surprised by her willingness and seeming interest to talk further on this subject. She explained that she had five kids, would like to go to church, but was told by her husband that he would kick them out of the house if he ever found out that they had gone to church. Spurred on by her openness, I asked her whether she wanted a relationship with Christ. At the quick nod of her head and “yes” in Quiche, I ventured ahead carefully, praying that this woman would see the hope and freedom that Christ offers through the words that God would hopefully speak through Rosa and I. This is one issue that I have thought and prayed through many times, so I chose my words carefully as I tried to present the hope of a personal relationship with Christ in balance with the discipleship that church offers to a woman who is telling me that she will be cut off from all sources of survival if she sets foot in a church. I started by telling her that a relationship with God is first of all a decision that she makes in her heart, and that is something that her husband or her church can never have control over nor make any decisions about; her husband may have a lot of control over many things in her life, but this is not one of them. And she could make this decision in her heart and not even tell her husband… just love him and pray for him while walking in her heart on the path of God. I was amazed by the “light bulb” that seemed to go off as she sat back in her chair and asked if that was really true, as if the thought had never occurred to her. I then told her that if she really wanted to make that decision, she could make it right now in that very room. Again, shocked by the immediate response of yes, Rosa and I prayed with her and then Rosa led her through a prayer of acceptance which she confidently repeated. I gave her a bible, which she told me her cousin could read to her, and asked her to come back the next week when she could talk to a leader in the church if she had any questions. And I told her that we would be praying for her. I cannot explain the state I left that room in. I have talked to many people here about God, but rarely have I felt that they truly understood. And I can accept this; we are from two very different cultures and why would they take anything from me – a young white girl? But to be able to be a part of God using two young girls, one “gringa,” to reach His love into the heart of one searching Mayan mother was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life.


well, i did not meet my goal of blogging once a month, but i am hoping since it is only october 2nd, we can pretend this blog is still part of september. we are also trying to do weekly or "every-other weekly" updates on our website - - so i am hoping that my recent posts there have counted towards this ;)

as summer is now offically at an end, we watched some good friends and some new friends come and go. as life has settled back into somewhat of a routine, we have been lucky to add the allison family to our "little farm" here as they stay in the clinic for the next 7 months. they have four children and will be helping out with an orphanage in san andres, as well as helping out around here as needed. don will be joining us in the clinics each week as well, a much welcome help.

on the website and above i posted about a lady who came into clinic a few weeks ago. she came back this past sunday, walking in with a small smile on her lips and sat down, her back straight and her hands calmly folded in her lap. she said that she was just there today for some general aches and pains type stuff, so i questioned her further about how things were going in her house. she smiled at flor (our translator) and said that her husband has not hit her in this past month and has been drinking less. i asked if she was continuing to pray for him and with the same smile she told us that she has... and that her children have been reading the bible to her.... and that they really enjoy it. i could not help but have a huge smile on my face as well as i listened to her talk and promised that we would continue to pray for her and her family.

we have also picked up a couple of clinics for matt and heidi while agape in action is in between doctors. aaron and i have gone out to chicabracan (a village about 30 minutes from quiche) and nueva santa katarina (about 4 hours from us) once a month for september and now into october. it has been very different to do clinics by myself without heidi or leslie next door to ask questions to, although the patients and people we have met have all been very accomodating. it has also been a quite different feel to have government hospitals so near by to refer people to. here, as i have written about before, we find that to refer people to the hospitals is usually "por gusto" (for nothing) because they do not want to take the trip out there just to "see their family member die in the hospital" (a quote we often hear). although we have still heard stories about patients with bad experiences at the hospitals, it has made me realize how "alone" we are out here in many ways without any hospital or other medical services anywhere near here to refer people to.

although we are mostly watching over their chronic patients, keeping them stocked with the meds they need to keep their blood pressures, diabetes or pregnancy under control, we have had a few acute cases as well... like a 35 year old woman who looks to have pretty advanced ovarian cancer. without the proper equipment and resources to diagnose, we are left with prayers and referals to places that also have poor equipment in the hopes that we can find a way to help this woman stay on this earth a little longer with her children and family while still holding in balance the hope and knowledge that this woman will find herself in a better place if the lord should choose to take her now.

on a much lighter note, aaron and i celebrate our one year wedding anniversary tomorrow! i feel like it has truly flown by, although it is crazy to me the things that already feel so "normal"... like my last name being ficker... :)

God bless you all today, for real.... and may you be finding those moments and relationships of joy in the midst of what we all call life.