Monday, March 30, 2009

some stories from canilla

yesterday was one of those mile-marker days that i don't think we realized how big it was until it happened. and even though i cannot confess to a large natural interest in airplanes, even i felt a little of the weight off (most likely due in large part to the fact that i am married to the mechanic) as i heard the hum of not just one, but two aztec engines (complete with new propellors thanks to the help of our supporters in the states) start up and run fine yesterday afternoon. that is right... the long-awaited for, two year project is now in the final stages of paint and finshing touches! thanks to everyone who has helped make this happen!

and so as i quickly try to get a blog in on the final day of march so as to meet my goal of one each month, i look back over a month of much craziness. i know that god is always faithful and i know that he works all out for good... i know that every situation has two sides to it and that it is all part of His plan, no matter how hard or easy it is. and i know that even in the midst of pain and hardship, god provides us with many blessings and happy times. however, all that said, it has been a hard month...

we have started taking a break in the middle of clinics to re-focus and pray together before re-starting. it has been good. however, it also seems like god uses that time of re-focusing to prepare us for some tough patients.

i saw a young mother of about 24 years old who i was treating for a bacterial infection. while asking questions to rule out a current pregnancy, i learned that she had no husband, and that her son was from a man who had gotten her pregnant and then left her. at the end of her exam, she leaned over to my translator and asked her if i knew if she had aids or not. i have never had anyone ask me this question, and i was thrown off by it a little. when i asked her why she asked that question, a story poured out that left me drained as i could not imagine the life that this woman had already lived in her short amount of years. and with the inability to do the necessary exams from our clinic, i prayed with her (she is already saved and actively following christ) and made a referral to quiche hospital praying that she could get the necessary care there.

one young girl sat in front of me, silent tears pouring down her face as i told her that it looked like her second pregnancy was also now her second miscarriage. seeing her leave with prayers and a bible, i know that the only One who can heal her heart is the One who created it in the first place.... i hope that she also comes to realize that.

another woman told me that some days she just cries and cries over the death of her son two years ago and that her neighbors told her that if she continues to cry, she will make herself sick. she looked at me with a mix between despair and hope and asked me if this is true. another woman who is already in a relationship with christ, i told her that this is where god wants to meet her and heal her heart. relief flooded her face as she told me that that is what she thought too and then we were able to pray together before she left.

another little girl that had been placed in our nutrition program a year ago but had never come back, returned with her older sister and her mother. her mother's story, as leslie had written about when she first came in, is that several years ago one of her neighbors (who was also a witch doctor) put a spell on her when she accidentally let the cows get into his pasture. ever since then, she has completely withdrawn, unable to follow simple commands and constantly talking to herself and rocking silently back and forth. the story was told to me by her 23 year old daughter who remembers when this all happened when she was little. now with three of her own children, she is not able to help her mother take care of the littel children, one of which was a 15 lb two year old who sat quietly in her mother's lap with big round scared eyes. as the 23 year old daughter continued to talk, she revealed her own fears of her inadequacies in her ability to mother her own children, as she had grown up with a mother more like a child than a grown woman. i prayed that god would give me his words as i struggled to know what to say or do in this situation. as we concluded the consulta, and i sent a two year old home to a situation where i knew she was not being taken care of, i was overcome again with the blatant, gaping holes in the systems in the area of this country where we work.

and my eyes have also been opened in this past month to some of the challenges, struggles, and unhealthy habits that some of the young girls here face.... cutting themselves, bulemia, anorexia, becoming pregnant at a young age seeking to find their worth in the eyes of a man. now, i know that these problems are universal, and it was a reminder to me that people are people everywhere no matter what their skin color, race, cultural background, or family situations are... there are still basic self-worth and life questions that everyone asks. however, it also opened my eyes to some of the needs here that i did not realize before, and reminded me that there is never a time to just say "well, that's just their culture (ie: to be pregnant at 13 years old)." that god seeks to bring freedom and answers and peace in the midst of all cultures.

i have also been working on a trip to antigua to bring in three little cleft palate babies for surgeries. we have been able to send several of our cleft palate babies with another ministry that has been working closely with the hospital that does these surgeries. however, this time they were unable to make it, so we decided to bring our own in and "learn the ropes." and over the course of the few months of seeing these babies every two weeks for milk and weights, they each started to grow a place in my heart more than i realized as i continued to work out the details of the trip. so a couple weeks ago when i called to pass on the details to the parents of one of the babies that we haden't seen for awhile, i felt like i had been punched in the stomache to hear that he had passed away due to "fever and cough." it was a reminder that there are many babies that die of this condition before they even get a chance at life, of the needed education and better health care system here, again of the powerlessness that i have over so much of this life. but more importantly, it was also a reminder that god comforts those who mourn and that he uses that comfort so that we can in turn comfort those around us.... that He loves them more than i could ever dream of.... that He gives and He takes away in His own timing and knowledge.... that He is in control over bad health care systems and phsyical sickness.... that if he wanted to, he could have saved that baby in a second.

and on a more positive note, although one of the other babies was unable to go due to an infection in his lungs, the other one made it to antigua and through the system, and is now scheduled for surgery on wednesday. aaron and i were also able to stay here for the weekend and help out in clinics and with the aztec since the only baby that was going was going with a translator that had already gone through the whole process. we are hoping that the other babies can get into surgeries scheduled for may.

we also had a trip to unilla, another village in the zona reina. the three other blogs covered all the details and have many pictures. it was a very good trip over all, and the need in the area is obvious. like always when we are confronted with a new need, we are continuing to pray for god's leading and how we can make this work as our lives seem to continue to fill up more and more each day.

and apart from work news, we continue to enjoy god's many blessings with friends, family, and our little home. as we were waiting for things to pan out with the electrical company, aaron did a lot of research on solar panels, and they just finally arrived in country today! we are very excited to get it all set up. duane wired the house for overhead lights in each room, and an american who came to visit a couple years ago wired each of the outlets, so we are now a fully functioning electrically powered house! although aaron seems to be much better at having learned this lesson then i have, it was a testimony to the benefit of waiting for God's timing in everything. and although i never thought much about it when we were using them, now with a taste of electricity i have to admit that it is nice to put the candles to the side to be saved for romantic dinners only :)

we also enjoyed a nice day off last week in panajachel. there is a place for missionaries that has houses instead of hotel rooms, so we all enjoyed some good family and relax time in a house with a huge yard overlooking the lake. it was a very nice way to enjoy the sabbath day :)

and in the next few months we look forward to more friends coming and going. with never a dull day here, we continue to walk on, thanking god for the blessings and turning to Him in the times of hardships. here's a few pics.

the aztec, complete with two propellors!

above is grace and abi helping watch the goat that we took up to a widow in chiminisijuan
below is me and abi blowing out birthday candles... she was a little disappointed she slept through the first round...

above is aaron painting our bedroom
below is our dog cleveland and the boys and rach playing volleyball at "the local beach"

here grace reminded us of the many uses of orange gloves.... including duck feet.

and some shots from clinic...