Thursday, June 24, 2010

faces of hunger

they were the last patients of the day… a young little teenage mama and a little bundle wrapped up in her lap which i assumed to be her baby. and to be honest, i look one look at them and thought, “this should be an easy one… another tired new mama with a baby that cries…” however, as sally unwrapped the little one, i was unprepared for what i saw. before us lay a tiny little two week old baby, skin and bones, very dehydrated, that barely had the strength to move, let alone cry or eat. diagnosing their child with diarrhea, these two young parents had done the only thing they could think of and gone to the local pharmacy and bought up some commonly used adult cold and cough medicine, and another medicine commonly used here for diarrhea. further aggravating the situation, this poor little baby now oozed from all the trauma done to her young stomach. as we searched for a car to take them to the hospital where they would hopefully get the help needed to get their baby better (if the equipment to do so is there) and further exams and labs done, i watched the baby as she lay in sally’s arms, her face twisting in pain and hunger, praying that she would not take her last breath in our clinic. and i looked at these two so very young parents, scared and just as seemingly lost as their little baby as to what was going on.

saturday another little bundle was brought to us… this one with a cleft lip and palate. at three weeks old, sherwood brought him over to be weighed and examined before we started all the teaching that goes along with a cleft palate and lip baby. as the story unfolded, we learned that gramma and grampa had brought this baby in (as the mom was still in her 40 day postpartum period where they do not leave the house), and as the baby had not been able to suckle, the mom has no milk, and they had been bringing the baby to breastfeeding neighbors to “borrow” milk, allowing it to be squeezed into the baby’s mouth. and as we taught gramma how to feed the baby with the cleft palate bottle, and as baby sucked down the two ounces in five minutes flat, I looked into the face of this little fighter and into the faces of these loving, caring grandparents… neither of them complained about the injustice done to them by god or how hard it had been to feed this little baby or how he cried all the time, his little belly full of hunger… they simply accepted the gift that god has given them and patiently learned how best to care for him. and now we too will be able to share in this little gift’s life as we will continue to monitor this baby’s weight and health every two weeks until we are able to get him in for a surgery to have his lip and palate repaired…

and each week we continue to see mothers and fathers asking for food and/or corn to feed their families... still several months away from the september harvest that the rains from this year will hopefully bring, the pleas for help continue... and our pleas and prayers for a spirit-led ability to discern true need from lies continue as well...

i find myself now seeing anna’s face in so many of the babies that come through our door. and i confront time and time again what it must be like to be a guatemalan parent here in this country… the constant struggle for food, diseases, illnesses that are so curable in other countries, the accidents and injuries, drunken fathers and husbands and the beatings that are sure to follow, and mostly the lack of resources available to those who do not have the money to find and fund them…

such a need for education, such a need for discipleship, for care, for love… for god’s grace, mercy, and justice to rain down.

such a need for prayer

"then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, i will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. (italics mine) 2 chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

guate to the states via el salvador

june brought us to new york state for four days for a family reunion so that we could renew our visas and anna could meet her great gandparents. however, what was supposed to be an easy there-and-back trip became a little more complicated...
friday before the monday we were to leave, ash from an erupting volcano outside of guatemala city covered everything in the city... trees, cars, houses, sidewalks... and the airport runway. saturday morning the effects of tropical storm agatha had already been pouring rain down and causing landslides throughout the country for three days, and weather reports promised that it would hit central america hard early sunday morning, closing down all central american airports as well. after looking into every option, we finally called my parents to say that it looked like we would not be able to make it… as it was such a short trip, it did not make much sense to leave too much later in the week.
sunday morning, we woke up to find out that the promised storm dissipated, and while guatemala’s airport was still closed for the ash, we found out sunday afternoon that el salvador’s airport had opened. so, with a hurried phone call to continental, we got the last two tickets on a flight out of el salvador ealry tuesday morning… now all we had to do was get to guatemala city by 7:00 am on monday morning in order to get a bus to el salvador where we could spend the night in san salvador and catch our flight out the next morning… which we soon found out was the same plan that everyone else trying to get out of guatemala had.
so, we got in our truck at 4:30 on sunday afternoon and headed into the city... we already knew that due to landslides there was only one route open, which is why we were surprised halfway through when we were not seeing many other vehicles coming from the opposite direction… until we hit stopped traffic at 7:30. as anna and i waited in the truck, aaron walked ahead to find out that about a quarter of a mile from where we were, there was a landslide covering the entire four lane highway. so we called to cancel our hotel reservations for that night, and settled in for a long wait… at 5:00 the next morning we finally started moving again… 2 hours later, we were through the landslide, which now had a space wide enough for one vehicle and about 8 feet high. glad to be through, but still at least an hour from the city, we had now missed our bus to el salvador. so, as we entered the city, i called into a couple other bus stations that we knew had safe buslines and one told us that they had the last two tickets available for a bus at 3:00 that afternoon. so we went straight there, and i stood at the ticket counter as aaron called to see if any other buslines had openings or earlier leave times. as i listened to the guy next to me spout off all the other buslines and how there were no other openings, another couple walked up to the ticket counter next to us… as i heard them ask about openings to el salvador, i quickly turned back to the ticketmaster in front of us and told him we’d take the last to tickets to el salvador for that afternoon! 6 hours later, we boarded the bus which took us straight to san salvador and our hotel, arriving by 11:00 that night. there, we got about 4 hours of sleep before hailing the taxi to take us to the airport and our flight out at 6:00. after a quick layover in houston, we got on our plane to nyc, where it was smooth sailing… until at about 20 minutes out from landing, the pilot came on with the announcement, “you may be wondering why the plane is turning around….” I could not believe it, but he quickly explained that we were simply going to be circling while we waited for clear weather to land. about an hour later we landed, and i finally felt i could breathe a sigh of relief… we had made it! now, all we had was our 5 hour drive to where my gramma lives :) arriving at about 1 in the morning, we ate up each moment with family over the next four days before safely leaving and arriving in guatemala city the following saturday.

and as we landed on the airstrip here in guatemala city, so ended one of those “glad we went, glad to be home” trips.

here's some highlights...
driving through the landslide

more landslide destruction

swept up piles of volcanic ash stacked up on the side of the road in the city

entering new york city
becca and anna in the town we were born in

learning how to make homemade macaroni with gramma
(my brother jon in the background)

four generations of catherines

my parents with the three of us

Sunday, June 13, 2010

the ever changing life of....

never ceasing to amaze us, little anna has continued to change and grow each day over the past four months. she is quite the go-getter, constantly moving and wanting to be in the midst of everything... below are some pics of her past couple months of life.

aaron's version of a swing created from anna's car seat hanging from his plane wing... his way of taking anna to work with him while i go to clinic

naptime with her favorite kitty

swinging on the hammock with daddy


playin' in my walker