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!


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