Today’s blog post is from our whole family. All four of us are on this trip. You’ll get to see the day from 4 different perspectives. We promise we wont read each others’ entries until they are posted. This is Dan’s (dad’s) view of the day. The day started with church at our host church, Iglesia Galilea. It was a great Sunday service, not so very different from a Sunday morning service at home—apart from the fact that it was in Spanish. The sermon was translated for us, but I love the occasional reminder that God does not just speak English. “The Church” is not just “my church”, but a global body of many languages and styles. After church, we changed clothes and headed back to Membrillal for a half day of clinic. This day is devoted to the partner pastors and their families. Today, our family went along on the community visit. We visited a lady who was raising her grandchildren by herself. She is doing the best she can with what she has. I’m not a doctor or nurse or anything, so there wasn’t much for me to do there, but I was so proud of my wife who is a doctor and how she was able to figure out what each of them needed and come up with a plan for them. I was also very proud of my kids who had brought along supplies for making bracelets and, during the course of our visit, coaxed some scared, crying kids into doing a craft and smiling. The rest of clinic time, I have been in the pharmacy, counting out courses of pills. That may sound boring, but I love it. It is a way I can support the skilled laborers here, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that each pill I count will help one of God’s children to feel better for a while. Illness was not supposed to be part of the world, but the world as it is, is not the world as it was supposed to be. Each course of medication I assemble will set things back the way they were supposed to be, if only a tiny bit and if only for a little while. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this. Thank you all for supporting us in prayer.
This trip has been challenging from a provider standpoint. Our first two days, we were able to bless the children of the school that is hosting us and their teachers. This meant that we saw entire families at one time, including 4-5 children and a mother or father and sometimes both. My MOST heart-stopping moment was when Barb, a PA friend that is with us on the trip, asked me to take a look at a 2 month old infant that was gasping and coughing. The baby had been vaccinated in the hospital but had not had the 2 month vaccines yet. Mom was reporting a cough and choking with every feeding in addition to fever. Just looking at her, she was lethargic and coughing. My mind kicked into gear, thinking of all of the horrible things that COULD be going on and the treatment for each possibility. Forcing myself to avoid freaking out, I asked mom to strip the baby down to diaper so that I could properly evaluate her breathing. Off came uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco blankets. Off came the knitted sweater and knitted sweater pants. Off came the onesie and the hat. Suddenly, the baby smiled and cooed. She had a strip of cloth wrapped around her abdomen several times and tied in a knot. It was quite tight. I questioned the reason for this wrapping. Mom reported that the child had an “outie” belly button and this is the way they fix it in Guatemala. Big sigh of relief. We spent time educating the mom that this is the entire cause of the child’s spitting and gagging. The fever is because it is 65 degrees and she is dressed in a knitted outfit and wrapped in 5 blankets and wearing a hat. I gently encouraged her that I know she is a good mother and is taking excellent, careful care of her baby. In America, I told her, we will treat fevers with medicine, but we also make the child more comfortable by taking off blankets and putting them in a lukewarm bath. She was a bit skeptical, but she did agree to try removing a layer in the future if the baby seemed too warm.
The most heart-breaking moment was today when we did a home visit to a new immigrant from El Salvador and her family. She is the grandmother of 4 children. The mother is in prison, and the father is not around. This poor woman has a 10 year old girl, 4 year old girl, 23 month girl, and 7 month old boy to care for. When we asked the names of the children, the woman told us that the 7 month old boy had no name. She didn’t remember the 23 month old’s name, and we had to ask the 10 year old sister. She had very elevated blood pressure and told us that she was told she had diabetes in the past as well, but she has had no medical care for over one year. The children’s teeth were rotted, and she told us that the 4 year old won’t eat at times because it is too painful. Knowing that we can’t fix this situation is humbling. We can’t give her a “do-over”. So, we did what we COULD do. We treated the family for parasites, gave vitamins for the entire group, and promised free dental care tomorrow if she could bring the children to the clinic. We have also set aside blood pressure medicine for Grandma. Most importantly, we prayed for them. Please take a moment right now and pray for this little boy with no name that he will someday know that the God of the Universe has his name written on the palm of his hand.
Today’s experience was quite different from the rest of the trip. The day started with a very nice church service. I thought it was very cool to sing some of our songs from back home in Spanish. We then went to the clinic to provide care for the pastors and staff. My family and I then went out on a house visit. It was the first one I went on, but I know some of my other family members had been one before. We only visited one house that had 5 little kids, the oldest was 10 years old. While my mom was checking the other children, Sophie, Zac and I tried to keep the children entertained. They started out pretty scared of us, and we struggled to get them to play with us, but by the end, the older 2 girls (the ten year old and a 4 year old) were happily making bracelets with us and we got the 4 year old to smile and shake my hand before we left. I really enjoyed being able to meet people where they were and be a light in the life of their grandmother. We then returned to the clinic and enjoyed the rest of our day. It was quite restful because we were only seeing the pastors and staff, so Sophie and I got to meet some other kids around our age that will be helping us out in the children’s ministry for the next 2 days. They were really cool and we played some intense 4 square. We then returned to the compound for the day, with a fairly interesting ride with Butch behind the wheel. It worked out well, but I was nervous for him. He did much better than I think I would have in the crowded and stressful streets of Guatemala.
We started today by going to the church that we are partnering with for their early service. The whole crew had to dress up in our Sunday best, and I must say, we all clean up pretty nice. The worship music was all in spanish and it was really fun to see how much I could understand of the lyrics. The sermon was also in spanish but we had a translator then. After church we headed back to the compound to changed back into our grubby scrubs and all headed to the clinic. Today we took care of all of the church people and their families, so it was a pretty light day. The whole family (Mom, Dad, Alex, Grammy, and I) had an opportunity to go on a home visit today. It was a family of 4 children, taken care of by their abuela. There was a seven month old, a two year old, a four year old, and a ten year old, all suddenly thrust on their poor grandmother because their mother got sent to prison and their father out of the picture. Being in childcare, Alex, Zach and I were sent to play with and distract the children while the rest of their family received medical care. We initially spotted the little two year old named Yolanda and decided to try and make bracelets with her. It took an incredible amount of coaxing, but we managed to transform a terrified little girl into a smiling, chubby cheeked little angel bedecked in homemade pulseras. The next case was the little seven month old baby boy. His story was truly heartbreaking. When we arrived, we began to ask for names and ages, as we needed to create new charts for this family, and we learned that this infant had no name. He had been on this earth for seven whole months and nobody had bothered to give him a name, solely referring to him as “baby boy”. To end on a lighter note, we gave him the medicine he needed and named him Josue. We all pray that our baby Josue lives a long and prosperous life.