Tag Archives: Guatemala

Building Churches in Guatemala

19 Mar

Traveling to Northern Guatemala on a short term mission trip can be a life changing experience.  In February we had another opportunity to not only work to with Mike McComb and the Ixil people but to see God work in our hearts as well.   It was good to work together building God’s kingdom.

One of our team members captured the essence of this trip on a short video.  I hope you enjoy seeing the journey.

Unsung Hero’s

22 Nov

The purpose of the short term trips to Guatemala are often medical in nature.  We are primarily looking for medical professionals to join us to minister to those in need in the rural areas of the country.  That usually makes up about one third of the people who travel.  The rest of the team are people young and old who want to experience a new culture, give up some of themselves and to serve others.  Even though they aren’t the focus of the trip they ARE critical to the trip.  TheyGuatemala Oct 2014 136 assist the medical team members with translation services, supporting in a variety of ways, moving equipment, registering patients and making sure that things are running smoothly.

The team leaders from both Living Word and from Frater Church make all the difference.  They are the ones who keep the clinic focused on ministering to needs rather than what could often by called chaos. They routinely check on each of the clinics making sure they have what they need, are getting enough breaks, and able to minister to the patients.  They are “Unsung Hero’s” 

These leaders are ‘unsung‘ because they are not the ones who get recognition for all the patients they saw, the teeth they pulled, or the surgery that they did.  If it wasn’t for them the skilled care workers would have to take time away from their practice of seeing patients.

Their leadership went beyond the clinic.  On the way back we stopped for a restroom break and there was a lady who was IMG_0992begging.  She was an older woman there by herself, hungry and without shoes.  Easy enough to ignore or just not acknowledge.   One of our ‘Unsung Hero’s‘ did notice her.  She went back to the bus and found a pair of flip flops and some food to give to the woman.  She kneeling down and put the flip flops on the woman’s feet.  It was a very touching and humbling scene.  I wish I had noticed her, I wish I had reached out and met her needs.  I think that’s what Jesus would have done in the same circumstance.

Giving the Gift of Sight

19 Nov

Guatemala Oct 2014 157The vision clinic that we operate on the medical trips to Guatemala are not fancy.  We often don’t have a Optician, Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist. We don’t have any fancy equipment, as a matter of fact we use some pretty primitive and rugged tools to help people see.   In other words, we rely on God to match anteojos (eyeglasses) with the needs of the patients.  It is amazing to see what a little ingenuity can do along with a healthy dose of prayer.

The Guatemalans often cook on open wood flames in their homes.  As a result the smoke and soot is Guatemala Oct 2014 119very thick.  In addition the rays of the sun do much damage to their ability to see so the older they get the harder it is for them to see.  Although we can’t provide anything in the way of surgery or treatments we can provide them with glasses that help them see.   We have had a large number of glasses donated so that we can take them with us.  We do the best we can to provide the right power of glasses and it is amazing how many of them improve their sight.

This year we gave out over 160 pairs of glasses in the two days.   One of the best parts of the vision clinic was the fact that a couple of our high school students from Living Word we able to run their own line of patients which made a big difference.  Thanks to Danielle and Anthony for their courage to step out.

A Deep Sense of Loss

17 Nov

It’s the people who make the short term trips to Guatemala and places like it so special and touching.  This trip to Santa Maria de Ixhuatan was no exception.   As I was observing the vision clinic on Saturday afternoon my attention was drawn to a middle aged woman who seemed uncharacteristically sad.  One of our team members asked me to come over to minister to her.

Our Frater partner had been talking with her and found out her story and why she was so melancholy.  Her name was Inez de Jesus.  Her husband was a pastor of a local church.  He had been a good husband and father, a good pastor and had Guatemala Oct 2014 prayerministered to many in the small community.  Two years ago he had been kidnapped by terrorists, taken away from his wife and children.  The criminals had demanded a ransom for his return.   Because this is a very small village and as a pastor she was not able to come up with the ransom reward.  Shortly after that they found him murdered, his life cut short.

Inez has been devastated since then and having a very difficult time moving past the loss of her friend, lover, husband, father of her children and pastor.  The grief was visible in her eyes.  There are no easy answers for her.  No simple solutions that would ease the pain.  What I was able to offer her was prayer which started then and has continued.  It has brought me back to the deep pain that many Guatemalans have experienced, how God meets them in the midst of their pain and provides for them and how he wants to do that for us as well.

The one thing that we could offer her was a new pair of glasses that allowed her to read her bible again.  It brought a smile to her face.  God spoke to my heart deeply.  Moving in me through the grief and empathy of a dear sister from another culture who shared some of her pain with these Americans who came to serve.

The Clowns from Frater

16 Nov

2014-10-18 01.14.31When we hold a medical clinic in rural Guatemala there are always LOTS of kids that come with their parents for treatment.  The family walks to the clinic from their homes which might take an hour or so.  The church or school where the clinic is held has some room but when you get a lot of kids in a small area it can be very active and busy.  Having something for the kids to do is an important aspect of the trip.

2014-10-18 01.14.41Fraternidad Christiana de Guatemala Church, from Guatemala City has a dedicated group of young people who provide the entertainment for the families who come to the clinic.   Kids gravitate to fun and games.  There were over 100 kids joining in the activities.  The team from Frater led a variety of games, dressed up and acted like clowns and put on a drama with a spiritual message.  The sounds of laughter could be heard throughout the school and the joy on their faces reflected the impact they are experiencing.  The best part of the clowns is that it shows there are many ways to minister in these clinics.  They were truly ‘gifted’ in what they did

Los Colaboradores, “the helpers’

13 Nov

Conducting a medical clinic in a remote village can be Guatemala Oct 2014 090logistically challenging.  There is the organizing and setup of the clinic, the meals for the workers, moving all of the items including clothes, food and medicines, and just moving people through the clinic.

As the clinic is organized Frater church works with the local churches to get local people to help direct the clients from one part of the clinic to another.   They make sure that they are not feeling lost or wandering when they can’t find the right place to be.

Guatemala Oct 2014 149The Frater team trains them on how to be good hosts and to make the people feel comfortable.  We also minister to their needs so it was not uncommon to see a man or woman with the ‘Colobadores’ name tag on being treated in the clinic. One woman who was a ‘Colaboradora’ had a medical problem while she was being treated in the dental clinic.  It was properly diagnosed and she was fine but she feared that she would not be allowed back the next day because of it.  We assured her that she was welcome to come back and help.  I believe that these partners feel very connected and important as they help with this effort.

Security is another important part of the ministry. Frater is concerned about all of our safety so they hire a security team to be with us, not only to help us but also to protect us.  We take our health and safety seriously on these trips and do our best to prepare and protect the team while we minister.  Another thing to be thankful for as I reflect back on this trip.

The Soul Cafe

6 Nov

When we go to Guatemala on the medical mission trips we treat many patients who have a variety of health needs. However, that is not the primary reason for the trip.  This is an evangelistic ministry that  shares not only the love of Jesus through medicine but it also shares the good news of the gospel.  Each person who comes to the clinic spends time with a counselor from Frater Church who ministers to their spiritual needs before we minister to their physical needs.

Guatemala Oct 14 trip 080I was able to spend time in the Soul Clinic.  It was a beautiful experience to see the love and compassion that was being shared one on one, person to person.  Even though my Spanish is inadequate to understand all that was being said I could tell by the facial expressions, the tears and the grateful smiles, that God was at work in the hearts of the people who came through this sacred space.

Before we left for the trip I was able to order 150 Spanish New Testaments.  Little did I Guatemala Oct 2014 147know the impact that they would have as they were given as gifts of the Good News.   Having their own personal copy of the Bible was a great gift to provide and gave them the Word of God.

There were 652 people who came through the Soul Clinic.   We are grateful to God for the work that He did in the midst of our time in Santa Maria de Ixhuatan.

Dental Clinic in Guatemala

1 Nov

As I thought about the trip I came to appreciate the dental care we have available in the United States.   From basic semi-annual cleaning and checks to fillings, caps, crowns, bridges, implants, root canals and the like we are well cared for. There are a number of dentists available when we need one and they can usually fix whatever problem we might have without resorting to pulling the tooth.  dental clinicOn the first day of the medical clinic in Santa Maria Ixhuatan I volunteered to work in the dental clinic.  I started out as the one who cleaned and sterilized the equipment.   Once I had that mastered I moved to setting up the needles used for the anesthesia.  That was a bit more complicated but after a few instructions I was able to do that as well.  Then came the big step, actually being a dental assistant. After I put on the mask and gloves I was instructed to hold the flashlight, hand them the ‘elevator’, ‘forceps’, and gauze as they extracted the teeth.  I would then take the extracted tooth and put it into the bottle we were keeping all of them in followed by the clean-up phase.

For the most part it went well, usually taking 5-10 minutes per patient but everyone so often it got complicated.  I won’t go into the details because a number of us don’t have the most pleasant memories of visiting the dentist and this would only resurrect those old thoughts.  I was moved by the number of people who have had many of their teeth removed over the years.  We Guatemala Oct 14 trip 094removed one woman’s last 2 teeth.  Removal of teeth, although not the perfect solution does give them relief from the pain of decay and in some cases infected teeth.  Over the two days of the clinic we were able to relieve the pain of 200 bad teeth.

The young people on the trip were valuable parts of the dental clinic. They were responsible for helping with prevention of dental disease by distributing toothbrushes and teaching the kids how to brush their teeth.  There was a good connection between the American kids and the Guatemalan kids.  If we can give them the gift of good dental health maybe we will pull less teeth in the future.

Journey on a Guatemala Medical Team

29 Oct

Guatemala Oct 2014 107Earlier this month I traveled on a team to the small rural village of Santa Maria Ixhuatan in the Santa Rosa zone of Guatemala.   It was the latest of quarterly trips we take, bringing doctors and assistants to provide medical assistance where there are few if any medical help.  That explanation tells you what we did but it falls short of describing the impact that we had on them and they had on us. 

The population is about 500 that many again living outside the village. Most of them don’t have cars so they have to walk to the clinic sometimes taking 1-2 hours, children in tow, carrying their provisions for the day.  The average income in Santa Maria Ixhuatan is $6-7 per day.  The primary employment is based on the coffee crop which has languished after years of the Roya virus attacking the coffee plants.  As a result 30-40% of the town had to move to bigger cities like Guatemala Citywhere there is work.  The unemployment rate is clost to 30%.  It is a poor village Guatemala Oct 2014 147with limited resources.

We have two days of clinics where we minister to as many as we can.   The first day we have a few doctors from the host church, Fraternidad Cristiana de Guatemala, and the doctors we bring on our team.  The second day more Guatemalan doctors join us to provide a much larger clinic.   It is a partnership that has been going for almost 10 years.  This year we saw over 700 patients in 2 days.  It was encouraging to see how we can make a difference in the lives of both the people of Guatemala and the team.  I will be following up with addition blogs sharing some stories about the people we touched.

Reaching Out in Joyas de San Nicholas

13 Aug

Aug 2014 Guatemala 3It’s amazing to see God work in the midst of a rural village in Guatemala. Our medical team of 23 returned to York early Tuesday morning from a mission to this small village. In the course of 2 days they were able to see over 700 patients. The team did 19 surgeries, extracted 162 teeth and delivered more than 10 tons of food to the village. Reaching out ‘one on one’ the team took with them hundreds of small stuffed animals, shoes and clothes to distribute to those who attended the clinie. They also provided spiritual healing in the Soul Cafe where 263 souls crossed the line of faith. We are truly blessed to be a blessing.

Each of trip has a personal touch as well. They stay in the homes of members of Frater Church. That experience brings aAug 2014 Guatemala 2
much closer relationship with the people of Guatemala. When you stay in someones home you have the chance to interact and learn more about different cultures, lifestyles and personalities. Many great relationships were built this week.

Thanks to all who went on the trip as well as those back home who, prayed and financially supported those who traveled. God is so good.

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