Incredible Experiences

I am so blessed by what I am doing here inGuatemala! The past couple of weeks have been full of unexpected blessing and incredible experiences that I would have never imagined having the opportunity to participate in. It really is amazing how people are blessed from all directions through the work that we do in Guatemala: the nationals, our students, and our staff. It really is just a neat experience that we can all bless each other in unique ways by sharing our culture, knowledge, experience, and material blessings. Let me tell you about how amazing the end of this summer season has been!

It has been such a gift for me to be able to work with and get to know students of different ages, from different areas throughout the US and Canada as they came down to work with our health care site. I feel like I learned a lot from all of them and I know that they grew and learned as well. I like to see students grapple with the themes of justice, and what our response to the harsh reality of poverty should be. And to see them realize and learn that the Guatemalans have something to share and teach us as well. I know many lives were changed for the students who worked with us this summer.

I was soooo blessed recently to discover the results of our efforts with Rudy. All we did really was get his family connected with a neurological center that provides free diagnosis and treatment. I never expected that his family would be able to pull off bringing him to the center regularly to receive therapy, but I was pleasantly surprised when I visited them recently that they have been making the long trek in public bus three times a week and Rudy is receiving the therapy he needs. It was so encouraging for me to visit him with one of our summer staff who is a speech therapist and to hear her optimism for Rudy’s case.

Rudy and his grandmother, Felipa, the day of their first appointment at the Neurological Center

Speaking of summer staff, it was such a blessing for me this summer to be able to work directly with the summer staff and to help coordinate their time here. Maurine was in charge as Head Summer Staff Coordinator, so I feel like I reaped extra blessings from this experience to be able to work side by side with Maurine and to continue to glean from her wisdom and experience. She has probably been the most influential and inspirational mentor I have had in my life. It was very difficult for me to say bye to her and her family as they headed home at the end of the summer so Maurine could receive chemotherapy.

Summer Staff Retreat with Maurine and her family

For the second half of the summer, I was blessed by the help of my very own summer staff! Eunice helped me a lot by facilitating the intake of patients that our students were completing. It really made it a lot easier on me that I did not have to go back and forth between the exam room and the intake but could just trust that she would keep things running smoothly. She was also such a blessing in the way that she encouraged our students (and me!) to get to know the patients on a more personal level and to build genuine friendships with them. It always amazed me when I walked with her down the streets and she would recognize our patients and call them by name. She has a heart that loves genuinely and is really exemplary for me to see our patients as God would see them and to love them appropriately. Eunice liberally exercised her incredible curiosity and desire to learn in ways that I was hesitant of, or would have never thought to inquire about. For example, she asked Dra. Sara if we could tag along with her on her night shift at the National Hospital in Chimaltenango. I thought “Man! I would rather get a good night’s sleep!” But we worked it out and were able to go! And what an experience it was!

Out to breakfast after the night shift

Dra. Sara works a night shift in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit once a week. So Eunice and I got to see some pretty incredible stuff when we did the night shift with her! One of the first things we watched was a spinal tap on a 2 year old to test for meningitis! It was so incredible to see the clear liquid dripping out of her back, and to know that that is the same fluid inside of her brain. (The fluid that my very own shunt is draining from my head!) There were 17 babies in the NICU that night, including: preemies in incubators, jaundice babies receiving phototherapy, septic babies (one on a ventilator), one baby who was born with her intestines on the outside of her body and she was awaiting an operation, and one baby who was aborted at 27 weeks but survived. What an incredible experience that I never imagined I would have!

We had the opportunity to bottle feed some of the babies

3 day old baby who is still waiting to be transported to Guatemala City to have her intestines put where they belong

Miracle baby who survived an abortion and was brought into the hospital, now a month old.

This past Thursday, I went to the hospital in Chimaltenango where we usually go with students to observe orthopedic trauma surgeries. However, since I didn’t have any students with me this week, Dra.Martinez wanted me to get hands on! Yes. I scrubbed up and ASSISTED in the surgeries. Dra. Martinez kept grabbing my (gloved) hands and putting them directly on the bare bones and telling me not to be shy! I was retracting the skin to hold the incision open as the surgeons were drilling screws into the bones and I was sobbing up blood with gauze so that they could see the work area clearly. I even got to do the exterior sutures after we finished up the second surgery! What an incredible experience! I would have never been able to do this anywhere else! I am so thankful for the friendship that I am forming with Dra. Martinez. She came to Antigua personally to pick me up to bring me to the hospital early Thursday morning. She said they love to have people help them with surgeries and they are very happy to have me there. We were having a great conversation in the car about our faiths and our passions in life. I am excited about this opportunity to minister to her and I am really looking forward to becoming good friends with her.

Dra. Martinez and me

I have also been blessed by having the opportunity to once again work with a visiting doctor from Canada, Dr. Jeff Kornelsen, this week and next. I worked with him two years ago in the clinic and it has been great to be able to work with him again. He has such a kind and loving spirit and works so well with the Guatemalan patients. He continues to teach me a bunch too!

I can’t believe that the summer season of receiving back to back teams of students every two weeks is over! I have already been experiencing some amazing things post-summer teams, and I look forward to exercising my liberty to expand my ministry and to explore different opportunities for our next student groups that come down. God has been so faithful this summer and I am so grateful for all that I have experienced, all that our students have been learning, and all that the Guatemalans are receiving. Thank you, again, for all of your support and prayers! We are definitely seeing the blessing pour forth and are very grateful for your faithfulness.

Health care team: Nurse Francisca, me, and Doctora Sara


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. maxine fey
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 09:01:33

    I am on the missions prayer team from ECC. I am so blessed by your most recent blog. God is so very faithful to His servants. I am thankful for you and your desire to serve in Guatemala.. Thank you for sending us prayer requests so we can be a part of your incredible service. The news about Rudy is so awesome and all the things you’ve been able to do. God is stretching you and you are growing and I will continue to pray. Blessings to you….Keep Walking in Faith and Victory


  2. bjvillhauer
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 15:42:48

    Thanks so much! Your encouragement means a lot to me!


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