Sunday, October 24, 2010

Words of a Child

This was an awkward (though very endearing) conversation I had with a 2 1/2 year old a few days ago:

him:  "Where's your dad live?"

me:  "He used to live in Kansas."

him:  "Where's he now?"

me:  "He's with Jesus."

him:  "Where's Jesus?"

me:  "Jesus is in heaven."

him:  "We like Jesus?"

me, his grandma and mom:  "Yes, we like Jesus."

Such a sweet little boy.
Photo by sweet little boy's mama.  She does amazing work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guatemala Update #3

Last day here.  I´m feeling rather neutral about the whole thing.  There are several things I´m looking forward to, first of which is sleeping in a non-mold-infested bedroom.  Last night I even slept with sleeves and wrapped my pillow in the Delta blanket I got from the trip down here...and woke up with the worst rash yet.  So precationary measures get me nowhere.

I´ve enjoyed my time here, and the culture is starting to grow on me.  The kiddos here are so beautiful and incredibly curious about us gringos.  The less shy ones point and holler "gringo!"  Great amusement all around.  Today I had a group of kids standing around me to listen to me dictate some notes.  While I was dictating, one girl touched my arm a few times, just to feel white skin I think.

One thing that is kind of nagging at the back of my mind is the question of what sort of impact my presence has made.  In an earlier post, I was questioning the motives and reasoning behind some of these volunteers coming down here when they don´t have sharing Jesus to guide them.  But reflecting on the week, I wonder about the same thing.  Granted, my primary motive was to provide services to people who needed therapy, and that´s for sure a very good thing.  But still, I go back to the bottom line, which is Jesus.  Did these people see Jesus in us?  Because I had no conversations about my faith and didn´t share the gospel with anyone.  For all they saw, I´m just a nice white gringo who may or may not have physically helped a few children.  That doesn´t sit too well with me.  But I still have some more processing to do on that one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guatemala Update #2

Just finished the second day of seeing patients.  Yesterday was a full day; saw a total of thirteen patients, only two of whom were adults.  Today we saw something like six or seven.  Not as full...but took us just as long because our driver disappeared on us and we had to wait for over an hour for him to show up again.  I´m hoping to get through the market yet today and try to finish up some shopping before they all shut down for the day.  Only one more chance to get it done after today since market days happen only three times a week.

The pace here is amazing.  I feel like a completely different person here compared to back home.  People here don´t keep strict schedules like we do, and therefore neither do we, which frees everyone up to kinda do whatever whenever.  We get our work done, then have lots of time to kick back and roam around or just hang out on the roof.  It gets dark here crazy early...probably by 5:30.  But then it´s already getting light by 5:00 am.  I´ve been going to bed anywhere from 7:30 to 9:00 and waking up before my alarm every morning (if you can believe that).  Been getting lots of sleep, but I don´t feel like I´m missing anything by it.  Feels good to be able to live and not just function.

We´ve seen all kinds of diagnoses these past couple of days.  We do what we can and suggest things for the parents to work on until the next group comes in six months.  But some things we can only barely help, if at all.  Saw a 10 month old yesterday who had a huge head for her age because she had lots of fluid built up around her brain.  In the States, she would probably have a shunt put in to drain the fluid and receive all kinds of continuous medical care.  Here...we taught the mom to lay her on her stomach and sit her up more often (because right now she just lays on her back all day) to increase trunk control...and hope for the best.  Honestly, I don´t think that little girl has a great prognosis.  But that´s the best we could do.

Have another full day ahead of us tomorrow.  It´s hard work in a lot of ways...but I think we hardly notice that because we´re so busy taking in this different way of life, modifying things the best we can, and enjoying some God´s most amazing scenery from the back of a pickup truck flying down the roads.

Oh, P.S.  Thanks for all the prayers for my breathing.  I never had another problem after that first night!  Yay God!  I was told this rash should go away after I get home, so I´m not too worried about it at this point, though it is kind of a pain to know that I still have three more nights in my mold-infested room.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guatemala Update #1

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and my teammates while we´re traveling.  I truly appreciate this and am humbled to know how much support we have.  Muchas gracias. :)

So much has happened since we left Minneapolis that I´m afraid I can´t even begin to share it all...not to mention I am now the last one still on a computer, which means I should wrap up soon.

One thing that has struck me the most since being here actually relates back to other workers here at the Mission.  There are many 20-somethings who come here to work for the Mission for several months at a time.  Maybe this is just my own biased way of thinking, but when someone is doing volunteer-type work in a 3rd-world country, my first inclination is to assume they are here to ultimately share the Gospel.  But talking to several of these people, that´s not the case at all.

Some aren´t really sure why they´re here, other than for the experience.  I heard a couple people comment today how they´re not religious at all, and another gal at another time said, "She loves those like God loves the world.  Well, actually God hates the world."  I didn´t even know where to go with that one, so I just looked at her.

We keep hearing how important our presence is here and not so much the work we do.  But I wonder how even our presence matters when Jesus has very little to do with it.  The mission field also includes the people who come to do the "mission" work.

I´ll post more later when I have more time.  In the meantime, I am soliciting prayers for my respiratory system.  I have a feeling I´m pretty well doused in mold in my little hotel room, and I think that´s leading to the mild difficulty I had breathing last night and this morning.  I´ve been fine all day today, but we´ll see how tonight goes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Tonight...tonight feels perfect.

This is the first time in four days I've had time to sit.  To just sit and breathe and do nothing.  Boy does it feel nice.

I went for a walk, down to one of the local gas stations to grab a fountain drink.  The sun was on its way toward the horizon, casting a beautiful yellow hue onto the remaining yellow and red leaves still on the trees.  The other leaves crunched happily under my sneakers, and there was not a breeze to be found.


I briefly thought about this trip for which I'm leaving tomorrow.  Briefly...because that's all the longer I can retain much of anything in my feeble brain these days.  Constant overstimulation and thought processing at work has taken its toll.

I thought of how, in forty-eight hours, I'll be walking on Guatemalan soil.  I imagined the beautiful scenery all around me...views of lakes and volcanoes and winding dirt roads.  I pictured the little feet, twisted and contracted, that we'll touch and stretch and cast and maybe even teach to walk.  I saw faces of mothers, aged beyond their years, curious but shy of these three white-skinned strangers.


I can't wait.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Time for Change

As they often do (regardless of where I am), my thoughts strayed during the sermon this morning.  This particular trail may or may not have been sparked by the pastor's comment of Nehemiah's four-month preparation of prayer; I can't really remember for sure.

I began pondering the changes in my heart over the past couple of years.  There was a time when I could barely drag myself out of bed on time to play along on my guitar with the Sunday morning songs; now, I've been dubbed "worship leader" and am "leading" a full team of musicians and singers.  There was a time when I couldn't wait for church to end so I could slip out and go home before anyone noticed me; now I gladly hang around and talk to my fellow brothers and sisters until we relocate to some restaurant and reconvene there.

I thought of all the people who prayed for me during those days - faithful and dear friends who prayed for God to change my heart, and others who challenged me one Sunday at a time to intentionally speak to a single person before fleeing.  Bit by bit, over the course of many months, God did His work and changed me.

I then thought of other friends for whom I've prayed.  They have struggles, doubts, fears, sins...and I pray for them to overcome, to be changed, to heal.  I want these prayers to be answered overnight, and I look for quick results.

But this morning, maybe tucked between the lines of Nehemia - or maybe not - I saw how God does not usually change a person in an instant.  He is capable, and He answers many other prayers in such ways.  But when it comes to the heart, He takes His time.  Change will come, but with time, through the patient molding, forming, chastening, and loving hands of the Father.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Next Journey

I can't keep up anymore.  No matter how sincere my intentions, I just can't get much done these days.  Blogging falls into that category.  So I decided that, while I'm sitting on my living room floor surrounded by folded clothes and medications and travel documents, I'd better get this post written before my trip is completely over.

One week from today I will have landed on Guatemalan soil.  I'm going there on a company-sponsored trip with two other therapists.  We'll spend a week there, four days of which we will travel to local villages to offer our services to anyone who needs them.

We've been preparing the best we can - phone-in meetings, prayer, checklists, expediting passports, reviewing profiles of past patients.  And I think we'll be as prepared as possible.

But I wonder if we will ever be fully prepared to submerge ourselves in an unfamiliar culture and language, to avoid drinking water and eat different food, to evaluate and interact with broken children who live in muddy cardboard huts.

I'm looking forward to this trip.  I'm excited to return to the Hispanic culture again, even if just for a few days.  I'm also excited, ashamed though I am to admit it, to break free of this daily grind that has just about ground me to bits.

We will be able to visit internet cafes on occasion, so my intention is to post an update or two as the week progresses.  If you happen to think of us, please pray for good team dynamics, wisdom and ability to treat all kinds of diagnoses, hearts to be changed, and God to work.  This is not specifically a "missions trip," but I love Jesus and there are people in Guatemala who don't.  Pray especially for people to come to know Him and for God to be glorified through us.



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