Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guatemala - Day 7

Buenos Dios! Our last morning at the compound. Every day has been a beautiful morning, with the sun coming up in a clear blue sky. We saw patients from 7:30 until about 1:00, then packed up the clinic. The report is that we saw 600 + patients. 

God has been good. We have seen Him move in the lives of those who came on this trip to care for others, and we pray that those we touched felt His touch. We have needed God's protection on this trip. Several of our team members have been ill. Lindsey's grandfather passed away. Last night we learned that our group leader's wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer while he is here with us. 

So - as we get ready to head to the airport, please pray for our team. Not just the "Alvin" team, but all 32 members of the Guatemala mission dental team. Pray for safety, of course. Pray for good health - traveling when you're not feeling well is not easy! Pray for comfort for Lindsey and her family as they bury her grandfather today. And pray for T.Bob and his wife, Janice as they walk through the trials of more medical procedures and determining the next steps.

We are so thankful that you have been with us in prayer, and thank you for your support in getting us here! We love you and can't wait to see our family!!!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Guatemala - Day 6

This morning started out on a high note.  We were seeing children from another school, and were asked to come into the central courtyard before we started. Each child came by and hugged every team member. What a sweet sight to see! 
The kids we saw today were 4 and 5 year olds, 1st graders, and 5th and 6th graders. Several of these kids were in traditional Guatemalan dress instead of the school uniforms we've seen the past few days. Sometimes a parent would come with the child, and it was interesting seeing the Guatemalan clothes.

We learned a bit more today about life in this rural area. Most husbands and fathers still believe it is the woman's primary responsibility to cook, clean, and raise the children. Market is on Sunday mornings. The women sweep the street in front of their house, which is one reason the streets seem so clean. 

We talked with Joy, the missionary we have been working with. Joy oversees the compound here in San Raymundo. The compound houses a hospital, and hosts medical teams about 10 times a year.  Joy also is administrator of a school she started here as a result of teaching Bible classes to some of the local children. God provided for this school over and over again, and the school now has 220 students. 

Terry had an interesting experience today. We told you yesterday about Lindsey's grandfather passing away. She had to fly out today, so someone had to take her to Guatemala City. Terry went with Lindsey and one of the workers from the compound and got to experience how a local really lives - riding in a small car up and down the narrow, steep mountain roads. Thankfully she made it back to the compound in one piece! :-) 

The food has been amazing! Leti, the cook, is a professional. She teaches cooking classes, does catering and has done a great job to keep us from losing weight.

The translators have also been really invaluable. It is refreshing to see how God is working in the lives of so many people of different cultures.

Our evening ended with a devotional by our own Dr. Gary Mayfield and singing led by some of the dental staff. It was refreshing and uplifting to hear the students requesting to sing such old favorites as "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," and "I Surrender All." 

We have one more clinic day. It will be a half-day, and the rest of the day will be spent packing. It has been a busy, fulfilling time and we have seen God work in some incredible ways. But we are all anxious to get home and see our family. Please be praying for safe travel as we fly out Saturday.

P.S. - One thing we forgot to tell you. Fireworks here are a huge industry. You can hear fireworks at any time of day - or night. LOTS of fireworks. At ALL hours of the night. And the roosters and the dogs are still very vocal. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Guatemala - day 5

Short day at the clinic yesterday - but a busy one! We do not have a count on the number of kids we have seen, but we have taken care of the needs of all the children at the school next to us - 550 kids. 

After a quick lunch, we loaded up the bus to head to Guatemala City. It's an hour and a half drive down the same narrow, winding road we came up on. Unfortunately, several of the group experienced a little motion sickness and were glad to get to the fairly flat city. We had a tour of the University in Guatemala City, which houses a museum of Mayan culture and learned quite a bit about the history of Guatemala. The university is in a beautiful, park-like setting and had lots of beautiful trees and foliage. 

One of the "special" events was an unexpected song with T Bob Davis (our leader) playing "How Great Thou Art" on a Bosendorfer piano - ($200,000 piano) - very inspirational. While at the museum, one of our dental students found out that her grand father passed away. She will be flying out today - please be praying for Lindsey, as we have.

Dinner was with the Guatemalan dental students who had come to the clinic on Monday. It was at a very nice restaurant, and we were able to have *ICED* drinks for the first time since our arrival. The drive back up the mountain was in the dark, which gave us a new perspective on the population of the area - lights in every direction, up the mountainside and down in the valley. 

We are about ready to open "hunting season" - for roosters that crow at 1:00 am and dogs that bark all night. :-)  Other than that, we are good to go for another day, please pray for strength to "finish strong". We love you all and cherish your prayers and support.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guatemala - Day 4

Yesterday was incredible! We are getting the kinks worked out, and our team works really well together. The three assistants switch off, and two are assisting while one is helping get supplies, sterilizing, etc. Brenda has become the clinic "Head X-Ray Tech" and is invaluable to everyone in the clinic.

We thought you might like to know what our typical schedule has been: 
7:00 - breakfast
7:30 - start clinic
1:00 - break for lunch
2:00 - resume clinic
6:00 - clinic concludes (and clean-up commences)
7:00 - dinner
8:00 - re-cap the day and make any changes  
9:00 - devotion/worship/evening program
10:00 - to dorms

As you can see, there's not much 'down time' in our schedule. We saw lots of patients, including some adults. Yesterday we did not stop seeing patients until 7:00.

One bonus of this trip is the translators we are getting to work with. We have noticed that a lot of the children  have American names, such as "Emily," "Anderson," "Cindy," and  "Jeff."  Terry asked our translator about that, and he told her that Guatemalans have taken to naming their children after Americans they have met or see on TV. But in the more remote regions, where TV is not as available, they might name their children after American products they come in contact with or hear about. So he has heard of a child named Usmail ----- "U.S. Mail"

We had a wonderful worship time last night. Two of the guys brought guitars, and one guy brought a mandolin. We sang "Redeeming King," "He is Exalted," and "How He Loves" and it was incredible. "How He Loves" was partially in Spanish, and I watched some of the translators just light up. 

Today we will be working a half day, then going to the dental school in Guatemala City. This means an hour and a half ride down the same narrow, winding road we came up on. Seeing more of the country will be fun. 

With the busy days, we ask you to pray for physical energy and endurance. Pray that we have an impact on the people we see here, from the patients to the parents to the translators and the workers here at the compound. We can tell you are praying - we've had a great trip so far!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guatemala -Day 3

Our first full day of clinic! And it was a *very* full day. The buses pulled up, the gates opened, and the kids began swarming in at 7:30 while we were at breakfast. It was fun seeing all the little smiling faces of children in their uniforms. We quickly got over to the clinic to begin our day. Bench after bench of children were lined up for us to see. Our youngest patient was 3 years old, and he was a trouper! There were some that we were not able to treat because they were so scared, but this little boy kept his mouth open, stayed still, and did not even flinch.

We had to stop early for lunch because of some electrical problems that were quickly resolved. The afternoon we were seeing the older students and the behavior was a bit more compliant. Dental students from the Guatemala dental school showed up and worked along our students - so a "controlled" chaos followed. We ended up seeing around 125 patients with many more to go. We have many stories to tell, mostly of God using people and bringing them into our paths. 

Please pray for strength for us, pray for a sensitivity to what we are to say and to encourage to others, pray that we will rely on His equipping for the task.
And by the way, we pray that for you as well.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guatemala Day Two

Wow, what a busy day! Yesterday after breakfast we had an incredible outdoor worship service. Dr. David Toney led us, a cappella, as we sang Amazing Grace and  Great is Thy Faithfulness then challenged us with a message from John 17 . 

For this trip, we are working with 6 dentists,  18 dental students, 2 hygienists, 3 hygiene students and 3 assistants. Expecting to see as many kids as we are, set-up is a very big job. After worship, we began unpacking all our equipment. We broke for lunch, then got back to work. 

By about 2:00, we were ready to begin treating some of the workers in the compound. We did a 'test run' to see what works and what doesn't. Although we are at a site with electricity, we are working with mostly older equipment.  The equipment for our team worked well, but some of the other equipment needed repairs before tomorrow.  It usually takes a day or so to find out what works best in each location. Hopefully we will get the kinks worked out today!

We will hit the ground running this  morning. Breakfast is at 7, and the kids will start arriving before 8. It is a beautiful, beautiful morning here. A little cool, but it will warm up quickly.

Today, please pray for physical energy. It will be a busy, busy day. Also pray for patience as we run into snags that we need to work out. We are excited about what God is going to do here today, and can't wait to come back here tomorrow to tell you!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Guatemala - Day One

(Sorry, but there will be no pictures posted while we are on the mission - no internet)

We made it to Guatemala! I was a little apprehensive about going through customs with our trunks and bags of dental equipment after talking to a woman on the plane who has been doing medical missions here for years, but after a cursory search of our things and a stamp on David's passport so that we did not have to pay taxes, we were cleared! 

At the airport in Houston, we met with several other dental students and a dentist from Houston, and at the Guatamalan airport we met up with the rest of the team, in from Dallas. There are 32 of us all together. We loaded the bags and boxes onto a truck, and we all piled on to a bus named Lucy and headed out of the city. But first - we stopped for lunch at a true Guatemalan restaurant named Burger King. Yes, we had it our way!

The ride to the mission compound in San Raymundo was...interesting. Many of the streets are very, very narrow and the terrain is mountainous. Poverty is rampant here. Guatemala is the 2nd poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti. The land is beautiful, although there has been much clearing of the trees in the countryside. The streets are very, very clean and although the people here may not have much, they do care about what they have. It is a country with two main religions - Mayan influence, and Catholic. They are mostly a lost people. 

We are staying at a compound that serves as a hospital when medical teams come in. There are dorms for sleeping accommodations, and a cafeteria staffed by some Guatemalan women that are very good cooks! 

Today will be a busy day setting up clinic.  Tomorrow, we will begin seeing the first of the 750 children, ages 4-12, that attend two local schools. We will be joined tomorrow by dental students from the dental school in Guatemala City. 

Everyone is healthy and feeling well, despite the altitude. We are about the same sea level as Denver, so that is a change for us Gulf Coast Texans! Please pray for continued health, for spiritual strength, for physical energy. 

We miss our families, but are excited to see what God does here in the mountains of Guatemala. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bulgaria Mission Trip

March 16, 2013.

The mission team consist of Donald Hinze, (GCBA), Charles Easely, Sonny Halford and Porfirio  Colon. We flew from Houston, TX with a stop over at Amsterdam, Holland and into Sofia, Bulgria. From Sofia our Bulgarian Hosts drove us to Somolyan, Bulgaria which is up in the mountains. The drive from Sofia to Somolyan was about 5 hours so that by th time we reached Somolyan we were ready to go to bed. At least Pastor Charles and I were ready to sleep, Sonny and Don  went out to enjoy the local cuisine. we finally rested some and are getting tready to see the town and visit with a Christian congregation later during the day.

March 19, 2013. This is day 5 of our mission trip. We finally are able to have access to WI-FI. We are preparing to leave shorty on a trip tp a local towm about 2 hours from were we are staying. On schedule is meeting with two IMB Missionaries for encouragemement and a potential business meeting with Turkish Moslems Businessmen. Pray for this encounter if you see this blog today. As for the rest of the trip we have had busy time meeting people, attending local worship services, spending time with Ivo and Kremi and their children a young local missionary couple with a great testimony. Yesterday we visited with Maria Nikova the Mayor of Momchilovtsi a small villag here in Smolyan and had a great time planning for seminars and training in her town and praying over her town and her office. She is an orthodox Christian, but very receptive to the gospel. Perhaps our most important event was a God appointed meeting with Svetlana, a local believer that teaches English at the local University. We made an appointement with her to meet for coffee. She came to our meeting with a friend of her named Peter. She has been witnessing to Peter for two years and Peter has not yet made a decission for Christ. She asked us tu talk to him about salvation from our male perspective. We spent about two hours witnessing to Peter. Pastor Charles gave the plan of salvation, the others we gave pertinent testimony that he related with. Finally, we asked him to decide and he decided to wait. So pray for Petert, I beleive The Lord brought us together with him so that he could converse with Christian men. Remember there are not many Christian men here in Smolyan. Continue to remember us in your prayers. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gearing up!

It's almost time to go! On Thursday, March 14 three members of Heights will be going to Sofia, Bulgaria to begin building relationships and see how Heights can share God's love and become a part of the lives of those living in Bulgaria.

On Saturday, March 16 four Heights members will be going to San Raymundo, in the mountains north of Guatemala City, Guatemala to show them how much God loves them by giving dental care to children and adults living in the area. 

Please pray daily for those going:
    Bulgaria trip  
         Pastor Charles Easley
         Porfirio Colon
         Sonny Halford
    Guatemala trip
         Dr. David Boyles Jr
         Brenda Schibi
         Terry Blackwell
         Jody Banks

Dr. Gary Mayfield will join our Guatemala trip, along with several other dentists and dental students from Houston and Dallas. Our Bulgaria team will be joined by other members of the Gulf Coast Baptist Association. 

We will try to blog about both of these trips, providing we have internet access! 

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"    Romans 10:13-14

~Jody, Guatemala team member