Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009 comes to an END!

The Mission is quiet. Christmas is over, tamales eaten, workers taking days off to be with family. Tomorrow we perform our annual, clinic inventory, and also begin preparations for our New Year meeting on January 4. Despite the violence that has engulfed the country, the end of year seems more peaceful. Our Mission Personell will again celebrate together the beginnning of 2010!

Tonite the young people of the parish are celebrating the end of year in our large meeting room on the MIssion Ground. There is music, games, prayer and food.

Today we cut the ribbon for a project of Libby, Montana in a small, very poor community, Pasin. A group of friends of the Mission, from Libby, donated 3,000. dollars to construct bathrooms for the rural primary school in this very poor community. We hope in 2010 the Rotary of Libby, Montana will improve the water availability also in PASIN. This is a big project for over 300 families that must follow all the guidelines of Rotary International to begin, so we hope it will happen in the first months of 2010. The Clinica Maxeña chose Pasin as recipient of this generous offer as they are perhaps one of our poorest communities that we are priveleged to serve. Very few children have graduated from highschool from this community. This past year less than a dozen finished sixth grade. Many of our malnourished infants also are from Pasin. We also have donated some ONIL stoves to selected families in this community because of the severe poverty.



Include Foto of our Mission Team, Sr Mary, Sr Anna, Fr Hazy and myself. At HOME we are SENIOR CITIZENS; here we are distinguished citizens of the THIRD AGE!!!!
Our Volunteer, Alex Woelkers, graduate of Carroll College, and working in Asuncion, Parish Junior, Senior, Highschool is home for Christmas Holidays.

Foto of the Cutting of ribbon of Project in Pasin of Libby, Montana


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I wish to share my Christmas Letter to my Blog readers. I have enjoyed sharing my experiences here in our Mission from the Diocese of Helena, Montana, through this space. Christmas is a very special feast for me since I was a small child, as it is for all people, so thank you for your interest.

Friends and family,

Here in Guatemala we are at the end of the rainy season, approaching summer. We are at the beginning of the Coffee Harvest. The small coffee trees burst forth with the red berries, which can be seen from the roadside, as one travels up the bumpy dirt roads to the mountain villages and even driving into town where our Mission is located. They are our CHRISTMAS TREES! There are no icy roads or flakes of snow in the air. All over the world, in tiny towns and big cities, CHRISTMAS is a day of PEACE and HOPE. In GUATEMALA, we pray and hope that CHRISTMAS will be a day with no violence or suffering and that there will be a lasting conversion of HEARTS! Many homes have suffered loss of members of their family from the VIOLENCE during 2009. ALL come together around their table and their church of worship in Prayer and to celebrate the BIRTHDAY OF JESUS.

Here at the Mission we are preparing for the Posadas, where the Nativity scene is carried through the streets with candle light, prayer and music, in search for an INN for the Christ Child. Fiesta celebrations for the elderly and for the personnel bring us together as family. The custom of gift giving is not a CHRISTMAS tradition here but rather there is a sharinng of tamales, bread and "caliente", a HOT pineapple drink. Visiting neighbors and family fill the CHRISTMAS morning hours. As a Parish family we celebrate the vigil MASS on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day our Mission Team enjoy Turkey and all the trimmings at HOME.


Send your Christmas Gift for our Clinic to:
Guatemala Mission
Nurses Fund
Diocese of Helena
PO BOX 1729
Helena, MT 59624

You can also direct deposit for the work of our Mission at the web site:


Sheila McShane

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Few Days of Rest away from HOME

Family and Friends,
As Christmas draws near, as Santo Tomas celebrates it's FEAST of St. Thomas Apostle, I have wandered to the neighboring country of El Salvador to be with a friend for a few days. El Salvador is four hours by bus and it was a very comfortable enjoyable trip. I was met my Susan Dewitt, CSJP and we drove out to the beautiful small colonial rural town, Suchitoto, where she is a Missionary. I have been an Associate of the CSJP, Sisters of St Joseph of Peace, for seven years so this journey was an important time of sharing and praying together for both our ministries, in this time of ADVENT. Guatemala and El Salvador are both experiencing times of increased violence and poverty.

Yesterday was sad for me. I had visited Manuela, who was being treated for Leukemia in the Children's Cancer Hospital on Thursday. She had lost her hair from the chemo and was receiving intravenous nutrition. She had some complications from the treatment, which is expected, but she appeared stable. She had several toys in her bed as SANTA had been through. Her dad was sitting attentively at her bedside. She was asleep but woke to our presence. I had told her in her QUICHE language, not to be sad, and she responded, "I am not". Myself and the clinic worker departed and I told her dad I would return to visit them on December 22nd. Yesterday I received an urgent call from her doctor that she was in Intensive Care on LIFE SUPPORT. Her platelets had dropped and she had an internal bleed. She died that same day. I was able to contact clinic workers to be there for the family when her body was brought back that same night to her village. This Hospital provides excellent support and high quality care and they covered all expense for her being brought home to her family. I understand the community supported and waited with the mother and other children until 3 AM when the body arrived. She will be buried tomorrow. She is an ANGEL in heaven today and at peace. This has been a very difficult time for me for acutely ill children. Christmas is a TIME OF GIVING and a blessing for those who accompany us in our work with the POOR. THANK YOU!

Today Susan and I traveled to the Cathedral in San Salvador, and to mass at the crypt of Archbishop Oscar Romero. On March 24th, it will be thirty years since his martyrdom and he is considered a SAINT already for the people of EL Salvador and Central America.

The news speaks of snow and blizzards at home, here there is drizzling rain and the lights coming and going. All over the world we are waiting for the celebration of CHRISTMAS! My love and Christmas greeting to all my friends and family from EL Salvador.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Patient Updates!

Friends and family,
Today we were very busy for a few hours in our small emergency room as some apparent African BEES from a local coffee processor escaped and swarmed over several passer bys in town. We had five emergencies from this incident, one unconscious, two went to the hospital, by ambulance. The unconscious person was a wheel chair person, who was sitting peacefully in front of the church when he was stung several times. I just came back from visiting him in his home as he was discharged and recovered after four hour treatment in the hospital. We were very grateful that we now have oxygen available in our small emergency room which was put to good use. One of the doctors from the local government clinic came to assist us as we had necessary medicine available and the patients were arriving to our clinic and our doctor on vacation.

I had written a few weeks ago about an infant I had in intensive care in the government hospital on life support for severe dehydration and other complications. The parents requested that their child be brought home as they felt she was not improving and the doctors acknowledged their was little hope for recovery. They disconnected Julianna from life support and I wrapped her gently in the sheet I had brought with me, picked her up and accompanied the parents out of the hospital. I was aware, as I walked out of the hospital,she had died peacefully in my arms. The family would report her death in the local government office in their community. Neighbors had come to the hospital with a car to accompany the family home. It was an important decision and a right of the parents that I honor without question.

Manuela, the child with Leukemia in the Children´s Cancer Hospital in Guatemala City, has had a difficult week but seems to be improving. Her condition is complicated because of malnutrition. Her father has stayed faithfully at her bedside. Tomorrow we will deliver one of our wood saving stoves, some fire wood and also some basic food for the seven children who are at home with their mother. We had gone over to the community yesterday to visit the family and were suprised that the oldest daughter had gone with the mother, on the bus, to the city to see Manuela. The small children were home alone, with bare cupboards. Although the mother and daughter traveled on the bus with only the experience of the daughter bieng one time in Guatemala City, they had a successful trip. The mother returned more at peace that she had visited her daughter and saw herself she was ok. When you visit their very humble dirt floor homes, without even light, you know that there is a lot of fear and apprehension, to have their child apart, in a large modern hospital,where their indian dialect is not spoken and where there are no familiar sights. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that Manuela will return home healthy eventually. I will travel to the city Thursday to visit her and her father. He is committed to stay with her until Juanuary when hopefully she will be improved and his older daughter can relieve him and he can return to work and help out his family. In the meantime we will offer financial support for nutrition to the family.

Daisy, our infant with AIDS, is not progressing as she has been discharged from the hospital and the family is not compliant with her appointments and treatments. Many prayers and patience is needed in accompanying these patients. Daily more emergencies from malnutrition and poverty arrive at the doorstep of the clinic.
We are blessed to have many committed workers who bring hope and healing despite the obstacles. THANK YOU also for all you do in supporting our work.

Included are two photos; one is Manuela´s younger siblings sitting happily on their bed; the other is Manuela´s mother talking on my cell phone to her husband and to Manuela. When we take patients to the city, if they do not have a cell phone, we leave a clinic phone with the patient and if necessary I will go to the home so the family can stay connected. Technology is a great asset to us in our work.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Friends and Family,

End of year is always very busy at the Mission but yet there is no vacation for the sick and poor. Our clinic continues very busy. Daily we send one or two patients to the government hospital that we must track. This morning we heard Manuela, our child with Leukemia, had a difficult night with bleeding in the Cancer Center for children. We are currently awaiting a call from her doctor. A four month old infant had to be rushed to hospital the weekend for emergency transfusion of blood for severe anemia. This infant, Catarina, was discharged four days later, smiling and breast feeding.

We have visitors here. Monte and his wife Tracy, from Richland, Washington, have been here almost a month. Monte has repaired our water pressure for the Mission, installing a reserve tank and pressure pump. Water is vital here and as all over the world there is a scarcity; the water in this area has been affected greatly by the Volcano fire. Chris, another friend of the Mission, is here to share in the Christmas celebration for the elderly; she brought her bag stuffed with small gifts for seniors.

Myself and Tracy visited the Coffee Cooperative in one of the villages, PASAC. This Cooperative of coffee is thriving today. It was begun by the first Montana Pastor of the Diocese of Helena, James Tackes. Coffee harvest is in process and for the first year the women of the Cooperative have succeeded in obtaining a name for their coffee, "CAFÉ FEMININO". This aspect of the coffee production is a WOMEN´s Project. The labels are not yet ready but they have begun to sell some of the bagged product. We will be investigating how this production and cooperative can continue to thrive. It would be meaningful for the Diocese of Helena, as one of the initiators of the Coffee Cooperative, if we could assist in some way the export of Coffee directly to people of the CHURCH OF MONTANA! Campus Ministries from Montana are interested in this project and we hope we can make it reality.

I am including a photo of Alberta, one of the young women in charge of the WOMEN´s project of CAFÉ FEMININO:

Another very important celebration for our Mission was the high school graduation at LA ASUNCION on November 27th. Included is a picture of Alex Woelkers, volunteer and graduate of Carroll College, with some of the graduates. Alex has lived and shared with the students at ASUNCION since his arrival in June to our MISSION.

As always your prayers and support are needed.
Happy Advent Season as we prepare for the Birthday of Jesus!!