Friday, April 23, 2010


Good Morning!
Recently the Rotary of Libby, MT arrived to our mission for a water project in a community that we serve. I was delighted that the Rotarian and translator for the Group was Eileen Driscoll Carney. Eileen was the first lay missionary in Guatemala in 1965 for the Diocese of Helena. She is also a CARROLL COLLEGE graduate and worked with many community projects. She has a Masters degree in Spanish and presently continues to work part time in her retirement and also volunteers for the HUMANE SOCIETY in Libby.

I have stayed in contact with Eileen over the years. In the eighties we went together to the Guatemalan Refugee Camps in Mexico. She visited Guatemala the last time, twenty eight years ago, as WITNESS FOR PEACE. This organization monitored Human Rights for the people suffering and working within Guatemala for Peace and Justice. All former missionaries of our Guatemalan Mission have returned to visit us. All are overwhelmed by the changes and progress that have occurred, especially in Health and Education. Another notable change is the overwhelming presence of vehicle ownership in the area; when we arrived we owned two of the ten vehicles in town. Now it is impossible to count but it is in the hundreds. There are over 100 small three wheel taxis that take inhabitants for short runs, including to our clinic.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Remodeled Laboratory opens its doors!

The Clinica Maxeña continues to grow with patients, needs, expectations, and JOY!
It was founded in 1966 by myself and another Register Nurse, Emma Jean Reis of Montana. We were young, inexperienced and the area was very impoverished with no medical facilities to speak of for miles. Patients came in carried, strapped to chairs, usually dying from malnutrition or Tuberculosis. Our budget was small, we had sample medicines and little equipment. Now more than forty years later, we are well respected by Health officials and doctors in the area, patients prefer us, and we offer quality care with compassion. Our services are for the most poor and many patients cannot pay the minimal cost of doctor consult of 2 dollars. We have 30 employees which include medical personell, accountants, maintenance, kitchen employees, and a Medicinal Plant Clinic with Mayan alternative medicine. We are a catholic parish clinic, founded by the Diocese of Helena Montana, when the Bishop of Montana responded to the call to send missionaries to LATIN AMERICA.

Our needs grew, and our friends responded. The Clinic diagnostic services began with a donated microscope to identify parasite eggs. Our Laboratory now employs a dedicated Laboratory Technologist with over 25 years experience in the government hospital lab and two lab technicians. We are able to diagnose AIDS, Malaria, Diabetes, Dengue, Typhoid, and perform all the routine laboratory tests. We are able to type and cross and administer blood products. We have a new electrocardiogram machine and we soon hope to purchase a portable ultrasound machine. With this expansion of service and increase of patients the laboratory outgrew its space in the Clinica Maxeña. fortunately we has a small building that has been home to many different projects over the years. Last year the mountain clinic project, which had been part of the Clinica Maxeña for five years, became independent and moved to new quarters in town. We remodeled this building with a donation from the Diocese of Helena and yesterday had a small celebration with the Clinic personell, music and cake to initiate our new Laboratory.

Thank YOU for your continued support to our work with the Mayan population in Guatemala.

Friday, April 16, 2010


This week the mission is hosting members of the Rotary Club of LIBBY, MONTANA. They are here to at last begin a water project for the impoverished community, PASIN, which is located about 30 minutes from the Clinic. The choosing of the village, the fund raising by the Rotary, and requirements for a Rotary International project, slowed considerably the initiation of the project. The community has doubled in population since they first obtained a water source thirty years ago. Most houses have water only a few hours a day and some none; the tubing is leaking in some places, and very narrow and inadequate throughout. Families would have only one source of water, usually outside in a cement like sink. Most would bathe from this source, using a small basin to throw water on themselves. Very few have outdoor toilets so the coffee fields are very contaminated with fecal material, which also can seep into the water tank, or resevoir for potable water.

The Clinica Maxeña has a very active environmental committee that is also supported and guided by workshops of Pastoral Health of the Diocese here in Guatemala. The 2010 theme for International day of Water is CLEAN WATER FOR A HEALTHY WORLD;
IT INCLUDES CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF RESOURCES OF WATER. In 2009, the area in which we live and work, had a major forest fire on the Volcano PECUL, where all our water sources originate. We are aware that this decreased our water availability for this area by 30%. Deforestation also affects greatly the availabililty of water in our area. The Clinica Maxeña has a smaller SAFE WATER PROJECT for clorination of drinking water; this project moves slowly but steadily as one must convinced families to the value of potable water. We also promote a stove that conserves fire wood, the ONIL STOVE. This stove costs $100. per family, and we have been blessed by many who have gifted a stove for a poor family of our area. THANK YOU!!

We are very grateful for the generosity and committment of the Rotary of Libby, Montana for this very valuable contribution to water for the Community of Pasin.
WATER IS A SOURCE OF LIFE! It is a resource most of us take for granted. Can you imagine your life without water. Thank you for support for our presence in Guatemala.

Photos include the Libby delegation and engineer, David, visiting the water tank, in the community of Pasin, and another of some of the Libby delegation, myself and the engineer, at the Mission of the Diocese of Helena, MT.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our Emergency Room

Good Afternoon from Guatemala,
Here it is very warm and a quiet Sunday afternoon. This past Friday our emergency room in the Clinica Maxena was very busy. We had two field workers with wounds from the large bladed knife used in the field that had to be sutured; we had a diabetic with a very high glucose; and our last patient was a 55 year old field worker who was cutting tree when he fell and a heavy branch fell across his abdomen. He was accompanied by more than 20 friends and neighbors. He also had a large wound on his head. Fortunately the town ambulance responds quickly to the Clinic and takes our emergencies to the hospital. He was in great pain. We started an intravenous fluid,gave him pain injection and covered his head wound in preparation for the ambulance. The family decided they would not take him to the government hospital. Reality is it was the weekend and the care would be inferior; it was a good decision to take him to a private hospital. We have a very good surgeon who assists these cases who is very conscious of the poors ability to pay. The man had an acute abdomen, low blood pressure with an intestinal rupture and needed emergency surgery. In these cases it is the families responsibility to pay and unlike the states neighbors and families chip in to help pay the bill. Today the doctor told me he may also have a fractured pelvis which was later confirmed. A specialist said it should heal with complete bedrest. The total cost of care and surgery could be approximately 2,000. dollars which again does not compare to what one would pay at home. One must remember however that here the field worker earns less than ten dollars a day! It would be nice if health care was a human right all over the world. Somehow it seems like it should be!!

We are always trying to improve our facilities and we have many needs in our emergency room. With a grant from the diocese last year we were able to purchase an EKG machine and also now have oxygen. We need better lighting, more emergency meds and equipment. Suture is always a big need as many emergencies the patient is unable to pay and wounds are very common.. Donations are most welcome. Thank you for accompanying us in our service to the POOR. The gift of LIFE is the greatest gift one can give to another.


Send your donation to:
Guatemala Mission
(Note for Clinic or NURSES FUND)
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT


Saturday, April 10, 2010


Last evening I and Sr Anna and Mary went to the next town to a movie that we did not want to miss; it was in honor of the assasinated Bishop of Guatemala, Juan Gerardi. It was the last evening for the movie and less than ten people were there. It was not published in the local newspaper. It was produced by the Office of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Guatemala. It will be made available by this office in the future in DVD so it can be viewed by the people in communities. Here in Central America, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and Bishop Juan Gerardi of Guatemala are already considered SAINTS, Prophets, and Martyrs of the faith by the people. That this picture was able to be produced and viewed in movie houses around GUATEMALA is great advancement for HUMAN RIGHTS in a country and a CHURCH that suffered repression and assasinations in the eighties. More than 15 religious were assasinated during this time. Monseñor Juan Gerardi and Fr. Stan Rother, friend and missionary of the Oklahoman Dioscesean Mission on Lake Atitlan were two martyrs of great importance to us. Montana, Oklahoma, and Spokane responded to the call of the Pope to send Catholic missionaries to Latin America in the sixties. Thousands of Catechists, Union Leaders, University students, professors, and field workers disappeared, were assasinated, or tortured in this decade.

For me this movie had special significance as I witnessed the suffering repression and armed conflict of the eighties when these masacres and disappearances took place. Now more than thirty years later the truth is being made known and families are demanding their right to justice. Bishop Juan Gerardi published a documentary in 1998 with all the names and those responsible for the deaths and disappearances; two days later he was assasinated in the rectory of his parish, a few blocks from the Presidential Palace in Guatemala City. Four Military commanders are now in prison for this assasination.

His committment to justice and truth has not been in vain. BLESSED BE HIS NAME!

Monday, April 5, 2010


Today we admitted to our in patient ward in the clinic, a 40 year old woman, suffering with AIDS and Tuberculosis. The family had gone to the National Hospital, that cares for AIDS patients; she had been a patient there for the last two months and they signed a release to bring her home. They had reason to do so. I had called the hospital and was informed by the nurse that she was doing fine and there was no reason for the family to discharge her. That was not true. She had not been eating, she was unable to bathe herself, her skin was black with the dirt, she had diarrhea and she had a severe wound in her hand caused by an infiltration of an intravenous fluid.

On admittance to our clinic, we found her severely dehydrated and febrile; we bathed her, cleaned her hand wound and dressed it, started intravenous fluid and gave her a little fruit and she brightened up. Surely if the family had not taken the initiative to take her from the hospital she would be dead in a few days. Her husband died of AIDS! This is often the situation. Unfortunately there is a stigma to have this disease; patients are often shunned by their family and neighbors. Most do not seek care so the statistics do not tell the real truth. Our Clinic lab is able to diagnose HIV, AIDS. The nearest health center for antivirals is two hours by bus; this medication is provided by the Health Ministry. We have a mayan psychologist, who lives in a nearby community; he dedicates his time and energy to
to accompany these patients. The Clinica Maxeña would like to hire him part time but our budget does not allow this. Most of these patients who we take in to our infirmary are very poor and have little family support. You can help us by making a donation to the NURSES FUND of which I include the address. Thank You for your support and prayers for those we serve. Pray for Manuela and others who suffer and for us that we may help them find comfort and peace.

Send your donation to:
Guatemala Mission (Note for NURSES FUND OR CLINIC)
PO BOX 1729
Helena, MT


Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Week at Home in Santo Tomas La union

Holy Week is on the streets, in our church and on the people´s minds and hearts; many others do take these days to travel or go to the beech. The people who we share our lives with are the poor. They stay at home, go to the processions and religious celebrations and have some special foods. I am going to share pictures of these days with my friends and family, through my BLOG! Blessings of HOLY WEEK!!

1. The photos included are one of our parish Church of St Thomas the Apostle. You can see two lge banners for Holy Week and a large arc decorated with branches and fruits.

2. The large statue of Jesus carrying the cross in procession, stops at a home for veneration at one of the stations of the cross, in front of a home.

3. The Youth of the parish pose for a picture in front of the altar, after carrying the statue of Jesus with the cross, in several processions of Holy week.

4. Leaders of the parish are shown raising Jesus into position on the cross. Note they all wear white gloves for this process.

5. Fr Hazelton, our pastor, is shown in Communion service during good Friday service.

Thank You for accompanying us in our Mission of the Diocese of Helena, MT: