Saturday, May 29, 2010

Storm Agatha strikes with FURY

Sunday evening May 29, 2010


Friday our doctor, EVER, commented that he felt relief that the threat of Dengue and Typhoid was passing. This afternoon, however, the rain became intense and constant. We have had rains for over 36 hours and rivers in our areas are overflowing and people are evacuating. Both the states our mission serves, Suchitepequez and Solola, have been declared disaster areas. The torment, named AGATHA, has hit us with fury. It is the weekend so we know that MONDAY our clinic will again overflow with patients. For now we are keeping alert to the news by radio and television and staying in the Mission. We are fortunate for now that our electricity an internett are functioning. Also we are blessed to have a generator that will provide electricity if need arises.

It is already history that a few days ago Volcano Pacaya erupted ferociously, spilling ash in Guatemala City and closing the international airport. The torment is a more serious disaster and we pray it will pass without great loss of life and property in Guatemala.


Monday, May 24, 2010


Friends and family,

Today was one of the busiest days in the clinic imaginable; I never even sat at my desk. One has to slow to take care of one´s own workers first. Each day a few more workers have fallen ill with either Dengue or Typhoid. Our own doctor, Ever, had a light case of dengue a few weeks ago and recovered quickly. Other workers have not been as fortunate. At present we have three workers who have both dengue and typhoid. One of them is Celia, our auxiliar nurse for 18 years, who usually helps triage and treat simple diseases. Today she was the patient receiving IV fluids, fever, pain and antibiotic medications. We have four other workers with one or the other disease. Our three laboratory workers were overwhelmed and we gladly provided them with lunch on the job and a secretary to help record results. One of our worker´s 13 year old son has hemorrahgic Dengue, one of dreaded complications, when the platelets drop ,and one can have serous complications from hemorrhage. There are only a few hospitals in the country who have the capability to provide platelets. Fortunately, a pediatrician specialist will see this child tomorrow and follow his case closely. Metchas, our dear cook, also has both dengue and typhoid. She is recovering at home but is on bedrest and medication. Please PRAY for our patients.

The Ministry of Health Clinic called a meeting in town because of the apparent epidemic of Dengue. Representatives from different neighborhoods came together; the clinic sent a representative. Plans were made to clean up the town of garbage and plastic containers, and eliminating puddles of water, which are sources of the dengue mosquito. A followup meeting will take place Wednesday. It is hope the Ministry of Health will then spray to eliminate the mosquito.

Our doctor works through the night, doing a turn, in the National Government Hospital, so he will see less patients tomorrow. Lights are scheduled to be off for 12 hours for repair so we will rely on our generator, which is very fortunate for our clinic. Wednesday there is a protest scheduled around the country for the increase in electricity so the highways will be blocked by the protesters for several hours. A DAY to stay home.

Good news was an email responding to mine from our Mission director. He assured me we could purchase a new microscope from some grant money that is still available. This will replace one of the donated microscopes of many years use!

In these emergencies, as a Parish Clinic, we respond to each patient who comes to the clinic. We are confident that friends will help us carry the burden of their medications and laboratory tests, when they cannot.

Guatemala Mission
Diocese of Helena
PO Box 1729
Helena, Montana

Don´t forget to note that it is for the Nurses fund or the Clinica Maxeña!

You can also donate on line at

Blessings and thanks
P.S. I now post a foto of Metchas and Celia post recovery and back to WORK!

Monday, May 17, 2010


Good Morning friends and family,

This past week, following a repeat X Ray and approval of the Orthopedic specialist in near by hospital, our 85 year old patient, Maria, began to learn to walk again. It has been almost three months since Maria fell and suffered a severe compound fracture of her femur. She has stayed in our clinic and we hired a auxiliary nurse to tend to her needs. Members of our parish visited her frequently bringing smiles, juices and bananas.

Manuela, our hospice in patient with AIDS, went peacefully home to her GOD! Her father, Cruz, worked many years with the clinic in its beginnings. We were happy to be able to accompany him and family in this journey. This Friday celebrates solidarity for Human Rights for persons with VIH/AIDS and prayers for those who have died from this disease. There will be ecumenical religious services with candle light in many churches in Guatemala on this day. Pastoral Health of the Clinica Maxeña will also commemorate with candles in the chapel of the local cemetery and in our parish church. We will especially remember Manuela and her family on this day.

Malnourished children continue to come daily to our clinic requesting milk and protein supplements. Our coffers are low so your support is greatly appreciated. Dengue and Typhoid cases are very prevalent all around us now so this again is emergency care for the poor, who do not have economic possibilities to pay for thier services.


Sunday, May 16, 2010


The days have gone fast. Tuesday 22 Carroll College students of Campus Ministry will pack bags and leave the Mission and head for a few days of relaxation on Lake Atitlan. It has been a fun, interesting and we hope informative voyage. We learn from one another. They will be back in Montana the end of the week. The rains had slowed a little into what is called in spanish, canicula; this is usually a lull for two weeks of rain. Yesterday it began again with a fury but the pause allowed the visitors to play soccer, swim in our junior, senior highschool outdoor pool and travel out to mountain villages in the back of our pickup trucks.
Fr. Hazy has celebrated several masses in which they attended. Somehow they got to singing the Carroll theme song at the end of the masses! WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN. Since myself and Fr Hazy are Carroll graduates also we were able to chime in on the chorous. A triangle soccer tournament between Carroll students, Asunción parish school teachers, and workers of the Clinica Maxeña. Asunción won the first place trophy, the Clinica Maxeña, second place and Carroll came in on the tail. Actually the reality that here children grow up playing soccer explains Carroll´s last place but it did not dampen the spirit or challenge. The women from the Clinica Maxeña played basketball against the feminine group of Carroll studentse and Carroll won without a problem. The band of the Clinica Maxeña added to the spirit of the day.
The cooks of the Clinica Maxeña have provided wonderful meals!

Today the group of visitors came together with the Pastoral Ministry of the children of the Parish of Santo Tomas to celebrate Mother´s Day with their moms. Games, music, prayer, laughter and tamales made the celebration a huge success. Tomorrow they will accompany the environmental team of the clinic to a local community to participate in education and a raffle for an ONIL STOVE! See the ad at the beginning of my blog to be able to contribute so a family can enjoy one of these wonderful stoves.
Sharing our journey with young people from Carroll College, of Helena, Montana is an honor for us at the Mission. Many alumnae of this wonderful institution have come to Guatemala to share their lives with these people. Returning with the Carroll students, is Alex Woelkers, who has just finished his year as a volunteer and english teacher in Asunción. We know these experiences plant the seed for future volunteers to share their time and treasure.

Enclosed is a photo of the women of Carroll and the Clinica Maxeña who enjoyed fun and friendship with the game and also the Carroll College Campus Ministry singing after a Mass their theme, FIGHT song. WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN!!

Note that donation is for the work of THE CLINICA MAXEÑA!!!

Thanks for reading my BLOG!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prayers for reconciliation needed!!

We thought at last the ROTARY WATER PROJECT was to become reality. It has struck an unexpected snag. The lower coast, more than 90 villages, belong to two counties; Nahuala and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan. Their central governing headquarters and county seats are in the highlands; each county has a mayor. The land extends from the coastal region through the mountains to the highlands. For over a century there has existed a territorial conflict between these people. The conflict arose when the two leaders, designated governors, in the late eighteenth century, went to war; interesting is that apparent cause of the conflict between the two leaders was a woman. The conflict was violent and over 200 men and women perished. Now the struggle between the two groups is more political and exists mostly in the communities of the lower coast. Traditionally these Mayan Indigenous groups are very stong and determined and have a history to resort to violence to settle conflicts. Their land is one of the few areas of the country where the land is owned communally. That means their land is similar to a large plantation. If you went to the the office of the mayor in the town of one of the two municipalities and you had found land unused you could claim it, and it would be documented and you could work that piece of land. It was yours although you did not hold a legal document. You could sell it to another member of the same community. Now, however. there is no land avaiable. The people of these two counties live side by side and intermingled. Unless you would inquire you would not be aware to which county they are aligned with.

The more serious issue now is politics. Each county has people in all the lower coast communities; each has its own auxilliary mayor and political leaders who compete to offer projects to their people. When the rotary water project initiated the proposal for the water project their were no conflicts apparent and the leaders accepted that the water project for the entire community with gratitude and hope. All were willing to work together to make it a reality for all in the community. This community was chosen because little water pressure existed and many had no water and it was also a very impoverished community.

Unfortunately the Rotarian water project, that the Clinica Maxeña is facilitating, has become tangled in that centuries old conflict. An unrelated dispute has arisen between these two political groups over a classroom construction project for the local school. This construction project blocked access to a road used by some residents of the opposing side. Instead of trying to work out their differences, one group filed a legal complaint against the other political side. The other larger and more influential group retaliated by threatening to eliminate some from the proposed water project. Leaders of both sides have been calling and visiting our representative of the water project to convince him of their actions and to take their position. Clinic representatives have held several meetings, both separately and together, with the leaders of these two opposing groups from the community chosen for the water project. It is difficult to understand how the two sides cannot find reconciliation and agree to work in peace for the completion of this project. The clinic cannot accept the responsibility to facilitate the project when it is being used for an unrelated conflict and exists the intention of one group to eliminate some families from the water project. Tomorrow another meeting of one side of the conflict will come together here in the clinic for further discussion. Please pray that this conflict can be resolved and this important project will not be lost for this impoverished community.

Enclosed a photo of one of the sessions with the two groups in the meeting room of the Clinica Maxeña.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blessings and help from good friends and doctors

Good Morning Friends,
It is Saturday and the rains are pouring from the heavens! It has been an incredible few days with many acutely ill with serious health complications. We must rely on the National Health system, with all its limitations, for many of our patients. It does help trememdously to have contacts and friends in hospitals. Many of the doctors, who assist us with patients, did their required practice as medical students in our Clinic and now hold prestigious positions in Hospitals. Fortunately they have good memories of their experience in our Clinic and help us admit our patients and provide excellent care for them or refer them for us.

An example of some of the positions held by Physicians who worked for us as Medical Students are the Chief of Pediatric Surgery in the largest government hospital in Guatemala City; the Medical director of the Tuberculosis Hospital and his wife heads the program for HIV; the director of the Pediatric Ward in Hospital nearest us. We also have a very good friendship with the female doctor who admits immediately any child diagnosed with cancer; her husband worked for the Clinic with Mountain clinic project until recently. In this society without such contacts one could not be as effective in having patients receive specialized care.

Two days ago a four month old infant had emergency surgery in Guatemala city for a congential mass under his tongue that was affecting his breathing. The surgery was a success. We also brought another newly diagnosed patient with HIV to the Aids clinic and he was started immediately on anti virals. Another young woman, with a ruptured appendix, underwent repeat surgery for abcess by an excellent surgeon who is a friend of our Mission, in the local hospital. He was to have the day off but called me to bring an interpreter to convince the patient to agree to repeat surgery so he could perform it himself. One of the students from our parish high school suffered an chemistry experiment explosion causing damage to his eyes. I was fortunate to bring him to an excellent opthamologist, who has assisted in eye brigades in our clinic, in his office; he gave a 50% discount. The student remains in the clinic to receive his eye medication and observation. So though I am tired this weekend, I feel blessed to know such dedicated Guatemalan Physicians, who share the concern to care for patients who cannot afford private care. We also have an excellent Physician who works full time in the Clinica Maxeña; his name is EVER. He lives nearby with his wife and four children and has the respect of the local population. We are richly blessed.

Manuela, our AIDS patient in the clinic, is now Hospice for us. Keep her in your prayers. Her parents remain with her 24 hours and we have a nurses aide who assists in her care.

Enclosed a picture of Manuela and her mom, in our in patient clinic area, and Cristian, four month old infant with his mom, before leaving for the city for emergency surgery.

Thank You for your interest, support and prayers for our work in the Clinica Maxeña.