Monday, January 17, 2011

Our World here has changed!

Friends and Family,
I have been here many years; I have witnessed many changes. Actually I came a few years after our Montana Mission began in Guatemala in 1963. I was here before the trees and most of the buildings. Myself and another Montana Nurse found the Clinica Maxeña in 1966. We were pioneers in health care to the Poor in an underdeveloped mountainous region; primitive villages, rivers, and thousands of Mayan indigenous people peppered the mountains. Disease was rampant, including tuberculosis, whooping cough, measles, parasites, malnutrition, etc. There was no Medical doctor in town; we were thirty minutes from a poorly run, and under equipped National Hospital. Homes were made from bamboo and thatched roofs from bananna leaves and other vegetation. The roads were dirt and four wheel drive vehicles a necessity. There was no communication means except a primitive telegraph system. I learned to drive in Guatemala at 22 years of age. There were less that a dozen vehicles in this town of Santo Tomas La Union and we had three of them.

Now it is more than forty years later. I left Guatemala in 1983 during a very violent armed struggle with the Guatemalan military that left thousands of Mayan Indigenous people massacred, and over 30,000 disappeared. I too had to flee because of medically assisting the injured combatants and civilians. I lived in the refugee camps for several months with people fleeing the violence in southern Mexico. I continued to work in solidarity many years in the US for the people of Guatemala. My experiences are part of who I have become. I would not trade my experiences for any other life.

I lived in the United States for over twenty years and worked as a Registered Nurse; I returned again to Guatemala and to our mission in 2006. Life is different here now but it is still very difficult for the Mayan Indigenous and Poor. Our Mission has changed peoples lives. We sponsor a Junior-senior high school for the Mayans living in this mountainous region. Our pastor, James Hazelton, has made education available for thousands of young people. Over five hundred students enrolled this year. The Clinica Maxeña continues to serve the Poor. We have an excellent, committed Guatemalan Physician and 28 workers, including auxilliary nurses, laboratory persons, maintenance crew, cooks and others. Everday is a new day with many emergencies, very ill patients coming to our door. Our town has more than doubled in population with 14,000 inhabitants. There are hudreds of cars in town. The road out of town is asphault but most of the roads to the villages are still dirt and difficult to navigate. I feel blessed and Happy to be here. I am grateful for so many friends who walk with us in our Journey. THANK YOU!!

I include a photo of three wheel taxis on the main street of our town. There are over 100 of these taxis. Again I share the recent picture of the staff of the Clinica Maxeña for 2011!