Monday, June 27, 2011

Manuel, 12 yr old child, needs Prayer!

Manuel has been in the Roosevelt hospital for two weeks. He is a student in junior high at our parish school, Asuncion. As previously explained in my blog on May 20, 2011, Manuel has an apparent benign nasopharangeal tumor. We had difficulty convincing the grandparents to allow him to go to the city to this hospital for the surgery. The child was staying with his paternal grandparents. They insisted he could not go to the city and they and their church community would pray for his recovery. The child, after suffering pain and nasal hemorrhage, decided to move in with his maternal grandparents, who said he could have the surgery and the grandfather would accompany him during his hospitalization. His mother has died and his father is eight years in the USA as an undocumented immigrant. Manuel has two younger siblings.

Two weeks has past in the hospital and we maintain daily phone conversation with the grandfather and also frequent communication with the Pediatric surgeon, Dr Gonzales. Manuels surgery is anticipated to be delicate and requires a specialist. The chief of Pediatric surgery in Roosevelt Hospital, Dr Gonzales, is a friend of our clinic. He did his student practice as a resident under the supervision of the the Clinica Maxena many years ago. Such friends, in high positions, have been a real asset to our clinic in making references to hospitals in Guatemala City. Dr Gonzales told me today he had chosen a more experienced surgeon for this delicate operation. He is requesting transfer of Manuel to the Catholic private hospital in Guatemala City for the surgery. He said he would arrange with the administration that there will be no charge to the patient for the service. We are hopeful the surgery will take place this week. We ask for your prayers for Manuel. This tumor is highly vascular and he could possibly have hemorrhage during the operation.

Tomorrow I will go to the city and bring Manuel some of his studies from his teachers in Asuncion and also written greetings from his class companions. We will visit with his grandfather also to give him encouragement and support. Manuel is from a village high up in the mountains and he had been commuting daily to school.

Thank You for your prayers and support. Donations can be made on line for the Clinica Maxena at or send to

Diocese of Helena
Guatemala Missions
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT
note for the Clinica Maxena

Update: I enclose a picture of Manuel in his hospital bed in Pediatrics. We still have no news of impending surgery. Keep him in prayer. thank you!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Corn is a staple in Mayan diet!

Friends and Family,
Hunger and malnutrition are now very prevalent in all the mountain communities. As the Mission has been here 47 years we have different memories of the sixties; corn fields were all through the mountain communities. Each Mayan family had corn and bean reserve for one year from their harvest. There was little money but product was exchanged between families. Over twenty five nutritive herbs grew wild in the fields. There was little malnutrition but of course many other communicable diseases, as no vaccine. Poverty was prevalent in other ways. There were no cars, so everyone walked. Women supplemented the family economy with chickens and some pigs roaming freely about the homes. Houses were constructed from local materials, such as bamboo and straw roofing. When someone had to have a new home, the men got together and built the dwelling together; the women cooked food together to give them energy to work. There was solidarity and feasts. There were no telephones, or roads for cars or trucks. There was more premature deaths; some maternal deaths. Few or no medical clinics existed, other than small, poorly equipped government clinics with nurses aides, no doctors. People as now feared the government hospitals as a place one went to die.

What changes brought about the present crisis of hunger. Globalization! People stopped growing corn and put in coffee bushes. Coffee has only one harvest a year and it is mostly exported but people now felt the need to have more money. Corn was being imported more cheaply than could be produced here and coffee trees were displacing the growth of grains and beans. Life changed drastically. Solidarity decreased among the peoples. Trees were decreasing in the forests. Firewood had to be bought now and it was expensive.

Our message from the clinic in our preventative health program! LOVE MOTHER EARTH! CONSERVE THE FOREST, LAND AND WATER! LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

Now we are beginning a project of sustainable agriculture. Next week four of our workers will go to the second three day agriculture course by a respected health organization that we have been part of for over thirty years. These are all mayan men from the mountain communities who know how to work in the field. They too remember the history of their parents and grandparents when food was not a scarcity. We have begun slowly to plant some demostrative gardens. We have some corn planted and have a small piece of land for herbs. Some of our workers are already planting near their home. My cage for bunnies is being constructed and also the clinic has 8 organic chickens, in a pen near the kitchen. I have to be careful not to give the bunnies names and become my friends.

We are grateful that we have received some funding from the Foundation of the diocese of Helena for this project to eliminate malnutrition in children and to work towards sustainable agriculture in the communities. THANK YOU!

I attatch a photo of Giovani, one of our workers, standing next to his corn.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Friends and Family,
I greet you from the hills of Guatemala. We are in our winter here, the rainy season, and also election time. Guatemala is in economic crisis, which also has touched lives everywhere. Here it is accentuated because of the poverty and corruption. Unfortunately for us the government budget for health seems to have all but disappeared. Patients are receiving very little care in National Hospitals. Medicine just does not exist and surgeries are being performed less frequently and only emergencies. More patients daily are coming to our consult, requesting credit or free care.

We want to express our thanks to you for helping the Clinica Maxeña in these difficult times. We remain committed to the POOR, as the Gospel asks of us.

We are excited as we venture into sustainable agriculture. With this project we hope to convince the Mayan indigenous population to return to the customs of their ancestors and grow their own food. We hope to decrease the incidence of childhood malnutrition. We have obtained the use of a small area of land with a spring nearby. We will plant local herbs and some vegetables and also promote chickens and rabbits in cages that can be place on the grass, their natural habitat.

June 5th, each year, is proclaimed as World Day for the Environment by the United Nations. Environment issues are dominant on the agenda for Health Care Institutions. Politicians ignore this crisis, which includes open garbage dumps along the roads and rivers, deforestation, lack of clean drinking water, no recycle practices, increase use of plastic bags and disposable foam utensils. What future are we creating for the next generation? This year's theme is the FOREST and WATER. the CLinica Maxeña will commemorate the Day of the Environment on June 30; each worker will be asked to commit to plant one tree. The clinic will also host an exposition on environment issues in our meeting space. This will be open to the public until July 30th. The Clinica Maxeña will raffle two ONIL stoves in June. These stoves save firewood, and also have a chimney which eliminates smoke in the family home, decreasing respiratory illness and burns. One hundred dollars buys an ONIL stove for our environmental project.

THANK YOU for journeying along with us and for your continued support in our work in caring for the sick in the Clinic. We invite you to visit the Clinica Maxeña.


Sheila McShane

Please check out the CLINICA MAXEÑA on FACEBOOK
You can donate on line at: Note for the CLinica Maxeña

Or send to
Guatemala Missions
Diocese of Helena
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT 59624
note your donation for the CLinica Maxeña

Monday, June 13, 2011

A sharing of JOY and FAITH!

Friends and Family,
Saturday, June 11th, thousands of adults and children, from the mountain villages and the town of Santo Tomas, descended on our mission property to celebrate with Fr Hazy his 50th anniversary of Priesthood! It was Pentecost and it was a speaking in TONGUES!, as many different languages were spoken in words of celebration and voices of song. The majority of the people speak Quiche, one of 22 Indian dialects spoken in Guatemala; the other dominant language of course is spanish. Several american friends came and added english to the mix. Fr Hazy has spent the last 47 years celebrating the sacraments in two parishes in Guatemala, Santa Maria Visitation and in Santo Tomas La Union. His contribution in education include the founding of two successful junior, senior highschools which has provided education to thousands of young mayans who otherwise would not have had this opportunity. Now over 300 are attending university level in one of these schools, as an extension of the Pan American University in Guatemala City. This remarkable contribution in education was acknowledged by the Governor of Solola with a beautiful plaque; she is one of the students who benefitted from his gift of education to others.

I am in the city to leave Fr Hazy at the airport tomorrow as he returns to Montana for a well deserved rest. Thank You Fr Hazy and we hope to see you again here in July. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Included are a picture of the multitude, estimated over 5,000 and
a photo of Fr Hazy and the Governor of Solola, Julia Elena Yojcom of Santa Maria Visitacion,
presenting a Plaque of Thanks to Fr Hazy for his contribution in EDUCATION.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Friends and Family,

Life cannot be just WORK¡ Activities together build spirit and relaxation. Together we can change our world. Our clinic has many opportunities to come together for dialogue and to discuss change and ideas. Sometimes we bring speakers to inspire and give new ideas. Our band, LA MAXEÑA, coninues to improve and brings laughter and joy to meetings.

Our soccer team is also an important part of spirit. When the University of Montana students visited in May we had a soccer game and the Clinic WON¡¡ The visiting team gifted three soccer balls to our team. THANK YOU. COCO my cocker spaniel is the team MASCOT and enjoys going to the games and putting on his uniform.

Visit the Clinica Maxeña on FACEBOOK. THANKS¡

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June! the Month of the Environment

Friends and Family!

All over the world folks pause to become aware of their environment during this month. June 5th was World Day of Environment. I have become more conscious of the importance of caring what is happening to the resources of Creation since I came south of the border. The Clinica Maxena is planning activities for June 17th. This years theme is the FOREST and WATER.

Plant a TREE! That is our message. Here in Guatemala the forests are disappearing. Fire wood for most of the mayan population and forests fires have decreased dramatically the trees of the forest. Trees of the forest are part of the water cycle by preserving rain water, preventing erosion of the soil, diminishing landslides, providing materials we need, such a lumber, and firewood. We all must strive to maintain a sustainable forest. Be careful with campfires in the forest.

Last week we took visiting university students up the mountain to a source of water for a populous community with the task to plant a tree around the cement tank of water. I found it a difficult climb and I was sort of pulled up the hill by a fellow co worker, Manuel, of the clinic. THANKS MANUEL! I planted my tree and gave it a name, TEELIN, after the town where my dad was born in Ireland. Some of us will return there in a few months to see how our tree is growing!

On June 17, when the clinic comes together to commemorate the Day of the Environment, we again will each plant two trees. This time we are going to the cemetery in a nearby mountain village to plant trees around the perimeter of the cemetery. We will dialogue about how we can educate the public about WATER and the FOREST. We will raffle two ONIL stoves that save firewood and prevent disease from decrease of smoke in the homes. We will set up and exhibition in our meeting room and invite students from local schools to learn about how they can help preserve the forest and also provide water for the future for their children.

What are you doing to preserve the forest and water in your community and neighborhood?

You can donate 100. dollars to buy a stove for a Mayan family here in the mountain villages of Guatemala!

Send your donation to:
Guatemala Mission
Diocese of Helena
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT
Mention it is for the Clinica Maxena Stove Project

Blessings and Peace!

Photos include:
Campus Ministry director of University of Montana, Kirsten Hangass, admiring the forest!
and Myself, Sheila planting my tree!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

June, the month of RAIN! and activities here at the Mission.

Friends and Family,
We are now in the rainy season or our winter. Skies are overcast and usually rains are heavy in the afternoons! If you are not accustomed to carry an umbrella, you do get drenched! In the clinic we do see many more upper respiratory illnesses and fevers. We have not yet begun to diagnose dengue but it is showing up in other parts of country. Dengue is result of a mosquito bite and found where water pools, such as in old tires or puddles. Many bridges have not been repaired and highways still have detours from landslides from Storm Agatha in 2010! As the President of country remarked, "we are not prepared for another disaster!" Keep that in prayer.

Life is busy as we prepare the celebration of 50th anniversary of priesthood of our pastor, Fr Hazy, which is scheduled for June 11th. He has dedicated his life here, now 84 years old and 47 years in Guatemala. We expect a huge turnout with Mass, music, bands, and food.

We are expecting a German volunteer at the Mission, from the Diocese here in Guatemala, in June for a few weeks; she will study nutritive plants, especially herbs, and their prevalence in the mountain villages. We are hopeful to be able to use this information as we move forward in our sustainable agriculture project, related to our nutritional needs for malnourished children.

Needs are great and we respond to them in the spirit of faith and knowing that there are many who are there to help the poor in their needs. Thank you for your presence in our lives here in our Mission in Guatemala!

Today I made a quick run to the National Hospital to visit one of our patients, Juana, who we had sent Friday by ambulance. She is 15 years old, the mother of a three month old baby that she had by cesarean; she is now suffering from acute gallbladder disease with stones, anemia and requires surgery. She has no maternal milk and her three month old infant is surviving on breast milk of a neighbor, who is breast feeding her own baby. I was glad I had gone as I encountered the family, who were fearful of surgery, in the National Hospital and wanted to discharge her since her acute pain had improved. I am hopeful that I convinced them that she must have the surgery; I assured them that we will accompany her and that I know the surgeon and that he is very competent. More prayers!!

Good Night! Love from Guatemala! Sheila

Attatched a Photo of our priest, Fr Hazy outside a mountain parish church. And a bit of reality of the rainy seasons with friends of University of Montana Campus Ministry, walking in the rain!