Saturday, July 30, 2011


Friends and Family,
Last week, about half of our clinic workers participated in "A DAY IN THE FIELDS"; the other workers stayed in their posts so seeing patients would not be interrupted. For months now we have talked about and planned, and prayed, how we would confront the reality of increased malnutrition in children, scarcity of food in homes and HUNGER; these realities are due to inflation and unemployment and change in agriculture practices. The price of corn has almost doubled in the market, as has sugar. Corn and beans, sugar, coffee, herbs are staples of the mayan diet. Chemical spraying of the coffee bushes destroyed the wild healthy herbs that before were very accessible.

Over forty years ago we arrived in Guatemala; we came to establish a diosecean Mission with the Mayan people in the mountains of Guatemala. Life was very different. Certainly there was more sickness as there were no doctors in the rural area; no vaccines, much communicable disease, few pharmacies and a few government clinics with minimal medicine managed by auxiliar nurses. Agricultural practices were also very different; the mountains were planted with corn, up and down steep hills and right up to the door steps of the people; beans were planted among the corn. They lived then in bamboo homes with thatched leaves as roofs. There was more solidarity among the people in the Mayan communities. There were few vehicles. The mayan people exchanged food products among one another as cash was scarce. Less children were hungry!

Along came globalization, following decades of armed conflict and political disappearances; the Mayans rose up against the injustices they became aware of through education and their faith. Coffee, a cash crop, took the place of the fields of corn! Now there is hunger, few fields of corn, little cash, inflation, unemployment and resurgence of violence, but now more criminal than political.

We knew we had to be realistic for the children to survive from hunger! Workshops provided by Pastoral Health of our diocese and ASECSA, a Health Promotor Association that we have been members since it was found in the seventies, brought us to the reality to look for solutions in Mother Earth!

Our first "field day" was to clear a small patch of land for our demonstration garden. It is in a mountain village about two miles from the clinic. The land is loaned to us by one of our workers. It is approximately 20 meters square. The Diocese of Helena Foundation provided the Clinica Maxena with a 5,000. dollar grant for our nutrition, Sustainable Agriculture project. We are hopeful and excited. We continue with our nutrition classes with the moms and malnourished children to monitor the infants and children recovery to health. Formula milk is provided, when necessary, to infants and the Clinic Maxenas healthy nutritious drink, ATOLE MAXENA, to others in the project. New infants and children under 5 are enrolled as they are diagnosed by our doctor in the Clinica Maxena.

This next week the second field day will happen. We are still cleaning this patch of land and have not yet planted the healthy herb, BERRO, and hopefully vegetables, corn and beans. We are learning as we go along. Four of our workers are attending workshops every few moths on Sustainable Agriculture and bring new ideas!

Keep tuned! Pray for us and donate to help our clinic through this difficult time! THANK YOU!
send your donation on line to and note that it is for the Clinica Maxena.

Fotos include working the land together and sitting down to enjoy a pot luck lunch, MAYAN STYLE!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Manuel returns HOME, JOYFUL NEWS

Friends and Family,
Today, Manuel a 12 year old student from our parish school, came home after 6 weeks in Guatemala City hospitals, for surgery of a complicated benign tumor in his nasal pharangeal area. He has lost weight as he has not been able to eat or swallow much food for many weeks. We are very grateful for the intervention of a pediatric surgeon who assisted in finding a competent surgeon to perform this surgery. Manuel was moved from the National Hospital, Roosevelt, to a private Catholic Hospital, Juan Pablo Segundo, property of the Catholic Archdiocese of Guatemala City, and supported by CARITAS. We are very grateful to all who interceded to help Manuel find a solution to this grave condition. Our own Bishop Pablo Vizcaino assisted in helping me make the right contacts so this surgery, and hospitalization was provided free of charge. This was a blessing as the Clinica Maxeña is having economic issues.

Manuel is weak but he is very intent to return to school as soon as possible. He insisted he wanted to go home and not stay in the clinic. His home is high in a mountain village. His mom died in childbirth and his father went to the states leaving him and two siblings with his two sets of grandparents to care for them. They are very attentive. Our plan is to facilitate Manuels return to school as a dormitory student so we can monitor his recuperation. Thank You for your prayers and to all who followed Manuels recuperation on my blog.

I include a photo with his younger sister taken today on the Clinic patio before he went home in a vehicle provided by the family. Please continue to pray for his full recovery.

Thank You for support of our work in the Clinica Maxeña¡

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Team Members a JOY

Friends and Family,
It is late and unusual to have internett at this hour. Cricketts chirping, a cool breeze following an evening shower. I read about a storm, DORA, threatening the Pacific coast. That should bring heavy rains our way.

Clinic very busy today. I also had a meeting with my administrative team in the clinic. We planned a field day for some workers next week who will get our sustainable agricultural program going full steam. We are grateful for a donation from Diocese of Helena Foundation for our Nutritional Project. We also planned our next General Meeting this week. We are attempting to find new ideas here to supplement our budget. Donations are down and our needs with the sick continue to grow. Coming together as a team is very important and often new ideas merge. Music, Prayer and a healthy snack also raises our spirit to continue to serve with JOY.

This weekend our Mission team was together for the first time. We are happy that we are now six persons, and most welcoming is the reality that the two most recent are not seniors! Jake, in his twenties, is adjusting to his role as supervisor of over 50 young male high school dormitory students in our junior, senior Mayan school. He is also in charge of the scholarship program for students in the school, translating letters for sponsors. He enjoys the diet of black beans, eggs, and occassional chicken, which is a blessing; also jumping into the back of the truck for transport to and from the school not a hardship for him. We usually see him several times during the week when there is no internett or water in the school. Thanks Jake for your spirit!

Father Kevin, also from Montana, will be the new pastor come fall. He is in language school, in Xela, about two hours from the mission and a large city; he seems to be learning quickly as already able to carry on some conversation. He is coming home on weekends to learn more about the parish work here from Father Hazy. This past weekend we celebrated his birthday with our favorite lunch, fried chicken and mash potatoes and of course a CAKE. Welcome too, Fr Kevin.

Keep our work in your prayers as many economic challenges here and also election time so also a lot of violence daily in the newspapers.

Have a good night!

Sheila and lots of furry creature friends!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Diabetes, Cancer, Malnutrition, Surgeries

Family and Friends,
Here at the Clinica Maxeña I have witnessed much progress in the health care provided and the Diagnosis of Disease. I was one of the Register Nurses from Montana that co found the Clinica Maxeña in 1966 as a parish mission clinic of the Diocese of Helena, MT. There was no medical doctor for the first five years. The patients came mostly carried in chairs and usually with chronic disease in advanced stages. Communicable disease was rampant, such as Tuberculosis, Measles, Whooping cough; malnutrition was severe and there were more maternal deaths, and tetanus in newborn infants. Doctors in the rural area were almost nil except in National Hospitals.

Today four doctors live in or near Santo Tomas. Ultrasounds and laboratory are now vital for doctors to make a correct diagnosis. There are over 15 Pharmacies in our community of over 12,000 population. There are more than seventy mayan indigenous communities in the mountains near us. As a parish clinic we continue to serve the most poor. Our mission clinic supplements much of the diagnostic tests that are requested by our doctor. Our medications are sold at a much lower cost to the patient. We accompany patients to Guatemala City for cancer treatments and to another city for AIDS antiviral treatments. Cancer treatments were before supplemented by the government by 50% but this is no longer true. AIDS treatments are free for these patients. Only emegency surgeries are done in National Hospital and much of their budget is for patients who have suffered violence in the present environment in Guatemala.

The more common diseases, treated by our doctor in our clinic today, are Diabetes, Cancer, and Malnutrition. We have several patients requiring surgery monthly, mostly for gallbladder and hernias. These patients are referred to Catholic Institutions who bring brigades of doctors from the US and provide surgeries for minimal cost of one hundred dollars. For the very poor we supplement this cost also. Our budget continues to rise. We have to depend on generosity of others. The Gospel tells us the Poor will be with us always. Thank You for walking this journey with us.

In this country, that has no health insurance and a socialized system that does not function, much responsibility falls to religious Institutions. Thank You again. Please donate on line or send donation to following direction in Helena, MT.

Donate on line at: and note for the Clinica Maxeña or send to

Diocese of Helena
Guatemala Mission
PO Box 1729
Helena, MT 59624 note for the Clinica Maxeña

The Clinica Maxeña is on Facebook. Visit our site. thank you

Friday, July 8, 2011


Friends and Family,

Giving Birth is always a joyous occasion for the parents and also the doctor and those who assist. We do not have many births in the Clinica Maxeña but our doctor does assist when the birth is difficult or the midwife is concerned and brings the mother to our emergency room. Today a baby girl came into the world in the Clinica Maxeña. It was the mothers third baby. She appeared exhausted and unable to push the baby in to the world. Juana, the Mayan midwife, brought her, the husband and the mom to the clinic. With the help of our doctor, Ever, it was just a short time when we heard the cry of the new baby. Intravenous fluid was started and the mom and baby will stay a few hours before returning to their home this evening.

Very few women from the mountain villages choose to have their babies in a national hospital or in a government clinic, with a doctor attending; most babies are are born in their homes, under primitive conditions with a Mayan midwife attending the birth. Maternal and infant deaths are less frequent but do happen; some attention and education of the Mayan midwives has been provided but it is indeed minimal. Mayan midwives are not valued or recognized by the Ministry of Health, as they should be. Education has changed some thinking of the next generation and they are more likely to go to the hospital or private doctor for birth. Finances also play a role in these decisions. Women from the mountain villages continue to choose a Mayan midwife who will charge about fifteen dollars for a delivery and follow up care. If a woman is very poor her attention by the midwife will not depend on her ability to pay; for the Midwife her role is a calling, a vocation, and not a paid profession.

The needs are so great in this part of the world for adequate health care, especially for the POOR. Medical care is expensive for them and more and more medicine is becoming privatized. The Poor depend on church leaders to bring their needs to the ears of government officials. Guatemala is in the midst of presidential elections and congressional elections. These are violent times, much lacks in the democratic process. The CHURCH here is very vocal in speaking out for the POOR. WE ask for your prayers in this time that changes can be made in the area of HEALTH to provide more adequate care in government hospitals and clinics to provide more just care that respects the Mayan Culture.

Thank You for accompanying the Clinica Maxeña in providing care for the most POOR.

Send your donation on line to: and note it is for the Clinica Maxeña.

Blessings and have a good DAY.
attatched the parents with their new baby girl and
the mdiwife sitting with the mother in our emergency room following the birth.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Clinica Maxeña commemorates World day of ENVIRONMENT!

Friends and Family,
Internationally, June 5th is proclaimed, by the United Nations, as World Day of the Environment. The clinic came together this last week to reflect on what we are doing and not doing as a Health Institution to SAVE THE PLANET! The enviromental team of health workers for the clinic prepared an exposition to share with the Public. The exposition is in our meeting room and will be available for the Public during the Month of July; clinic workers came together as our Pastoral Health and the first group to reflect on these ideas.

They expressed their thoughts and committments on changes they want so to bring about a better world to live in for themselves and generations to come.
-Share information with my family, friends, and neighbors
-Optimally use firewood, gas, water, and electricty
-Do not accept plastic bags at the time of purchase! Use a Clinica Maxeña Recycle Bag!
-Plant a tree! Reforestar
-Do not use sterifoam and other disposable items that contaminate the environment
-Share information of this theme with teachers, committees and community leaders!


I attatch some photos of our Day of the Environment in the Clinica Maxeña!
Our banner for World Environment Day with the Environmental Exposition in our meeting place.
CHICO AND GIOVANI silk screening our contribution to recycle bag with clinic emblem
and message to not use plastic bags!