Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Year Comes to an END!

It is dark out yet our star of peace, with DOVE shining bright, adorns the adjacent building as I drift into sleep.  2012 is coming to a close in less than a week.  Time moves on so quickly at times with so many happenings in our lives and world; we barely have time to take note. I have neglected my diary that I kept for so many years.  I am 69 years now; I have been back in Mission since 2006.  Prior to that I served in Guatemala for 17 years. I have witnessed great changes. Homes were once made primarily from bamboo with roofs of dried banana leaves; now the majority are from block and two stories.  There is little land available to cultivate. Lights are now available is most homes, if only one light bulb, replacing candle light.  Mobile phones and internet cafes are part of reality for the younger generation.  Cars and buses fill the road ways as do the famous TUC TUCS, or three wheel taxis.  Long gone is the healthy custom to walk for sometimes miles to reach ones destination. First dirt roads replaced the mountain paths but now paved roads, with pot holes, are becoming more common. Motor bikes also fill the roads as they weave in and out of cars and pedestrians.

Missionaries are also fewer in number then in the sixties when our Mission began.  Vocations and local managed churches are a reality.  Once Latin America was considered a Catholic continent; that too has changed as protestant evangelization made its way into all the mountain villages, towns and cities. The World was changing around us and we adapted our lives to the changes.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR OUR CLINIC?  We are partially dependent on others for donations in order to care for the poor.  There is no health care or medicaid here. As one put it; if you have money, you live; if you don't you die.  Help sir as we go forward with hope, prayer and caring of others. The Clinic was founded in 1966 so we have witnessed many health improvements in the population despite the extreme poverty. We have had the generosity of Ophthalmologists who come twice a year for Cataract and other eye surgeries. Our clinic serves now over 15,000 patients a year. The most common diseases are diabetes, malnutrition of children under 5, tuberculosis is making a comeback, AIDS more common.

It has been nice to have friends here from El Salvador; Susan, CSJP and Marie Carmen visiting for the Holidays.  Our town Fiesta of Santo Tomas is over.  13 B'aktun is over and the WORLD did not end as predicted.  One from clinic commemorated the dawn with candles and prayer for family, friends, and the Clinica Maxeña..

Farewell 2012.  Blessing and JOY to all friends and Family. May 2013 bring peace and joy to all people.

Love Sheila

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Visiting and being in SOLIDARITY with those who SUFFERED in recent Earthquake in Guatemala.

Friends and Family,

I am still in the BLOG world but just off line a bit. Work is busy; I have had some issues with arthritic and sciatic pain. I have to slow down to rest. Reflexologia is helping; I am going two times a week.
I am happy we offer this therapy  in our Medicinal Plant Clinic.  This is a first time for me for Reflexologia and it does help the pain and also also helps is a Medicinal Tea, twice a day.

Last week, all the Clinic staff made a journey to the State of San Marcos.  This city was perhaps the area of the country who suffered the most in the Guatemalan earthquake on November  7th. This type of news disappears from the front page of newspapers, as do the PROMISES, to help the persons who suffered from a natural disaster.  Proof of this is  that there are still shelters from the disaster "AGATHA", more than a few years ago, and the people feel forgotten.

We had contacted the Pastoral Social of the Diocese of San Marcos. They were waiting for us when we arrived in a van, with 18 workers and myself.  We had packed a lunch and two thermos of coffee for the journey.  It was a four and half hour trip. We had collected both donations of food products and financial donations from our Diocese. We were able to purchase 1800  pounds of the basic foods; beans, corn, sugar, rice, coffee and protein supplement. We donated 18 wool blankets from our clinic.  We were pleased that they suggested if we liked we could donate the food products and blankets directly to the shelters. We were pleased with this decision as many did not want to leave the donated items in a collection center, not knowing when people in need would receive the products. We traveled a short distance to the shelters as most of the damage and deaths from this earthquake were in the capital City of San Marcos.  Many buildings were marked with large X's  by International Engineers for destruction for safety reasons.

The shelters are tent like structures with minimal space for personal belongings, but rather just room for mattresses.  Several families have to share the same tent like structures, which were donated by International Organizations.  The shelter that was most impressive and sad was a large make shift tent, covered also with plastic, that was home for 43 families for sleep only. In the surrounding area was their partially or completely destroyed homes, where they could store some personal belongings, but could not live or sleep in their homes for safety reasons. For many there is no sign of their home; it was completely destroyed in 40 seconds of the earthquake. In this tent like structure there are 150 members of the families, which includes 60 children.

We left our donations in 3 different shelters.  We decided though we wanted to return to the largest make shift tent shelter, before Christmas, to bring tamales, toys and Onil Stove for cooking.

Yesterday, a week later from our first journey, we returned to SAN Marcos and to the shelter, which is named "EL ROSARIO"  As promised we brought tamales, juice, some toys, INCLUDING SOCCER BALLS,  an Onil Stove and two ONIL water purifiers.  The people were informed of our plan and were awaiting our arrival. We also brought Christmas decorations, and lights and music and a small Christmas Nativity. With the help of the persons in the shelter, we decorated outside and inside; place the Nativity, set up the ONIL Stove, played christmas music,  distributed the toys and sat down to share tamales and juice.  A joyous Christmas celebration.

We again were blessed with the presence of Pastoral Social of the Diocese of San Marcos.

Since on our first journey we had med a big brown guard doggie, who was tied up and obviously very hungry, I brought along some dog food.  His name escapes me but he gobbled down the dog food in a few minutes. I gave his young owner ten pounds of dog food, from my own COCO's supply.


Friday, November 16, 2012


Friends and Family,
Time flies and with so many helping hands and love we seem to get a lot accomplished.  The eye surgeries, mostly Cataracts, are history.  An intense week as 8 surgeries a day, many patients returned home with the GIFT OF SIGHT.  Good meals served to all the team; wonderful, committed, talented cooks who served over 150 meals to Doctors, clinic workers, Missioners, patients and family each day.

General surgical patients accompanied to two different hospitals with 12 patients recipients to better health. This included a baby who had a cleft lip repaired; this baby had to recover from malnutrition to qualify and we were happy this was accomplished through our Nutrition Project.  Government Hospitals should provide this service but they do not until it is an emergency, such as a strangulated hernia.

Our border, Reyna and infant baby are still with us, but she is doing well as is baby. Reyna is single Mom, with epilepsy and handicap arm and leg.  Her family rejected her at the time of her birth.  We knew her from her epilepsy treatment and pre natal care.  She was a planned caesarean but birth pains came one evening and her women neighbors woke me from my sleep. I knew she had to give birth in the hospital so I called the ambulance and her neighbors accompanied her. She had a normal birth and I picked her up with the baby when the family did not respond. Baby Juana weighed 5 pounds four ounces. We admitted her and the baby to the clinic ward; we put up our new crib. The family has responded at last, with her younger single sister coming frequently to see her and the baby.  Reyna was living in the family kitchen, without a door or ventilation and a dirt floor, and a smokey environment.  We knew she could not live alone. Martin, a neighbor and one of our workers, began to negotiate and counsel the family to their responsibility. We committed to fix her living situation to be a bit more Humane. THIS PROJECT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN AND WE HOPE SHE WILL BE WITH HER FAMILY IN DECEMBER.  MORE LATER.

Clinic very busy as we come to end of year. You may also be aware we had an earthquake so life is not dull.  I have strayed a bit from my blog but thank you for your interest and support. Sheila

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Friends and Family,

I greet you from Guatemala and the Clinica Maxeña.  Life has been busy and challenging. Our census of patients remains high and also poverty and illness on the rise.  World economic crisis decreases the amount of money donated. WE ARE CALLED TO SERVE.

Last weekend we celebrated WORLD DAY OF HUNGER and FOOD. Great fun and a day of sharing together.  Another parish, Santa Chiquimula, Totonicopan, came with their Health team, Pastor, and organic garden products and Medicinal Medicines. We hope to continue to learn from one another through visits, and sharing information and experience in our respective projects.  Day ended with them with a Soccer game and they won!

We raffled a pig, our Onil Stove and Water Purificator. We shared organic food prepared by the workers. This included organic chicken stew, carrot and pineapple bread, organic black beans with organic corn tamales, and CHOJIN, a famous beef dish with delicious sauce, prepared by four male workers. We sold Medicinal Plants and Medicine from our Medicinal Plant Clinic.

The Event was held in front of our Parish Church as a Celebration by Pastoral Health of the Diocese of Suchitepequez/Retalhuleu. The Banner of World Day of Food and Hunger hung in front of the church.

Already our Brigade of Eye Surgeon are here and we are in the midst of Cataract Surgeries and Eye Consult. More on that in next blog. Continue to pray and support the work of the Clinica Maxeña.

Sheila McShane RN
Clinica Maxeña

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sharing , Planning, Praying in General Meeting of Clinic

Yesterday, we came together as Clinic Workers, to pause, share, pray, laugh and plan for our Event for World day of FOOD and HUNGER. We no longer meet monthly; there are too many sick and we also cannot afford to close the clinic frequently for financial reasons. The Meeting was opened with PRAYER.

Many workers had gone to different workshops, meetings and visits. It is always good to share new ideas with all. Working together with other groups, making new friends and forming alliances also is very important for our work.

Those who visited another Quiche Parish shared first.  This Parish has many similar projects with us; Clinic, Medicinal Plants, Parish School, Farm animals, Sustainable Agriculture, Mayan Culture, and Quiche language. Exciting also for our workers was to share with their Spiritual Guide about Mayan Culture and the Mayan Celebration of 13 Ba'kun. We hope to form an alliance with them. Also exciting the Parish Workers of Santa Maria Chiquimula are planning a visit to our Parish Projects and hopefully for World Day of Hunger.

Miguel shared for three workers who went to another fascinating workshop on native SEEDS, and how to create a SEED BANK. They were able to bring back some seeds for Plants we do not have but soon we hope to in our Medicinal Plant Garden. This Project is also very MAYAN oriented and very knowledgeable of the Mayan Calendar and upcoming celebration of 13 Bak´ un.

Martin shared on the Pastoral Health gathering on the Environment. We shared with all the print copy of Bishop Pablo's Day on Humanization of Health and the GOSPEL. Our Bishop meets and shares this theme twice a year with Health Workers of the Diocese and the Clinic is always present with many delegates.

The last hour was planning our event of World Day of Hunger. The sustainable Agriculture will hold another planning meeting before October 14 to be sure all is ready and organized.

Sebastian gave a short sharing of the coming CELEBRATION of 13'Bakun; this is the end of the Mayan Calendar Year and the beginning of the next. This will be a Big Celebration and many countries that have Mayan Roots. Yes, the Clinic will celebrate 13'Bakun and we are blessed to have Sebastian to guide our Celebration; this celebration day is December 21, 2012.  Rumors and press were claiming this as the END OF THE WORLD but it is not!  The Clinic will have information days with Sebastian and others to prepare. Already each worker knows his NUWAL. Today we presented a very antique Mayan GOD which will be part of our celebration. We were gifted this precious antique just this week.

We finished our meeting with delicious organic chuchitos made with a piece of chicken and sauce and organic fresca of lemon and strawberries. The BANDA LA MAXEÑA PROVIDED MUSIC.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Clinic Workers Visit Other similar Parish Health Project

Six workers of the Clinica Maxeña traveled three hours to another Quiche Mayan Parish, Santa Maria Chiquimula, Totonicopan. This is a Jesuit parish that has similar projects to ours. There is a primary, junior high school, a clinic with a diagnostic laboratory, a Medicinal Plant project, community organic gardens, organic fertilizer, chickens, bunnies, pigs, ducks. Lovely farm like atmosphere.They were impressed with the workshops for carpentry, welding and farming as technical skills taught in their school. The group  retuned 2 days latter, tired, but enthused with what they learned.  Most important to them was their sharing with a Mayan Spiritual Director, that works in this parish, in Mayan Quiche translation. Our workers are interested to learn more and prepare for 13 Bak tún which will happen on December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan cycle and beginning of another; this happens every 400 years. Those who went on this excursion will share in the General Meeting, next Wednesday.

At the General Meeting, there will be sharing and planning also for the "WORLD DAY OF ALIMENTATION"; this day is to commemorate healthy food and HUNGER in the WORLD.  The Clinica Maxeña wiil celebrate in the court yard of our parish church with delicious organic food dishes, music of our band, raffles, healthy food advice and much more.  Raffles will include our ONIL STOVE, WATER PUIFICATOR AND FLOWER POTS OF SEEDLINGS OF ORGANIC NUTRITIVE AND MEDICINAL PLANTS TO RAFFLE AND SELL!.  SEE YOU THERE!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Independence Day, our Town and its People

 September 15 is INDEPENDENCE DAY, in Guatemala.  It is a National Holiday that features school students, dressed in their finest or new uniforms, marching to the music of drums and trumpets. It is not a day to have your car on the road.  Streets are crowded and food booths, fire works, bombs add to the festivities. During the past week, students also traveled to distant communities, on excursions. They return to the town in buses and trucks, some running ahead of the vehicles, with torches and horns blaring. For the parents, these festivities are an expense, which  most cannot afford, but somehow, the students all participate. Sacrifices are made.

This year, our town of 13,000, was more festive. The new mayor has an active interest to improve our community and it is very visible to the people. Certainly more young people have the opportunity to study, especially the girls, which is a blessing. Years ago when our Mission began in 1964, education was barely available to the Mayan and the poor. Yet unemployment is still rampant and poverty is increasing. Opportunities are not increasing at the level of the number of students, who are graduating from Secondary level. Internet cafes are available and the youth take advantage of the opportunity. Cell phones are very prevalent in the hands of the younger generation. Our Mission maintains a Junior, Senior High school, in a neighboring mountain village, with approximately 450 young mayan students. Hundreds of vehicles are now owned by the local people,  a huge improvement for the population

Violence is less prevalent in our area but not true for the country in general. Extortions, asassinations, robberies are a daily reminders in the newspapers.  Health Care is not available to the Poor, as it should be.  Hospitals and Government health Centers are always with minimal supplies and personnel and the Poor depend on alternative clinics or die young, from curable diseases. Hunger is very prevalent and Guatemala has one of the highest incidence of chronic child malnourishment. Tuberculosis is making a come back in mountain villages and towns. Aids is more diagnosed among the younger population and much education is lacking to prevent this disease.  ALL IS NOT WELL.

However, my conclusion is that YES, the population is better off, than forty years ago. Guatemala has a long way to go to be a peaceful, just society for all the population. Prayers, justice and economic opportunities are in vast need to achieve this change. International justice lacks for GUATEMALA in this very GLOBAL WORLD. Thank You for your presence in our lives and for helping us, help others.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Friends and Family,

I have been off the Blog lately.  Busy, and also I took a few days off, for rest and Relaxation.

The Clinica Maxeña continues to serve the most needy. Patients illnesses are more complex now and also more costly. The National Health system is in continual crisis.  Options for the POOR are few and one recent comment is REALITY; if you have money, YOU LIVE! if you don't YOU DIE!  Our Mission is:  " to make a difference"; we always choose LIFE.

We continue to reach out to other private institutions for HELP, whenever possible.  There are more BRIGADES of DOCTORS from the United States, offering their services, in private institutions. Our own Clinic has begun advertisement for our bi annual EYE SURGERIES, scheduled in October 2012 and March 2013.  These Doctors are from Montana and California.

One of our workers has also been bringing patients to two Catholic Hospitals, who offer general surgeries, for consult and dates for operations. These operations are at a cost of $100, which most of our patients can pay;  some however are paid by donations to our Clinic.  We also provide transportation, some diagnostic tests,  accompaniment, and follow up.  Surgeries include Gallbladder, Hysterectomies, Hernias, Plastic surgeries, Cleft Lip and Palate. These surgeries are presently scheduled in October too and the Hospitals are approximately two to three hours from the clinic. The Clinic is blessed to have two good vehicles for service of patients and errands.

Last week we brought an  EMERGENCY eye patient to a Guatemalan Institution that serves patients for EYE Disease and SURGERY.  This particular Institution, PRO CIEGOS of GUATEMALA, also accompanies our EYE DOCTORS, by providing a Guatemalan Ophtalmologic Medical Resident,  when surgery is performed in the CLINIC.  Unfortunately the GLAUCOMA was too advanced and Manuela is BLIND.  The Doctor was able to provide pain relief and medication.


Please donate on line at:  for our work with the most POOR.


Attached is a photo of Manuela, 47 year old Mayan Woman, blind from GLAUCOMA, as she rests in our clinic, on return from PRO CIEGOS, EYE CLINIC, in Guatemala.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Women in this society are often not respected as equals, even by their spouses. The situation is more critical for the disabled. More recently we seem to be encountering more women, who have been raped,  pregnant, and with little support system. 

A 22 year old woman, who has suffered from epilepsy since an infant, has been raped for the second time.  She has been rejected by her family and at times left to sleep in the corridor.  Her mom passed away about a year ago. She lives with her father, grandmother and some siblings, who are married.

The man who raped her we know as we had assisted his wife with treatment, when she suffered and died, about a year ago, with cancer.  Our Project, for needy patients, assists Reyna with her epileptic medications.  Reyna has presented her case to local authorities and to the "Organization of the Defense of the Woman",  who know her from the first RAPE.

She is receiving Pre Natal care in our clinic.  She is now six months pregnant.  Our Representative of Pastoral Health visited the family.  They agreed REYNA could stay in the kitchen and accompany her grandmother. The rest of the family lives in the adjacent Living area of their home.  At least she was not sleeping in the corridor.  She had asked us to provide her a bed since she was sleeping on a few boards on some blocks.  I agreed I could do this.  I decided I first wanted to visit the home to see her living situation.  Our representative of Pastoral Health accompanied me.

Her father came out to greet us and bring us to the living space they had provided for Reyna.
I was deeply disturbed to see the condition this young woman and her crippled grandmother were enduring.  They were in a Kitchen with a dirt floor, no door, no ventilation or lighting. Reyna´s living
was a corner of about four feet by five feet, no window,  a wooden separation from the rest of the kitchen area. Her bed was a few boards, on cement blocks, with a blanket. The rest of the small dirt floor space was cluttered by a gunny sack, I guess of her clothes. There was little space to walk in the cramped area.  Reyna was not at home at the time. The rest of the family stay inside their adjacent house that was adequate and had space for Reyna, I am sure.  Her grandmother was sitting on the dirt floor. We left in silence.  

We will provide Reyna with a bed but first I hope to first locate a more suitable home for her to live and have her baby.  We are aware her baby will be by Cesarean because of her epilepsy and other deformities. Reyna needs prayer, assistance, and accompaniment, which we hope to provide.

I include the Banner of the Organization for Defense of Indigenous Women.  This is a respectable, effective organization, which we will also consult for Reyna, so she will be accompanied in her Rights as a Woman. 

Friday, July 27, 2012


I have been in Guatemala for many years, yet this is the first time I have had the opportunity to be more aware and present for the care and treatment of a cancer patient. It is very important to me since I spent ten years in ONCOLOGY NURSING in the United States.

Maria is 44 years old and has Breast Cancer.  She has a large gaping wound in her breast that is draining. She has six children, including a 10 year old daughter, Manuela, who is blind and has hydrocephalus.  They are poor but do have more luxury than the majority of the most poor in the mountainous village,  about three miles from the Clinic. Maria is an only child and lives in a home provided by her parents. Her father owns coffee land. They have a small storefront in their home where Maria's husband, Manuel, sells pop, sugar, tortrix, and a few other items of interest to the local population. I am sure the daily profit is little over ten dollars a day. They do have television and a refrigerator and furniture in their home. Their children attend the local schools and are members of the small Catholic parish church.  Manuela, their blind daughter, does not attend school; despite her birth defect she is attentive and very devoted to her mom.  Their kitchen would have the typical dirt floor and wood fire on a raised stone stove. The family would gather about the fire many times in the day as part of their culture.

Yesterday Maria returned from her second treatment of Chemotherapy. She goes in on the bus and we retrieve her the next morning from the Cancer Institute.  Her treatment of chemotherapy costs about $500. each and she will have six followed by a mastectomy. I was surprised that the treatment is basically the chemotherapy and a few medicines prior in preparation. The family goes to the pharmacy with the list of medications, pays for them and transport the medication to the nurse in the chemotherapy unit. She was advised by the discharge nurse that, if she has fever, to buy tylenol. Her breast was not examined or treated. She was not advised of the probable side effects of nausea, vomiting, low blood counts, and infection and what to do if this should occur.

She returned to the clinic from the treatment and we washed her wound, provided her some pain medications and checked her blood counts and brought her home. We will now watch her closely for the side effects, as her white count will fall as they did after first chemotherapy, and she did have fever, chills and infection and receive antibiotics and vitamins and protein supplement from the Clinica Maxeña.

The clinic is diagnosing more CANCER now;  according to the paper today, cervical cancer is the most prevalent among women with this diagnosis.  Papanicolau exam is scheduled monthly and the cost is seven dollars in the Clinica Maxeña.  You can be part of the solution for making Cancer diagnosis and treatment more available for the poor by donating on line for Clinica Maxeña at:


Photos of Maria and Manuel and three of their children, in front of their home. Manuela stands alone below; we hope to follow up on her Hydrocephalus and resulting blindness after her moms recovery.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Jewelry Making as Hobby and Earning some Money

A few young women from our Nutrition Program are single moms and other young patients are chronically ill and have no income and little education.  I have always loved to knit and have an interest in jewelry making.  The clinic has been able to raise extra income with selling of beaded jewelry. One former graduate of Asuncion, from a town on Lake Atitlan, a few hours from our Mission, is very talented in making of jewelry. She is now an auxilliar nurse and a young friend of mine. I invited her here this weekend to teach some young women this art of jewelry making and hopefully a means of income for these young women.  I also included a young woman from our parish who is active in Youth Ministry as a possible person to continue to teach jewelry making to others, to form maybe a club or association. Yesterday was the first class and Rebecca will continue today teaching making earrings and beaded rings. I provided the materials I had stored away from past projects and also snack, lunch, and space to work.

All the young women are under 18 years with the exception of a young insulin dependent diabetic; she is 20 years old.   Two of the young single moms are under 15 and part of our nutrition class.  Unfortunately they had their infants by Caesarean in the National Hospital. The infants are not given to their moms at birth and when they return home, without breast feeding instruction, and days without breast feeding, their milk has dried up.  I have talked to our Doctor EVER, who works one 18 hour shift a week in this hospital, to see how to change this practice. We do attempt our breast pump and a medicinal plant to produce the milk but usually to no avail.  It is too late for breast milk so they are part of nutrition project to provide some formula, prevent malnutrition and assist them in caring for their  infants.

Four of the five young women invited came and were very interested in our bead project and learned quickly.  They made one beaded ring and 2 beaded earrings.  They took them home and will now try to sell them. They were also given some materials to continue this project.  Transita, from Youth Pastoral is also very interested to continue the group.  The plan is that Transita will meet Wednesdays with the present group to continue with rings and earrings and in August Rebecca will return for another few days with new beaded projects. We will look for a few other young needy women to join our group.  I may also teach some knitting for infants to these women.  Today I took Transita and Rebecca for lunch and relaxation.  Nice weekend and hopeful future for a few young women in need.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cancer and the Poor in Gustemala

Friends and Family,
Before I came "back" to Guatemala in 2006, I had worked ten years at the University of Washington in Oncology Nursing.  This experience for me was very rewarding. Most of my career as a Register Nurse has been in the Mission in Guatemala.  I came to Guatemala in 1966 after graduating as a Register Nurse in 1964 from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. I and another nurse found the Clinica Maxeña in 1966, as a Parish Mission Clinic with the diocese of Helena, Montana, in a small rural town in Guatemala Central America. The clinic served also thousands of Mayan Indigenous people in the surrounding mountainous villages.

When I left the Clinica Maxeña in 1983, Cancer was a rare diagnosis. This was mostly due to the reality that the country was in turmoil from internal armed conflict for almost 30 years.  Health Care and diagnostic tools almost did not exist in rural Guatemala.  Doctors in this area were few. The Clinica Maxeña has had a full time Physician since 1980 but our diagnostic laboratory capabilities were minimal.  The signing of the Peace Accords in 1996 did bring about change and progress.  Now we do have more doctors working in Public Health Centers in our area.  The area is very populated; 13,000 in our town area and over 80,000 in the mountain Mayan villages.  Unfortunately the Public Health centers, though they do have doctors, they have very few medications and diagnostic laboratory capacity. We do the diagnostic slides for Tuberculosis and take references for follow up on AIDS patients, and Cancer patients.  Most of these patients do require follow up; most are Mayan and do not speak Spanish but the Mayan dialect, QUICHE; few have been to Guatemala City or other cities of reference.  Tomorrow I am going to Guatemala City to accompany a Breast Cancer patient who will begin Chemotherapy.  I am happy to do this as it is important for me to have direct contact in these health centers and know the doctors and nurses.  We also provide the cost of Chemotherapy to the poor, through a  PROJECT FOR HEALTH CARE NEEDS FOR  THE VERY POOR, MANAGED BY SISTER ANNA.

We are very grateful for your financial support. I have a deep faith that GOD is with us in our Mission to care for the POOR. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ACCOMPANIMENT!  PLEASE DONATE ON LINE!   NOTE FOR THE CLINICA MAXENA.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Friends and Family,

June 5, 2012,  was WORLD DAY OF THE ENVIRONMENT; this day was first declared by the UNITED NATIONS, in 1972.  Every year the Clinica Maxeña has celebrated the day in colaboration with  PASTORAL HEALTH OF THE DIOCESE, SUCHITEPEQUEZ/RETAHULEU.  This year, we felt there was an urgent need of environmental messages; we have dedicated a week of two hours every morning,  in front of the Clinic, to different themes.

We have also been promoting our own  environmental products; especially the ONIL stove, ONIL water purifier, and ATOL MAXEÑA. Our Atol Maxeña is a nutritious organic drink, made in our Medicinal Plant Clinic, from organic ingredients; soy, corn, wheat, rice, peanuts, mush and other spices. These ingredients are toasted over an open fire, ground and packaged in one pound bags.  Our Agricultural and Nutrition Project promotes healthy organic vegetables and herbs in our demonstrative gardens.  We produce organic fertilizer with worms and the shell of the coffee bean.  All this information was shared daily with the 20 to 30 patients waiting to see our doctor or visit our diagnostic laboratory.  It was also transmitted the first day by the parish radio.  Since they recorded our educational talks they can continue to educate the public, on our behalf, about these important themes.

The UNITED NATIONS has proclaimed that the GOAL of this WORLD DAY of the ENVIRONMENT is to raise GLOBAL awareness; to take positive environmental action; to motivate people to convert to active agents of sustainable development. The HOPE is to change attitudes towards environmental themes;  to develop cooperation and guarantee nations and persons so they can enjoy a more prosperous and safe future.

The Clinica Maxeña takes this responsibility seriously.  We know we cannot just offer curative medicine and not solutions to prevent disease.  Preventive Health has been part of our service since the CLINICA MAXEÑA was established in 1966.

Thank You for being part of our Journey and Service.  Please continue to support our work with the Poor in this mountainous region of the MAYAN population. You can donate on line at:   Please note for CLINICA MAXEÑA

Saturday, June 2, 2012


A quiet Saturday; errands to do in the neighboring town.  The sisters have visitors.  I decided I wanted to get away a day from work and the Mission, and maybe lunch at the beach.  I invited my Patient, Diego Tunay.  Diego is 20 years old, insulin dependent diabetic for two years, and profoundly malnourished. He has recovered from diabetic induced cataracts; our visiting opftalmologists from the North West,  removed the second cataract in April.  When he came for his surgery he had a glucose of 598, profound diarrhea and malnutrition.  I decided to treat him and admit him to our infirmary until he recovered. He had been a chronic patient that always relapsed. He weighed 59 pounds.  After seven weeks he weighs 65 pounds and has had a few bouts of diarrhea.  He has returned to his afternoon classes; he is in a career of Industrial art and construction grafting. Diego will graduate this November.  He hopes to continue his study in arts and crafts.  He is very talented in working with bamboo and small weaving crafts and finds it very productive and enjoyable.

Today when I went to lunch with Diego at the Beach, about two hours from the mission, I discovered a little more about his person.  Delightfully he sang some songs and chatted most of the journey. He told me about his family; his parents and three older siblings, his school life and his interests.

Diego is from a very poor family, who live in a one room home with a dirt floor, in a neighborhood near our town.  Recently his dad almost lost this very small dwelling and piece of land because of a loan he took and could not pay and had given the deed of the property as collateral.  This is a very common tragedy here as the poor do not understand interest and Banks and individuals take advantage of their lack of understanding and many do lose their land.

His father borrowed 40,000 thousand quetzales, equivalent to about $5,000. His father works three days a week, slaughtering animals for meat sold in the local market.  He had paid very little of this debt and after 2 years the lawyer who loaned the money to his dad gave him thirty days to pay 100,000 quetzales, more than double the amount borrowed, or he would lose his land and humble home to this lawyer.  His dad had borrowed the money to buy some animals and hopefully make a productive business, but it did not work out.  He was about to lose the land when a cousin, working in the United states, offered to buy the land and property at 100,000 quetzales and allow the family to continue to live there.  A bargain but a grave injustce of the lawyer!  His parents are happy now, secure in their humble home.  They are also happy that Diego continues staying in the clinic and is healing from malnourishment and his diabetes and diet are well controlled.  He often goes home during recess time of his classes to visit his mom.

A delightful saturday afternoon; I returned rested.  Thank You Diego for sharing your story with me.

Attached are a picture of Diego between two visiting Montana State University students, who are also 20 years old!  Diego with his Mom and Nurse following his cataract surgery; and today at the Beach!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Friends and family,

We put our Campus Ministry students and Fr. Val, chaplain from Montana state University, on the Plane on Friday; we welcomed "Engineers without Borders", Carroll College Chapter, on Saturday, to our Mission of the Diocese of Helena, Montana, in Guatemala. The Engineers without Borders group  are here to do a project in our Junior, Senior High School, Asuncion; they will reinforce the walls to with stand earth quake tremors in the school library.  A very important precautionary measure.  There are two Engineers and nine students from Carroll College.

Our time with the Campus Ministry group from Montana State University was a delightful time of sharing and having fun.  They played soccer in the rain with our Clinic Team.  The score was tied; 7 to 7.  The five girls of Montana State made six of their seven goals. YEA for the Ladies!  They visited the school, Asuncion, played basket ball and hiked to the water falls near by.  They participated in several masses, including two in villages with lunches served by the communities. They spent a day in the Clinica Maxeña, learning about our health program. They went to our sustainable agricultural project in a village and worked with our team, clearing some more land for planting vegetables; a hard days work digging up some banana trees and coffee bushes.  Thanks so MUCH!

At the end of their time, we traveled to Lake Atitlan.  We stayed two days in a simple hostal, and walked about this indigenous town; the town is famous for beautiful paintings, carvings and weavings.  We crossed the lake in a Launch to another town, San Pedro, which also has many cultural sites, including a beautiful church with a huge statue of St Peter, surrounded by a gorgeous parish garden, with beautiful flowers and trees. The highlight was a mass celebrated by Father Val in the chapel, bedroom, where Father Stan Rother of the Oklahoma Diocese was assasinated by the Guatemalan Military in 1981. His case for Martydom  has been presented to Rome this past July by the Guatemalan Catholic Church.

We are blessed with the Love of these visitors who share their time, talent and treasure with us.  You can also help us by your prayers and donations.  Please donate on line at:   NOTE FOR THE CLINICA MAXEÑA

Love sheila!

Thursday, May 10, 2012



MOTHERS DAY in my home was always a special Holiday.  Mom loved Mothers Day and she loved receiving presents.  She used to say; BE GOOD to MOM; you will miss me when I am gone!  We certainly do but we know she is in God's GLORY with my DAD and she is at peace!.

Here Mother's Day is also special.  Moms are not expected to work this day.  I am not sure if it is a Labor Law but it is certainly has always been honored in our Clinic. Today at dawn, loud speakers, music and bombs awakened the population to the celebration.  Schools celebrate on different days but in town the new Mayor sent his workers door to door with a red rose for each mom.  There are 13,000 population so I am sure it was not all moms that received the honor of the Rose at their door.  Our kitchen and laundry workers were very gracious to work today for our guests. We are hosting 10 students of Montana State University Campus Ministry, from Bozeman, MT. and their Chaplain, Father Val.

This morning, our guests from Montana State University, and ten of our clinic workers, went to our little plot of farming land in a nearby village. This is part of our sustainable agricultural and nutrition project. This land was loaned to us by one of our workers, Maria, an auxilliar nurse in the Clinica Maxena,  to plant a demonstrative organic vegetable and herb garden. Today our intent was to prepare an extension of the adjacent land for more vegetables. It was necessary to knock down some bananna trees and remove some coffee bushes, which Maria the owner of this small plot had approved.   In 2011 we had two successful harvests of  the herb WATER CRESS or BERRO in this garden and shared the harvest with the moms and children in our nutrition class and also the Diabetic Club.  We also presented Berro in our promotion of organic foods during World Day of Hunger. We have also another demonstrative garden of organic vegetables on our Mission Property.  This project is a success and extending our garden is important with the increase hunger and need to continue to encourage the population to return to planting MOTHER EARTH!

Thank You for your prayers and donations. Send on line at for Clinica Maxeña:


Thursday, May 3, 2012


Good evening family and friends,

It has been a very busy day in the clinic. We sent six patients to a hospital of another mission for surgeries yesterday and all but one returned today to us.  Esmeralda is in the Cancer Hospital in Guatemala City for Radiation for thyroid cancer; another will leave for Uterine Cancer and treatment possibilities Monday.   A young man is in our infirmary for acute abdominal pain and possible appendicitis.  We anticipate transferring him tonight to the National Hospital for further diagnostic exams and possible surgery.  We had to decrease our staff due to economic crisis but it seems that our patient census is increasing daily.

Tomorrow we will take a breather to come together with music of our band and prayer for a general and Pastoral meeting.  We will celebrate the day of the WORKER, or May Day as called in the United states.  In this country the day of the WORKER is a national holiday and workers did come out in many of the larger cities to protest for their rights. May 10th is Mother's day so we will honor the mothers among the workers and also our own mothers and wives.  May 3rd, the Day of the Cross, honors construction Workers; we salute our head of maintenance for 18 years, Martin Lopez. We will celebrate with tamales and pineapple drink!  We are expecting Campus Ministry students from Montana State University and Engineers without Borders, Carroll College Chapter during May; we must plan their days.  The rains are starting; our organic garden is growing; our bunnies multiplying; chickens laying eggs; malnourished babies recovering, so much to give thanks for!




Monday, April 30, 2012


Friends and Family,

A very busy week. Rotarians from Montana here for inaugurations of the GIFT OF WATER, to two communities and near 500 families!  THANK YOU LIBBY, MONTANA ROTARIANS!

Can you imagine being thirsty and no clean water to drink; to want to bathe but no shower; dirty clothes to wash and not even a river near by!  No, as Americans, we do not even think of that possibility.  But Water is not accessible to more than a billion people in the world.  Our Mission area has many communities that are facing major water scarcity, contaminated water, or NO WATER!

Catholic Relief Services and Rotary International are the greatest contributors to the Vital Liquid to poor countries!  Water availability is affected by agriculture needs, energy production, human consumption and Climate Change, to mention a few!  The United Nations has many great resources on internet,  to become more educated in the need, and the crisis, as PEOPLE of GOD we are facing and responsible for!

Contaminated water causes disease and death to hundreds of children daily in the WORLD.  A single pipe can transform the health of hundreds of families by bringing water access to a village.  The Clinica Maxeña  diagnoses and treats intestinal infection and parasites daily through our Laboratory and Medical consults.  Donations are down due to the world economic crisis.  The Clinica Maxeña does not turn down patients because they cannot pay.  We have to  find a way!  We are called to serve the POOR.  THANK YOU for walking this Journey with us. Donate on line to the CLINICA MAXEÑA at:

I share Photos from our celebration for WATER! in the Community of San Juan Maza, and Sohomip, Palacal.  And of the Rotarians of Suchitepequez, Guatemala and Libby, Montana. We also thank the Guatemalan Engineer, David Ruiz and the many volunteer laborers from the communities that made these projects possible.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Life is Not ALWAYS EASY!

Friends and Family,

This past week, two of the young patients that we follow very closely had a crisis! All seems better for them today. They do need lots of PRAYER. Diego is 20 years old, severely malnourished, anemic, brittle, insulin dependent diabetic, cataract in the right eye. Left cataract was removed last year.

He came in to clinic early Monday as scheduled for cataract removal by team of surgeons from the North West. Problem was his glucose was 598! He had severe diarrhea for three days, severely dehidrated and was more emaciated than prior. Immediately we admitted him to a bed and started IV fluids and did laboratory tests. With insulin, antibiotics and IV's food he stabilized enough to have his surgery on Thursday. He was blind last years from the onset of cataracts. Now he can SEE again. Today after two months absence from school he returned to classes. He continues to stay in the clinic so we can monitor his diabetes. He is still unstable but very collaborative and in good spirits. His appetite is good. His sugars are unstable but our doctor and I are monitoring him closely.

Maria is 16 and her situation is more serious. Maria has AIDS, diagnosed when she was thirteen. She was a victim of Rape. She is from an extremely poor family. She has recovered with the help of anti viral medication. She is a pretty girl. She has moved around with relatives, and neighbors, never quite settled. She attempted going to school; she is illiterate and never really got beyond second grade primary. We brought her always to the AIDS clinic for her medicine. This is an excellent facility. The person in charge of her case speaks fluently her dialect. She has received psychological support and counsel. We knew there was difficulties out there she had to confront. She had to live her own life. She did find a boy friend and we were not prepared for that notice. They are now together as a couple. One of our clinic workers accompanied both of them together to her last appointment. He is committed to her and now understands the complexity of the life he has chosen. He is 17 and still in school. They live with his family with many brothers and sisters. Maria has been accepted by the family. You can understand the support and prayers they need. Maria is very talented with crafts and is able to make their traditional belt in beautiful beaded designs. We hope to provide her with materials for this so she can work in their home. Thank You for support and prayer for those we are called to serve!

I attach a photo of Diego with his MOM and Nurse Rosie! And since he just arrived back from first day back at school I wanted to include a picture today! Diego is very happy today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Emergency Room and Eye Surgeries make day go fast!

Friends and Family,

Our first day with the Eye doctors from the North West has indeed gone very fast. Patients came in vehicles, bus, and on foot. The gift of sight is something we all take for granted until our vision fades. This opportunity for most of our patients is truly a GIFT. A minimal charge of 100 dollars is what we request for cataract surgery. Most can pay but many from the mountain villages cannot pay the entire amount and it is waived. In some instances a patient would pay nothing. Last night one of our first patients to arrive, came hungry, and without any money for care or services. We provided food, a bed, consult, and eye meds; surgery was not required at this time but perhaps in October. The doctors and Nurses worked until 7pm in the operating room; Thank you Tim, Aaron and Patrick, Connie and Shelley! Dr Joe, and Fred worked consult on the second floor of our clinic, with nurses Rosie and Sr. Mary, choosing the patients for surgery and providing eye medicines to others. The eye surgery patients stay 24 hours, with a family member. They will be discharged in the morning following a checkup and return in ten days for followup.

We are blessed to have the colaboration of the Guatemalan Ministry of Health Eye program to accompany our visiting doctors. They provide an Opthamologic Resident, Dr Jorge; Social Worker, Zoila; and Auxiliar nurse, Luis, to accompany our team. THANKS!

Our own Doctor Ever held regular consult with a full load of patients and three emergencies!
One of our young insulin dependent diabetics, who was scheduled for removal of a second cataract, came in crisis! a glucose of 596, severe diarrhea for three days, anemia, and malnutrition. He is recovering as an in patient and we hope will be able to have his cataract removed later in the week. A Motor cycle accident brought a man with a broken arm who was sent to the National hospital and a severe wound from the sharp instrument of a field worker came with sever loss of blood and shock. He was sutured and given intravenous fluids and rest in emergency room for several hours. Our charges are minimal and we do depend on the generosity of friends and family to serve these beautiful people.


Attached a photo of our Doctor attending field worker with deep wound and our visiting doctors in the operating room on first day of Eye Sugeries in the Clinica Maxeña¡
Donate on line for the CLINICA MAXEÑA at:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy Week Approaches

Friends and family,

I have not sat to write much of happenings about us. We are very busy with patients. They seem to plan the day. Our sustainable agriculture project is progressing about us. Some of our workers are doing a lot on their own time. Yesterday one of workers left work to go home and deliver ten little piggies. A few others also have pigs, chickens, and corn fields and vegetables to help supplement their own incomes. They help set good example for neighbors and friends. Five workers formed an association and high up in the mountains they have vegetables, herbs, corn and today were to plant some fish in a pond they have created. In our own Mission grounds last week mothers of malnourished children attended class and worked in the garden, planting radishes and cauliflower.

Yesterday was Palm sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Processions are every day now with the stations during Holy Week. A beautiful dramatization of the passion and crucifixion happens in towns all throughout the country.

It is raining early which helps our harvest of our garden. We will put a booth up near our Clinic during the Eye Brigade surgeries and sell our nutritious drink and other snacks. We will make tortillas on an ONIL STOVE and promote the stove and raffle two. We are also donating them to poor widows and will also be gifting them through our Nutrition program. We hope also to sell patties of a local herb between two tortillas and chat with the public of the importance of organic vegetables and sustainable agriculture. We have signed up over fifty patients daily from surrounding communities for our Eye Brigade team from Montana and California.

Thank You for your presence in our Lives and HAPPY EASTER!

I attach a few photos; one of the procession in town on Palm Sunday; the mothers of malnourished children planting veggies, and our own Pharmacist promoter after delivering his ten piggies. He also had a baby daughter last week so he is a happy man. We all have many blessings in our lives.

Love Sheila and all, from the Clinica Maxeña.
CoCo also sends greetings for Easter.
Love Sheila