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 Maxe├▒a..

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.