Monday, July 13, 2015

Scratching the Surface

It has been far too long since my last post, and far too much has happened to catch you up on all the details. So permit me to give you a whirlwind tour of the last several weeks…

Back on June 24 I took a trip down to Nueva Concepción to repair Jorge’s wheelchair.I was traveling with two friends and supporters who were visiting from the States, Maggie and Catherine, and I expected it to be a quick and simple trip with a brief visit to see Rosario. But as often happens, God had other plans.

IMG_6076Things went smoothly at first as we repaired Jorge’s chair. The parts I brought with me fit nicely and we had him up and running quickly. I was also able to debride a pressure sore on his right foot, which is healing up nicely. The temperature was high, as was the humidity, so we were sweating a lot, but we had a nice visit. Jorge’s family continues to grieve the loss of his six month old nephew in May who died of pneumonia after the national hospital gave him the wrong medicine, but they are otherwise doing well.

From there we headed around the corner to Rosario’s house. If you will recall, she nearly died in January from a respiratory illness because the family had lost our number and could not afford the Q.10 ($1.30) price to get her to the national hospital. We found her near death and rushed her to a private hospital where she was admitted for six days. This was a check-up to make sure she was doing well.

IMG_6104We found her outside in a hammock recovering from Chikingunya. This is a mosquito-born illness that makes its way through the lower, hotter regions of Guatemala every rainy season. It causes flu-like symptoms, including aching joints, a cough and high fever. At this point, Rosario was on the mend and was only running a slight fever. We gave her mom Tylenol to use for the fever and told her to call us is she worsened.

IMG_6108As we were preparing to pack up and leave, her mom mentioned that her niece was inside with a high fever. I asked if we could see her, so they escorted us into a sweltering hot room where we found a six-year old girl on the bed with a glassy and unfocused stare. I checked her fever and nearly choked when it read 106.3 degrees. We immediately moved her outside to a shady spot and began wiping her body down with cold, wet rags and administered Tylenol. Within 10 minutes her fever had dropped considerably and her alertness was improving.

This was nearly catastrophic. I believe she was close to experiencing seizures and brain damage from her fever when we arrived. This is ironic because Rosario’s brain damage was the result of improperly treated fever when she was four years old. We spent time with the adults in the family explaining, once again, how to treat a fever when it comes. There is so much ignorance here in that area of child care, and it does so much damage.

As we were leaving, Rosario’s mom started crying and said to me, “You are like an angel! You always show up just when we need you!” And I had to smile at that, because anyone who truly knows me would not describe me as an angel. Cantankerous, yes. Angel, no. But I did give thanks to God who so perfectly orchestrates our trips and ministry. He loves these families so much and arranges their care for His glory.

SAM_6095We returned home to some more chaos that evening as we welcomed child number 13 into our home. Little Alison Abigail joined us at age 5 weeks. She has Down Syndrome and her single mother has decided that she cannot care for her or her five year old sister. We had received the call that morning, and we probably should have said no. Our home was full, as always, and we are stretched thin. But we have a very soft spot in our hearts for children with Downs, so we agreed to receive her.

Little Alison is a beautiful little bundle of joy. Within a week she was sleeping through the night, and she has become another little stress-reliever in a ministry that is often filled with stress. She had her first hearing today, and it appears that she will be with us long-term and will likely be placed up for adoption. So our home and our hearts are fuller today.

The very next morning I was working on all the paperwork involved in receiving a child when I receive a call from Gerardo. He had found a family who was seeking help with a five month old child who had a fever. But as Gerardo was speaking with them he noticed that something seemed wrong with the child and asked if I could see them. So a few minutes later they were at our door.

11651217_904987279568360_1570361788_nAs they entered my office I realized immediately that the little guy, Diego, had cerebral palsy. As I spoke with the family they explained that they had suspected that something was wrong and had taken him to a doctor, but the doctor told them he was fine and sent them away happy.

This is one of the parts of this work that I hate. I had to explain to the family that their son had cerebral palsy, an incurable disability. They wept, and so did I as I explained the long-term prognosis and treatment options. We arranged for an appointment with our neurologist to confirm that diagnosis (he did) and told them that we would arrange for him to start receiving therapy in our home each week.

Their great concern is that they are poor and they cannot afford the doctors, equipment and medicines that Diego will need, but we were able to set their minds at ease as we explained that was our ministry and we would walk with them and help them every step of the way. So, we are seeking a sponsor for little Diego for $40 a month. This will cover the cost of therapy for him and the medicines prescribed by the neurologist. If you are willing, please e-mail me at

At they left that day I felt a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, it felt good that we could be there for this little guy and his family. Even though breaking the news to them was hard, that is a part of the responsibility and privilege God has given us as we walk with them through the diagnosis and the day, weeks, months and years ahead. On the other hand, I felt a deep sense of sadness at the awareness that this was one family out of thousands. We are working as hard as we can for long days and weeks, and we aren’t even scratching the surface of the need.

By days end, I found myself falling into discouragement at the enormity of the needs. Then God reminded me that I am not the Savior, He is. I can’t save the world, He can. But I can love and help the person in front of me. If all believers would simple do that, the need would be met. And so, I went to bed that night determined to love and make a difference in the life of the person in front of me and let that be enough.

Last week I received a message from someone who was looking for a home for a child in Solola. We were told the following: 1) His name is Carlos 2) He is six years old 3) He has Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy 4) His mother and father do not want him and see him as a burden and 5) He is badly neglected.

As I stated earlier, our home is past full, so my natural first impulse was to say no. But as Wanda and I discussed his situation, we felt God checking our hearts. So I decided to drive up to the lake to visit the child and assess his situation myself the next day. And I am very glad I did.

FullSizeRender (2)When Brittney, Katie, Stevie and I arrived at his home we discovered the following: 1) He is eight years old, not six 2) He does not have Down Syndrome, but does have CP 3) His mom is a single mother and she loves him, but 4) She is very poor and cannot even afford electricity and water for their home, so 5) She feels that she has no option but to give him up so that he can have a better life and she can work to provide for her other four year old daughter.

After this visit I became very convinced of the best course of action. I do not want to receive him into our home. Instead, I want to find sponsors to help provide for this family so he can stay with his mom. As a result, we are seeking $100 worth of sponsorship each month. We already have a sponsor for $20 a month, so we only need an additional $80. This money will be used to provide electricity and water to the home and to provide food for the family. If you are willing to sponsor Carlos, please e-mail me at

Speaking of needing help, we are needing your prayers for our little Rosalinda. She has been with us almost six months now, and she continues to struggle to gain weight. She is eating well and we are providing a very high-quality formula for her. She has times in which she will gain a half or three-quarters of a pound, but will just as quickly lose it again. About 12 days ago we had the doctor check her for a persistent cough again. She has had this cough for the last three months, but each time the doctor checks her and treats her, we don’t see results. We had taken her in for a chest x-ray two months ago, and it came back clear. But last week the doctor ordered a special high-resolution x-ray which showed pneumonia. So we have been treating her with both injected and oral antibiotics, and we thought she was improving until this morning. But she woke up today with a nasty cough.

The doctor came quickly and has decided that we have no choice except to admit her into a malnutrition center for treatment. We have to find out why she is not gaining weight and get treatment because her immune system is so vulnerable now. The problem is that every malnutrition center in our area is full. So tomorrow morning we are taking her to see the doctor in charge of the malnutrition center in Hermano Pedro Obra Sociales. He is going to work with us in our home to try and help her improve while we are waiting for an opening in their center.

Please pray for Rosalinda. We are very concerned for her as she is persistently sick. Also pray for both her and us for whatever transitions may lie ahead. Thanks.

Well, those are a few of our highs and lows from the last three weeks. I will try to do a better job of updating in the weeks ahead, but no promises.

Blessings from Guate!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew