Monday, April 11, 2016

Miracles, Tragedies and Spiritual Warfare

This is going to be a long one. However, if you care about this ministry I am asking you to take the time to read this. We truly need your prayers, and it is only through understanding the situation that you will best know how to pray.

The last week has been one of the most challenging and exhausting of my life. When it began I knew it would be full, but there was no way of anticipating how crazy it would be.

My friend, Oscar.
On Tuesday I traveled up to San Pablo La Laguna with my brother-in-law, Keith, his wife, Melanie, and their two children, Abigail and David. They were wanting to visit Brittney and Joel and see their place, and since I needed to visit to check and treat Oscar’s bedsores this was a good opportunity to do so. We arrived midday, enjoyed a quick lunch and then went to visit Oscar.

We found him struggling with an infection. With the help of Joel, Brittney and Keith, I cleaned his wounds, packed them, gave him an antibiotic and spoke firmly to him and his wife. I explained to them that if they did not follow our instructions regarding caring for the wounds and wheelchair and bed rotation he was going to die. I had no idea how accurate those words were when I spoke them. I told them to call us if he did not improve in the next two to three days and then left after praying with them.

Lucas with his new splint
From there we went to visit Lucas. He is a five year old boy who is a relative of Marta Delores, another child with whom we work in town. He had fallen from a tree the day before, and Brittney and Joel were concerned about him. When we arrived I found him laying in a bed with rags wrapped around his left arm. He would not move due to the pain, and when he heard that I was going to look at it he began to cry. I carefully unwrapped it and discovered that there was an obvious compound, displaced fracture of his left forearm. I explained this to the dad, and we made arrangements for Joel and Brittney to take him for x-rays and to an orthopedic surgeon the next morning. I was able to devise a makeshift splint and immobilize his arm with minimal pain. The dad explained that a “nurse” had been there the day before and had said he just had a dislocated elbow, which he “popped back in place.” I winced just thinking about the pain and the damage he likely caused.

Note: The next day Joel discovered that this was not a nurse, but a witch doctor from the community that his dad had called. Joel explained that witchcraft is from Satan, not God, and that we need to rely on God for healing and help. The father immediately repented and prayed with Joel. Later in the day, when the witch doctor returned, the dad sent him away and told him that we were helping them. He left in a rage. Keep this in mind as the rest of the story unfolds.

We returned home that evening tired, but grateful for a good day of ministry. I sensed that God was moving in San Pablo, and that we were experiencing some significant break-throughs in lives.

On Thursday morning, Gerardo, Kristin Beyer, Brittney, Joel and I headed to Canillà, Quichè to work with the ministry Las Maripositas (The Little Butterflies). You will remember from last month that we are partnering with this wonderful Christian ministry to advance the Gospel and help those with disabilities in that department. We were heading up to deliver three wheelchairs, some medicine and do training for their teams.

We arrived mid-day and hit the ground running. Praise God that the Director, Greg Walton, is an organizer, because we had a very tight schedule. He arranged for most of the families to visit the center and set me up in a room to meet with them. We arrived to find our first person waiting for us, and went straight to work.

Nancy in her new custom ride
We quickly had Nancy lying beautifully in her custom-made bed/wheelchair, and her mom was thrilled. We also provided her with a custom bath mattress because her mom has struggled with bathing her. She had no place to lay her that would not be damaged by water, so we gave her a vinyl covered cushion that would help.
We had no sooner finished than Darilyn showed up to get his chair. This took some extra work and special adaptations, but we soon had him sitting well. We also gave him his second month of medicines that have finally got him sleeping well at night for the first time in years. This, of course, is giving his parents their first decent nights of sleep in years.

Vilson, my new friend
He was heading out the door when I was informed that a man was being brought in who was in bad condition. That was when I met Vilson. He is 31 years old, and six months ago he fell out of a tree and broke his neck. While he has some slight movement in his arms and legs, he is, for all practical purposes, a quadriplegic. When I examined the surgery that was done to fuse his spine, I realized it was another example of national hospital butchery. He has chronic and severe nerve pain in his shoulders and arms, and is in misery.

He was brought in in an old wheelchair that had no footrests. He was slouched down awkwardly and in great pain, and someone had to walk in front of him and hold his feet up to keep them from dragging. We gently moved him to the therapy bed so that I could examine him. His elderly mother told me that he had pressure sores, so I needed to see them. I quickly saw that he had two sores, one on each hip that were not very severe. But then I rolled him to his side and discover two sores on his lower back that were 1 1/4 deep and badly infected. So the plans for the afternoon changed quickly.

Siverio now has a chair that
fits him properly.
While Kristin and Joel prepped my supplies and Vilson, I went out to meet with two other families that were waiting. I gave Silverio his new wheelchair and had him sitting properly very quickly. I also gave his daughter the medicines he needed, and she paid me for them. We discovered that they were paying high prices for the meds he needed in their area (over $300 USD) that we can buy for $130 in our area. So we made arrangements to purchase them and take them up each month and sell them to her at no profit. Silverio has a few children that are helping to care for him, so they can afford this amount.

I then scrubbed-up, gloved-up and spent the next 1 1/2 hours cleaning and packing Vilson’s sores, and training some local health workers how to do it. We gave him two types of antibiotics to treat the infection. I then realized that Nancy’s old wheelchair would work well for Vilson, so we seated him in that. When he left, he was feeling much better than when he arrived.

But here is the neat part of the story. Vilson’s mom is a Christ-follower, and she had been praying and fasting for nine days, asking God to help her son. She ended her fast the night before and went to bed. And she had a dream. In her dream, she said that people that she did not know were laying hands on her son to bring healing. She woke up and did not know what to do. Since she did not know the people in her dream, she did not know where to take her son. So she told her neighbor, who was Silverio’s daughter, who immediately exclaimed, “I know who they are!” She told her to get her son to Las Maripositas. 

When everything was done and we were saying goodbye to Vilson and his parents, his mom hugged me with tears in her eyes and said, “I dreamed about you last night!” I cannot describe how humbling that moment was. To know that our team was a part of this story that God had written, blew me away. Once again I was reminded that God does the work, we just get to walk beside Him as He does.

Kristin doing CPR training
Needless to say, that left us all on a high that followed us into the evening. Kristin led the bulk of the training that evening, teaching the Las Maripositas team CPR. I ended with a brief training on dealing with seizures. We then had a very late supper together and headed back to the Waltons for a good night’s sleep.

The next day we hit the ground running again. We had more families to meet and more training to do as Kristine lead a unit on choking and I finished with a separate unit on feeding and care to prevent choking in those with special needs. And Greg had arranged for me to meet with Duane. He is a missionary pilot, and he and his family are building a top-notch hospital in Canillà that will have excellent staff from the States that will train local doctors and nurses. We were meeting together to discuss his willingness to do medical evacuations for our ministry from all over Guatemala. I was blown away by his servant’s heart and his love and passion for Jesus. I foresee a long and wonderful partnership ahead with him and his family.

After that meeting we returned to the center where Vilson was back with his family. He was there for them to discuss long-term therapy plans, but while he was there I took the time to examine his sores and repack them. I was in the midst of that work when our plans changed suddenly.

Joel received a call from Oscar’s family in San Pablo telling us that he was suddenly unresponsive. I quickly wrapped up the work on Vilson, and our team packed up my truck and we headed to San Pablo instead of home.

Oscar near the end
We arrived very late afternoon to find Oscar with a fever of 105.6, wrapped in blankets. I found myself immediately angry, because we have talked repeatedly with his wife and family about how to treat fever. We immediately stripped off the blankets and began wiping him down with cold, wet rags. As we did so, I questioned his wife and father:
Me: When did his fever go up?
Them: Yesterday afternoon.
Me: When did he become unresponsive?
Them: This morning at around 9:30.
Me: Did he have a seizure right before?
Them: Yes.

Would it shock you to know that I nearly cursed? Sorry, but it almost came out. I was so frustrated because I realized that they had ignored my instructions, his fever had spiked, and he likely had permanent brain damaged.

When I checked his pupils they were not responsive, but I still worked to get his fever down, praying that he would begin to respond again, but knowing he likely would not. I conferred with a doctor and gave him two injections to lower his fever. It did come down, but still no response.

At this point, I decided there was nothing more I could do. Our entire team was exhausted from two very long days, and it was getting late. We decided to get a hotel in neighboring San Pedro and get some rest. We checked in, ate a late supper and returned to the hotel. It was then that we received word that Oscar had died.

There in that hotel I was nearly overcome by frustration and grief. My team and I have spent more than three years fighting for Oscar’s life. I have spent more hours than I could count kneeling by his bed, cleaning his sore and packing them. I have talked to him about Jesus so many times. We have prayed together. We have shared stories from our past. Oscar was my friend. And, now, he is gone. Why? For such an incredibly stupid reason as his family not listening to basic instructions that I had repeated time and time again! I was angry, and I was sad. And I am still some of each.

The next morning we headed back to San Pablo to offer condolences. We arrived to find the family gathered around his coffin in their home, and we joined them. In the midst of this, a drunk man wandered in from off the street. He was making a scene, yelling and pretending to cry. I put my arm around him and gently guided him up the steps to the street. As we walked I told him that I was his friend and we should take a walk together.

Juan's hand
As we walked, he told me his name was Juan and that he needed help, so I asked what kind. He told me that his hand was wounded. He then proceeded to unwrap a cloth from around his left hand. Underneath it all, I found that he had broken a bone in his hand that was jutting through the skin about 2 inches. Worse yet, he informed me that the injury occurred over a year ago. I realized that I could not do much to help him, as he needed surgery. But I truly just wanted to get him away from the grieving family. So I took him to my truck where I put on gloves, cleaned his hand, put on antibiotic ointment and bandaged it. I then told him he needed to go home and sleep to help his hand heal. He hugged me, cried, and turner and stagger away in the opposite direction of Oscar’s home.

Honestly, I took a moment to put away my medical supplies and lock my truck. I then walked back to Oscar’s house where I found the drunk man standing next to the casket crying again! How he somehow slipped passed me and into the home without me seeing must have required some mad ninja drunk skills, but he did. It took me talking to him two more times, each time more firmly than the last, to get him to go away and leave the family alone.

Juana and Michael
We paid our condolences to the family, prayed with them, and headed out of town. We made it through the series of cutbacks and were almost at the top of the mountain when my phone rang. It was Brittney telling me that one of our other children in town, Michael, was in crisis. He was running a high fever and was non responsive. So we turned around and headed back.

By the time we had arrived, Brittney and Joel had already succeeded in lowering his fever significantly, and he was beginning to respond. He gave me a high five, and we arranged for antibiotics for his infection. We then left town again.

When I finally made it home, I got another call from Brittney telling me that his fever had spiked again and they had taken him to the local health clinic. They started him on an IV and succeeded in getting his fever down again. They also administered IV antibiotics and allowed him to get better hydrated for a couple of hours before letting him return home.

Thinking the crisis had finally passed, I went to bed Saturday evening exhausted.

The next morning Brittney called again to explain that Michael’s mom was now running a high fever. They were doing what they needed to do to get it down, and I assumed she would be fine. However, a few hours later Brittney called again and told me that Juana’s fever was down, but she was not able to respond to them. Her eyes were open and her lips were moving, but she could not move or speak. They carried her to their car and took her to the health clinic. By the time they arrived, she was able to speak again and was soon able to sit up. The doctor attributed these symptoms to stress and said they were psychological, but I had my doubts.

Ruth during her
seizure-free days
And then, last night, we received another blow. Another child in town with whom we work, Ruth, suddenly began having severe and frequent seizures. Her seizures have been under control, but they suddenly returned worse than ever. Joel and Brittney drove her in to our neurologist this morning. He said that she has to be hospitalized. so they are now en route to Antigua where we will be admitting her. Please pray for her.

All of this has happened at once and has left us reeling. And I firmly believe this is spiritual warfare. On Wednesday the town witch doctor was angered, and that anger was directed at us. Since he has no power over our ministry, I believe he is attacking our families that are spiritually defenseless. Some of you may see my thinking as backward and foolish, but I firmly believe that Satan is real, and so is his power. I believe he is the power behind witchcraft, so I am not quick to write off those claiming to have occultic powers.

So, I am asking you to please pray for the families of San Pablo. Please pray for a spiritual hedge to surround them, especially those families that are being drawn to Christ, but as of yet, have no real relationship with Jesus to guard them spiritually. Pray for Joel and Brittney that they will be strong in Christ and recognize the enemy’s attacks. And please pray especially for God’s protections over the following people:
- Oscar’s family
- Juana and Michael
- Ruth and her family
- Lucas and his family

I want to leave you with a couple of photos of my friend, Oscar. These were actually taken back before I knew him...before the fall that took away the use of his legs...before the bedsores that brought us together. We had numerous talks about Jesus, and he made a profession of faith in Him, so I believe that he is once again back on his feet. And I believe I will see him again where no wheelchair will be necessary.

Oscar on his feet!

Oscar on a different set of wheels!

Thank you! May God bless you all for your support and prayers!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew