Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Growing Pains, Midwives and New Life

Christmas came a little late for me this year, with one of the best gifts I have ever received. Early in the new year I received a call from my friend, Dennis McCutcheon, who is the Director of Vine International Guatemala. He had received a shipment of wheelchairs and was offering me first pick. So, on January 16 Dale, Michael, Gerardo, Jeremiah, Manuel, Christine and I took four vehicles to their warehouse in San Jose Pinula and loaded them full of wheelchairs.

For around six months we had been needing folding institutional chairs, but they were unavailable. Many shipments were held up at the ports due to worker strikes, so we were getting desperate. So I cannot tell you how much joy this shipment gave me. We were able to bring 70 chairs back to our bodega, where they were sorted and stored. And the deliveries began that same week. 

Praise God, Dale had done lots of work at our warehouse to create more storage for us. So, we were able to fit all the chairs in in a manner that we can easily find the chair we need.

However, around the same time we also learned that a wonderful man in Washington State was preparing a shipment of between 240 and 270 children specialty chairs for us and Dick Rutgers. These specialty chairs will not fold, so each chair will take about 2.5 to 3 times the storage space of a folding chair. We suddenly realized that we would need more space very quickly, as the chairs are slated to arrive on March 2nd.

We thought we had found the perfect solution to our storage space issue. The property behind our home is available for rent, and it would be close to perfect for us. It has sat vacant for 15 years, so it needs a lot of work. But it is big and cheap. In fact, it is large enough that we could house our bodega, the second group home that the Gross family will be opening, and house our teams. And the income from the teams that we would no longer be paying to the hotel would pay the rent on the property. Everything looked great, and Joel drew up plans for the work we wanted to do to have them approved by the owner before signing the lease.

And that is when we realized that we had a problem. It seems that the owner is a radical environmentalist. She insisted that we were not allowed to cut down any of the trees on the property. And, since there were a few trees located exactly where we needed to place structures, that killed the deal. We were disappointed, but we also trust God’s plans. That must mean that this property was not the best spot for us.

However, that does mean we are facing a time crunch, as we now have 23 days until the container is supposed to arrive, and we don’t have storage for the chairs. So today our staff was working hard looking for property that can be used to store all our medicine, medical equipment, diapers, wheelchairs and wheelchair parts. We also need parking for more vehicles and an adequate work area. I estimate that we need around 3500 square feet in the warehouse. Please pray that we will find the right spot soon.

But, in the midst of this search for property, we are also giving praise. What a wonderful problem to have! So many wheelchairs that will give mobility to so many people! Thank you, Father, for placing such a awesome challenge in front of us!

Another piece of great news is that we have a midwife who will be joining our ministry soon! You may not know this, but for years we have wanted to begin a midwife training program. So many of the special needs that we encounter here in Guatemala are preventable. And a large part of preventing them is having people who are equipped to provide prenatal care and supervise births. Our desire it to train midwives in rural communities and establish birthing centers that will be properly equipped. But that vision has been delayed due to not having a trained midwife to lead the program.

But God has answered our prayers and brought us Stephanie Konrad! Stephanie is a RN from Thornton, Ontario with extensive midwife training and experience. So, in addition to her midwife skills, she also brings nursing knowledge that will assist our medical work. She recently completed a six month program working in a birthing center here in Guatemala to develop her birthing skills in a developing country.

She will be joining our team in late summer or early fall, and we cannot wait to have her. She will get to work quickly, developing relationships in some key rural villages in which we hope to develop  midwife programs. Please pray for her as she raises support and makes this transition.

Last week we were blessed to have our dear friends, Sam and Deb Silvers visiting us. I had the privilege of being their pastor, and Sam served on my leadership team during our Crosspoint Church years. It was a real treat to have them come and share in our lives and ministry here.

Then, on their second night with us, we drove to the city to pick up a real surprise for the family…Carissa and Taryn! When they flew to Uganda six months ago they were required to have six month return tickets in order to be issued a visa. Our plans were to change them as the six months approached. But when Wanda went to make the changes she found out that it was going to cost $1150 to change each ticket. Since a round trip ticket to Uganda was only $850, and since Brittney’s baby was almost due, we decided to let them return on their original ticket and just book new tickets. In the process, we would end up saving over $300 each.

The great part was that we were able to keep this a secret from the family. So almost everyone was surprised. I wish you could have seen the looks, tears and excitement on all the faces. It did my battered and bruised heart lots of good.

The day after they arrived, we all loaded up and took a trip up to San Pablo La Laguna to help Brittney and Joel move to their new home. They just signed a lease on a property that is right on the lake. It has a lot more room, both inside and out, that will allow it to serve as a true ministry center. There is room for vehicle parking, a huge yard, and sufficient space to have medical and therapy clinics. We had a great day of helping them move together. And then, a few days later, Joel and Brittney came to join us for the birth of their baby. Since medical care is not good close to them, they decided to have the baby in a private hospital in Antigua. Not wanting to be three hours away from the hospital, they decided it was best to come here two weeks before the due date and sit tight, waiting for the birth.

And, it’s good that they did, because the baby came 10 days early! So Wanda and I have another grandchild! And, for the first time, we actually have a grandchild in the same country as us! On Friday, February 3, Brittney gave birth to an extremely handsome little guy. Christopher Caleb Caal Fulp weighed in at 7 lbs 14 oz and is healthy and happy. For the first time, Wanda and I were able to visit a grandchild at the hospital and hold him when he was only 90 minutes old. (Our two other grandchildren, Tristan and Allison, were born in the States while we were here. So, we missed that honor with both of them.)

We experience so much sickness, suffering and death here. It has been such a joy to have a chance to experience new life for a change. When I held Christopher for the first time, I wept tears of joy. And as I prayed with Joel, Brittney and Christopher a few minutes later, I wept again. God’s creative power in bringing life into the world is awesome, beautiful and humbling!

Well, that is enough for now! Thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement! We appreciate you all!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew