Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pueblo Nuevo

I guess I should admit it now. As much as I intend to blog every evening of a mission trip, I don't think it's ever going to happen. Ever. We're home and here I am, with a doozy of a blog post whirling around in my mind, thinking of writing it in an exhausted state (which could cause it to be better or completely horrible) and wanting to get it over with because that trip, as awesome as it was, is done and I have to get ready for the next one that is just 7 weeks away. If you are looking only for pictures, skip all of this and wait for the next couple of posts. Uploading them is taking a while tonight, so I'll do it after I get the rest of them from Dana (our photographer).

Day 1 is already out of the way. So...

Monday we visited Cerro de la Cruz (the cross). It was the perfect day for it. Standing above Antigua, with my favorite view of Agua as clear as could be and a very busy Fuego before me was breath taking. I had been there before. I had taken that gasp and felt that moment of awe before. I stood there..half of me wanting to silently cry because I was so totally overwhelmed by Him, half wanting to stand on the little cement "wall" and shout at the top of my lungs how great He is. That afternoon we traveled outside of Antigua to Santiago Zamaro, a small village that sits near the base of Fuego. After learning a little about the village, I decided to travel there and meet some families that live there in case we are able to start working in another village sooner than we think. Each family we met was so warm and friendly. There are needs that need to be met in Santiago Zamaro, as there are all over Guatemala. This village is not our main focus right now, but we will be returning occasionally. As early as December we will likely spend a day distributing much needed items that we have more than enough of.

Tuesday. I fell in love. Completely and totally in love. With the people of Pueblo Nuevo. The very moment that I had been waiting for came and went early that morning. It was the first day of our dental clinic. Since June (since December actually, but especially since June) I have been praying for some kind of confirmation. June's trip did not end with me being thrilled about working in this village that we believed God had called us to. There were times when I was convinced that we were far from where we were supposed to be for the silliest and pettiest of reasons. So I prayed for confirmation...I needed to know. Should we stay in Pueblo Nuevo indefinitely or pull out before even beginning?

I was excited as we made our way to Pueblo Nuevo, but nervous. Things moved quickly once we got there and before I knew it people were lined up down the road in front of the house we would be spending the next 2 days in, just waiting to add their name to the list for dental care. One of our first patients was a little girl. Terrified, she climbed into the chair. Tears ran down her face as she waited for the dentist to begin her exam. On the filthy floor beside her, I sat on my knees, held her hand and tried to comfort her as the dentist examined her teeth. Even I could see that the chances of saving most of her front bottom teeth would be slim. Through the injections she cried harder and squeezed my hands. As each of her bottom teeth (four total) were pulled, she flinched and cried harder. She left. I walked out of the building and around the corner. When I was far out of sight of our team and the large crowd that had gathered outside, I burst into tears. This was it. I never thought that the first AAB project would be a dental clinic, but God did..He knew when Kasey signed up that it would automatically become that. I never would have thought to plan a dental clinic, but He did. He knew that because of this clinic, pain would cease, trust would begin and people that had never heard His name before would hear it while they waited. Just as with our son's referral, with the sight of one child, I fell in love not with the thought of working in Pueblo Nuevo, not with idea of doing any thing at all, but with the people that were waiting outside of that door...with the hands that I would hold during the next 2 days...with the children that I would pray for as they cried...with the moms that have been abandoned and the dads that are unable to provide. No doubt. Pueblo Nuevo is where He sent us and where He wants us to stay, no matter what.

So, for two days dentists and nurses worked tirelessly to see as many patients as possible. People came and went. Emergencies were treated and many left only after every last cavity they had was filled. Most of them will not have any dental problems for a long time. But as the minutes passed on Wednesday, my panic rose. We were going to have to turn people away. A lot of people. Some people waited for 2 days to see a dentist. Some for a day and a half. We stopped taking names at 110 people because we knew we would not be able to see more. Even after we stopped taking names, people would wait with the hope that we may be able to add them to the list later in the day. With the number of dentists that we had and their patent's needs, we were only able to see 80. Our team is so sweet to say that 80 is a lot...that that's 80 less people with serious dental issues...80 less people in pain...80 more people that know we were there to help, not to hurt them and 80 more people that are beginning to trust us and most importantly, each one was ministered to. I know they are right. Kasey, our dentist, and the S4H dentists did an amazing job! I am so proud of Kasey, the dentist that traveled with AAB. Her compassion, heart for missions and love of God is obvious. I am certain that she, along with the nurses (Claire and C.), our photographer (Dana) and Kori touched more lives during this trip than we will ever know. 80 patients in 2 days, especially with the severity of many of their cases, is a lot. But we still had to turn people away. That hurts. No matter how many days we would have run the clinic, people would have come...some of them had already walked from other villages after hearing about us. We could probably run a clinic every day and still see patients all day every day, but still. We will never be able to help every person we see, but I doubt that this part will ever get easier.

We visited with many families that live in Pueblo Nuevo Thursday morning and distributed the remainder of toothbrushes and toothpaste, vitamins (LOTS of prenatal vitamins were distributed), etc. We did this (toured the village) during our June trip, but this time was much different. I didn't want to meet just a couple of families. I wanted to get deep into Pueblo Nuevo and meet as many families as possible and that is exactly what we did. I am sure that I am not the only one that will say that the Lord speaks so clearly when you are walking through the mountains of a Central American village. After meeting several families and visiting homes that I had been to before, we began walking to another part of the village. The part that no one ever goes to, other than those that live there and the pastor and his wife. Some of the families there are "forgotten", or at least they want to be. Because they are the poorest of the poor, without toilets that are hidden behind pieces of plastic or even running water, because they have so much less than those that have nothing, they have been shunned by many in the village and by one of the churches there. Because of this they trust no one, believe in nothing and are certain of only thing...that if there is a God, He certainly does not love them.

How my heart rejoiced as the AAB team showed them love, spoke of God's love and lived it openly and compassionately. Hearing the words "God loves you", no matter how many times they are told (and God knows we are telling them), may never hit home for them, but seeing His love is a different story. There are so many ways to minister to people that have no hope and I LOVE that the team of women that walked with me through the mountains of Pueblo Nuevo that day found the best way to minister to every single person we came into contact with not just that day, but every day we were in Guatemala.

That evening we spent time with children that have forever stolen my heart. All of the children that usually attend the children's ministry were there and I was so, so happy to see that many of the children that had never heard about the children's ministry until that week and even some of the children that we first met earlier that day during our walk through the mountains, came to hear the Bible story and participate in craft time. We served dinner to all of the children, passed out protein bars and much wanted Mardi Gras beads (which may have been more of a hit than even the protein bars even though they are so hungry). So many of the kids hugged me as they left. I began to cry an uncontrollable cry as I hugged one of the little girls that first grabbed my attention in June and who had become so attached to me over the last couple of days. We said good-bye to Pueblo Nuevo and unlike the last trip, I left without a question in my mind. The Lord used those 3 days to blow my heart wide open for the people of Pueblo Nuevo and we are not hesitating to follow through with what He is calling us to there. Leaving Pueblo Nuevo was so hard for me this time and I imagine that as long as I continue to have to leave, it will only get harder. At times like these, I have to force myself to remember that His timing is perfect.

Next He worked out the year long question...."What orphanage/children's home?"

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