a thousand words

Teresa and Trina

You remember the story of the little girl who died while waiting in line at th medical mission, and the Crazy Nurse who refused to agree with that?

I finally got a hold of a picture...well worth a thousand words of the two of them 8 years later.


Peace and the PNC

I suppose we have seen the kinder side of the Guatemalan police force (PNC) than most. In our time here we have often received hurting and abandoned children from policemen, assigned to carry them from the incident, to the judge, to our care. So we have a soft spot in our heart for the people who reportedly had to pay for their spot on the force, to receive one of the lowest official paychecks going. We have received our share of the usual treatment of shakedowns, and seen the apathy on the part of the PNC towards crime and it’s victims also. My prayer has been that the Government would be reformed and be rid of corruption, so that it might do the government job of security, and leave the burden of charitable work available for the local churches to carry. For the second part, we need ot witness to and pray for the local churches. For the first part to happen, we need a just court system, a capable and well equipped investigative system, and a righteous police force.

So I was encouraged by an article in today’s paper.

Here is the link


but the point was that many of the young men and women in the training program for the next generation of Police have the attitude to protect and serve. There is a long way to go, but there is reason for encouragement. One reason is our friend, Albert Mendoza, who is a veteran cop from Colorado, and a radical friend of Jesus, who is heavily involved in training programs for the PNC, and has been given a mandate to “Train the trainers”. That is not expressly written in the news article, but Albert’s fingerprints are all over the good news.

Why post this today? Shouldn’t I be talking about something of eternal significance that is being remembered all over the world? Well, this is what the true resurrection Sunday celebration is all about: a newness and change in a country and it’s institutions towards justice and life. Compassion instead of self interest is a reflection of our servant savior. As I said, the Police were not thought of very highly in the past. “Lazy bullies” was often their well earned reputation. The article stated that many wonder why young people would go into a profession that had that rep in the past.. The answer from the recruits interviewed included serving their society, and people in need. The training and rigor back up that more altruistic sentiment. Pray for the PNC!

Now you may return to your previously scheduled Easter Egg Hunt.


On the lighter side

Opened up the paper, and there on the headliner, is the title of my favorite movie. "The good, the bad, and the ugly". and, yup, there is my picture in the proper order. sheesh

The blurb next to the ugly old guy speaks of the threats, and "ugly" is presumably referring to the judicial system....

The threats do not worry us, we have been in hotter situations

Finally...you know you are in Guatemala when...

The sign is from a supermarket trying to counter Walmart's encroachment, and states: "We're Guatemalans..." in slang. But you know by the men putting it up that they are not in the land of OSHA!


Intense Face Soft Heart

This is such a perfect picture, I had to share it with you, and use it as a chance to introduce one of our special workers.

Alicia has worked for us for about a year. Her appearance can be disconcerting due to the intensity of her expression and bone structure reminiscent of Native American warriors. She came to work when her husband developed a disabling disease, and she had to start supporting the family. She lives in the poorest part of the Ghetto known as Peronia. She has always been a hard worker, but really blossomed as an important part of our children’s care as she understood that part of her job is to play with the children. It is fun to see her play with the children intensely, then look embarrassed when another adult appears.

Here are some of her charges

Jose as Winston Churchill

Helvin has his own intensely cute way of looking

Victoria and Carlitos just goofing around


A sad never ending tale

You may remember that last fall, our home was subjected to a forced extraction of 15 children who had been placed under our care. As an apparent tactic to force us to stand aside as the children under our care were improperly removed, an order for our arrest, and 6 month restriction on our ability to leave the country, were included in the action.

The children were part of 46 children who were removed from a home in Antigua last August called Casa Quivira. We were asked to care for 22 of the children, as part of the network of charitable homes and courts who deal with children at risk.

We certainly didn’t need the headache that came with receiving children in a very publicized case, but received the children as we do all: with their welfare as our first priority. That has been our attitude throughout the proceedings.

A little background: When a wrongdoing is suspected involving a child, the first concern is that the child is safe, and then that the situation is investigated. So the children are placed in temporary custody with us (or one of the homes similar to ours). This custody changes only when a definitive resolution is written by the presiding children’s court judge. In 95% of the cases, it is written at the end of a final audience, which follows a preliminary audience that is convened to “determine the facts”. The average time for this double audience process is about a year. The 5% is when the facts of the case are so apparent to all concerned, that the judge makes a definitive decision with the agreement of all involved.

So it was with dismay back in October, that we read the resolution of the children’s court judge after the preliminary hearing, stating paradoxically that no investigation had occurred, and that the cases were free of anomalies. We, as well as the rest of the world, had watched the CNN report that had investigated only one case of the 46. There were questions raised. We had also wondered about dubious parts of the paperwork we, as custodians of the children, were privy to. We felt strongly that in the best interests of the children, and of their future adoptive parents, an honest investigation needed be part of the exoneration. We did not understand the motivation of the judge to short circuit due process. We found out later that the Ministerio Publico, the organization tasked with the investigation of cases such as this, had been frustrated in their attempts to attain pertinent paperwork and identities of the people involved. We learned that information we had, as parties to the care and protection of the children, had been withheld from the investigators. Later, as the MP tried to verify the children’s identities once and for all, and allow the children with clear records join their adoptive parents, this same judge attempted to block them again and again.

So as we read the resolution, we had a crisis of values. We truly believed that the majority of the children would be better off in the homes of the adoptive families waiting for a speedy resolution. But we knew in our guts that there were anomalies. We had also met one of the mothers who was searching for her stolen child, and evidence pointed towards adoptions syndicates. That was heart rending.

So we appealed the ruling. The judge responded by ordering our arrest. Later, after correcting that “grave error” (her words) she then indicted Shyrel in the Adult court system for “disobedience” for not responding to the resolution that we had appealed. This accusation was acted upon, and we appeared before the proper judge and presented our case. THAT IS HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO RESPOND WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF A CRIME YOU DO NOT THINK YOU COMMITTED. Shyrel was exonerated. A resolution under appeal cannot be acted upon until the appeal is resolved.

Because of these extreme actions against us by the judge, we asked for an “Antejuicio” which is a request for a repeal of the immunity enjoyed by sitting judges. The idea is that this action strips officials of impunity in their actions. They become like the rest of us: subject to the law.

While the judicial actions AGAINST us came about with lightning speed, our appeal, and antejuicio seemed to have been shelved. Finally, the appeal was heard on the 20th of February. We received the resolution of the appeal hearing last Friday, March 7. The appeals judges agreed with our appeal, and rendered invalid the resolution of the judge.

So, what, you ask, does all this have to do with us today? Well, we went to the Supreme Court as the appellate ruling had been issued. There we were interviewed, and explained the above…and the fact that we continue to receive threats.


February, as we all exited the “sala de apelaciones” (appeals court) , the owner of Casa Quivira, sensing, I am sure, the loss of the judicial battle, spoke of getting us. That seemed to jive with cars and people acting oddly in front of our home after the children had left which had reminded us of activity prior to the children’s leaving. We had ascribed it to residual paranoia. We also had received a warning that our bank accounts in the U.S. had been investigated. That would be a discouraging exercise for anyone wanting to sue us!

So our desire today was to try to press upon the Supreme Court that 1) The majority of decisions in courts throughout the land have agreed we have acted properly, and those opposed to us have not. 2) We continue to receive threats from persons connected with this case and judge. 3) Please protect us by removing the protection of one who has demonstrated a will to do us harm.

The bottom line of this legal battle is that we want to continue doing what we came here 11 years ago to do: care for children at risk, and collaborate with all of good will who would do the same.

Meanwhile, the fate of the children involved in this tragic unraveling of deception and lawless behavior is not clear. That is the sad part. These children, who we came to love while in our home, should have been on their way to their new adoptive parents, after verification of what was advertised as a legitimate enterprise. But the investigation was resisted from the beginning. It is now clear why. The real shame is that many of the mothers who had supposedly given their children over to be adopted cannot be found. That makes it hard to verify and allow the child to leave! Other cases involve switched identities. Laws were broken.

In a perfect world, the guilty would be punished, and the innocent allowed to move on with their lives. That would be the U.S. adoptive parents and the children. But throughout this sad world, corruption subverts justice…no…it turns justice upside down and always hurts the innocent. If only a small amnesty could happen for these truly innocent "undocumented persons". But amnesty needs to first have clarity, and the facts are still hidden. Only the orchestrators of this sad charade know where the truth lies. And they are busy these days trying to keep from telling what they know.


Hands of Hope are good and crazy

Hands of Hope Medical Missions. Changed lives

So let me get this straight. This Christian Medical missions organization keeps inviting non-Christians to come along on their trips? About 10 years ago, they invited (horror of horrors) a nurse in the middle of a divorce, who had not crossed a church threshold in ages, who was a bit pushy to boot.

Of course, the worst case scenario happened. A baby who had been brought to their medical clinic, pretty malnourished, and very sick, had stopped breathing while her mother waited patiently in line. This hard headed but soft hearted nurse was told that a baby was dying. “Oh no she’s not!” was her obviously non-calvinistic reply. The baby, although not dead, was breathing at a rate of 3 – 4 respirations a minute. That’s pretty much as dead as you can get this side of the mortuary. The nurse started CPR, and kept it up for about 12 hours, as they navigated to a national hospital, then tried unsuccessfully to turn the baby over, then used the hospital facilities to sustain, and save the life of the baby.

OK, those who do not believe in miracles may say there was not one here. Effort, and compassion, and what not. But those of us who enjoy seeing the miraculous can log a bunch. The fact that this particular hard headed nurse was at this particular needy village when the particular dear mother brought this particular very needy child, because people had orchestrated this trip in the name of Jesus to bring life to the poor of this all may have been a coincidence. I don’t think so. Neither does the nurse. It shook her to the bones. Changed her life forever. She now leads the communion service that is the traditional last rite of the team’s 3 yearly visits to Guatemala. Oh yeah, she co-leads the entire trip too.

Every step of this journey could have been halted by the reasonable observations that there was too much going on in her own life, that there were other people who could minister to these people, that the baby was gone, that the national hospital didn’t have the wherewithal to help the dying baby…and any of those would have resulted in one more baby dying, and one more divorced woman leading a life of at best, quiet desperation.

But because that is not what happened…we got to witness this week, Trina visit Teresa, who is now 8 years old, and healthy as can be, and doing well in school. AND we got to participate in Jessica’s baptism. Jessica is Trina’s 20 year old daughter who had been severely hurt by the divorce, and had lived destructively for 8 years as she felt it was her fault.

People come on these trips to change lives….hee hee


Condensed findings of a recent Brookings Institute report:

"Poor, conflict-ridden countries may be condemned to arrested development for years, if not decades… These are countries with significant weaknesses and have the potential to exhibit fragility and whose performance fall within the bottom quintile in at least one of the four core areas of state function or in the second quintile in at least two core areas.
They include … Guatemala and Venezuela in Western Hemisphere.

"The weakest states by region are: … Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia in the Western Hemisphere.

"They defined it thus: “countries that lack the essential capacity and/or will to fulfill four sets of critical government responsibilities: fostering an environment conducive to sustainable and equitable economic growth; establishing and maintaining legitimate, transparent, and accountable political institutions; securing their populations from violent conflict and controlling their territory; and meeting the basic human needs of their population.”

Part of me wants to deny these reports. The part of me that feels Guatemalan, and has an emotional bond to my adopted homeland. But part of me wants to shout: “of course!!!”

Pray for Guatemala. There are so many wonderful people at every level of society here. The optimistic gracious spirit that pervades this country belies yet makes even more poignant, these findings.


As the pastor prayed, I cringed.

He had just “preached” a 10 minute sermon prior to taking up the offering, basically saying that if people gave to the offering, God would bless and multiply. He pretty much said this divine alchemy would only work if they gave all they had. Then the after the offering prayer was all about “Us” giving to “you, oh Lord, and we pray that you use it all for your glory”.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for people giving to the Lord’s work, and that God would use it well, and even that he bless folks who focus on giving rather than receiving. But I am starting to get leery of pastors who seem to be manipulating folks and their relationship to God, to get funds to work with. Admittedly, we need money to do God’s work. And much of God’s work on this earth is funded by the free will offerings of His people. But we step out on a slippery slope when we start to encourage people ot give to a fund that we have sole control of.

This pastor, for example, in his prayer, ignored the fact that he was going to be the person making the decisions of how this money was to be spent. A prayer along the lines of “Help us and guide us as we administer your providence”, although kind of pretentious, would have set better with me. Somehow, it just seemed like deception to not acknowledge that He ( the pastor ) would be handling the funds.

One of the things I find so refreshing about the bible, as opposed to other sacred scriptures, is that it covers instructions for all of the types of folks who walk the earth. For instance, to the unsaved, it says pretty clearly: “Repent, and be converted” And to the saved, it says pretty clearly : “Repent, my beloved, and be converted”. But the instructions for the Levites, those who were to handle the offerings of God’s people were right there, to be heard and then read by all of the people. There was an incredible built in accountability regarding the operations of the leaders and servants of the people of God.

Unfortunately, we humans, tend to follow the smoke and mirrors of other sacred texts, rather than the straight forwardness of the bible. The bible is so not natural…leaders being servants ... dying to one’s own desires, and thereby getting the desires of your heart ... first being last. I understand why we have allowed Christian traditions to evolve…as we seek to make it manageable. But that is why we need to come to the active living word of God and allow it to change us, rather than trying to make it conform to our understanding. Our understanding is what got us into trouble in the first place!

Maybe this is coming out as I try to write our yearly report…and reflect on how un professional we are…I hope I am not being anti organized, simply anti slick. OK, thanks for listening to my ramble…your reward is this cute group of kids and one of our new workers, Sarita, who obviously fits right in!


Blessed Cycles

Too often, we have been dealing with causes and effects that then cause further effects in vicious cycles, of injustice, poverty, crime, and abuses. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of the supernatural reverse.

Josh and I translated for a medical mission this week run by our friends at Hands of Hope in the departments of Solola and Quiche. It is good to see Americans who sacrificially come here to help, and even better to see the young Guatemalans who volunteer with this group, and then of course best of all to see people who have no other resource cured and blessed. The Gospel is all over the trip, with living examples of Philippians 2 and Matthew 25 sheep types feeding, visiting and healing the least of these. I will probably write about more of this group, but today wanted to focus on the Blessed Cycle in which Christina is … well, sort of the middle.

Christina was discovered by the HoH team about 8 years ago. She could not walk, due to Spina Bifida. The Crazy Christians who head up HoH had invited Anita and T.K., a Hindu couple who are physicians, to come with them on that trip. This couple, proving themselves as crazy as their Christian brethren, determined to bring Christina to the states, where she lived with them for the better part of a year, and underwent surgery that allowed her to progress to the point where she now walks, using crutches, quite dexterously.

The Love that flowed through these Christians to these Hindus to this Quiche Indian girl is the first part of a blessed cycle. Christina’s return to Guatemala, where she has pursued her studies and is now in nursing school is the cycle continuing. I can’t wait to see where the future spirals go!

Christina came with us and translated with me at one of the locations in which we ministered. She is not merely a symbol of love investments and a good cause. She is a great communicator, and tireless worker, and yet another reflection of the best in humanity: the image of God incarnate.

Enough blubbery! Here are some photos!

Aurgh! Tech demons are blocking the photos of Christina (well, with help from my thumb and having the wrong setting when photo-ing) here are some photos of the tirp, and will try to exorcise these demons later.

The Physician team was 3 deep with a Spanish then Quiche translator

Me in my favorite environment

This is a work of art or what?