Friday, March 22, 2013

Click here to watch the CUNE 2013 Guatemala Medical Mission Trip Video!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back to the grind!

Well we've been back in the United States for 5 days now... it appears as though our team is adjusting back to the U.S. quite well, but these are some things that we have been missing: the kids, the patients, team devotions and debriefing time, team bonding time, being with an incredible group of friends everyday, "Guatemala time", world cup/soccer/fútbol, stress/worry free lifestyle, having no class, the beautiful scenery, fresh corn tortillas, the coffee, the sun and warm weather, speaking Spanish (or Spanglish) and so much more...

Some things we aren't missing: cold showers, throwing our toilet paper in the waste basket, converting kilometers into miles and quetzales into dollars, brushing our teeth with water bottles, roosters crowing/dogs barking/horns beeping in the middle of the night, always worrying about what we could or could not eat, etc...

But of that last of things we won't miss... it wasn't even that bad.
The cold showers felt good after a long hot day
The toilet paper thing... that's just how they do it there (I still think "don't flush your toilet paper" even after being back in the US for 5 days! haha)
The conversions... we can do that, it's easy!
Brushing our teeth with water bottles... hey, it's pure water--keeping us healthy!
Roosters/dogs/horns... well that was annoying, but we were "making memories!"
What we could and couldn't eat... we were never served a meal we couldn't eat, so looking back on it, I think we were just being hyper-alert, I guess :)
It was all good... the stuff we don't miss wasn't even bad. I guess we don't miss using our anti-diahrrea medicine (some of us are still suffering the side affects of a different culture's food and water... hopefully we are at the end of it!)

That top paragraph though, the things we miss... man, that stuff we can't really get back. Thankfully, our teammates are near and so we can continue building our friendships, but we can only pray that the relationships made with the Guatemalans and the assistance we offered has made an impact in their lives.

I find my mind wandering at times during class; I can't stop replaying what we experienced in Guatemala. I see teammates scrolling through our photos again and again. I hear talks of returning to Guatemala and I hear unsettling feelings about being back in the U.S., knowing that there is more that still needs to be done in Guatemala. It was "life-changing," "eye-opening," "a real learning experience," "incredible"... I have been hearing our teammates say this about our trip.

You know we are back in Nebraska, where the winds are as strong as ever, and it is cold. And we are back at Concordia, where the cafeteria is called Janzow, and the food is so-so. But we are so incredibly blessed here.
It may be difficult for some people to completely grasp what we learned and experienced on this trip, but that's okay. I pray that you all will have a chance to go on a Mission Trip if you so desire. It doesn't have to be far... there are many places here in the United States that need our help, and you don't have to travel far to see that.

My pastor at home told us in a sermon about a statue of Jesus Christ that was severely damaged in WWII. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it was such a treasured symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives. Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but Jesus' hands were damaged so severely that they couldn't be restored. Some wanted to hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands, but the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”
I just love this picture... we are Christ's hands in this world. Not all of us are given the spiritual gifts service, missions, or evangelism, but God has given each of us gifts and through those gifts we can all be the hands of Christ.

A video of our trip is in the works and will be ready to share soon. We'll keep you posted, but for now, pray that our digestion gets back to normal ASAP, that our friends in Guatemala may grow in the new knowledge of Christ and health care, and that our team can share effectively what we have learned with others.

Va pue (bye)!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Back to Nebraska!

It's hard to believe it's over. The other day Bryan and I were talking about how for so long we have been looking forward to this experience and now it's flown by in a flash. But what an experience it has been. As Amy talked about in the last post, the big question is "How was your trip?" For me, I have had a hard time deciding what to say when people ask me how the trip was. It was eye-opening, mind blowing, incredible, and amazing. However, these words don't even compare to what the trip was really like. In my opinion there are no words to describe the experience that we had in Guatemala. We are so very grateful for the time that God blessed us with in this wonderful country.

We haven't really made any updates about the last couple of days because we didn't have wifi from Sunday to Wednesday. When we finally got wifi on Wednesday it was very sparse and really not enough time to make a post. On Wednesday morning we woke up extra early to get on the road for our "tourist day" in Antigua. We were told it would be a 4 hour drive (mas o menos). With the couple of stops we made, it ended up being a 7 hour drive, turning our tourist day into a couple of tourist hours. It turned out okay though, since a lot of us were extremely exhausted anyway.

Once we got settled into the hotel in Antigua (which was quite beautiful), we went to the markets in search of the best souvenirs to take home for our loved ones. We then all went to the cathedral on the square and saw this beautiful rug put out every year during Lent. However, it was made of colored rice. It was incredible! After that we went to this fancy restaurant. They had a show with people dressed up dancing. Halfway through they got some of us to come out on the dance floor with them. It was pretty fun! Kendra and Sarah also got sung to again for their birthday and got special dessert! After our wonderful meal, we all headed back to the hotel for our last debrief. It was great to hear everyone talk about what they will remember the most and what affected them the most.

On Thursday morning, we went and saw the famous cross on the hill and what a beautiful sight that was! After that, we headed to the airport. We ended up not getting into Omaha until about 8:30 last night, so it really kind of seemed like a wasted day! I think we all are glad to be home, but it has been a little bit of a culture shock as well. As I sit in my heated and furnished house, I just can't imagine what kind of lives the people in Guatemala live. Even though we got a little taste of how they live, I'm not sure how we Americans would handle it. It's going to be interesting getting back to the American life, but hopefully we will all appreciate a lot more of what God has blessed us with knowing that not everyone in the world has what we do. 

This is a picture of the rug made out of rice in the cathedral.

The beautiful cathedral!

The cross on the hill

The girls at the cross on the hill.

Man Pic!

Had to get a picture of the beautiful sunset on the way home.

Thanks again for everyone that has followed us throughout our trip. We are now over 2000 views on this blog! Thank you also for all your prayers! Stay tuned for continued updates of how adjusting to the American life is as well as more pictures!

In Him, 
Morgan Vitosh

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We are coming home!

Grace (our leader from CALMS) told us to think about what we are going to tell people when they ask, "How was your trip?" And the easy (and sometimes the automatic response) could be, "It was great!!" But that's such an understatement- and a quick way to end the conversation.
So how am I going to respond?
Where do I begin?
Do you have 4 hours?
Last night at debrief & devo time, Bryan said, "EVERYONE has a story." When we were working in the clinics we got to hear a little bit of their story & Spirit willing got to help and minister to each and every one of them.
There are so many things we worry about everyday in the US that don't even compare to what they worry about on a daily and hourly basis. Morgan's mom said that as a mom she worries all the time- and that she can't even imagine what these moms in Guatemala go through & how they make it. (big sigh)

I have been so blessed to be on this mission team. We all started out pretty much as strangers & now we are a family.

I've got to go- loosing wi-fi!
I'll try to post more later.

See you all soon!
In Him & for Him,
Amy McDaniel

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Heading to Our Next Destination

This morning Grace shared a devotion and a verse that captures our mission:
" we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." -1 Thessalonians 2:8
Not only are we sharing the gospel with the people of Guatemala but we are sharing the gospel with each other as we deepen our friendships and develop new ones.

We are loading up the bus as I write and heading to Divine Savior Lutheran Church in Zacapa for worship. Then after church we will be driving to our next destination, La Unión. We will be staying in apartments there for the next 3 nights. Tomorrow we will start our Medical and Mission work in the village of Roblarcito. We will be doing similar work to what we did in San Miguel. We will be in Roblarcito until Wednesday and then we will arrive in Antigua at about noon. There we will do our tourist thing... :)

We may not get another chance to update the blog as we are fairly certain the apartments won't have wifi, but we will keep writing, and update you as soon as we can! Thank you again for your continued support and prayers!

Hasta luego!
Anna McDaniel

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Last day in San Miguel

Today was a very successful day for our mission group. We went back to the village that we visited yesterday and continued our medical and mission work. The dental and medical groups worked all day again and work on more latrines continued. I was able to be a dental assistant today and was able to learn a lot about dental work even though there was a slight language barrier with the dentist and I. Today will stick in the back of my mind for one reason which was both a life learning lesson and also a sad experience to witness. The situation was that the two dentists in our group were given a cutoff time of 4:00 pm. With an hour left there was still a line of 40+ people and the dentists decided that at 4 they wouldn't accept any other patients. They worked very diligently to get as many people as they could, with some fantastic assistants if I do say so myself. 4 rolled around an there were still a large number of people that still needed to be helped but the dentists had to pack up. After almost all of the supplies were packed up a little girl was escorted in by one of the organization leaders and asked if she would be able to have a tooth removed. Although the supplies were put away and the dentists had had a very long day, the one of the dentist without hesitation agreed to help her. As I said before this was both a lifelong lesson and a sad situation. It was sad because there were so many people that needed to be helped but we were not given enough time to assist them all. This was a life lesson for me in the way that the dentist showed compassion towards the little girl. He showed a genuine care for that girl that he was not obligated to help, even if it meant doing one more tooth removal before he could call it a day. Tomorrow we are going to a church service in the morning and then headed to the next village to continue our work.

-Kale Hintz

Friday, March 8, 2013

Our first day in San Miguel

After breakfast and devos at 7am this morning, we gathered our supplies, packed up the bus and were on our way to the village in San Miguel. It took us just about 2 hours to drive the winding roads up the mountain, outside the city of Santa Cruz, but we finally made it! We drove by lots of parched land, due to the drought, as well as fruitful areas. The scenery was beautiful to say the least. We also drove by a variety of homes, huts, and stores. It is evident that Guatemala is a poor nation. As you'll hear in the testimonies below from our fellow team members, we all had a variety of different jobs and opportunities today... Thank you for your prayers and support, it is clear through all our ups and downs that God is present and has prepared the hearts of whom we are serving as well as the hearts of our team.
Here are some highlights from our day:

Amy McDaniel:
Today was quite a day... very humbling. I am covered in dirt and smiles! My favorite part of the day was after picking up trash with two little chicas, one of the girls started wiping the dirt off of my pants- so sweet! ¡Gracias Dios, Alleluia!

Jordan Donohoue:
Spanish is difficult to understand. But soccer and a game of tag make it much more simple.

Kendra Alberts:
Today was a very good start to our trip. As Jordan said, the language barrier was difficult at times but it was easily overcome after playing with the children. The best part of today was when I worked with Jen as her little dental assistant :) It feels so good trying to make living better for others!

Jen Janousek:
I was blessed to be able to share my love of Guatemala with a bunch of wonderful Concordia students. Gracias parents for raising such great kids!

Jen Manske:
I had an incredible experience in the dental clinic. The beautiful children in the village are incredibly well behaved and polite. They were rewarded with a game of tag after their appointments with rowdy games of keep-away and tag with the awesome students from Concordia. What a great day!

Laurie Sagehorn:
What a fantastic introduction to the Guatemalan people! The children today showed incredible spirit. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Sarah Matthaias:
It is always sobering to see the need of so many people here. I am grateful that the team could be a distraction, bring healing and be a listening ear. I pray that God can multiply our small efforts. I was overwhelmed this morning to realize how crucial Julio was to our work this week. He is our Guatemalan dentist. God provided for a need that we didn't even know we had. God is so good!!

Morgan Vitosh:
What an eye opener today was! We don't realize how fortunate we really are in the United States. My favorite part was when I got to be Jen's dental assistant as did Kendra :). Spanish is also hard to understand but I learned a lot of new words today! Praise God for the work he is doing!

Amy Mayhall:
Today pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I don't speak Spanish and I'm definitely not used to helping pull rotten teeth from small children. As you spend time with the people things become more comfortable. God has an amazing way of connecting His children through difficult circumstances.

Kyleah Bowder:
The language barrier posed to be a bigger problem than I expected. So many times I wanted to comfort a little one getting a tooth pulled or have a conversation a little more in depth than "what is your favorite color?" Even with the difficulties there were still so many other ways to communicate with these people and their children. God did a lot of work today through smiles, touch, and especially through medicine and serving hearts, not to mention through my favorite of all, futbol (soccer).

Alicia Smith:
Today I worked in the Pharmacy, it was a wonderful experience that allowed me to use my limited Spanish knowledge to help people. The children were able to color pictures and most of them gave them to us as gifts! One child even wrote "Dios te vendiga" ...God bless you, on his drawing. The gifts we have received in the form of medication and vitamins have truly been a blessing. I pray that God will use our supplies and care to truly heal the children and adults we helped today.

Joe Vanderveld:
Today was a great start to the mission work ahead of us! I spent the majority of my day working with the doctors in the pharmacy. I was able to learn about medical processes and ways to help those in need. The highlight definitely was playing sports with the niños. Even though we weren't playing with any known or understood rules, we were having an absolute blast. I am praying for relationships that can lives.

Mason Van Nostrand:
Hola! Day one was a blast. I started off helping teach the kids about hygiene. I got to show off my mad brushing skills and high five some kids with glitter to show how germs spread. After a quick lunch break I hit up the medical clinic and took some patients blood pressure. We finished off the day with some intense football with the kids that ended up becoming keep away. God is giving us an amazing experience here and we are truly making a difference medically, through teaching and just playing with the children.

Bryan Perrin:
Spending time with the patients prior to the medical clinic was such a great experience. Some parents of the children displayed an amazing amount of patience as they waited for us to get vitamins or other medications. God has provided us with great supplies and amazing virtues of humbleness and patience; let us continue!

Alex Stepanek:
Today was amazing! We had an adventurous ride up to a town where paved roads were a luxury but the views were phenomenal! Kale and I first sorted pills to be distributed and then took blood pressure and heart rate. We broke for lunch and then kale and I made three latrines for some locals. A very new experience for anyone who has never left the country. My favorite part was playing soccer and football with the kids after!

Kale Hints:
Today was a humbling and eye opening experience. I realized today fully how blessed we truly are, being able to go to a doctor the moment we need, or having the connivence of power tools. It made me realize how hard life can be. I also experienced a true sense of peace today being away from the over scheduled life that I as a college student have come to be accustom to. Overall it was a very successful day!

and to wrap it up...
At dinner tonight I could just tell our team was finally able to relax :) Conversation was flowing, stories were shared, and friendships were strengthened. In case you were wondering, we ate meat (reminded us of pot roast), potato salad, bread, and rice... It was so good, and for dessert we had coffee and jello.
Afterwards we went poolside for debriefing and devos. I loved hearing about everyone's highs and lows... The Spirit is really working down here! It's simply amazing how even in our weakest moments God works through us and prepares us for unforeseen things. In tonight's devotion Kendra and I talked about how God has given each of us different gifts and while we may at times be envious of another's talent or ability, we must remember that God created us uniquely to share specific gifts with the world. Our 2013 Guatemala Mission Team is made up of some pretty incredible individuals, and each of us bring unique gifts to the table which complete our team. I feel extremely blessed to be here on this trip with this group of people, and as I glanced around our team at work today, I definitely saw Jesus in disguise.

Hasta mañana!
Anna McDaniel

1 Corinthians 12:1-11