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Being on the receiving end of giving:

20/07/2014

It ain’t easy. It is humbling. God requires it of all His children on occasion. We are from “America” (actually the United States of America – it is rude here to say you are from America as every one of our Guatemalan friends can say the same thing. We are often rude; it comes from our pride.) Relatively we are the wealthy ones, we should give. We are the spiritual ones here ‘on mission’ and a major part of that mission is to give. It is our role to give. But to receive??? From those who are poorer, from those who we consider friends, yokefellows in mission here; how does one do that?
First, friends, there is a dangerous pride in giving. It is an area the Christian community should take caution. When I give from the flesh; 1.) I keep accounts – you need to show me results. Based on those results depends my future giving. Noah and the apostles would have failed most mission agency tests. 2.) I put you in debt to me. 3.) I am in control of the relationship. You jump through my hoops so I and others can pat me on the back. (gag) If it honors self don’t do it! If it honors Christ, don’t you dare to not do!
Should accounting be done? – in the majority of cases overwhelmingly yes… but supporting missionaries in Islamic world, persecuted churches in North Korea, China, ministries that are trying to free people from gangs, sexual slavery and prostitution may be working in areas where ‘necessary paper trails’ can put these we call brother/sister in danger. Ask the LORD (it IS His money anyway) for wisdom and discernment in these situations. There are times to give, let go, shut up and don’t go home and brag about it on the internet.
There is, also, a sinful pride in refusing to receive. (my struggle in this moment). Here I am just out of the hospital. Sick enough I scared my wife, an experienced nurse. Medical care in Guatemala is done in cash, baby! It is much less expensive when you do not have brokers (insurance companies, government) and lawyers under every rock. Still in our financial situation we were in a position we could not cover the hospitalization and the outpatient medical regimen. Payday is not until next week. We plundered the envelope for auto insurance and propane. Thought it might be enough… it was not. Humbling situation. Yes we are uninsured medically. We could not afford that luxury and serve here in Guatemala.
Into my room walk Oscar and Amy Garcia, and passes an envelope to me from the staff of Orphan Resource International (ORI). It was a busy week for ORI yet every staff member gave, sacrificially. We found out later that our situation was mentioned to ORI’s USA staff and a team here in Guatemala and some of those gave – and that is still coming in. That first gift covered the IM and oral antibiotics, Nexium, couple other things in my daily medical regimen for a total of 10 days. If they had not given we could not have afforded those meds. We have praised ORI in the past and we continue to do so today.
So many other gifts… Amy fed Cindy and Mary Kate while they were watching over me that first day. Apparently I wasn’t thinking of food at that point – Bummer! Amy can cook! The Walls brought killer chicken soup. The Sauders came a couple days after coming home with soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and their daughters cleaned up the kitchen afterwards. Y’all (that is what we say in North Carolina when we mean every last one of you’ns ) are a blessing to us. While I find it hard to receive from you, I was forced to see the providence of GOD for us from you. It is my prayer the LORD will return every centavo 100 fold so you can support the orphans He has given care of to you. Humbly Cindy and I thank Orphan Resource International for holding our hands in this moment.
Mary Kate Hardy biomedical engineering student, gave in a different way. We (Joe Leier, Rick Wood and I nicknamed her ‘Chatty’ – for those who know her, you just smiled) were blessed to have her in our house at this time of need. She went with Cindy and translated very effectively. Mary Kate and Rick Wood showed true mission flexibility by not complaining when we substantially changed her internship schedule here. I pray Mary Kate we do not have to do that again. Thank you both for your help and uncomplaining flexibility.
And Cindy… such a blessing to have a nurse/wife in this time. I am sure they would not have agreed to discharge if she did not have the skills to give injections, take vital signs etc. Thank you honey.
Since I am the photographer there are no photos accompanying this blog.
Thank you for your continued support.
In Christ,
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

I am elegant…

30/06/2014

This is a brief sweet story.  One of the clients (Proyecto de Salud Sangre de Cristo) that use Vine International to help serve their patients had this elderly female patient walk in using a cut off piece of broom stick to help her ambulate.  They took her broom stick and gave herPART_1403799787003 PART_1403800006156 a cane collected in Ohio by Wheels of Hope     They collect from local private donors or some relationships with companies like Invacare.  Vine International ships their goods to Guatemala and distributes to over one hundred ministries and humanitarian aid groups that serve the poor of Guatemala.

So back to this precious grandmother.  She was obviously happy with the gift of the cane.  The doctor and nurse said she walked into the waiting room, drew herself up to full height and with a big smile announced loudly to the waiting room, “Now I am elegant!”

I do not understand all that is going on in the states but regulations from agencies that no longer answer to congress are interfering with donations.  Apparently large companies like Invacare must now send their product to an EPA approved recycling center for destruction instead of re-purposing to ministries like ours.  It is sad.  If true it is immoral.

Thank you for your continued support.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy.

 

First Sponsored Container…

16/06/2014

NOW it is NOT the first container… Actually it is 165th container and that doesn’t count the buses and van loads of medical supplies that preceded that first container in the last 20 years.  BUT it is the first SPONSORED Container of the SKIP program.  SKIP is Woody’s attempt at an acronym and stands for Sponsored Kontainer International Program and yes the spell check rejects it.  This was a suggestion from friends of Vine late last year in order to try to increase interest and support for shipping containers of medical supplies.  SO this is our first.  And we are grateful.  There will be a later report to show where some of these supplies end up and the patients they serve.  See photos of delivery process linked here.

Your church, Sunday School class, civic organization, family or you personally can sponsor a container.  The process is outlined on our website.  Go to the main web page and scroll down til you see the proverbial Thermometer…www.vineinternational.org   This first container funds are complete. It is a medical supply container on average taking $8,500 to pay shipping fees (fuel, road use taxes, container ship fees, drivers, sometimes security guards to ride shotgun just like stage coach with John Wayne).  Often it takes another $3,000 for procurement issues.  While on our website sign up for the newsletter and check out our history video.

Bruce Allsop will be joining with a few medical associates for the second container.  You will notice that it is more expensive $14,500.  This is due to fees needed to obtain the medicine and extra fees on this end to get it thru customs.  This second container has a long way to go at this posting.  Dr. Allsop is one of our board members.  I have seen him at work – he is a treasure to the children he works with here in Guatemala.  A couple of the photos included in the project page are from a trip I did with him.  If you know Bruce and want to join in on the fun, read the instructions and consider a gift towards helping the poor of Guatemala. The link is here at Dr. Bruce Allsop Container

We thank you, all of you for your continued prayer and financial support.  The discipleship group is growing by new professions of faith and BY BIRTH.  Yea!

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

God’s Amazing Grace…

04/06/2014

Cindy and I are leading a Bible study.  The group is very mixed, English only, Spanish only and a few bilingual, and the runs of the spectrum of denominations, church wounded, broken families.  I have never been with such diversity in such a small group (usually about a dozen or so).  We are beginning the second chapter of Ephesians tonight.  Paul’s emphasis on the Grace of the Trinity in chapter one continues.  Our salvation takes us from spiritually dead to life eternal in Christ.  Our salvation is an act of Grace, a gift from God, purchased by the blood of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit.  A gift I cannot repay.

Some teach we will know all when we get to heaven.  I have always been uncomfortable with that thought.  The only ‘know it all’ is God Himself, the rest are fools full of self pride and always fail when time comes to deliver.  (smile – I were one so to speak).  Read Ephesians 2:7 “in ages to come” He (God the Father) will show us / school us in grace.  It seems to say it will take eternity to know what grace is…

Eph 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus:

Verse 6 God the Father raised us and makes us SIT before Jesus, I believe for instruction.  Would it not have been enough that God the Father were simply kind toward us?  But Paul in v. 7, stretches the grandeur of speech and one gets the sense that words will never be enough.

His Kindness toward us – His grace in kindness toward us – RICHES of His grace in kindness toward us – THE EXCEEDING RICHES of His grace in kindness toward us === IN CHRIST.
I believe that we will be schooled in grace at the feet of Jesus sitting at the Throne on the right hand of the Father.  That that school term will not be three, six or twelve months, but it will be for eternity.  Grace is recieving what we do not deserve… simple thought.  Do we understand?  I think we only have a hint of grace, and that God the Father’s hearts desire is that we understand this more fully.  If we understood this we would once again turn the world upside down for the Glory of Christ.  And all this (v. 8) a gift from the hand, mind and heart of God the Father.

Back to studying for the teaching this evening.  May Jesus be glorified.

Please be in prayer for us and our neighbors.  Lilly our precious neighbor was robbed at gunpoint and hit once with a bat.  An attempt was made on our neighbor on the other side.  We have a guard for a season.  The professional guard here for the last two days cannot fire his weapon as the company charges him for each shell he uses.  It is the Don Knotts Security Firm, I think.  We are taking steps we believe to be wise, but ultimately we are in the LORD’s Hands and surrounded by Legions of His Angels.  We are His to do with as He pleases.  Very firmly we are IN CHRIST!

 

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Five Years in Guatemala

01/06/2014

Five years ago today Cindy and I stepped off the plane in Guatemala City (Peggy came with us for a brief time).  Dennis and Doris Rice welcomed us.  He tossed me the keys and told me the Mitzubishi was my responsibility.  It has been a wild five years.  We are now resident status in Guatemala, with Guatemalan ID and Driver’s License.

One of the life lessons here is you cannot live here in a turtle shell, one must have friends and must invest in friends.  In this we have been truly blessed.  If I start listing events you will get bored reading and I will offend someone forgetting to put them in the list.

Vine International is somewhat unique.  Our ‘work’ is shipping medical supplies, equipment and medicines to serve evangelical and humanitarian medical facilities that serve the rural and inner city poor.  We have been given opportunities to preach, teach Bible, do weddings, work with building teams for hospitals and homes of handicapped, orphanages.  We feel strongly we have been planted here for a great work to come.  Our boss Woody Woodson sets the tone, abiding in Christ.  It is easy to do ‘good’ works, my works and pull from Christianese to make us look good.  Easy to take our ‘mission’ and ask Jesus to support our good ideas.  God does not share His Glory or the Glory of His Son Jesus.  Jesus is not there to be used for my benefit.  If this is how we use Him then the work will always be natural and results predictable.

Abiding in Christ – Christ first, we abiding in submission, are free then to do what He asks.  Yes to do the work of shipping an amazing amount of material on amazing little financial resources and sharing with over 100 works in Guatemala.  But also to preach the Word, to be used to minister to neighbors, to be ministered to by neighbors.  To love on some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ who do not have resources to respond with anything but love in return.  To see God’s transformed children serve in amazing ways through amazingly difficult circumstances in the midst of unspeakable evil.  When the relationship is us in submission to our LORD it is His work and one can expect to see supernatural results as common.  A boy’s lunch of five loaves and two small fish feeds 5,000 men.  The Vine Family believes this story is real and literal – we see it happen all the time.  We participate in handing out that which comes from the Hand of Christ.

LORD, we praise You and Your Son.  All glory and all honor are Yours.  Thank You for calling Cindy and I here and giving us the provisions to do this work.  May the work we do make You smile.  There is much that is evil here and we claim Your power and authority over such as these.  Make us bold to speak of the importance of relationship with Jesus Your Son.  Let us see Your Hand and Heart at work in both our friends and even in Your enemies in this beautiful land.  Keep our friends safe.  Help us to steward the finances and materials that You give us into those ministries that are active in Your Harvest Fields.  Thank You for this last five years and we turn our eyes to what is ahead until You call us Home.  In Jesus Name Amen.

Thank you for your support.  We value your financial support and prayers, believing God gives you that desire and those resources.  And finally, Cindy has a four year driver license.  She threatened Woody with she has no desire to get another Guatemalan Driver’s license… smile.  We will see.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

We are the proud bearers of Guatemalan driver’s license.

28/05/2014

For my Guatemalan friends none of this is a complaint.  We actually laughed most of the day and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Rolando and Lisa.  Actually some direct ministry issues may come out of our discussions yesterday.  The Lord, He is Good and the time was not wasted.

If you have followed us over the five years (three days from now) in Guatemala, you have heard the Woody Woodson quote, “Sometimes it takes all day just to live in Guatemala!”  To get full effect one must say it with a Southern Appalachian – East Tennessee drawl.  Yesterday we were chauffeured by the Sauder’s of Orphan Resource International to meet with Rolando Vargas and his precious, very pregnant wife Lisa.  We met at Immigration in zone 4 to pick up residency documents and passports for Sauder’s and Lisa.  While in the parking lot met with Rabbi Joel an orthodox Jew and had a delightful, unfruitful conversation.   We did find out that Judaism is the most difficult religion in the world, because of the burden of the law (anecdote for tonight’s teaching in Ephesians and the believer’s identity in Christ).  I assured him I believed he was correct.  Wish we could have talked more as I believe all religion is at best man designed and at worst of satan himself, and it would have been a challenge to talk about the golden gift of Grace we who believe benefit from.

Then it was on to the Guatemalan form of Division of Motor Vehicles… it is not all in one building.  In fact it is not all in one zone in the city.  First stop zone 12, sign in, get your photo and book to study.  The photo is not for the license but to prove to each person that handles the documents that it was really you who took the test, paid the money etc.  625 quetzals to take the test.  Cindy and I scored well on the written test.  She got 94% and I got 92%.  Then the actual driving test in which I want to point out she knocked over one of the cones, while I did not.  She got 79 and I got 78… her tester spoke English, mine did not.  He gave a healthy critique of which all I got seemed to be I was a good driver but I failed to do something with my arm.  Oh well, we passed.  A stop at Pollo Campero for chicken and fluids was helpful.  Then on to the third parking lot of the day and to zone 9!

Here we got our eye exam in a room in the basement, another photo proving we were really the person taking the exam (this photo was better).  Another signature, another 40 quetzals, another receipt.   Then upstairs to the place that finalizes the license.

First a lady on the porch checks the documents and has to leave to get approval for Rolando to translate.  Then next lady checks to see if we have any outstanding violations on our license (which we do not have yet – ?).  Then to the BANK where we pay for the license; one can choose one, two, three, four or five years.  Interesting.  Another 350 quetzals, 30 of which is for the paper you carry proving you have paid, apparently.  Next station, I still can’t explain.  But another check of documents, another signature.  Then to finger printing where another document with all the usual license information, color of eyes, hair, TYPE OF NOSE, I tried to put crooked but that was unacceptable.  (bureaucrats are so serious).  Then we were finger printed… that is one of the few laughs I got.  My fingers are so large that in several instances one smudged over the other.  The lady had not dealt with that before.  Next station another photo!  By this time it had been a full day and we were not real happy.  I keep my glasses on my head and removed them, but did not straighten my hair.  No mirror.  No wife, we were separated at this point.  So my hair had this wind blown failed comb over kind of look unbeknownst to me.  So Cindy and I meet again at final step waiting for the license.  So we are watching the large screen TV where your photo flashes when they are ready to give you the license.  Mine comes up just before Cindy’s at which she busted out laughing, so the other 15 people look at the ‘convict’ on the TV.  The room couldn’t believe the pretty blonde walked out with the convict.  By my count, one very full day (it took 12 hours), three parking lots, three zones, four buildings, two tests, fourteen stations / people, six signatures, and we now possess a real pretty Guatemalan driver’s license.  If any US citizen complains about voter identification I may just bust them in the nose.

Our life in Guatemala.  All our expendable coin and then some… so rice and beans for June.  No photos this time, the orthodox rabbi and bureaucrats don’t like their photos taken.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

 

A word on orphan care…

29/04/2014

To get representatives from three busy ministries together at the same time is difficult. After a couple of strikes, we hit it out of the park. A friend David Mollinedo wants to develop a new orphanage (three of them with a pediatric hospital to serve orphans in Guatemala). We have had several discussions over the last year. I suggested that he go with me to Casa Angelina/Mercy Clinic (CAMC). David had his ideas, very traditional and has a melted heart for orphans. CAMC is in my mind one of the good orphanages. It is difficult to do orphan care well with all the regulations. There are seven or more regulatory agencies requiring frequent documentation and doing both surprise and scheduled inspections. Like bureaucrats in the USA they must find something wrong to justify their position. All this adds up to expense for the orphanage in question. CAMC came to Vine International attention due to their work in medicine. Mercy Clinic first was formed to care for the orphans themselves, but they also share their resources with the local community, improving health of young mothers, children and the widows in the immediate area. They have a good reputation among the rural Mayans.  They treat their neighbors with respect due a creation of God and are drawing patients from quite a distance now.
Because of David Mollinedo’s desire to couple medical care with orphan care I wanted him to talk with Yuri and Kerry Mondal, directors at CAMC who have a decade of experience serving under What Matters Ministry founded by Ivan & Kimberly Tait.  We got the $100 tour, new house, school, dining hall (9,000 meals per month), aquaponic greenhouse, water treatment and medical clinic. Several issues were discussed at length, including security, caring for abused children and financial issues. CAMC has purposely chosen to deal with sexually and physically abused children. Some are true orphans, while some are wards of the state due to the abuse from family member. They have several sibling groups. 80 – 90 % of the children received are malnourished, some severely. One outgoing delightfully smiling 7 y/o was 8 pound when received. The staff thought she was a month old child, but she was 18 months old.  Photos linked here.
Here in Guatemala there are many good orphanages, others with limited financial and personnel resources that try to be as good as they can, and a few that are not so good. CAMC is top of the shelf. Child sexual abuse in this country is rampant. Capture rate of offenders is estimated 10%, with a conviction rate of less than 10%. Vigilantism is alive and well in some rural areas due to lack of punishment, but most get by with this horror of a crime, at least in this life.
OK, I am going to try to express myself clearly in this issue of orphans. Orphans are the responsibility of the church not the government. Pastors rise up and declare God’s word on orphans from the pulpit. Churches start developing strong families and when one family comes forward desiring to adopt in obedience to God, make sure fees and finances for adoption are not a burden. That adopted child should have a church full of aunts, uncles and grandparents. We are failing as the church in this issue. That is about as gentle as I can be. May God grab us by the ears and put His nose to our nose and discipline us to respond to such as these.
International adoptions hit their peak in 2004 when 45,000 children were adopted worldwide as I understood the article I read. Sound like a lot? There are according to the UN an estimated 143,000,000 orphans. 8 million in orphanages, over 100 million on the streets. International adoption is falling dramatically due to UNICEF influence opposing international adoption. Unclaimed children become fodder for child sex trafficking, servitude/slavery and gangs. 45,000 is a tea cup in an ocean.
Find and follow a good orphanage like CAMC and follow David. I will keep you posted as that project moves forward. There are others in many countries. Develop a relationship, pick a need and respond. 100 kids, laundry, clothes, propane, electric bills, medical bills, school expenses, food, staffing, everything it takes to run your homes they need multiplied several fold. You can only give a little??? Remember what Jesus did with that boys lunch!? That is Vine International every day – little is much if God is in it folks.  That phrase plagiarized from the side of Buck and  Linda Forester’s Kentucky Coalmine Mission trailer.
There are a couple of links below for those interested in orphan care. The first is about the untoward effect that the UN/UNICEF is having on the adoption process and orphanages. The second is by Professor Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (mother of two adopted Peruvian children, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Child Advocacy Project ) Harvard Law School. She has quite a body of work on adoption process which you can find on her CV on the faculty page at Harvard. The first article is brief. The second paper is detailed, Guatemala gets special mention on more than one occasion… but if you care for the children in orphanages, read and watch – smoke will come out of your ears!!!
http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/08/unicefs-unethical-war-against-international-adoption
http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3228398/IA-GlPol72409.pdf?sequence=2
God has used Vine International to put others together before and we are praying God has so used us once again. Time will tell. I know that David was unusually quiet for a few minutes as we started home. His first words were along the line that his plans got turned upside down by what he saw at CAMC and he needs to go back to the drawing board. This is early in the process so simply pray for David’s Project at this point. CAMC, many other orphanages AND the government bureaucracy that seems to oppose us so often need your prayers as well.  Church let’s get out of the pews…
In Christ,
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

 

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