I read the 20/20 line on the eye chart today for the first time in years. No glasses. Eyes checked out very good following cataract surgeries. Intraocular pressures are good. Those who gave financially to allow us to do this surgery, we are grateful. I am released to work the forklift and in the bodega (was sneakin’ a little anyway). NOW if custom’s would release the container I would be happy as a pig in mud.
I have been reading more with the enforced restriction of labor. Cindy visited in the US and got to see baby Sarah. If I had known the container would be held in customs I would have gone home too… oh well. All my time was not spent in chair reading. With help from friends at Orphan Resource International we installed a new propane in line water heater. (Paul Gordon a biomedical engineer student coming for almost 8 weeks will appreciate that = well he doesn’t know what the old one was like). The roof was cleaned with about four bales of pine needles and eucalyptus leaves coming down. Then scrubbed and painted/sealed. The two roof leaks that weren’t a problem during dry season but would have been in the next couple of weeks. These are sealed. Thank you, Walls, Brubakers, Garcias for your hearts and hands. Roses are blooming, jasmine is fading, Cindy is home and I can see. Life is good. Weeellll….
We are as low on supplies as I have ever seen the bodega. Red tape in Guatemala is worse than it is in the USA. Our attorney has been in the appropriate offices trying to sort out some of the documents that in my ignorance I let lapse. We were so hoping to have an answer mid week this week (as assured by officers in said office) but it will be next week, or next. So we are asking for prayers in regard to paper work issues, release of container and for resources to get container with basic supplies, dressing supplies, gloves, masks, syringes, needles, adult diapers and 100 other things necessary for our friends to run their clinics and hospitals.
We have a new hospital project in the works to serve Quiche and Alta Verapaz regions (central highlands – very exciting to see God at work there) We will soon do a blog post on that project. Also a restart of a clinic in the Rio Dulce area to serve rural poor in the areas outside the touristy places. Pray for the LORD to provide the right national staffing for these, financial supply, and material support.
I have started a blog reviewing Christian books/literature. This was something to fill the time while forced to avoid work. It will help discipline me to read and learn. If interested in a rather common man’s take on some good Christian books, check it out at Good Book and a Cup of Coffee.
We covet your prayers as requested above.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
reinforces what He is teaching you. I have enjoyed getting my eyesight back. Reading is a pleasure not a struggle. With the enforced down time following surgery I have started a new blog. “Good Book and a Cup of Coffee” is a review blog of Christian literature. I hope to invite some other conservative Christian readers to help contribute to the blog as interest grows. The first two posts have been John Piper’s, The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God, and Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love – Overwhelmed by a Relentless God.” (IF you are interested in following that blog please log in on the site so you will be notified of new posts automatically. I am not going to maintain a mailing list as that is a time sink that I try to keep up with on two other lists now)
My pastor and I have talked about those moments when God bores down into the details of our lives, loves, rebukes, teaches and blesses us in so many ways. It will come from different places and angles at times. One may not recognize it in the moment, but on occasion when He is teaching us spiritual truth and He reinforces by a physical situation and you recognize He is there, it is awesome.
So I was on our patio reading a good book and having a cup of coffee (hmmm?) when our neighbors daughter walks over and asks if I can take the family to town (their car has been stolen -tuctuc’s are too small for Lilly and the five children). I had finished minutes before Ch. 6 of “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” (Paul Tripp) where he talks about we WILL worship something or someone and it shows by how we live our daily lives. How do we handle interruptions to our agenda? Dr. Tripp had made me laugh using his 16 yr old son and the green hair incident to enforce his teaching. If we are our own little kings then we manipulate those around us for our purpose. If Christ is King and we then are good ambassadors, we represent Him, share His message, respond to interruptions as He would. I meditated on that a short time, couple sips of coffee and was 5 pages into chapter 7 ‘Building Relationships by Entering Their World’ reading specifically what does redemptive relationship mean and look like…. when Gabby comes. There was the briefest thought of “not now! I am enjoying quiet time and reading” – she was interrupting my little desert kingdom of self service you see. But God was teaching His adopted Son and I could see it. I know Gabby doesn’t understand why I laughed out loud. Jesus was in my front yard, on my patio, teaching a stubborn adopted son a deep spiritual lesson.
With great joy and laughter and the hilarious attempts to communicate across our language barrier off we went to San Jose Pinula for Family Day at the local school with Miss Lilly and her five beautiful children and the chauffeur (me) praising God for standing with me and continuing to teach, continuing to sanctify this unworthy son. Thank you Daddy!
Photos linked here include our neighbors. But most are photos of flowers around the house for Cindy. We are in the couple weeks of transition from dry season to wet season. Many flowers are starting to pop. The one very large white flower is a cactus that was budding as Cindy left for the states, so the photo is for her as she will not get back until it fades I fear. There are pink flowers all over the yard causing a delay in mowing – at least that is my excuse and I know most of you would do the same so spare me the guilt ha ha ha.
Please pray for a container on the water (Gulf of Mexico) right now. I am a little bored and looking for something to do. Thanks to all who support us. Please let us know how we can pray for you.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
I joined the crew from Hospital Shalom, San Benito, a Christian hospital in Peten. Tim and Doris Spurrier started this work years ago. They have surrounded themselves with friends both nationals and expats. It is an expanding work. Vine International has helped over the years shipping containers of building materials and medical materials. One of those friends, started coming in 2006 is Brent Wright (son of Bill Wright mission electrical engineer life long missionary). Brent is a prosthetist with a mind for missions and our unique needs. He works outside the constraints of oppressive expensive regulations in the USA where the prosthetics he fashions are between $6,000 and >$14,000. The average income in Peten is around $4,500 a year. No family can afford to give all of almost three years wages for a prosthesis.
There are 15 million souls in Guatemala of which 0.7% – almost 104,000 are amputees. The need for prostheses is huge. Electrical injuries, motorcycle and car accidents, snake bites make up 20% of that need. Diabetes is the cause for 80% of amputations in Guatemala. Many of the ministries Vine International works with are striving to teach proper nutrition, diabetes prevention and proper management once diabetes occurs. There are not enough ministries. Hospital Shalom has an education component to their care. But what is really exciting is that Brent has corralled a circle of special friends, organizations and businesses to help collect new and used, manufacture new components and make a unit for above knee amputees for about $400. The health department will help in screening candidates for prostheses. They will ask that each patient pay something… the plan is that this program will collect about 30% from in country/patient payments and Hospital Shalom will fund raise for the remaining financial needs. Most take better care of the unit if it cost them something. I know of one case where this group took a small bag of corn in exchange for walking out of the clinic instead of being carried out. I know Brent and Tim think that was a good deal.
We spent this morning in a board room in the Presidential Palace discussing this issue with staff from the First Lady’s Office. The First Lady has control of most humanitarian aid and health issues. While we did not meet her directly we did meet her secretary and three other very nice ladies over the public health department. They will make their report and move it up the chain. We will see in time what will happen. Brett did an excellent presentation and presented the new injection molded plastic simplified knee joint that we believe will handle some of the issues unique to rural life in the developing world. Metal components need to be lubricated. That means they collect and hold dust and dirt. The humidity causes them to rust.
Hospital Shalom will send a double pallet of components and the moldable plastic for the sockets for the stumps and plaster two or three times a year. It will cost close to $1000 each time to ship those items, our cost. In light of trying to hold costs down, we have asked the FLO and SOSEP to see if they could help in keeping our containers from being delayed in port as this will help control container rental fees. The meeting seemed to go well, lasting two hours with a lot of positive head nodding. I am not quite as excited as Tim is, but Tim is a visionary and I am a nuts and bolts kind of guy. The LORD uses both kinds.
Brent, I have thirty years of cast saw experience and would love to help. We will do another blog post with photos of the patients and Brent’s team at work during the middle week of September when Hospital Shalom puts a planned 20 above knee protheses on patients in need. If you want to give to this project, check out the web page linked here Hospital Shalom, San Benito, Peten, Guatemala. You will find the bag of corn story in the first video clip on the prosthetics page. There are photos of past prosthetic clinics and other good info about the work. You can donate online.
Please do Vine International a favor and tell them we sent you. Also the medical/prosthetic side of this equation is the ‘sexy’ side and is easy to see the need for support. Please do not forget that much occurs in the background and is less ‘sexy’ like SHIPPING, covering Brett and team mates travel expenses, etc. It takes Vine International anywhere from $10,000 to 25,000 per container. But that is returned over 40 fold in aid to Guatemala.
Goodsearch.com has given $9,822,647 to non-profit members. With four of us using this service less than two months we have raised $5.00. Use Goodsearch as your search engine and they put a penny in the Vine pot each time. (a penny is pretty small but if 500 of our friends used this search engine, well you can see the power of numbers.) I plan on using Goodshop for some of my birthday/Christmas shopping this year. Businesses on Goodshop give anywhere from 1-30% of purchase price to the designated ministry. Explore the site for coupons with good savings and other ways to give. Simply put Vine International in the box where they ask who you desire to support.
Thank you for your support in prayer, material and financial needs. We are humbled and take seriously your time and sacrifice.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Cataract surgery is done. I am blessed to be able to see. We are grateful for your prayer support. And I hate to complain. The doctor here is enforcing a slow down in my activity. I must avoid dusty situations…. (it is the end of the dry season and we live on a dirt road) and I can’t lift over 20 pounds which in effect keeps me from driving the fork lift. Can’t lift the pallets on the floor and toss them over my head on the pile of pallets we recycle. Can’t lift the empty propane bottles so need to depend on friends at Orphan Resource International to do some of the chores that can’t be ignored.
So trying my best to enjoy the forced vacation. Except things don’t wait. So working on paper work (hellish part of any job), updating email lists for notification of containers and blog posts. Trying to catch up on phone calls. Boring.
If you like flowers, it is a pretty time of year here. It is the end of the dry season the air is still and warming rapidly. The jasmine that lines our driveway gives the air a wonderful light perfume in the evenings. Bird of Paradise, azaleas, Crown of Thorns are all blooming prolifically. When the rains come more flowers will bust out. And here I am with some time on my hands, a camera and a pair of good eyes. Well I guess the next blog will have to have some photos of flowers.
We will keep busy - Communicating with some of the ministries that partner with us to supply the medical ministries here in Guatemala – getting some of the ministries here to put together their equipment wish lists – helping some friends set up short term team events – getting caught up with the accountant and some government paper work – meeting with staff at the First Lady’s Office about supplying medical ministries and serving the poor of Guatemala. So I will try to be a good boy and avoid the physical labor for a season.
See how boring it is – you are bored reading this. HA! All right next week I will get you some photos of the flowers here. Next month the containers are going to pickup and I will be released to go back to the REAL work.
Thank you for your support. I have a painless way for you to support us financially. When you search the internet, use Goodsearch (http://www.goodsearch.com ) and put ‘Vine International’ in the box when it asks for who you want to support. Cindy and I are the only ones using this at this time and we have raised $3.25 in a little over two months. Sounds small, but between us we have a couple hundred friends and family that follow the work we do. Any amount over 25$ at the end of the year goes to Vine International for support of the work of Vine. A penny a search does add up. After you start to use Goodsearch, watch your pennies add up with others of our friends as they simply search the internet. There are also other ways that Goodsearch shares support – Goodshop at the same site allows you to shop online at hundreds of stores. A percentage any where from 1 to 30% of your purchase goes to Vine. Some of the discounts and coupons may actually save money on your purchases. None of this comes out of your own wallet or purse. Thank you again for your support.
In Christ, Cindy and Dennis McCutcheon
Several of you that follow us on Facebook know. We just want to update those who support in prayer and finances. Right eye operated on this past Monday, Left eye on Thursday successfully. Follow up exam on Friday revealed the pressure in left eye to be elevated and drops are added for that. Here the air is dirty as it is the end of dry season. Dr. Mariano Yee has severely restricted my activities and gave the advice in front of my wife the NURSE… So she is in protection mode. Antibiotic drops every hour ( I am going to drive over that cooking timer when this is over).
But the really good news is I am sitting at the computer with a pair of readers on. I tested very close to 20/20 and suspect will be there when healing is complete. Colors are amazing and I can read my Bible and tell which bottle is SHAMPOO vs. CONDITIONER before I use them. Coffee is in bloom and I am sending this out, picking up the camera and walking out the back door to take some photos in the yard of things I haven’t seen in awhile.
Thank you for supporting us with your prayers.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
of Vine International came Sunday a week ago. We visited for the afternoon, and then went to Manolo and Vilma Benfeldt’s home for supper. Manolo is a board member of the Guatemalan Vine organization and a superb paella chef. Good food, good fellowship and a good night’s sleep before picking up Kip Branch and Scott Ruschak of MAP International on Monday. The race began. We visited the bodega (warehouse) in San Jose Pinula so Kip and Scott could see where we receive MAP medicines and supplies. David Huitz, friend, doctor and medical missionary met us and talked about his ministry and how Vine was instrumental in his ministry with rural poor in southern Guatemala. The team came by our home to see where we live and ate some of Cindy’s Key Lime pie. Then back to the city where we met, ate supper with Duane Ficker and discussed a new hospital start up in Quiche a state north of the capital city. The theme of this ministry serves more people and provides better service because Vine International’s presence was repeated over and over at each site.
Up early on Tuesday to beat the city traffic we headed toward the Pacific Coastal Plain where we visited Clinica Ezelle the work of Health Talents International. They had a team of orthopedic and eye surgeons. The dental clinic was in full swing as well. I sneaked off to see Carlos and Sylvia Baltodano’s newest addition, a daughter with more hair than I have. Cindy was sorry she could not go with us to see the baby. Back in the van and on to Hospital Santa Fe and visit with Sergio and Veronica Castillo. With visible servant’s hearts, this family does so much with so little. We were once helping Sergio pick out supplies and load the truck at the bodega and did not notice that Veronica had disappeared. We found out later that she had swept and mopped the bathroom and office. It was a modern day demonstration of Jesus’ washing of the disciple’s feet on that last night. We left Scott Ruschak in the Castillo’s care. Scott was evaluating the ministry and is going to recommend Hospital Santa Fe for a grant. (YEAH!).
On to Xela (pronounced Shaa la) in the highlands and a visit to Roger and Vickie’s new clinic and training center, where we watched adobe blocks being made by hand. It is a beautiful building and makes me think of a dear friend Dale Slusser who is always designing buildings. (check out the photos Dale). We traveled down to Xela proper (at 8,000 feet) for the night, where John and Alma Diehl met us. The team was up and running the ridge top of Guatemala, then north through Chichicastenango to visit Kathy Hartle at ASELSI to see their new digs. Kathy could be the leader of the Vine International Cheerleading Squad. After the tour and pep rally they shared a video that I will try to upload and see if we can link it on Vine International Facebook page. ASELSI got our applause. Then we ate lunch with some of the folks. They do pastor training here. We met and prayed for about 10 pastors who between them have planted over 100 churches in the highlands of Quiche. Some of these pastors started churches while essentially being illiterate and are now sponges soaking up reading and Bible study skills. Way to go ASELSI you deserve our applause.
Back to Panajachel where we scrambled to find a hotel due to an error in booking, and as a blessing from the LORD I took my favorite landscape shot from my hotel balcony at sunrise…So many contrasts in Guatemala. It is beautiful and dark at the same time. We shall procede or else we will be going down a rabbit trail.
I had set an 8:30 start time, but shopping, breakfast with entertainment from two young street vendors and a visit to the Pink Hotel gave us a 10:30 start… no problem until the end of the day where my friends were introduced to Guatemala City traffic at rush hour on San Juan/Roosevelt/Tre Bol streets. We did six miles in an hour and a half. But before this we visited Casa and Clinica Angelica. The founder interestingly had missed her plane the day before and we were blessed to be guided over a beautiful childrens home. Vine has the privilege of sharing medical materials and medicines with the clinic, which in turn serves the children on the compound and ministers to the local community. This facility literally saved the lives of some villagers attacked by killer bees recently. Their diabetic program has been greatly improved because of MAP providing us with Metformin.
Then the back road (some of which we traveled twice-we were not lost, just befuddled for a time) to San Raymundo to visit Hospital Crisitiano and Joy Gring a dear friend of Cindy and I. She gave a tour to the team and I went with Joe Leier to check out his work. They have a dental team in and have plans in the future to have enough dentists and equipment to see 800 kids in a week. This is NOT an extraction marathon, but they are full service doing restorative care and hygiene training.
Friday we were guided to Proyecto de Salud Sangre de Cristo. While still “in” the city it is amazing how quick rural villages appear. Kip was called on to give out vitamins in a women’s health training setting. And we ran out… One of Woody’s first medical teams in Guatemala 20 years ago now, they ran out of supplies and meds. Woody acutely remembers standing on the porch in front of “a million women and children” remaining to be seen and telling them the clinic was closed. In his heart he heard, “Don’t you ever forget this”. He hasn’t. Well Kip got his taste of running out and it really affected him.
At the end of our board meeting Saturday morning Kip asked to speak to the board. His speech was very moving and he was obviously moved. He recounted looking into that empty bag and looking up at the women who had patiently and politely let their sisters go first. Friends of Vine and we McCutcheon’s I can try to describe what is felt in times like this, but being there, being the one responsible to deliver the goods and you can’t – you will never get over it. Kip, like Woody, will never forget.
When the ministries we serve/supply are able to reduce disease, save a physical life at each of those patient points we generate 2 willing listening ears for the Gospel. Never forget that.
Thank you so much for your support. Photos LINKED HERE if you missed the link above.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Peggy said at breakfast this morning (Thursday) in a serious tone, “I have really enjoyed my time with you guys, BUT I miss my dogs.” Nice to know where we rank. We have enjoyed our time with Peggy, going to Rio Dulce and spending a weekend with friends, day trip to Antigua and the rest of the time just letting her sleep late and quiet time. Quiet time…. well the firecrackers at 4:30 to 5:00 in the morning, two containers, an eye doctors appointment, couple of trips to the bodega, vaccinating the neighbors dogs and cat for rabies, treating them for fleas and ticks, but otherwise a quiet week.
The girls are going to play a little this morning (Thursday) and get a pedicure. We are going to try roasted carrot and ginger soup for supper (I will let you know how that turns out). Pack her bags tonight and get her to the airport tomorrow. Always a difficult thing to do. Always.
Then it is back to real work. Container number 150 arrives next week, one of three containers that week. The following week will have a team of 7 running around the country checking on distribution process. Mike Rhea of Rancho de Esperanza (Ranch of Hope one of our favorite orphanages in Guatemala) has volunteered to drive and my eyes appreciate that so much. MAP International (www.map.org) is exploring increasing its footprint in Central America, and ‘wink’, we want to encourage them to do so. MAP started shipping medicines out of a doctor’s office in 1954 in Chicago and now have a huge warehouse in Brunswick GA and ship literally tons of life saving meds each year. They are our source for prenatal vitamins, antibiotics and many other medicines. MAP is a blessing to Vine International and Guatemala from our perspective. They do a lot of excellent ministry around the world.
Some of our board members will be with the group and we will have a formal board meeting on Saturday 23 rd before they leave the country.
Pray for Cindy as she will be driving into and out of the city a couple of times the first week of April. I will have my first cataract removed and lens replacement on right eye April the first, then if all goes well the left eye will be done April 4th or 8th. Cindy and I use Dr. Anderson in Asheville NC. We have always been pleased with his work and I frankly would be more comfortable with Dr. Anderson at the table. But I do not have health insurance and here I can get the surgery done for less than the plane tickets for return to the states. Cataracts will effect 70% of Guatemalans and it has become a fairly common surgery here. Dr. Yee does both private practice and a significant amount of work on the poor of Guatemala. I will get both eyes done for about $1500. Someone very close to me has already covered 2/3rds of that so this will not be a stress to our budget. Dr. Anderson told me a year ago to get them done, but trying to clear the schedule, find the finances etc. I have put it off for a year. It can no longer be put off.
So put me on your prayer list for April 1st along with my brother in the LORD Hank Lueck who is repeating a PET scan on that day…. Hank I will be praying for you while I am laying there doing nothing.
Addendum… very large attack by 300 state police, 100 military with helicopters on our end of San Jose Pinula. They are going after local gang aggressively. They have set up tents and are here to stay for awhile it looks like. We have shut down service for a few days. Will see how first of the week looks. We feel safe but do not want our friends driving through the hot spot.
Another addendum… don’t add fresh cilantro to the roasted carrot soup. Tastes fine but turns the color of the soup to an unappetizing puke brown. We will eat it and it is worth trying again. Roast a bunch of carrots, fresh ginger garlic, onion, salt and pepper for close to an hour in olive oil at 350. Then simmer in chicken broth for 20 minutes and blend with one of those portable blenders… it is good and tasty… just don;t add fresh cilantro. It’s a color thing. You eat with your eyes and nose before it goes over the lips don’t you know.
And one last thing, I cannot get the photo album for Peggy’s trip to upload so it will come later.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon