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A word on orphan care…


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!!!
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




Cindy and I have had neighbors and then we have had neighbors.  The one that poisoned Cindy’s cats was a little difficult to like for example.  Then there are those when you think of them you smile.  The Cordona’s as one example.  We met Sharon and Jose about 11:00 at night pounding on the door and shouting ANEEMAALL!  (animal).  There was a possum in their garage storage room.  I went over and cornered the rudest possum I have ever seen.  As I raised the shovel to dispatch the hissing heinous looking critter, I was distracted when Jose starts stabbing at it with his machete – he was behind me and working that long knife between my legs.  The possum went quickly as I couldn’t allow Jose to keep swinging that machete in that particular anatomical location.  The food and conversation we shared over the years, getting to see him come to the LORD and be baptized and then doing my first funeral… knowing I am going to see my brother/neighbor again, yes I can only smile.

The Bible has a LOT to say about neighbor(s) and might make a good study for some of you.  If we followed the precepts of the Bible we sure would have more peace on this muddy earth.

Pro_3:28 Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, And to-morrow I will give; When thou hast it by thee.

Pro_12:26 The righteous is a guide to his neighbor;

Pro_14:21 He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth;

And according to our LORD love of neighbor follows close on and may not be separable from love of God.  In fact in reading the history of Israel and the prophecy of the Old Testament the treatment positive and negative was a visible sign of the people’s standing with Jehovah.  It seems that how we treat our neighbor is a visible sign of the status of our heart in relation to God.

Now the thing that brought these thoughts together is we left our home in the care of our neighbor Lilly a widow with five beautiful children while we worked with the Eden Valley Church of the Brethren team (see last blog) and the Rheas at Rancho de Esperanza.  That team was actively caring for those that God had given the Rheas as neighbors.  We returned to orchids on a stump we left for that purpose.  The front porch swept as was the house.  Our plants love Lilly as they get sometimes a little higher quality care from her than us!  A flower arrangement greets us – we are blessed.  Enjoy the photos of the flowers around our two yards and a picture of our NEIGHBORS…

LORD convict us, rebuke where necessary and cause us to be good Godly neighbors.  Cindy and I thank you for neighbors like Lilly and the children.  We also thank you for Hans Schieber and the opportunity to meet for a time of Bible study and prayer each week.  Help us to be everything good You speak of in regard to neighbors in Your Word.  We ask this in the Name of Jesus amen and amen.

Thank you for your support of the ministry of Vine International.  Check out the website Vine International there is a way to support container projects on line now.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Eden Valley Church of the Brethren in Izabal, Guatemala March 2014


So much has happened in last two weeks it will not fit in this one blog.  This team out of St. John Kansas will always have a close tie to us and the Rhea’s.  Dennis and Doris Rice, who had our position at Vine International, go to Eden Valley Church of the Brethran, and led their first short term mission trip to Guatemala a year ago.  Dennis returned with the team this year and Doris stayed behind nursing a new total knee.  We missed her.

This team worked with Mike and Karen Rhea ( Rayo de Esperanza ) again this year.  Mike and Karen have a wonderful ministry that you have heard about before from us.  They met a couple of kids during a wheelchair fitting on their property done in partnership with Bethel Ministries International and they form relationships with these families.  Mike and his staff, Bonito, Oscar and Chuleti set up the construction projects, get materials on site.  When the team comes in it is a beehive of activity.  There were two projects this year.

The first was a young man with muscular dystrophy and a motorized wheelchair at the end of a path that could not be traversed.  240 foot side walk was formed and poured by this team in two days.  Cement was hauled by wheelbarrow.  Edwin Rene was perched in his hammock to oversee the project and was pronounced supervisor for those two days.  He did a great job (smile).  This young man did a thank you card for each team member and a WHOLE BOOK for Mike and Karen.  Whew!  You see in order for Edwin to color he holds the pencil in his right hand and uses his left to push it around… and smiles.  Edwin’s dad and several relatives and neighbors helped.  It was such a good site to see the cooperation between the folk’s from Kansas and the locals.  This team has what it takes – they RELATE!

The second project was Darwin a  wheelchair bound spastic cerebral palsy patient whose chair had to be carried to the road and then mom would return to carry him uphill about 140 feet.  This team cranked out this sidewalk in a day.  I am so sorry I missed the celebrations for completion of these events as there were some critters having their own celebration in my gut.  Waugh!  There are other photos on the Rayo de Esperanza face book site linked above.

This team is very good at relationship with locals.  They made an effort to look up the family from the project last year and were met with huge smiles.  Local boys were sent up trees to harvest oranges and other fruit as a gift for them.  It is so precious to see receptions like these.  One can see something has clicked.  It is done in such a way that Mike and Karen can go back into these settings and where needed share the Gospel of Christ.  Some are believers already and receive encouragement in a culture that is quite hard on such as these.

The debrief was emotional and uplifting.  The joy at closing out this weeks work was evident in each one and we look forward to helping we pray each year until Jesus comes.  I have several photos linked here… not all the 400 that were taken tho, ha!  Please enjoy.

Much is happening here in regard to new projects.  It is a bit overwhelming at times.  So wish we had a million dollars, but we must depend on the LORD and not our own ways.  We stand amazed at how He works… more on that later.

Share our blog/newsletter with those who are like minded and we so appreciate your support through prayer, material and financial donations.  We are here because you share.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Watching a pro at work…


Joe McCutcheon, a distant cousin, lives in North Carolina and does photography of children as a profession.  He has several employees now and is looking at ways to use his skills in mission applications.  We set up a date to meet and do a day at a local orphanage that Vine International has a close relationship with.  Woody Woodson has known the Benfeldt’s for two decades and while Woody was starting and growing Vine International the Benfeldt’s were growing an orphanage called Fundoninos.

Then there is the Freed family whom we have known for almost five years now and were instrumental in helping Cindy and I transition into missions here in Guatemala.  They have very recently taken on one of the director positions at Fundoninos.  I asked Joe to come with the idea of teaching some young ladies about doing photography.  The teaching issue fell through, except I got to watch Joe at work and I think I learned a dozen or so pearls of wisdom.  Joe can herd cats I think.  He photographed over 50 kids, staff and teachers in a little over an hour.  All photos were copied and in the hands of Dennis Freed, lunch eaten, devotions done by three o’clock.  I was impressed.

The only failure that day was my timing of chauffeuring Joe from Word of Life Mission and back.  I managed to get myself in rush hour traffic both ways.  Joe I enjoyed the fellowship and watching a pro at work.  Thank you for loving on my friends in Guatemala.

IMG_0437  OK just a note about this photo.  The child in the photo is praying before we eat.  She prays for the kids at the orphanage, the staff mostly by name, each one of them.  There was a small team from the USA, and Joe, Cindy and Dennis McCutcheon…  This sweet child asked the LORD to bless the Americanos immediately AFTER she mentioned the dogs kept as pets there.  I am still laughing and I know God laughs.

Photos are linked here.

Next week we will be in Rio Dulce with a team from Kansas led by Dennis Rice our friend that was used by God to build up Vine International in Guatemala before Cindy and I took over.  Doris Rice has stayed home recuperating from total knee surgery and will be missed.  We will be doing some work in the area around Rancho de Esperanza an orphanage we love and care for.  Cindy and I are looking forward to the change for the next 10 days or so.  When we return it will be a day of ‘rest’ and out to the Pacific side of the country with Joe Leier to refurbish three (I think) surgical tables.  Please pray for us, several ministries have medical projects in development and are asking for help from Vine International.  We are in a season where we must guard our resources and commitments.  We pray for you our supporters.  We covet your prayers.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon


An Iowa farmer and business owner, 6 doctors and…


a rural clinic in Canilla del Quiche Guatemala..  Last year Duane and Leslie Ficker of Adonai International Ministries (AIM) were in the bodega getting a few supplies they could fill the free space in their airplane.  We talked about their dreams and the region they serve in.  I told them it sounded like they need to start a local hospital.  They started their research, talked with Tim Spurrier and Foster Ortiz at Hospital Shalom in Peten.  Later last year I was invited by Mike Brubaker then with Orphan Resource International to preach to a group from Iowa.  After the service, Joe Holschlag shook my hand and started a conversation.  The usual questions, what do you do, how long have you been here, etc.  Somewhere in the conversation he mentioned a new group of doctors in his home town region that were looking for a place to serve.  The Ficker’s came to mind.  I explained a little to Joe and this Iowa farmer followed through and called those doctors.  Over the last year I have met with Drs. John and Shea Epperly and several emails between all parties.  Things are starting to smoke.

First I want to say something about Joe… less than one in ten people who promise to do something when they go home do so.  Joe landed in Houston on that return trip and called Dr. Epperly.  He has further worked on collecting supplies and not sure yet what all is going to come of it.  But what a blessing so far.  The Epperly’s and their partners have formed a nonprofit in the USA called DOCS for Hope and are working out their plans to provide continuous coverage for the current clinics Adonai has, plus working towards a hospital.  Please click the link and read their history.  Money has been provided to purchase an eight acre lot in the neighborhood (literally walking distance – run of course in an emergency).

Joe returned to Guatemala with the Mennonite team this month to work on another orphanage project with Orphan Resource International.  They graciously allowed us to borrow Joe and another friend Deter for two days, so we could go to Canilla and see Adonai’s work there.   We met Duane Ficker at the La Aurora International Airport, he packed us in the plane, filed flight plan and we were off.  I think Duane had us in the air using just the white painted end stripes on the air strip in Guatemala City.  Over the city and pointed ‘home’ in 22 minutes, instead of a six hour drive over tumulos (speed bumps) and pot holes.  I did find out that flights mid day have their set of tumulos and pot holes even when you are well above the earth.  We were blessed with Ficker family hospitality.  Friday evening was filled with discussion, food and prayer.   We walked over to the property under contract and had another prayer meeting.

Saturday morning a burro (Democratic Party Alarm Clock) braying woke me up.  Duane was already up and greeting patients by the time I got dressed.  I went to the clinic and preached before breakfast.  What a joy.  This area was epicenter to an extended civil war.  There is a higher than usual count of widows and orphans due to atrocities during that war.  Duane and Leslie have been here for about 15 years and have developed relationships with a people that justly did not trust or care for gringos (USA supported the government forces).  These folks are hours away from good hospital care.  Racism exists in degrees, add the desire to be cared for close to family and the distance ‘between oases’ and there is a great opportunity to plant a Christian hospital here.   More discussions, more lists of things needed and it looks like Vine International will be helping to start a new Christian Hospital.  Please check out the ministries that have partnered together for this project.  This hospital will actively share the need for Christ for years to come to 60,000 souls in the immediate area, but an estimated 800,000 t0 1 million in the extended area.  Consider how you can help.

There are two areas where good medical education occur at the university level.  Guatemala City and Xela have medical schools.  They mostly serve Latino populations.  There is a Christian University here that has expressed a strong desire to start first a nursing school and as quickly as we can get in operation, enough medical doctor coverage then start a medical school as well.  Several key  people both missionaries and nationals have expressed their desire to stand with this work.  Frankly this is an exciting project.  Look forward to what God is going to do.  More stories to come from this project.

Photos of this past weekend linked here.

We thank you for your continued support.

In Christ,

Cindy and Dennis McCutcheon

Rick Wood, Worldwide Biomedical Charitable Services…


Rick Wood is the most experienced missionary biomedical technician I know.  He and wife Jennie were Technical Exchange for Christian Healthcare, Inc.(TECH) members and have been a strong influence in improving quality of donations and appropriate technology through our first ministry MedEquip Missions and now Vine International.  Rick with short notice asked my help in setting up a trip to Santa Cruz el Quiche for a project of Worldwide Biomedical Charitable Services with Agape in Action (AIA).  {please check my friends out}   AIA has used Vine International bodega for a few years.  Dr Jim Street would plunder our anesthesia aisle.  Retiring he introduced us to a couple that are a delight to work with, Paul and Lindsey both Guatemalan doctors.  Cindy and I have never had a chance to go see their work and I offered if I could go that Vine International would provide their chauffeur and limousine service (me and a beat up blue diesel Mitsubishi van).

Agape in Action works in the department of Quiche.  This region was severally effected by the 30 yr civil war.  Atrocities have left too many widows and orphans and a lot of pain in the region.  Dr. Paul and Dra. Lindsey do 21 satellite clinics in rural areas, each clinic done in a local church.  Paul would rather be a preacher.  Ervin and Sally York are AIA folks on the ground.  Ervin works hard and long hours doing a number of things.  Sally led us on a tour of the national hospital.  She seemed to be well received by the hospital staff.  Sally is very good at developing interpersonal relationships – an important skill here in Guatemala and particularly among rural Mayan populations.  Rick went back on Saturday with Daisy our translator and we evaluated a few machines, most beyond our ability to fix at the time.  He then finished his assessment of the physical plant and we had lunch and spent some time in fellowship with the Yorks and Beny, the head maintenance man at the hospital.  It is always a joy to share stories with friends in mission.

Now we try to look at trips like this from Vine International side and try to help other friends on the way.  What that looks like is this.   Up early to IHOP in zone 10 Guatemala City to meet with Berta from Moore Pediatric Surgical Center and Dr. Cynthia Paschal a biomedical engineer to talk about biomedical services in Guatemala and do some planning for a future service team of biomedical engineers from Vanderbilt.  Then we took three walkers to Casa Angelina, one of which was needed immediately by a local elderly widow they serve through Mercy Clinic and Rick got the quick tour.   On to Quiche and the main project with AIA, back on Sunday morning stopping at ASELSI just north of Chichicastenango to evaluate an EKG, and two diagnostic ultrasounds.  Meantime we also received request from Hope Haven to please stop by and tour their new warehouse and discuss some vision/ideas with Mark Richard.  It was a joy to see Mark – we have known of each others work for over 15 yrs.  We may get some opportunities to work a little closer in the future.  Hope Haven provides jobs to wheelchair bound Guatemalans to manufacture wheelchairs.  They have designed a pediatric chair and do projects here in Guatemala, Central America, Caribbeans, South America and Asia I believe.  The new facility has extra space and they are exploring some options about adding medical and dental clinics.  Back home late Sunday and up Monday, met Ben Martin 7:00am at the bodega, loading a cattle truck with two pallets bound for Hospital Shalom in Peten, back home pick up Rick and down to the city to tour Moore Pediatric Surgical Center, and meeting with AIA staff to discuss initial Worldwide Biomedical Charitable Services report.  Back to the bodega, change battery in the forklift, let Rick survey our testing equipment and tools looking to future internship program for biomedical engineers and technicians…that brings me up to right now.  I am heading to bed because we are up at 4:00 in the morning to meet Joe Leier and do a project at a Christian Hospital in San Raymundo trying to get electrosurgical units going before an Italian surgical team goes to work.  We will also do installation of part of their rather large dental service.  It will be another long day, another short night and get Rick to airport on Wednesday to return to Michigan.  As you can see we really try to abuse , I mean get as much out of skilled people like Rick as we can while they were here.   Good night…

Please enjoy the photos linked here – some are Rick’s and some are mine.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Return to Guatemala and The Letters…

Our good neighbors

Our good neighbors

Mar 12:42-44 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.  And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.  (KJV)

We had a blessed time with family and checking in with supporters while we (I) gained about 12 pounds during our month in the states.  There are so many ways you support and encourage us.  Loan of a car, feeding us, giving opportunity to share our stories, jumping in and helping when pipe leaked in the ceiling, this list goes on.  Most of you would be embarrassed if we publicly put your names out so please know we remember and we are grateful.

I am always embarrassed when people talk about our sacrifice… LISTEN… It is NO sacrifice to do in obedience that which God puts before you to do.  He gave His Son for us, what ever can we give back in light of that???  Now I will confess it is hard to kiss your granddaughters goodbye, to hug your sons and daughters (Hadley and Jeremy you are always included in that phrase) and turn your backs and leave.  I know there may be a time when that is the last time and we do miss these treasures that God has given us.  BUT compared to Christ, even that is not a sacrifice.

We returned and while unloading I heard footsteps racing up behind and could not get turned around in time.  We received big hugs from Gabby (far left in photo)and a little later all of our neighbors, Dona Lilly, Luz, Juan Carlos, Ruby and little Anna Lu, were in our house.  They had cleaned the floors and counters, and even my desk was (ahem) organized.  Gabby returned a few minutes later with a couple of letters in her hands.

Now, you know how I look.  If I am in red shirt I look like the quintessential Coca Cola interpretation of Santa Claus.  I do not push the issue, believing it is a distraction from the truth of Christmas, but when you look as I do, things happen.  I get approached in public and business men have offered to pay me to be Santa Claus at their parties – for significant pay, which I refuse.  There is an orphanage and a couple of other entities where they deal with children who are orphans, abused or ill and I do respond in those situations but don’t brag about it publicly.  I say that as an introduction to ‘the letters’.  Up the main driveway from our house is another neighbor with several young children.  Nachito, is slightly retarded and stares at me or shouts Santa Claus whenever he sees me.   He wrote a letter and put it in our mailbox after Cindy and I left for the USA.  Obviously we could not do anything about this having no knowledge of this precious note.  His scrawled printed note said all he wanted for Christmas was a bicycle and he knows this is the house of Santa Claus.  His sister also wrote a note asking for peace here in Guatemala and the world.

Here is what my neighbor Dona Lilly’s children did – Juan Carlos, Gabby’s brother and I believe all the kids had a hand in the project, took one of their bicycles, cleaned and painted it.  Then they made Nachito’s mother cry when they delivered the bike – made me cry when I heard the story.  Sacrifice you say?  Whew!  My mother sent a support check to a niece who is in active mission work.  My niece wrote back thanking mom for her sacrificial gift.  My mother has a bit of a crust to her dear old soul – wrote back and said, “As long as Americans (US citizens) keep their pets, pop and entertainment they do not know what sacrificial giving is.”  The USA has more MRI and CT scanners for their pets than Christian medical missionaries can provide for the care of the patients God gives them in all of Latin America and possibly world wide.  These children could not afford to buy a bike for themselves, instead gave one of theirs in answer to a precious request AND they gave the credit to another.

LORD JESUS, may You and You alone get the glory for all that we do in obedience to Your call.  Show us how to give as the widow gave, how to give in a way that makes our Father smile.  We ask this in Jesus name Amen.

Thank you for your support always.

In Christ,  Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon


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