We are back in Guatemala after two weeks in USA. We NEVER get to do all that we would like to do, see all those that we would like to see. To get an idea of the work we do on these trips, look at our meals. We had two breakfasts at home and Cindy made a great meatloaf, with Vidalia onions and asparagus (a re-gifting of a bunch that my sister Kate gave mom from a patch of asparagus planted by my late great aunts about 100 years ago)… But three meals in two weeks in our own home is …searching for a word that fits….
We are grateful for a financial gift from friends at Abiding Life to cover substantially the air fare. The main purpose of these two weeks from a ministry standpoint was quite successful; but too little time with Olivia, Sarah (who finally has allowed me to hold her) and my children. We could not make it to WV to visit my mother, but Kate and Cindy worked out a plan to meet halfway and have an extended lunch. I found a coffee shop in Marion Virginia that sold Guatemalan coffee (is there any other kind?). I told the owner I would give him a plug in my blog. I had the pastrami sandwich – excellent. Cindy had a salad that was frankly a work of art. Pleasing to the eye; pleasing to the pallet. Kohi Café 201 E. Main St. Ste 102 Marion VA is also a recommended stop on the Appalachian Trail where AT walkers can get mail, send emails, etc. We had a good three plus hour lunch catching up on family and news around the old home place in Lookout WV.
Main reason for the trip was to attend Spring TECH (Technical Exchange for Christian Healthcare, Inc.) 25th annual conference. We shared an update for Vine International, networked with multiple ministries to ‘improve our serve’ here in Guatemala, met with MAP staff – they provide us with medicines by the container full! Woody Woodson and his wife Dianna came – always good to see them. I later met with Samaritan’s Purse staff at the warehouse in Boone NC – pray for them and consider supporting them for the work they were already doing in Nepal. This earthquake will fall out of the news long before the needs will be met. It was a blessing to help put an orthopedic surgical project together on short notice and meet the guy who was leaving that night to try to get that project into Nepal to help with fractures and amputations.
We were blessed to share our work with our sending church Calvary Chapel of Asheville NC and meet and discuss ministry issues with some of the most caring people Cindy and I have in our lives. We miss our pastor’s teaching and the Calvary Chapel brand of teaching the whole Bible. CC of A has now moved to 5516 Boylston Highway (Airport Rd.) Mills River, NC. 28759, Sunday Service starts at 10 AM. Cindy and I highly recommend this congregation.
We had multiple other meetings, architects, chef to help with kitchen design in a hospital project, eye surgeon for help with clinic design and surgery equipment needs, our computer guru who helped get us out of a jam, taxes got done, watched my oldest granddaughter clog and then
score two goals in soccer match and then take them out for ice cream. Dinner with daughter Casey and Jeremy her husband was enjoyable and too brief. We closed out the week with a Wednesday night family dinner at Cracker Barrel that was centrally located between a now spread out family. I could only smile when I heard Olivia teaching her aunt Peggy rules for checkers on the front porch. Apparently once you get a king in can transform and appear anywhere. Her daddy was good at making what we came to call Jason Rules! It was a blessing to see Jason and Hadley’s new home and get to eat a hamburger by Jason (awesome at the grill).
As you can see we do not rest until we return to Guatemala. Well we take a day, but then we have to exchange money (half a day), do banking, deal with a cell phone that has been cut off due to change of date on Visa card (last time this happened it took 6 visits over 4 months to get it fixed), get groceries etc. Then open the warehouse and get some stuff moving!!! That is what we are here for. We thank all of you for your support – prayer, financial and otherwise. Now a lot of information is swimming in my head and I need to get some emails out to folks. Hope this note lets you into our lives to see how things work for us at Vine International.
Happy Mother’s Day to all in this circle. Tomorrow Cindy get’s to celebrate Guatemalan Mother’s Day (always on May 10), USA Mother’s Day (always on second Sunday in May) and Peggy’s Birthday (ALWAYS on May 10th)… Can I plan a day or what!?!
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Woody Woodson is the founder of Vine International. Dianna and he were married about a year ago and this is her first trip to Guatemala. When Cindy and I came in 2009 everything was exciting and new. But we have gotten used to the smiles and expressed joy of the ministries we serve. It has gotten to be routine, I am sorry to say. A few of Dianna’s “OH Wow’s” stirred the fires I once felt. Vine International does do amazing things here.
We call Woody the Hurricane here in Guatemala. At home in Tennessee he is laid back easy going. Here he fills the schedule over full. The first half of their time in Guatemala we circled the west of Guatemala with an old friend of the ministry Norris Hill and son Aaron and his fiancee CC. They were exploring both business and ministry ideas. We are in much prayer for some of these issues. We stopped at Hospital Santa Fe and visited with Sergio Castillo… Veronica his wife is ill with a virus. We did drink a little rocket coffee but are saving the raccoon sandwiches for Todd Poor’s next trip to Guatemala. Then the climb to Quetzaltenango, a night at a favorite Hotel Modelo just off of central square. Visiting with John and Alma Diehl is always a blessing AND a learning experience. While on the square we spoke briefly with some of the alternate culture. You will just have to look at the photos. Everyone shared stories with Dianna as we went. The next morning coffee lakeside at Lake Atitlan then to Antigua. More coffee, stories and laughter. Dick Rutgers and Patricia Duff joined us for supper. Dianna had heard stories already and got to meet the legend in person. Dick and Pat work with severely handicapped children and adults who are grossly underserved here.
The next day we dropped the Hill gang off at the airport and beat feet for Rancho de Esperanza, getting only to find a line of traffic south of the bridge that extended for miles. It was the largest traffic jam that Mike Rhea who graciously was driving us, has seen in his 15 yrs on the river. Then the Woodson’s and McCutcheon’s went to Tikal to walk the ruins and see the Hospital Shalom. Another story telling session, lives saved, families restored and churches planted because diesel mechanic and his wife, Tim and Doris Spurrier answered the call of God. Telling history and how we help other works in the area. Air ambulance service to become operational this year – yea! All these with some help from Vine International.
Back to Rancho de Esperanza and then Cindy, Karen, Woody and Dianna met the boat to Sarstun Clinic, around to Livingston and back up the Rio Dulce by supper time. Sunday it was back to the city and meeting with a new ministry Esperanza Contra Esperanza to talk about a pediatric hospital and how Vine International may be able to help with this project. And Monday – Woody and Dianna to the airport and return to Knoxville TN area.
Take a look at the photos – there are way too many but you will see the laughter and joy on faces – you might also notice the later in the trip we look more tired, but hey! Enjoy some of the landscapes and the peoples of Guatemala.
Thank you for your continued support. Stay tuned for some exciting things are happening. Vitamin Angels representative coming and we hope to expand that relationship for one.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
We spent the Monday and Tuesday of this past week with Quinn Harvey, Vitamin Angels program manager for Latin America. Link to Vitamin Angels here. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides Vitamin A in quantity to many nations who in turn use it to fortify milk and rice. Where those programs are successful real benefit occurs. There remain large areas particularly in the remote developing world where meat is a treat on Sundays and the diet is rice, beans, cornmeal in some variety. Vitamin A/retinol comes through meats and our bodies convert beta carotene to a basic form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of five key nutrients necessary for proper growth and development; it helps children build strong immune systems that can fight off common illnesses and it is necessary for healthy vision. What do you do if carrots, sweet potatoes are not available and the iguana got away this week? Can reptiles make Vitamin A? – got to look that up!
Quinn fought traffic with us Monday morning, came to the warehouse and stopped by the house for discussion. Then off to Proyecto Salud northeast of the city. Sister Dani met us at their facility and we had lunch while the team assembled and packed for afternoon clinic. 50 yds out of the parking lot and a hard left back towards the city and into the jungle fording a stream to set up clinic in a small rural church. The staff taught the small clutch of patients about the importance of avoiding practices that lead to cervical cancer and about getting pap smears. The doctors began treating patients in the back corner and the nurse staff evaluated and gave a bi-annual dose of vitamin A to children from six months to five years of age.
We returned to the city and helped Quinn move to Tikal Futura (she paid for the coffee = she can come back anytime!). Tikal Futura has the strangest entrance to any hotel in my 62 years of travel…bizarre. I am glad I did it in the daylight because we had to pick up Quinn at 4:30 the next morning meeting Exodo Foundation/Stephanie Hawley on the road to Chiquimula. By the time we ended up on station Quinn’s GPS was pinging off a tower in Honduras.
Exodo Foundation team gave away avocados, limes some medicine and vitamins. We explored the small school the foundation has helped get electricity, improve water supply and sanitation issues. Stephanie described the full nonfunctioning toilet and how when it was pulled up and cleaned out the found several flat rocks. Why rocks one might ask? Well when one runs out of toilet paper….
It was coffee blossom time and the vistas were superb, but the travel ain’t highway travel. The final few miles we had to switch the Mitzubishi van for a borrowed four wheel drive pickup with a large bottle of extra water to add to the expansion bottle once in awhile. We left the team to return to the capital city. They still had 2 or 3 more stops to do. Long day, pot holes and speed bumps not everyone handles those well. But Cindy and Quinn did mighty fine.
We hope and pray that we can expand the vitamin program for our partners. Vitamin A is literally life saving in some of the world. We also see spina bifida, hydrocephalus, cleft lips and palates that could be almost eradicated if we could get folic acid into the diet of women of childbearing age. This takes a concentrated effort of nutritional training and prenatal vitamins. And the young children on a diet restricted to beans/rice/tortillas would all benefit from a multivitamin/micro-nutrient program. We continue to push for resources and we see new potential recently from friends on the board of Vine International, MAP and donors like Vitamin Angels.
We are grateful for all your support. For photos of last Monday and Tuesday they are linked here.
Dennis and Cindy
Cindy and I try to take time and visit folks. I confess we get into a pattern at times seeing some of the same folks over and over. But we have somewhere north of 100 groups that use Vine International Bodega (warehouse). Some are many hours from the bodega and it would take two days to visit one site. It is hard to visit some of these that are way out there. BUT we have some that are close and we want to try to honor our friends with a visit.
We had set up a visit with a friend of the ministry from the states, but her schedule changed. So Cindy and I talked with Saul and Lara Enrique and went to their small clinic in the north side of the city. They started out in the garage and one small room of Lara’s family home. Her mother still lives in the main house. Frankly it is hard to imagine doing a medical clinic is such a small space. Few doctors in the USA would work in such a setting. But there are people to see that cannot afford care. Many of the Enriques’ patients are indigenous. They fear coming to the city, or can’t afford the bus fare. But when such as these find a physician that will treat them with respect the word gets out. While I was there I met a patient that had taken almost 2 hour bus ride. Do you know how many physicians/clinics he passed to come to this place? (it is a rhetorical question).
Dr. Saul and Lara have paid for remodeling the space and going UP adding a second story. The work is still in progress. But they are not wasting time using the new space (office, 2 bed exam and treatment room, a center for IV treatment) but still they are hoping to expand over the rest of the current roof and get it in the dry before the rainy season. In addition to this building they recognize the need to get closer to the rural Mayan community and have purchased property in the highlands west of the city about 30 miles.
We met the staff. We looked at photos and listened to stories. Vine International adds to works like these. They are independent as are all our clients. But they recognize and are grateful for the material help we give them. They showed us the sharps containers, centrifuge in the lab, medicines that were given, expressing gratitude at every room for what has been given. I would point out the will need more as they expand their service at this site and the rural clinic. There are a few photos posted here. There is one set of photos that I cannot share in this format. I will share with some of our medical friends, but briefly this lady had a breast cancer and no money. She went to the public hospital, they sent her home for three months. She tried another physician with the same results. She now had a tumor that erupted through the skin and was larger than the original breast… she found Dr. Saul and Lara’s clinic. She needed surgery they could not provide on site. But Lara and her sister Ana got on the phone and called friends asking for money. Dr. Saul called another doctor with a small hospital and talked him down in regard to fees. The staff and friends of their ministry raised the money in a couple hours and got the job done. Now this may not have lengthened her life but it did keep her from dieing from infection and made it much easier for her family to care for her. It was an act of compassion.
Stories like the above are too common. There will be a need for Christian medical missions until Christ returns. It is a blessing to serve such as these.
Thank you for your prayers, financial and material support.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
I see it has been awhile since we have posted. Christmas in North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia was productive for ministries we work with but we were not able to do much for Vine and personal needs. BUT still the LORD blessed us with some special givers. Our roof for the house was covered financially and we are very grateful. Everyone is so busy for the holidays, enough so we may change our pattern of coming to the USA. We want to see our grandkids participate in sports, etc. We are looking at our schedule for the year ahead.
Since return to Guatemala we have had our ups and downs. Cindy and I worked hard to get the containers that came early in Dec. in order and most of that material is being used as designed. We have seen a decrease in donations of wheelchairs and are seeking other resources there. The Vine International Board of Directors has some new fire! We will see what comes of this.
Woody and Dianna Woodson our bosses are here in Guatemala right now. This is a split team. The first part was traveling and research for ministry opportunity’s with Norris Hill and family. Also this is Dianna’s first trip and Woody is showing her ALL of Guatemala (we don’t call him Hurricane Woody for nothin’). IT is good for the Vine family to see what we do through new eyes once in awhile. We have covered Guatemala from Quetzaltenango to Flores, seen Tikal, a few of our partners in ministry and have told a ton of stories from the past 20+ years of Vine’s existence in Guatemala. I learn something new all the time.
Several exciting projects are in the development stage and will be beneficial to rural medicine (Canilla, Chocola, out side of Antigua) in Guatemala where the most underserved exist in this country. Also an exciting project is moving from vision to building stage in San Jose Pinula to serve children’s homes in Guatemala. Vine will be involved in advising in the progress of these groups as well as what we do best being a supply line. Some but not all the ministries we serve are suffering from the decrease in donations that follows with job loss in the states. But the LORD shows Himself strong and resourceful. We know some of you give sacrificially, we guard your gifts and try to ensure they go to the point of need.
I have passed a small kidney stone (that is a good thing – small being the key word) but also have been bit or stung by some small Guatemalan critter. He got away, but right now it looks like I have been hit by a baseball bat just above the right hip. Cindy wants to take a picture, but I assure you most of you just don’t need to see that part of my anatomy. The doctor at Hospital Shalom – Peten graciously checked me out and did some lab. All seems well other than bruising.
We will be returning to our home tomorrow, getting the Woodsons on the plane on Monday and getting back to work on Tuesday or so. Many things added to the schedule and there is lots to do. I have a study designed with Abiding Life ministries to help with counseling opportunities here. We continue Wed. night Bible study and preaching on first Sunday’s near Antigua. We will also be sharing and preaching at Hospitalito Espiritu Santo (The Holy Spirit Hospital – don’t you love that name?) in March. It already looks like 2015 will be busier than 2014. Praise the LORD!
This is the dry season, rains will start late in April or early May. (mangoes come with the rains). 2015 is an election year I believe, with all that comes with change in administration. Sometimes good changes, sometimes not so good. Please pray for Guatemala, for Vine International and that we may glorify Jesus Christ with our words and deeds this year in even greater ways.
Please let us know if we can pray with/for you.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
PS a little ‘housekeeping’… if you don’t want to read our updates please let me know so I can remove your email from this list. On the other hand if you change your email please let me know so you can stay informed. You can always find us/contact us through Vine International website http://www.vineinternational.org
Just a brief post to let you know we have not dropped off the face of the earth. Without Cindy here with me in Guatemala there is not a lot of free time. We can’t split up and go to the bank to stand in line to pay bills and all the other activities of daily living. Our boss Woody is found of saying some days in takes all day just to live in Guatemala. Well now it takes two…
It has been humbly surprising the out pouring of support from the missions and ministries here in Guatemala once they found out Cindy was at work in the USA and I stayed here to keep Vine International going. Other support has increased as well. We are grateful. AND pleased to announce while we have yet to meet our goals completely the pressure is off and Cindy is coming back to Guatemala with me on return flight January 2015.
There is a lot happening here in Guatemala and I have alluded to these projects in past notes. I will start doing a full report on each project after the first of the year. Next week I am picking up three senior college students, Paul Gordon being one of them, for a week in Guatemala surveying some of the issues in medicine in the developing world. They have taken on a project to see if we can extend the life of or refurbish oxygen concentrators. This would be a huge score for medical missions and medical care in developing world if they are successful… and preliminary reports are exciting. Will keep you posted.
I will take them to Hospital Santa Fe to meet the Castillos and enjoy the world famous raccoon sandwich they serve all new comers on Thursday next week. I put them on the plane on Wed Dec. 17th come home, clean house and get a haircut preparing for flight to Asheville on the 18th. We still have a couple containers in the works and we have really pushed the envelope as far as getting them through the custom system here. So please by in prayer these do not get hung up.
New board members are meeting with Woody today. They will discuss several issues including a new used forklift for both ends of the “Pipeline” of Vine services. The one here we are working on about 5 hours for every 20-30 minutes of service. I am ready to push it into a very deep lake. It is hard to justify putting any more money into repairs – so pray for the details of this ministry.
One final note and the main reason for this brief note: please change the ministry email to email@example.com and delete firstname.lastname@example.org
We don’t want to loose contact with you.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Cindy sent a note early Wednesday, 17 September 2014 that Pastor Bob Wilson died that morning. I sat on the bench on our front porch in Guatemala. I thought of some of the conversations with this dear brother in the LORD. I remembered some of his teachings, stories and sermons. I remember Juanita his wife, Robin his daughter, there are other children but I did not know them – praying for them as I remember. I wish all of you could have been in my church the day that both Bob and Juanita shared the testimony of their salvation. It was a proper balance of who they once were and glorifying Jesus our Redeemer. So many testimonies are 20 minutes of who I was and a two minute oh by the way Jesus died for me… not Bob and Juanita. Jesus is the star of the show in the Wilson memoirs.
I complained once to Bob about being stressed about job, every other day on call, often 12 hours days, trying to build the ministry MedEquip Missions and balancing family in that formula. Bob gave Godly advice for a life once again out of control. Self control is a fruit of the spirit he explained, but the thing I remember most is his acronym for BUSY: Being Under Satan’s Yoke. It helped trigger the move into missions full time for the McCutcheon family.
Cindy and I reject the term sacrifice as a descriptive of mission work. Don’t get me wrong, it is difficult at times but for the most part there is a peace of knowing that this is what God has called us to. Then to compare what we do with the true sacrifice Christ made for us is offensive frankly. The only thing that comes close to smelling like sacrifice is missing family, not being here for the parting of friends – things that are deeply relational. I have missed David Barger and William Mayhew’s funerals. Those hurt a bit. Men who had been put in my path to teach me things that God would have a son learn, were called home and I could not be here. Not this time. I came to western NC to be part of this home going. Now mixed in that is a chance to see my wife, children, and grandchildren a blessing to be sure.
Romans ch 12 came to mind. This chapter is a rich chapter in Paul’s writings. After encouraging believers to be transformed the thirteenth apostle starts to teach what transformation looks like. Here is what pops off the page. Verse 15 says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” End extremes it seems, in the same verse, the same sentence, so close together. In my TODAY, we went to a wonderful church service. I listened to a powerful message about clay in the Potter’s Hands. Prayed with my wife at the front of our home church and then home to eat pot roast, potatoes, green beans with Jason and Hadley, Peggy, Cindy and my granddaughters. Olivia (grandchild #1) is so mature, we talked for awhile. Her little sister, however, not yet two years old, is still not comfortable with a grandad she cannot remember seeing. So slowly I approach, retreat, approach again with a different tactic, ICE CREAM and she finally comes to my lap, empties my shirt pocket of pens and iPhone. SCORE! Sarah on granddad’s lap punching buttons and putting sticky ice cream finger prints on the screen. I will clean my cell phone next month right now I rejoice… then two hours later I weep with a dear family that has lost husband, father, grandfather, uncle. But it is not weeping like the world weeps. There is the hope of resurrection in the conversation. There are words of joy and peace in the midst of the grief. Rejoice and weep are intentionally, buy an act of the Holy Spirit’s inspiration touching each other in Romans 12:15. This is life in verse.
Sigh, some reading this feel guilty to rejoice in one moment and weep in another. It is an issue of obedience. I can rejoice in my granddaughter’s presence, and should do so. In these relationships will come the opportunity to disciple young minds and hearts. Sarah on my lap, Olivia engaged in conversation – are blessings from my God. Encouraging my son and daughter in grace are part of the priesthood of fathering. Equally obedient is leaving the house and going to Groce Chapel and meet the Wilson family and talk and share with family. Cry when Cindy and I hug Juanita’s neck, see her beautiful smile in the midst of this sea of family and friends. This is more than respect, my brother deserves respect. But it is love. Christ loving through us. It is obedience. One more thing jumps off the page today…
God is a God of action. He commands His kids (believers) to act, but notice He keeps some things for Himself. Rejoice/weep is ours to do in the midst of the fellowship of saints here and now on this earth. No where are we to hold back or give it to God to do. But notice in Romans 12:19 Paul says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. ” In our work in Guatemala violence and sexual abuse of women and children seems rampant and justice is minimal. One estimate I read, is that 10% of guilty parties are ever arrested and of those 10% are convicted. Vigilante justice is an under current in rural settings. You can imagine why. I say that to highlight God keeps some of His work, vengeance in this case, to Himself. There is a principal here. God has work for us to do. Be obedient in that work. God has a work for God to do. Be watchful. Don’t give back to God the labor He asks of us. Don’t take up that which He keeps to Himself.
Bob Wilson is a brother in the LORD. Those of you who know him intimately will see irony in Bob talking to me about being busy… (for those of you that don’t know, Bob was often referred to as the Every Ready Bunny managing our feeding program, preaching on Wednesdays, working with a children’s program/summer camps, Christmas gift giving, on the board of our church and youth ministry above, constantly discipling, encouraging, of which Cindy and I are benefactors). I know Bob and Juanita are faithful in praying for our work in Guatemala and I will miss him. I WILL see him again. I will be looking at the back of his head since he is now closer to the Throne of the Holy One of Israel.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon