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some of the ministries we serve….

14/02/2019

We have four containers come in rapid succession.  Three were shipped before Christmas and the BURROcracy held them up but finally they have been released while the fourth one came through fairly standard fashion.

Nice to have strong friends

We are tired!  But happy!

 

The last container had 1155 boxes of rice weighing about 35 pounds a piece floor loaded.  We assembled a group of men, friends of ours and off loaded by ‘bucket line’ onto pallets.  Here is a photo of that crew.

We have purchased a new phone and I haven’t figured it all out yet so here is the ‘accidental selfie.’  Didn’t want to waste it!

Here is  a photo with the team from Hospitalito Espiritu Santo (Holy Spirit Hospital in English).  They come a few times in the year.  Vine International (https://www.vineinternational.org/) helped start an onsite clinic some years ago.  I have preached there before. They do so much with a little.  They collect bones from local butcher shops, scrape them and boil them in order to add “meat” to their soups.

Hospital Espiritu Santo, taking photo of the photographer – me! This group does a lot with so little.

It is a group I have spoken about before.  There are about 100 men in various stages of recovery from drugs and alcohol.  They are divided in to about 12 teams.  Every hour one of those teams is praying and Vine International is daily mentioned in their prayers.  Humbling.

 

Jason Ryder opening his first container in Guatemala

Jason and Lilivet Ryder have been busy.  Jason has been learning the ministry and they have manage to deliver their brand new little girl, very rapidly in  the middle of the night (no traffic) Lilivet timed it so that she delivered as Jason was parking the car! Welcome to Guatemala Erin Joy Ryder.

 

 

In one of the container was a few boxes of sunglasses.  A blessing for this subtropic region.  Sun is often an issue.  So we would photograph the crews in glasses that we have served recently.  Below you see the ‘gangs’ from ASELSI (https://www.aselsi.org/ Translates to Equipping the Saints in English) They teach local pastors and have a very successful clinic, a huge ministry to pregnant women, mothers and children, and the finest physical therapy program I have seen in the developing world.

The group on the right is the Fickers, well a small portion of the Ficker clan.  They started years ago serving in an orphanage.  They then started Adonai International Ministries (https://www.adonaiinternationalministries.org/) They have built a free standing hospital and with DOCS For Hope (https://www.docsforhope.org/) are moving towards 24 hour service in an underserved area of Guatemala.  They have a very active program, sharing Jesus with each clinic, every day.  It is a blessing to serve the LORD in Guatemala with brothers and sisters such as these.  Check them out, links provided.

the “Pirates” from ASELSI.

AIM Adonai International Ministries – Hospital Adonai in Canilla

It comes in by container and goes out in multiple trucks, vans, cars.  I have even loaded a wheelchair on a motorcycle before.  I asked that guy to check in when he got to his grandmother’s house.  If you have seen the way motorcycles cut between cars here, you would understand why I thought he might not make it.  We have served clinics and hospitals in rural Guatemala from the border of Mexico, the central hi to the northern border with Belize and to the south near the border of Honduras.  And that was just the last four days.Thank you for your support.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

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January 2019 Change is in the air, meetings and a chicken coop

27/01/2019

Jason, Lilivet and Kristen Ryder are here in Guatemala.  They will be the new directors for Association Vine International Guatemala, replacing Cindy and I.  They get to cut their teeth on three containers that will soon be released.  Jason is from Michigan and a trained biomedical technician with mission experience.  He has worked with TrimedX and GE in the recent past.   Lilivet has jumped into the ministry and done some excellent translation work for Brady “Chepe” Green/Vine already.  She is Guatemalan.  They are expecting a baby in the next couple of weeks.  They have moved into a house close to the bodega/warehouse.  Poor Jason was getting up at 4:30 in order to get across the city to be at the bodega by 9:00.

We have done some training on the administrative issues.  Assembled and tested all the PET carts as you can see in the photo.  Kristen was delighted.  They are working on residency papers for Jason.  Some of the legal paperwork for transfer will have to wait until we have documents properly prepared.  Burro-cracy!

 

Our home fellowship is going well.  Psalm 45 and 46 next Sunday.  The teaching we do at Pavon Prison is on hold due to a violent act among the prisoners.  We have been checking but as of now no date is available for us to renew that ministry.   Appreciate prayer for this part of the work here.

Jason Ryder & Brady Green in discussion with Dr. Estrada

Brady our CEO spent most of this last week working on administrative issues here and speaking with some of our physicians in ministries. We are hoping to improve supply to some of the works that care for the health issues of the poorest in Guatemala. We had good talks with Dr. Eric Estrada and Dr. Sergio Castillo.

Dr. Eric Estrada

 

Dr. Sergio y Veronica Castillo

 

 

My apologies to Dr. Estrada.  I tried three times to get a good photo but missed each time.  NO he is not asleep, I just caught him in mid blink.

Also while praying please pray for three containers that are being held up by customs.  I just got word one of the medicine containers is pulled for a full inspection by SAT/customs, and this after the Ministry of Health took over four weeks to issue a certificate allowing us to import.

If you ask Woody Woodson about the beginnings of Vine he will tell you of the original office being in a chicken coop in his backyard in Knoxville TN.  Well Woody this is just for you.  I have ‘harvested’ wood from a variety of crates and wheelchair containers and with Jason Ryder, David Mollinedo, Ignacio Sanchez, Cindy and I we have built our neighbor a chicken coop.  I though you (Woody) might get a kick out of that.  It will be used to house Lilly’s chickens (some of which are progeny from Cindy’s flock) to add eggs and meat to her table.  Hopefully sometime this next week we can finish the run and it will be occupied soon.  See the photos below.

Thank you, all of you, for your continued support.

In Christ,  Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

First Vine Project in 2019

17/01/2019

Our founder Woody Woodson, messaged Cindy and I and asked us to help Dr. Alex Vasquez, a Guatemalan heart surgeon who practices in Alabama, USA.   The son of his mother’s housekeeper lives 10 km from us in Guatemala and Dr. Vasquez asked for help.

Ricardo was shot about three years ago and stayed much of two years in a local hospital.  The gunshot was low abdomen and spinal causing paraplegia and leaving him with colostomy.  Ricardo suffered the complication of extensive sacral and buttock decubiti.  He is 21 years old now, with a complex set of problems.  He is bed ridden in his current situation, pale, and sickly looking.   Dr. Vasquez came and visited Ricardo with us just before we went to the states in December.  Guatemalan doctors are looking again at the pressure sores doing debridement and encouraging healing.

Upon our return from family visit in USA Vine staff (now with addition of Jason and Lilivet Ryder) met Dick Rutgers at the bodega.  We collected wheelchairs and padding and met at Ricardo’s mother’s house in El Manzano.  It is always amazing to watch Dick Rutgers at work.  He has a tender heart and skill that comes with years of work.  He also brought his posse – two sibling groups that are fatherless.  We replaced the chair Ricardo has with a chair in which the leg and feet are adjustable.  Encouraging him to stay off his buttocks to allow for continued healing we will follow and when healing is complete will return for appropriate fitting/padding and try to help gain more independence.  Nutrition was discussed and we will return to fit his bed for a trapeze soon.

This set of health problems is difficult no matter where you are.  In the developing world, house on a steep mountain side, cobblestone street, no sidewalks, 85-90 $ a week in transportation costs, nutritional add on to the diet without insurance creates a huge financial and personal burden on a family.

Jason Ryder and our friend David Mollinedo both helped with translation – in fact so many different conversations were happening it is hard to imagine how we could have handled this initial fitting without both brothers there.  Maria – Ricardo’s mother asked how much this service was going to cost…. I have been giving away Vine resources for ten years.  I love that look when they find out it comes from Jesus.  It’s free.  Dick Rutgers led us in a beautiful prayer.  This story is not yet complete.

Jason and Lilivet Ryder are moving into a house very close to the bodega, we pray next week.  We will soon have three containers on which they can cut their teeth.  Lilivet will soon have their second child and is quite busy, making a nest, taking care of Kristen and the new one on the way and learning a new ministry.  They will be a good asset for Vine International and the work as it goes forward.

While waiting for the containers to be cleared we are not letting any dust collect on our shoes.  We are meeting the occasional ministry in the bodega.  We are helping our neighbor Lilly by building a chicken coop for protection of her hens, source for eggs and meat for her family.   We continue to work in Pavon prison with El Barrios para Cristo and Pastor Nacho teaching in Genesis.  We started on Abraham’s life stories yesterday.   And on Sunday’s the Bible study group that meets in our home is moving through the Psalms.   One of our teenage neighbors opened her note book and shared her outlines and study notes done over the Christmas break.  It was obvious she had worked through the psalms for herself and we were all blessed, especially me!

Please be in prayer for the Ryders as they prepare to take the reins of Vine International – Guatemala.  There are many details to be covered.  Pray specifically for their new baby, new house arrangements and financial support for this important work.

Thank you.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

A Neat Wheelchair Story.

03/11/2018

Pastor Nacho asked for a wheelchair.  We have worked with this brother since our first days here in Guatemala almost ten years ago.  We know that where Nacho goes Jesus is shared, so of course if we have it, we give it in this case.

The recipient is dad to one of the group we are teaching the Bible to in a local prison.  I don’t have every detail but I believe it has been over 20 years since these two men have seen each other.  The gift of the wheelchair triggered a desire for reconciliation.  Dad was able to be transported and an awesome visit ensued.  They talked,  They ate together.  Our brother in prison got down on the level with his father and said, “over the years I have never asked you for anything, certainly not since I have been in prison.”  He explained since being here he had come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and proceeded to tell his dad about the Gospel Truth.  At the end our brother said to his dad, this one thing I ask of you, that you would pray with me to receive Christ as your Savior.  And he did.

Go God!

That wheelchair came from an unknown donor through Joni and Friends Ministries ( muchas gracias J&F and original donor).  It was refurbished by prisoners in the USA, transported in a DOLE container, by Vine International, unloaded by ex-cons and friends in Vine bodega, then given to El Barrios Para Cristo to be given at the home of an old man who had more than a simple physical need.  There is no way to count the hands on that chair, the funds that it took to get it here, but I know we made the Accountant of Heaven smile.

Pray for us as we continue to teach the Scripture in Pavon Prison.  I so wish we could share photos of this group.  But we are stripped of all devices, belts, keys, shoestrings, etc.  So no photos, smile, wink.

Next story.

Ratoncito and Cindy’s red sweater

See photo of Edwin, grandson of our groundskeeper.  His nickname is Ratoncito (Little Rat or Mouse).  He is always moving, always climbing and exploring.  He helps when we unload a container.  He is very

good help when wheelchair containers come.

The red sweater is a work of Cindy.  It was once her size and took weeks to make.  She wore it the first winter after handcrafting it.  Nice and warm but it shrunk too much for her to wear after first washing.  It is now a gift to Ratoncito and is much appreciated as it is very warm and winter is getting close.

 

 

 

 

Containers – We are currently in a struggle.  In our ten years here and in the 25 years of Vine Internationals service to Guatemala we have the two worst containers in our history back to back.  Container 242 and 243.  The problems are complex.  Some of the delays are ludicrous (putting a space between each line on one set of documents – a first in 25 years).  Our friend David Mollinedo and I went to the port on 242 and sorted the whole container to comply with the SAT inspectors demands.  A tremendous amount of work, all of which was undone when SAT warehouse staff reloaded.  We are very frustra

Tiva filters to Health Talents near Chicacao

ted.  The delays equate to dollars ultimately.  And these have been expensive.  242 was released about 10 days ago and is largely disbursed already.  TIVA water filters delivered.  Medicines to Salud y Paz a designated project.  Joe Leier is coming this next week for his stuff, etc.  243 is still held hostage…. Prayers deeply appreciated.

Next story:  Jason and Lilivet Ryder are landing in Guatemala Dec. 4 to begin a time of transition for Vine International.  We need younger blood!  They will take over Vine in Guatemala in time.  We will help make a smooth transition.  Lilivet is Guatemalteca and having that language skill will be a blessing for our ministry.  Jason is a trained and qualified biomed tech and what a need that is for the Christian medical community here.  It has been a long, shall I say LLLloooonnnnggg prayer of mine that Vine International could add repair and maintenance of equipment to our service.   We are looking forward to their arrival.  For what is going to happen to the McCutcheon’s you will have to wait.  We are not leaving.  We are not retiring.  WE are older and slowing down.  Until Jason and Lilivet can say “We got this”, we will not leave Vine International.

 

And a lighter note… the view from a seat at our favorite comedor Adelita’s while eating lunch.  I suspect we are looking at breakfast and lunch tomorrow.

In  Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Every pastor has those moments…

13/08/2018

…am I getting through to the people God has given me to teach?  Is there visible effect of His Gospel, His Word in these I serve?  We who preach and teach God’s Word pray for signs, for visible transformation.  We hunger and thirst for those moments.

Cindy and I have started a fellowship in our home with the goal to reach into this neighborhood for Christ.  Lilly our closest neighbor is such a blessing to us from the moment we moved to this house.  She has had a rough life.  I will leave it at that. We believe her to be a jewel, our equal and want to be used by God to reach her and her children for all eternity.  She is among the first we have invited to this fellowship.  Gently.  Not pushing.  Living the Life of Christ visibly before her.  She has started coming as we are early in the Psalms.  Yesterday it was Psalm 19 – here you need verse 10 for this story.

Psa 19:10 (the ordinances/law of the LORD) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb.

and in Spanish:

Psa 19:10 Deseables más que el oro; sí, más que mucho oro fino, Más dulces que la miel y que el destilar del panal.

for my English speaking friends “miel” is honey.

I challenge the friends gathered here to read ahead each week as we know after 19 comes 20, 21 etc.  I promise the Holy Spirit is a better teacher than I.  I ask to hear what they have learned during the week.  So Lilly comes to our door after dark tonight with her open Bible with her youngest daughter.  She wants to confirm that she has the right passage – she is limited in her ability to read, so her children read to her (God is so good).  With our limited language abilities with which Lilly is so patient, we make it clear yes 19 is what we covered yesterday and yes 20 and possibly 21 will be next Sunday’s lesson.  Lilly touches the pages with two fingers, puts them to her tongue and says MIEL…..

Cindy as always walks them halfway home (not far) and as Cindy comes in the door she is saying, “Well Dennis McCutcheon that should make you smile!”

Answered prayer can break discouragement in a moment.  Father, Your Word is sweeter than honey or the dripping from honeycomb, thank You LORD.  I was in the kitchen crying.

Sharing a friend’s account of ‘first responding’ at the Vulcan Fuego eruption

03/08/2018

Below is an article by Dr. Jose Amezquita in the Magazine of the Quetzaltenango Medical Association.  Dr. Jose uses Vine services.  He called on our help early in response to Fuego Volcano eruption.  Read and see a man’s heart.

 

“The Giant Awoke

The Story of a Tragedy

Dr José Amézquita

For the Magazine of the Quetzaltenango Medical Association

 

To begin such a sad story breaks my heart, but with each piece of my heart gathered in my hands, I tell you this. It was a normal June 3; I was on duty in the Totonicapan Hospital, we had treated two serious vehicle collision cases two hours previous, and it was time for lunch when I turned on the TV in the doctors’ lounge and all the channels transmitted the same thing: “The Fuego Volcano has erupted.” The first shocking images of a tragedy having been announced by all, the bustle of an emergency room turned into the silence of a cemetery – my shift boss sees me and says something that stops my breathing: “Amézquita, you’re not going to go help? Go! I’ve got you covered here.”

I immediately got a call, and when I looked at the screen on my phone it said “EMERGENCY/FIRE DEPARTMENT.” When I answered, I heard “Official! This is a national emergency and doctors are needed. Issue orders.” With a knot in my voice, I immediately ordered Totonicapan’s Fire Department paramedics to prepare their equipment to leave and help. Alotenango Sacatepequez was our blind fate. On the way to my mother’s house, where we have the Family of Christ Foundation free health clinic sponsored by Vine International, I called colleagues who collaborate with the Foundation. The first answer I received was that of Dr. Eddy Batz, traumatologist, who said “Hey – did you see what happened in Alotenango? I’m going with you.” I told him, “My friend, the ambulance is ready – for my two paramedics, and you and I.”

We left Totonicapan at 2:05 PM. Our company, in addition to Jesus Christ, who never left us alone, was the sorrowful sound of an ambulance siren, and that anxiety of not knowing what we were going to find.  At 4:00we arrived at the detour that would take us from Antigua to Alotenango; in the initial darkness of the afternoon, we looked up and could see only a formerly sleeping giant, now spitting fire. That orange color at the summit of the volcano, and ambulance after ambulance that passed us by.  The first thing that really impacted me was to see, inside one of the ambulances that passed us at full speed, the driver – a fireman, crying and screaming while the sirens hid his cries of pain and anguish. There was one phrase in my mind: “Dear God! Please help us to arrive soon!”

We got to the entrance of Alotenango, and soldiers stopped our ambulance. We identified ourselves as doctors and two paramedics. We arrived at the park, and the cries of the burned and battered – that smell of ash and sulfur – I just thought, “have mercy, Lord.”

The screams that a thousand words would not describe – “My daddy’s gone!”, “My mommy died!” – words that I’ll never be able to erase from my mind – “My children were left buried!”

We arrived and the first thing we did was to take care of the wounded, which I count in the dozens in the steps of the park, on the ground, in the street. We had sheets and cardboard for stretchers. The local firemen, being without supplies, came up to me and said, “Doctor. Help us – we have wounded with very serious burns, and we don’t have anything.” God touched my heart in a supernatural way, and material things became nothing. I took my medical kit with all my diagnostic equipment and I told them to please use it – it’s a gift. I felt a thousand hugs around me and my people, saying “thank you!” The firefighters and rescue workers embraced us, with their uniforms full of ash and their eyes full of held-back tears.

It was 4:00 Monday morning when I saw a scene that reminded me why God commanded us to love our neighbor as our selves. The very wounded, burned, and homeless people brought us a cup of coffee and piece of bread that was intended for them. There was never an act of love so beautiful. Meanwhile, the volcano was still rumbling.

The firefighters called us to rest for a moment and listen how, in the safety of an armchair in the Alotenango station house, firefighter after firefighter cried, and lifted their prayers to God, each according to his beliefs. Two of their companions were trapped in the volcano’s pyroclastic flow. The station chief cried disconsolately, and shouted with everything he had in heartbreaking pain. “They called me and just said, ‘Boss, the volcano came up over us,’ and the phone didn’t make another sound.”

The need to ask for help started less than 12 hours after the emergency, as by then we had nothing. And I mean nothing! I immediately wrote Dennis McCutcheon, the coordinator of Vine International in Guatemala, and his coworkers in the US – men of God that Christ moved to do the work of Vine. The first beautiful answer, which I knew came from God’s hand, was: “José, make a list of everything you need, and we’ll get it to you.” Rescue equipment and medicines were the most urgent, and to my people and I, Dennis and Vine were like angels that God sent. Since that blessed day, they answered us and here we are, in the middle of the fight, because God says and commands: “Love your neighbor as yourself and as I have loved you.” From Vine International we received rescue equipment which, because of the high cost the firefighters couldn’t afford, but the need of which still persists today: that the firefighters would find their companions.

I write these lines with my eyes full of tears because I know that God loves us and that he placed in my hands a white coat in order to serve my people for the glory and honor of my Heavenly Father. And the feeling He gave me, He will give thousands more, because there aren’t enough helping hands.  Colleagues and friends: the volcano emergency isn’t over, and it’s not yesterday’s news. On the contrary, this is the moment when we’re needed most – let’s take our teams and go to the volcano!

Tomorrow we don’t know what God has for us. But as doctors, we ought to know this: when we wake up telling God “Here I am Father – wherever you want me to go, I’ll go.”

Thank you for reading these humble lines.

Dr José Amézquita, over and out.  ”

 

Cindy and I recognize so many people support us and Vine International.  This particular event taught us new ways to respond.  We saw the depth of need not just from the immediate tragedy but the chronic need of the bomberos (volunteer firefighters) and the doctor’s who first respond.  Dr. Amezquita said that everything they took with them was used up in less than two hours.  Other ministries we serve responded around the base of Fuego.  We are in the midst of ‘restocking’ a relatively empty warehouse.

I checked last week and there are about five funerals a day being done.  There are ministries still going up on the mountain to families and villages that remain.  The rains started again yesterday.  Some of these villages will be isolated until the dry season.  We have two ministries that want to set up standing clinics.  More as we see their plans gel.

The US Marines have built temporary housing.  In Guatemala temporary housing will become permanent for some.  It is good to see them in the field.  Saw my first Navy Lt. Cmdr. In uniform since 1976 and almost forgot I was civilian.  Very tempting to salute the youngster!  Ha!

Speaking about young people, Peggy our daughter and friends, Jess McElreath, Nick and Corinne Slagle from New Hope Church in Swannanoa went to ‘Ground Zero’ and met the bomberos mentioned above.  This team noticed the Alotenango bomberos did not have binoculars to help look for the missing men.  Binoculars were found in Antigua and they purchased three pairs.  Nick and a friend of ours David jumped up at 5:00 next morning and delivered them to huge smiles.

Others in our circle Dr. Estrada, Dr. Castillo, our local bomberos, have served sacrificially.  Because of your material and financial support we were able to stand with these and be Hur and Aaron to Moses – that is to hold up their arms as they served.   There are others who we know who served without the need to tap into Vine at this time such as Daryl Fulp, family and teams, and Ministerio Senderos De Luz Guatemala – Hilmar Avila.  These two ministries were ALL OVER that mountain, feeding, providing water and medical care acutely.  Our friends at Orphan Resources International were burning up the highway getting into the children’s homes they serve that were under the ash cloud.

AAHHHhhhh I need to close.  There are many stories that remain to be told.  Stay tuned.  Your support helps us to serve in so many ways.  The Vine family is grateful.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy

Update on Vine International and Vulcan Fuego

18/06/2018

For us the work has quieted down for a brief time.  In the US however the Vine International family is scrambling to replenish the warehouse here and that takes a lot of work.  Material and financial support must be gathered, accurate list of what is to be loaded for the governments of the USA and Guatemala to peruse and approve.  Scheduling container for loading, get help for Bruce White to load a container in two hours are part of the lengthy logistics.  (If you are close to Knoxville, Bruce is loading on Wednesday 20th usually in the afternoon – if you think you can help, bruce@vineinternational.org. )  This will be followed as quickly as possible by a second container.

Dr. Estrada said he wanted a standing stool the next time!

Cindy and I will in prepping here, talk to the electric company as they have without notice laid a pole across our loading dock.  That needs cleared out.  Just shake my head sometimes.  But we will take a day or two and clear out pallets that are empty, get recyclables out of the front bay and do a general cleanup.

We were blessed to be able to meet Dr. Erik Estrada (a bundle of dynamite) at a discount pharmacy warehouse in Guatemala City and put over $1,000 worth of antibiotics, burn cream, IV fluids, and from our warehouse insulin syringes, 3 and 5 ml syringes with needles and dust masks in his vehicle.  While his team spent all week on the volcano, they were unable to cross the river and are praying that the water goes down so they can get to the villages today (Monday 18 June, 2018).  On Friday a local lady stopped them at the ford and said, “Yes we need you and your medicines, but please don’t cross here today.  Wait until the river goes down!”  They turned away and passed a bus, who didn’t get that advice, apparently, and it floated down stream – video is on my facebook site.   No I don’t know the final results, did they make it or not?  Trying to find out.

It is reported that the area has been declared uninhabitable.  It is unclear whether the area is closed to recovery operations.  We had a 5.6 -5.8 earthquake last night centered a couple miles south of the volcano’s center point and very deep.  I see no reports of damages but am sure this will increase local alarm for future eruptions.

Peggy and friends are coming the following week on the 28th.  She and the crew will be using their veterinarian skills in our local community treating dogs and cats for parasites and rabies injections.  Hopefully we will also get to Hospitalito Espiritu Santo to treat their animals. There are other things in the schedule as well.  They will help us feed a discipleship group we help with.  We are expecting a good week.

This is a brief update.  We had a good Lord’s Day of rest and are looking forward to what the LORD would have us do this coming week.  Deeply covet your prayers for this opportunity to minister here in Guatemala.

In Christ,  Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon