We are in Guatemala in an historic period. Guatemalans have peacefully rejected their president and vice president for corruption. They have been arrested, charged and are sitting in prison. A large number of other arrests have occurred and the national election is behind us with many changes in the ‘congress’ and local elections that point to a strong attempt to clean up government. There will be a final election next month to decide the next president. One of the two candidates has been accused of buying votes and may be brought up on charges as well. What does that have to do with Vine International? First it is a joy to see friends stand up for themselves. To do so peacefully; well look back at the many coups in past Latino governments – many lives have been lost. I am proud of Guatemala. The corruption is so extensive, its effects so broad that frankly I believe those who are guilty of lining their own pockets are also guilty of murder. The national hospital system is so plundered that they often do not have basics… basics…a needle to start an IV, sheets for the beds, toilet paper, food. Hospital pharmacies are empty. Emergency room docs write prescriptions and send the family down the street to a private pharmacy to buy the needed medicine in some cases from the pharmacist that is supposed to manage the in hospital pharmacy… don’t you wonder where his medicines for his private pharmacy came from? The corruption runs deep here. We at Vine International do not give into that system, except in extreme emergent times after earthquakes or floods. We support Christian and humanitarian medical organizations. The support you provide through us is well received as often it is all that is available. Most Americans cannot imagine a hospital without Tylenol or IVs.
Vine International continues to find (or they find us) new ministries doing amazing things. Two have come up on our radar screen in the last month.
First, Hope for Home (https://www.facebook.com/Hope-for-Home-Ministries-112148208810271/timeline/) Ministries just a little south of Antigua at the base of Vulcan Fuego. Actually I think the first time we helped was by sending masks to help them keep dust out of their lungs during one of Fuego’s Burps (it is an active volcano). The Daryl Fulp family has a home for special needs children and has a desire to expand this ministry to all departments in Guatemala. God gives big visions to some! A couple of weeks ago Daryl put out a need for one of their girls, Angelita with a special kind of hydrocephalus. I called him and put him in touch with another new ministry here called Esperanza Contra Esperanza. Surgery was done and Angelita was all smiles for 2 or 3 days. They have been following her closely and she is taking a turn for the worse. SO this is a call for prayer for Daryl as he is called to aid and protect this child and the other ministries that try to assist. A number of individuals and ministries like Orphan Resources International have helped to intervene… I cannot begin to name all. Please check this ministry out and prayerfully consider supporting by prayers, financially or if you have special skills or equipment that can be donated to help children with special needs let them know. God has a desire for this situation and this family puts in some amazing hours serving the least of these. And would you put Angelita’s name on your computer or cell phone and pray often for her PLEASE.
Second, Naomi Heye has started Treasures of God Children’s Home (www.facebook.com/TreasuresOfGodChildrensHome?pnref=lhc ) and currently is near Coban. This puts her quite a distance from good medical care. In fact in light of my opening paragraphs about the corruption robbing the people of medical care please explore Naomi’s blogs for firsthand accounts (Daryl has a couple of interesting experiences as well). Naomi sat with Cindy and I and one of her girls Marci toddled around as we talked about both of our ministries and starting a relationship that we pray will be beneficial for Treasure of God Children’s Home. Naomi tells her stories better than I can. Most fund raising gurus tell you not to direct your readers away from your site, but we are a little different. Vine International has great supporters. Vine International has always looked at ways to further what we see as Kingdom of God activity by putting ministries we see here together with ministries and people in the USA and then we prayerfully GET OUT OF THE WAY! Please check both of these awesome groups out.
Needs include but are not limited to, diapers, small adult diapers, Naomi needs a pediatric size blood pressure cuff and stethoscope (please if you send one make sure it is new enough that the VELCRO WORKS!!!). Both ministries use their vehicles extensively and the roads here chew up tires and suspensions. The blood pressure cuff and stethoscope need have been met even before I post this thanks to members of Technical Exchange for Christian Healthcare Inc. (www.techmd.org)
Pray for Vine and container and document issues. The customs department here is in this corruption scandal up to their eyeballs and everything is slowed down. I have no photos with this blog post but if you will link with the two ministries above they will bless you.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
The house that Cindy and I rent has an outdoor area roofed by palm leaves. The local term for this space is RANCHITO. It has leaked since we started renting; vines had grown into the roof and it had lasted as long as leaves are going to last. We could use it during dry season (smile). We like using the area for discipleship/Bible study for a group we work with. SOOO we needed to replace the roof. We started learning about palm thatched roofs. There are different kind of leaves and different techniques – none of which are available at our elevation. The craftsmen that can do this are on either coast, fortunately it is not like we live in Kansas and have to bring stuff from East or West Coast in USA! Mike Rhea (who has a rancho – a BIG ranchito) and I measured the space, estimated the number of leaves, Cindy and I started saving money, added to the concrete pad and did some roof removal ourselves to help the process along. We set a date and 2 days before the team arrived they started cutting 300 leaves. There are about 35 near bald palms in the Rio Dulce area. Rancho de Esperanza donated almost 100 of those leaves and the guy that gave us the rest gave Mike a deal 1 Q/13 cents US per leaf. Some of you know the men that work for Mike and Karen. Pastor Benito, Cheveti, and Brian came and ‘busted it’ for three days. As you will see in the photo blog they raised the roof, split leaves, tied them on one by one and put a new piece of tin on the top. The next week we had church in the ranchito.
The Rhea’s and these men are a blessing to us and to the ministry of Vine International here in Guatemala. You can follow the process with the captions in the photo blog linked here. Oh yes the family up the street were taking down a dead tree next to the ranchito with a machete… machetes are used for everything here.
Enjoy a little bit of Guatemala. Cindy and I wish you could sit under these leaves with us. They smell sweat for a few weeks until they completely dry. Coffee and Bible study are really nice now even in the rainy season.
Thank you for your support.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
We have been busy since return from USA. Since May 2nd, we have had one weekend off, working in the bodega to get water filters into rural households working with Matt King (Tiva Water) and local ministries in Guatemala they work with to get the filters into rural families needing potable water. This is truly a life saving work. The Tiva container was in AND out of the bodega in three days with the help of Agencia Aduanal Tejeda-Harris (Vine loves this family business here in Guatemala) We also organized and dispersed a MAP medicine container and one from Vine collection center in Knoxville TN. One of our board members (GOD BLESS HIM) sent us a new forklift which a.)started b.) moved c.) lifted as designed. SMILE!!! It has now been tagged with decals from WV, and TN and we are waiting NC decal arrivals. Three containers at this point 85% dispersed in less than 6 weeks.
Medicine containers from MAP cause a ‘feeding frenzy’ at the warehouse/bodega and this container was rich in children’s antibiotics. Thank you MAP staff for working with and through Vine International. Cindy and I get to see the smiles of grateful medical missionaries on this end and hear their words of gratitude. I cannot relay all that is said – so accept our gratitude for your service.
Computer failure, new computer and all the frustrations of getting it back online has sucked up hours of time. Do you know new computers come without DVD/CD drives? I didn’t. Two days of shopping for an external DVDetc. unit here were frustratingly unfruitful. Ordered one from Amazon, sent it to friend in PA who passed it to another friend coming with a team to Guatemala and it arrived three days ago. I can once again work on my photography and still have a few other things that need to be uploaded. Thanks Sauders, Orphan Resources International and everyone who handled this for us.
In the interim of computer illiteracy, blogging on The End of the Pipeline has been quiet… but now we start catching up! In late May, we sent the last of our kids wheelchairs with David Mollinedo in a borrowed pickup truck (our mechanic came with David to help) to a local children’s home. They were received with great joy. We had sent several before Christmas but more kids have been added to an overfull situation.
Also in May, another project Vine International is assisting is Esperanza Contra Esperanza (Hope Against Hope – see Romans 4:18). This nonprofit association has big plans to work with health issues with children in Orphanages and Children’s homes in Guatemala. They are in the stage of obtaining official documents (with recent political corruption charges and investigations it is affecting many departments including the department that registers nonprofits – used abusively by corrupt politicians to hide financial and material resources). Please pray that the LORD will cut through the red tape for this organization. But back to Vine International’s involvement. Sonrisas de Amor (Smiles of Love) is a ministry of Victor and Evelyn Borrayo,close personal friends here in Guatemala. It will move your heart to watch them work so patiently with underserved children here. In the LORD’s timing they will move their dental ministry under the umbrella of Esperanza Contra Esperanza. They have a big vision to add training programs for Dental Assistants who are office trained by each individual dentist here. And in the future a program for Dental Hygienists, which will likely be the first such program in Guatemala. Further the plan is to use these programs primarily to give orphan/foster children first opportunity for advanced training. Cindy and I in December last year met with Carol W. Little, CDA, RDH, MHS, Chairperson, Allied Dental Department, A-B Tech Community College. Carol was very gracious and gave us a cart load of dental text books that were shipped by Vine International and given to Dr. Victor Borrayo (see photos here).
Enough for now. But stay tuned. Cindy and I hosted some craftsmen from Rio Dulce area that put on a new roof on our “ranchito” – will explain with photos next blog post.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
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