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Onesimus 15 and surgery

17/02/2018

Philemon 10-11  “I appeal to you my child, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, Onesimus, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.”

 

Hey everybody – this is Cindy.  For the last 18 months I have been raising chickens.  The three original chickens were gifted to me by a ministry we serve in Esquintla, Guatemala.  Someone once told me the gift of a live animal in Guatemala is the most cherished and it has been that way with me.  Of course with hens and roosters come chicks and with chicks come the high probability of cockerels.  And I found out rather quickly there has to be a plan when your coop is overrun with 4-5 month old cockerels. They gain hormones quickly, they fight, they try and breed anything that walks by and they do not lay eggs.  To me they are useless or were …

 

Onesimus 15

A few weeks ago during church Dennis was teaching from the letter Philemon.  As we were discussing the slave Onesimus, Dennis told us Onesimus is Greek meaning useful.  He went on to teach that no one spent a lot of time naming slaves and there were many slaves with the name Onesimus.  Philemon is a beautiful letter of intercession from Paul for Onesimus to his master Philemon.  So what does this have to do with young roosters here in Guatemala?  It is only the name – Onesimus/useful.  I have several neighbors who are very poor and protein is hard to come by.  It is very humbling when an entire family pays you a visit at dusk to collect one Onesimus or in some cases two.  The gratitude they have is embarrassing at best and my young roosters have become quite useful to me and to those who need them.  I generally don’t name roosters, but now Onesimus is the name.  When chicks hatch they are well cared for by their mothers and me.  And now, I smile when I see the resemblance of a future hen or a future Onesimus.  Currently I have one Onesimus but he is a mere eight weeks old  with lots more time to grow and prepare to be useful.

 

On a more personal note that has nothing to do with chickens, I have learned that I need surgery.  I have a severe prolapsed bladder and a prolapsing uterus.  I have visited a recommended gynecologist surgeon here in Guatemala and will have a hysterectomy and bladder repair the 3rd or 4th week of March.  And I am having a hard time with all of this.  I always liked my uterus  – it held my sweet daughter till she was ready to make her way into the world. But I know the surgery needs to be done.  I have been banned from lifting by the doctor and Dennis – a hard thing to remember when you work in a warehouse and your call from the Lord involves lifting.  I don’t carry bags of chicken feed, corn, or propane tanks any more.  I don’t lift boxes of medicines or wheelchairs anymore.  If I try Ignacio, David or Dennis are quick to reprimand.  I am being obedient for the most part.

 

What is most difficult for Dennis and me is to ask for financial help and prayer.  As brothers and sisters in Christ it should not be difficult, but it is.  It is always easier and more comfortable to minister to someone than to be the one who needs ministering to.    The surgery is between Q17,000 – Q30,000 which in dollars is $2,400 – $4,200.  There are no separate fees like in the states – this is a total bill including surgeon, anesthesia, hospital.  The difference in prices depends on which hospital one goes to.  A smaller private hospital charges less than a larger private hospital.  The big difference according to the doctor is nursing care.  There are more nurses at the larger hospitals.  The doctor tells me I will be in the hospital 2-3 nights.  Like the family who arrives at dusk for Onesimus, we yield to your prayer and kindness.

 

May God always bless you and we are ever so grateful for your prayers.

Donations for this upcoming surgery can be made through www.vineinternational.org  or snail address of Vine International, PO Box 52086, Knoxville, TN  37950   (tag – Cindy’s surgery)

 

Philemon 7 – “For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.”

 

Love,

Cindy and Dennis

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Her name was Rose

24/01/2018

I seldom look at this photo without tightening in my throat and stirring in my heart.  Simply it is a photo of a tall spindly rose after a rain in our front yard.  Camera angle and cropping emphasizes  the beauty of the flower and not that it is solitary five feet in the air, waving in the breeze about to break its thin stem.

Her name was Rose.  She was truly beautiful.  I met her once, held her hands once, prayed with her once, and three weeks later with a friend, helped pay for her funeral, maybe.

It was a short term mission trip to a distant continent.  To celebrate Mohammed’s birthday there were threatened missile attacks on the company planes we were flying.   We, prayerfully, went anyway.  The national ministry that received us benefited from financial and material support from the congregation backing this team.  I was blessed to be part of this group of friends.  We worked hard.  I split from the team to lead a pastors conference that final weekend.  The pressure to give more material, more money was getting offensive.  Too few at the top of that organization were living well.  On that last Saturday during a midday break, I was asked to go to a nearby home.  The financial officer for the ministry drove, all the while pushing the need for money for people such as the young woman I would meet.   The grandmother met us in the yard of a clay and probably dung hut, dirt floor, very dark room, single table, candle, two chairs…  Grandma went behind a partition and obvious struggle to get someone out of bed ensued.  I was invited to sit down.   The seldom moved candle holder sooted the wall black to the ceiling at one end of the table.

Rose came.  I stood.  Her thinness, the long stem, accented her height.  She was beautiful.  She sat on her side of that narrow table.  We were formally introduced.   Grandma and the ‘pastor’ bantered on about they didn’t know what was wrong with Rose.  They needed money for food and to take her to the hospital.  I wish you could have seen the eye roll Rose gave.  It was like a bubble came down over Rose and I.  As far as I know those two never quit talking but neither Rose nor I heard them.  I smiled, reached out my hands for hers.  She drew back… I waited.  It took a few moments.  I said, “Rose, you know what is going on don’t you?”

Half a smile and she leaned back in.  “Yes.”

“Rose, you know Jesus don’t you?  I can see the light in your eyes.”

Unfolding her arms, laying hands on the table, “oh yes, sir”.

She told me her story.  Her husband, a promiscuous truck driver, brought the ‘wasting disease’ (HIV/AIDS) home to her.  He died the year before.  She knew her death would soon come.  She told me of her faith, a truly holy moment, missed by those talking, only for the one listening.

“Rose, you will not give me this disease by holding my hands.  It would be a blessing to hold your hands as we pray.”  As rain on that rose in the photo, tears came.  She allowed me to hold her hands and we prayed.  Both of us.  I don’t remember what was said.  I do remember as I prayed for her, she in her final days prayed for me to be blessed, no thought of self.

Three weeks later a phone call from that ‘pastor’ asking for money to get Rose’s body out of the hospital so they could bury her.   I strongly doubted the claim, but praying and believing some of the funds would get to the grandmother we agreed and wired the money.

Tears on a beautiful face hovering above a long thin body, soon to die on this earth and forever to be in the presence of her Redeemer…. It seemed unholy to take a photo of THAT Rose in that moment.  The photo above is in the upper right corner of my computer, I open it now and then.

I will never forget Rose.

2017 in the can

18/01/2018

Well 2017 is in the can ( film terminology Joe Leier ).  You who support us have contributed to a record year for donations through the Vine International ‘Pipeline.’  I was at a Technical Exchange for Christian Healthcare (TECH) conference in Tampa Florida (I think).  I saw the following demonstration years before Cindy and I were part of Vine International.  Woody Woodson our founder was trying to think of a way to impress on TECH members just what Vine International did.  He came up with the idea of pipeline.  You put stuff in the top and it flows out the other end.  The upper end is in Knoxville TN and the lower end is in Guatemala.  OK now he had a good idea – how to demonstrate it?  Most of us laughed when Woody pulled a folded card board toilet paper tube out of his shirt pocket.  Our smilin’ Woody showing how to pour things into the top of the ‘pipeline’ and seeing it roll out the bottom was most memorable.  I didn’t know until years later that toilet paper tube cost Vine International just south of 10$/yes 10 dollars.  Apparently the cleaning lady found the toilet paper that Woody had discarded so he could have JUST THE TUBE.  She turned him in to management and some way accounting came up with 10$ for a roll of toilet paper.  We have not been back to that hotel.  The toilet paper wasn’t that good.  In fact as I recall neither was the food.

The statistics for 2017 are 23 containers of wheelchairs, medicines, medical and surgical supplies, and medical equipment given to over 100 medical ministries with 250 visits in our bodega in Guatemala.  A great deal of our ministry ‘partners’ carried these donated materials into every department (think states if you are in USA) in Guatemala.  Some of the assistance crossed borders into Mexico, Honduras and I think El Salvador.  Most of these use medicine to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Some containers were direct drops to ministries where we provide shipping expertise.  MAP medicine containers are always a blessing.  Bruce White director of Vine International Collection Center provided 5 or 6 containers last year out of our home base in Knoxville TN.

In spare time Cindy and I do other things.  Cindy is now the local Chicken Lady.  In addition to MFEs (Mighty Fine Eggs), Cindy seems to have a higher than average yield of ROOSTERS who at about 4 months become somewhat intolerable, fighting, crowing, disturbing the hens.  So they get a night ride to a neighbor who converts them into fresh protein – soup that is.  I have helped an orphanage move lock stock and barrel closer to the city as part of an Orphan Resources International project.  A couple of Guatemalan friends and I did a few site visits.  We are hoping we can do this more routinely.

Discussing plans with a pastor friend to start a yearlong active discipleship course with a group of leaders among our friends.  Excited and studying for that.  I expect to learn as much or more than the ‘students’.

We had a delightful visit with our five adult children and three granddaughters.  We were blessed to see the oldest two Sarah and Olivia in their Christmas Pageant.  Enjoyed table fellowship at all three houses, East Village Deli and of course Hot Dog King.  Brief visit with our pastor was too short but a blessing.

The new year – will be as busy if the support is there.  Woody and Brady are discussing seriously doing medical teams again, so add that to the schedule.  Cindy and I are still praying for the family that is called to step into our shoes.  Several of the groups that use Vine International shipping services have new building, or remodel/expansion projects in the works.  Vine International continually look for ways to improve quality of donations, not just quantity.  We are called on by many of these groups to counsel on many aspects of their projects.  I continue to believe this will grow.

We were blessed this week to give a wheelchair to a friend, as he has worn out the one we gave a few years ago.  A notorious group here tried to murder him.  He was in the national health system.  A mutual pastor friend had been witnessing to this brother, went and prayed for him while unconscious.  He asked the nurse to give a Bible.  The nurse essentially said he is going to die, take the Bible with you.  Ahhh, our friend insisted that she give it to him when he wakes.  Crazy Jesus people.  Our brother lived.  The pastor had to provide a second Bible.  The first Bible, stolen.  A persistent pastor, second Bible, a multiple amputee that was to die – now sharing Christ with those who shot him, friends only the True God our Creator can call into the deep dark of that brother’s failing life and massage it into good for one that loves the LORD.  For that brother to seek us out to thank us for a small gift is humbling beyond words.

May that stolen first Bible be a spiritual grenade in someone’s life for the glory of the Kingdom of Christ.  Father protect our friends and family in the LORD here.  While giving boldness, keep them safe.  Let them see any threat in time to avoid it.  Let them live to see their grandchildren marry and start yet another generation, if Jesus’ returning tarries that long.   Give Cindy and I discernment for the work ahead.  Give success to our many friends, particularly Tejeda-Harris family and business for years to come.  May the work we do make You smile.  We pray this in Jesus name amen.

Cindy and I thank you for your support.

We had a record year in deliveries to Guatemala…

27/12/2017

But the ladies below out do us every year.  This is our executive directors most recent newsletter about a small maternity clinic.  I was first introduced to them about 12-14 years ago by Dennis and Doris Rice.  I think Todd Poor and I looked at some of their equipment.  But as we were winding down a lady came in that shortened the goodbyes.  We loaded up and headed down the hill before we crossed the bridge out of Olintepeque, Dennis Rice’s phone rang.  In five minutes they had delivered a healthy baby boy.  Brady Green’s newsletter captures their work pretty well.  This is what Vine does.  We serve some of the LORD’s most precious servants like these.  Thank you for your support.      In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

For one thing, the doctors don’t speak K’iche’, Mam, or Tz’utujil.
For another thing, a lot of them are men. And then on top of that you’d have to go into their office, which will cost real money. If you’re 30 and this is your seventh baby, you don’t have the money. If you’re 15 and this is your first, not only do you not have the money, but the staff speaks a foreign language, and you may not be ready to acknowledge that you’re pregnant in the first place.

But: the women in Olintepeque will see you now.

They dress like normal people (hand-woven huipil and corte), they talk like normal people (Take your pick: K’iche’, Mam – even Spanish), and they can help. They’ll welcome you like family, they will tell you what’s going on inside your body, and when the time comes, they’ll deliver that baby.

In 1999, Aniseta Bate and her daughters saw how bad it was
for pregnant women where they lived, and they felt like God was calling them to do something about it. The mayor of Olintepeque gave them temporary use of a vacant property near the town square. Aniseta’s husband built a little building before he died. Somehow, the women heard about Vine. They called Dennis and Doris Rice, who were then responsible for our relationships with medical providers and for the distribution of supplies. If you were part of Vine in the last 17 years, you gave these women their first exam table. Then another one when the clinic grew, and another two after that. They’re all still in use. You helped stock their pharmacy. For a few years around 2008, some friends of Vine paid for a production run of vitamins, and Aniseta and her daughters were able to distribute them. In an area where there is not enough food, and not enough nutrition in what food there is, vitamins decrease the incidents of birth defects.

Aniseta still comes to the clinic every day, welcoming and helping and getting things done. Her daughter Rebeca is trained and certified as a midwife, and as an midwife instructor. Astrid and Johana help, they see patients, and they run the pharmacy.

Mothers come from all over, down from the mountains and into town. They take the bus, most of them, after they’ve walked to the road. A few come on the back of a motorcycle, or in a family member’s car, or on a work truck. A consult costs 85 cents; a delivery is $6. Every other Friday, a gynecologist comes up from the city to see the complex cases. She charges as little as she can, so it’s only a few dollars, and she’s really volunteering.

I asked Doña Aniseta the name of the clinic, and she grabbed my arm. “Everybody knows what we do! Why would we need a name?” Rebeca laughed when she heard her mother’s answer.

“Oh, we have a name. We had to make one up years ago for the health department, and to be a legal nonprofit. Nobody uses it except on official documents.”

Doña Aniseta at the women’s clinic
The maternal mortality rate
in this part of the world is outrageous. Girls become mothers too early; they don’t have enough to eat; an education is hard to come by; most won’t see a healthcare professional.  Too many die. I was afraid to ask Rebeca about their outcomes, knowing how difficult things are. But she was proud to answer:

How many babies do you deliver in a month?

Thirty, forty. Sometimes fifty or more. 

How do you handle emergencies? I’m sure you see your share.

We send them to the hospital down in the city. 

I know there’s no ambulance – how do you get them there?

We chase down whatever car happens to be close by. Sometimes a taxi will take them. Sometimes we just beg someone to do it. 

You’ve been working for 17 years. That adds up to something like 10,000 deliveries, right?

That’s probably right.

How do you deal with losing a mother?

Rebeca smiles. That’s never happened.

These women aren’t making any money. I’m not sure how they make a living. They’re just trying to take care of their fellow mothers, as they were called by God to do. They found Dennis and Doris all those years ago. The Rices represented Vine, and Vine represented you. Now Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon live near Guatemala city and keep up with the little maternity clinic in Olintepeque, along with more than a hundred other medical providers serving people in poverty.

All the medical equipment they have, they got from you through Vine. They don’t have a website, they don’t know people with money, and they don’t want to expand and start clinics all over Guatemala. They want to keep taking care of the women who come to them.

The Vine community has supplied them and encouraged them for a long time. (And if you are interested in restarting our vitamin production, let’s talk!) I would call it great luck to get to work with women like this, but I know it has more to do with a quiet calling from God, just like it has for them.

So thank you! Doña Aniseta, Rebeca, Johana, Astrid, and the staff of AMUPEDI (there’s that official name) all thank you. Dennis and Cindy in Guatemala thank you, Bruce White and I thank you. Woody, our founder, is so busy coordinating the year’s last shipments that he couldn’t get a word in. But he thanks you too.

Brady Greene

Executive Director

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

23/12/2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year or Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo for our Guatemalan friends.  This will be brief.

It is a most joyous time of year for many of us.  But not all.  We am getting the blessing of seeing our children (five of them) and our granddaughters (three of them).  We will hear them sing tomorrow.  It will be easy for me to find joy this Christmas.  But for some there is an empty seat at the table.  A loved one in the military, or prison, or has passed away leaves a hole in family fellowship.  For some a new baby to celebrate with, kiss rosy cheeks and pass around to new grandparents and gleaming smiles.  For others that child did not come as expected and where I find joy there is woe.

I think of our pastors in this time too.   We are so guilty of NOT sharing our joy filled moments with our pastors but we sure expect them to meet us at the hospital on short notice.  He gets to share the stories of the holes at the family table, those burdens of the hearts… his heart sighs with ours.  I am grateful for my pastor (s).    Thank you brothers for responding to the call of God and spilling your life into ours and may our Father in Heaven fill your hearts with rejoicing in this season.  May He also give you strength, wisdom and words of peace to speak into the empty spaces in the lives of those He has given you to minister to.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep… Paul tells us in Romans 12.  Please may you have much to rejoice about, but can I ask you to be intentional and look for opportunities to share the compassion of Christ to your neighbor.  Your pastor, if he has the heart my pastor does, will want to share the burden with you.  BUT frankly there are times believing friend we are to shoulder the load.  May you be a peace maker this Christmas season.  In Jesus name amen.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Follow Me,

16/09/2017

No storm, waves quietly caressing the shore, breakfast made by the Master was done.  Walking by the Galilean Sea with the Risen Christ, hanging on every word still not rid of all the guilt of abandoning this great Friend, Peter hears Jesus say “Follow Me!”

Joh 21:19  Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (ASV)

Men, aren’t you glad for Peter?  I am.  The ups and downs of his life are recorded for us in God’s Word.  One of Jesus’s closest friends, a good student, got out of the boat on a dark stormy night in the middle of the lake he is now walking the shore with Jesus… denied this One… that knot in your throat kind of grief and shame, he can’t even speak the question, “How can You ever forgive me?”  Jesus looks at him knowingly smiles as He is so far beyond forgiveness, “Follow Me.”

I find it fascinating that the last recorded thing said is a repeat of the first command of Jesus to Peter.

Mar 1:17  And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 

Mar 1:18  And straightway they left the nets, and followed him. (ASV)

How simple!  “Follow Me” parenthetically encloses successes, high points, failures and deep heart breaking disappointment of Peter’s last three years.  Left his nets and job for this rabbi; saw and participated in miracles of healing; cast out demons; taught by Christ and oh those days seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah and how Peter’s heart must have pounded when he stepped over the gunnel of that storm tossed boat and found water as hard as rocks under his feet, until he took his eyes off Jesus.  “Follow Me.”  How simple.

Jesus is leaving earth to return to His Father’s right hand.  Is this not the time to leave these His chosen men with ‘the plan’, those great words of wisdom in HOW to DO this thing called Christianity?  One would think He would write a Book!  That’s the plan?  “Follow Me?”

I am blessed to teach twice a week (Revelation and Philippians right now).  Here is one experience from a couple years ago.  I do not remember what I was teaching but had used some passages from the Old Testament.  A lady in the study asked me “where do you get your information, I have never heard that?”  I opened the Bible and took her to the quotes.  “Oh, I don’t read the Old Testament!”

Obviously I asked, “Why not?”  She had been sent 70 years before to a convent school in Cuba where the nuns told her to only read the New Testament as the Old Testament would confuse her.  Eighty years old and 2/3rds of God’s Word was tragically closed to her.  The discussion continued… was she confused by anything said? … well no!… we got to teach her how God is not a God of confusion.  And she started following and reading more of the Bible.

“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Mark Twain.

The simplicity of this walk of faith is found in “Follow Me.”  We are in a country where Catholicism is 60-70% and most everything else is listed as evangelicals (they are NOT).  Protestants now have something like 9000 denominations.  We have made an idol of our traditions and heresies.  We believers are weak because we don’t read the Word He gave us.  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  God provided His Son.  These men on the shore of Galilee turned the world upside down by simply teaching Jesus crucified and resurrected for sinful man.  They followed Jesus.

What does “Follow Me” mean to you?  While simple, it is not easy.  Peter followed Jesus to his own cross.

Thank you for your continued support for Vine International.  We are on track for a record or close to record year.  We continue to work with several expanding ministries here.  There have been no nibbles on our request for help so we continue to muddle on.  We are hiring some local help, so financial support need rises.  Lots to do.  We are always humbled and grateful for your continued financial and prayer support.  Now to listen to WVU Mountaineers beat Delaware State Hornets (which means 80% chance that something will come up to interfere with my day!).

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

We think of those who support us and those who receive… and are humbled.

09/06/2017

It is now three months after the death of 41 young ladies…. It took less than a week for the story to drop out of the international news; in Guatemala a little longer.  The blog post “Where’s the Church?” went around the world well over 2,000 hits over 30 countries.  That particular post continues to get hits.  Three families were challenged to adopt.  I pray for many more than that.  May Christ’s Bride take back the responsibility to care for the orphan and widow.

Not sure where I left off on our work here.  We had three containers come in three days to the bodega.  Two of those were MAP (www.map.org) medicine containers.  Those are fairly easy to get into order and start dispersing.  We have had over 50 visits from our clients so far.  That equates to a lot of lifting… the third container is a designated container of water filters we have about half of those out the door.   The MAP containers were sponsored and Brady ‘Chepe’ Green came down about two weeks after container arrival to do follow-up story.  He and I went to interview some of the recipients.  Cindy stayed and received the scheduled clients (this is a good place to mention that we are looking for a couple to come and take Vine International on as their mission).   Brady videoed interviews with some delightful brothers and sisters in the LORD – you will have to wait for the editing to be completed.

It is a joy working with our national and ex-pat ministry partners as they toil to save and comfort lives here in Guatemala.  Cindy and I are ever grateful for the financial and prayer support that keeps us here.  Vine International is expanding.  We strive to improve service and quality of donated medical supplies.  Brady has likely opened some new doors for material donations. There is a whole community both behind and in front of us. 

Behind us – you who give, pray, and collect material donations, other ministries (MAP, Samaritan’s Purse, International Aid, Evangel Worship Center, Joe McCutcheon, TECH) Christian business leaders (Midmark, Metropolitan Medical in Asheville).  Forgive me the ones left off a list like this.  If you knew how small Vine International is, you would be awed at how it all gets done… I know I am.  Logistically it would collapse, faster than Cindy and I do after a week in the bodega, except for you that stand behind us.

In front of us – It would take a book to give proper credit to the ministries that use the goods and designated shipping services of Vine International.  On the dump, in the country side, the inner city, the many Mayan regions we have brothers and sisters sacrificially giving time and talent to people that God has given these ministries to serve.  A few of our ministry partners reach into Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.  Souls are saved, infant and maternal mortality rates are improved, health and nutrition, material, medicine and equipment needs to expand numbers and quality of these ministries because Vine International is a pipeline from you to them.

It is humbling.  We are grateful.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon