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Dr. Eric Estrada…


(not the CHIPS actor) was one of the team leaders in last weeks trip to Ixil.  Pastor, physician, mission team leader, husband and father of 12 (I think).  How can he wear all those sombreros? He has a ministry Salud que Transforma and works in multiple places around the nation.  The church Naza Sur where he pastors uses medicine, dentistry, Christian counseling for drug and alcohol interdiction and evangelism in their surrounding communities.  He partners with Agape to supply medical care and preventative, public health training in the Ixil Triangle.  Knowing what is needed to make all the above work, I tire just reading it.  Keeping up with him on this trip was like chasing a ping pong ball in an empty box.

The rest of the team, Alberto, Mario, and Anna were experienced and necessary to make the team work.  Mario and Alberto kept the team and anyone standing around, laughing.  Early on the first morning I had nicknamed them Abbott and Costello.

Unfortunately I don’t have good photos of Anna at work, but she did everything necessary to keep both the Dentist Dr. Borrayo and Dr. Estrada going.  There were a couple of local people helped keep order.  There are always children, in and out of rooms, peeking through outside windows.  Anna was visibly compassionate with the patients, patient with my interruptions and obviously valuable addition to this small team.

Mario and Alberto would help in any capacity to get the clinics started then they disappeared.  I asked where they were and was pointed to the school not quite ½ mile UP the hill.  These two were in separate class rooms teaching on clean potable water and its importance in health.  They were very engaged with the students.  These men give their time very sacrificially.  If I understood correctly Alberto is the volunteer mission coordinator for his local church.  The only time I saw these guys sit down was at the end of the day or meals.  They were always engaged with someone in the crowd or classroom.  They prayed with each class.  It is an honor to get to know these brothers in the LORD.

There was a lull in the line of patients so Dr. Estrada said come with him and off we went over still another mountain and another.  We were close to the Mexican border.  We were blocked by a chain on the main road.  We parked and started walking.  I am used to the stares of children.  Coca Cola has done a very effective job of sharing their interpretation of Santa Claus worldwide and with my shape, white beard and hair even in rural Guatemala I am a hit.  So by the time we get to the house that is our destination we had easily 20 spectators.  Mateo and his wife and several family members were obviously happy to see Dr. Estrada.  Seats for all the guests and Mateo (everyone else stood) and glasses of Coke were served.  It was then I heard an amazing story.

Mateo was supporting his family by working on a construction crew as an illegal immigrant in Florida.  He fell a couple of stories from a roof and suffered open fracture of both bones above the ankle.  Instead of treating the open fracture he was arrested and deported to Guatemala.  I did not understand how much time but am suspicious it was weeks that he lived with open untreated fracture.  He was introduced to Eric Estrada, who got a local orthopedic guy to try to save the leg instead of amputate (because of delay in treatment, skin loss and obvious infection by now – amputation in the developing world is THE legitimate treatment).  Dr. and Mrs. Estrada opened their home to Mateo for the extended care necessary for this problem.  Mateo’s home was 8 to 9 hours of hard driving to get to the surgeon who cared for him, in the dry season.  Mateo got to see Christianity demonstrated.  God causes healing and did so for this brother, both in the physical and eternal realms.  I have worked in orthopedic surgery for over 20 years before going full time in missions.  Mateo’s outcome (surviving the fall, healed fracture with no infection) with this history, in this place, is an act of mercy from the hand of God.

We prayed on the dirt floor in a very clean one room home.  Leaving, we were halted once again in the traditional long goodbye greetings.  The chickens out back got upset.  Mateo’s wife appeared with a very large hen and in a New York minute that bird was shackled and in a bag for the trip home, a very valuable gift to Dr. Estrada.   Humbling experience…I give so little.  There are photos in the photo album of Mateo and the others above (linked here).

Next week we will post photos of the people, sites and a little history of the Ixil region.  Please pray for decisions we need to make about the camera and lens.  This high end camera does not like being shaken and stirred by the roads in Guatemala. I don’t want to waste money, but want to continue to tell the stories.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

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