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 firstname.lastname@example.org and delete email@example.com
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
We are blessed in too many ways to count. As some of you know Cindy has returned to a job in the USA. I remain in Guatemala to handle the ministry of Vine International. It is not the most pleasant of situations, but we believe it is what needs to be done. Not knowing the future we desire to have our debt retired. We have reduced our living expenses to less than half what they first were when we moved to Guatemala. Many people in the USA think it is cheaper to live here. Some items are (vegetable and AVOCADOS yeah!) but milk fuel wear and tear on vehicles is much higher here than there. Anyway we have incurred debt since serving in Guatemala. And it is ours to deal with. We are not going bankrupt and our support is amazingly stable considering the economic issues in our home country. We are grateful for your support.
Cindy went through the airport with a one way ticket and a new passport that did not have a visa properly stamped in it. It made security a little nervous. She looks so threatening as you know (just ask Casey and Peggy – she never scared Jason but that is a different story). She was grilled on at least two occasions and got to meet the drug and bomb dogs at our international airport. They liked her! Long lay over in Atlanta was extended when some equipment failed on the plane – on the ground – see we ARE blessed. She finally made it home about 8:30 pm (over 14 hour day for her) into the loving arms of family.
Her job starts today. She had this job the day we discussed this option and she called a lifelong friend Beverly. We also knew while we wanted to reduce costs we were going to need to invest in a car. In the meantime we called Red and Sandra (will save their last names as I have not asked them if I could share this yet) who always let us borrow their car. We asked if we could keep it a couple of months to build up a down payment on a personal vehicle. Red is a car nut. On Saturday Peggy dropped Cindy off at Red/Sandra’s house to pick up the car. There was a Toyota Camry sitting in the driveway. These friends gifted us with a car y’all! I cannot express our gratitude enough. We believe this is a blessing from God. Cindy was crying when she told me… fortunately I was on this side and she couldn’t see my reaction…
Thank you Red and Sandra. Thank you Beverly. Now to some frugal living and getting this time of our life behind us in as short a time as possible. No photos this time. Got to run, propane, meet with Tejeda-Harris about some paperwork, gearing up for a couple of Joni and Friends containers for Bethel International Ministries, water man comes today, garden needs hoed and lawn needs mowed and I have promised to spend some time on the bed with my leg in the air… dear!
Thank You LORD for friends that support us in so many unique ways.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
It ain’t easy. It is humbling. God requires it of all His children on occasion. We are from “America” (actually the United States of America – it is rude here to say you are from America as every one of our Guatemalan friends can say the same thing. We are often rude; it comes from our pride.) Relatively we are the wealthy ones, we should give. We are the spiritual ones here ‘on mission’ and a major part of that mission is to give. It is our role to give. But to receive??? From those who are poorer, from those who we consider friends, yokefellows in mission here; how does one do that?
First, friends, there is a dangerous pride in giving. It is an area the Christian community should take caution. When I give from the flesh; 1.) I keep accounts – you need to show me results. Based on those results depends my future giving. Noah and the apostles would have failed most mission agency tests. 2.) I put you in debt to me. 3.) I am in control of the relationship. You jump through my hoops so I and others can pat me on the back. (gag) If it honors self don’t do it! If it honors Christ, don’t you dare to not do!
Should accounting be done? – in the majority of cases overwhelmingly yes… but supporting missionaries in Islamic world, persecuted churches in North Korea, China, ministries that are trying to free people from gangs, sexual slavery and prostitution may be working in areas where ‘necessary paper trails’ can put these we call brother/sister in danger. Ask the LORD (it IS His money anyway) for wisdom and discernment in these situations. There are times to give, let go, shut up and don’t go home and brag about it on the internet.
There is, also, a sinful pride in refusing to receive. (my struggle in this moment). Here I am just out of the hospital. Sick enough I scared my wife, an experienced nurse. Medical care in Guatemala is done in cash, baby! It is much less expensive when you do not have brokers (insurance companies, government) and lawyers under every rock. Still in our financial situation we were in a position we could not cover the hospitalization and the outpatient medical regimen. Payday is not until next week. We plundered the envelope for auto insurance and propane. Thought it might be enough… it was not. Humbling situation. Yes we are uninsured medically. We could not afford that luxury and serve here in Guatemala.
Into my room walk Oscar and Amy Garcia, and passes an envelope to me from the staff of Orphan Resource International (ORI). It was a busy week for ORI yet every staff member gave, sacrificially. We found out later that our situation was mentioned to ORI’s USA staff and a team here in Guatemala and some of those gave – and that is still coming in. That first gift covered the IM and oral antibiotics, Nexium, couple other things in my daily medical regimen for a total of 10 days. If they had not given we could not have afforded those meds. We have praised ORI in the past and we continue to do so today.
So many other gifts… Amy fed Cindy and Mary Kate while they were watching over me that first day. Apparently I wasn’t thinking of food at that point – Bummer! Amy can cook! The Walls brought killer chicken soup. The Sauders came a couple days after coming home with soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and their daughters cleaned up the kitchen afterwards. Y’all (that is what we say in North Carolina when we mean every last one of you’ns ) are a blessing to us. While I find it hard to receive from you, I was forced to see the providence of GOD for us from you. It is my prayer the LORD will return every centavo 100 fold so you can support the orphans He has given care of to you. Humbly Cindy and I thank Orphan Resource International for holding our hands in this moment.
Mary Kate Hardy biomedical engineering student, gave in a different way. We (Joe Leier, Rick Wood and I nicknamed her ‘Chatty’ – for those who know her, you just smiled) were blessed to have her in our house at this time of need. She went with Cindy and translated very effectively. Mary Kate and Rick Wood showed true mission flexibility by not complaining when we substantially changed her internship schedule here. I pray Mary Kate we do not have to do that again. Thank you both for your help and uncomplaining flexibility.
And Cindy… such a blessing to have a nurse/wife in this time. I am sure they would not have agreed to discharge if she did not have the skills to give injections, take vital signs etc. Thank you honey.
Since I am the photographer there are no photos accompanying this blog.
Thank you for your continued support.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon