Cindy and I were blessed to be able to home school our youngest child Peggy. Not only did she learn but we learned to value learning. It is a life long privilege. I learned a couple of weeks ago to use heavy cream to replace lard or shortening and mayonnaise (my former secret ingredient) in the biscuit recipe used for the last several generations in my family makes a better biscuit. Who knew?!? 3 cups of all purpose flour (self rising not available in Guatemala) pinch of salt (remember I have big fingers) and a couple tbsp of baking powder plus enough cream to make a dough – cut ’em out and place on a greased sheet in a preheated oven at 425 F for 20 -22 minutes. Look at them if no tan color on the tops leave ’em in for another three minutes.
Give it a try.
Always learning something new… is the point. Vine International is a support for Christian and humanitarian medical missions in Guatemala. Language skill has not come easy for Cindy and I so that limits the ability to actively witness, preach and church plant. But the philosophy behind Vine has always been the support of active medical works in Guatemala. Medical ministry done well, is a great medium to share Jesus and the Gospel. Medical ministry done well is expensive and Vine reduces expenses for our friends here substantially allowing expansion of the numbers of patients served. The official medical system in Guatemala is a government based social program. And it is for the most part a failure. The rich have developed a private system that has some jewels of service, but unavailable to much of the masses. In the last several months many hospitals have closed or severely restricted services, pharmacies are empty, no masks and gloves for surgeons, infection rates in those settings approaches 100% so families are sent on a treasure hunt for antibiotics and on and on it goes.
In this mud pit Vine sloshes around trying our best to help. Always learning something new – does not necessarily mean a good thing. I have held a child in a national home clearly hydrocephalic and had the care givers tell me she is normal and they have a doctors report proving it. The truth is the home is at twice capacity, the forms get filled out in order to comply with legal documentation but they cannot find a staff doctor to keep up with the almost 1,000 children there… so check normal on the d**n form. No money for propane so beans and rice are half cooked going through the child instead of providing nourishment. Instead of changing diapers when appropriate you can only change them three times a day or less, the money to buy more is in some corrupt politician’s account. Always learning something new…
It is Christmas. I held 50 kids on my lap last night and laughed. Tomorrow Cindy and I will help a wonderful team of Guatemalan’s to feed about 650 kids. I will make most of them smile because I will be in a Santa suit. The contrast between the healthy 50 last night and the ones tomorrow will be heart wrenching. But the beans, rice will be done and full of flavor, as the guards say, “cooked with LOVE.” while these kids smile, I will be crying.
Esperanza Contra Esperanza (ECE) is in planning stages to start a very good work to serve children’s homes and their health needs. In the research for this project is where I am learning literally almost every day. Deaf, blind, disabled children and adults are woefully underserved in the developing world. ECE is going to dedicate a significant amount of resources to developing services and education to tackle this issue in Guatemala, but can I tell you something I have learned CHURCH… the disabled may be one of the largest ‘unreached’ groups in the midst of us in the USA… for now I will leave it there… I encourage you to read available as a Kindle Book, The Church and Disability by Jeff McNair Ph.D. I have not finished this book myself but stand convicted by recent events and by Dr. McNair’s writings that we the church are not to ignore this community.
Learning a new way to make biscuits is a simple metaphor that doesn’t hold a candle to learning about health issues in the children of Guatemala or the dire needs of the special needs community here. So, you can’t participate directly in Guatemala, let me challenge you in Asheville NC, Knoxville, TN, SC, TX, WV, Ohio, PA wherever our supporters are to pray about and to start looking into their family and friends to see is there someone who avoids our churches because they believe we would not accept them – let’s bring them in and watch God honor His outreached Hand through you.
What have you learned new recently? – let us hear from you. And feel free to share our blog.
Merry Christmas – Feliz Navidad
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
While it is a true statement that this photo is a wheelchair, it is a lie that it is JUST a wheelchair. Let me explain.
On the positive side: A person in need of this medical device would describe it as “priceless”. This allows a husband to continue to care for a wife as her MS advances. A single mother can transfer her adult sized teenage son out to the porch in the sun. Churches take a couple of chairs and start a lending closet in their community for those that need temporary use of a chair. A chair can open doors to the Gospel and Compassion of Christ. A family with adolescent sons affected by osteogenesis imperfecti… here in Guatemala a chair might cost most of an annual salary of the dad, an agricultural worker… how do they then take care of their sons medical needs and feed the family? In rural Guatemala children with congenital deformities are often doomed to a life in the dirt, open sores, infections to a degree that it shortens life. So that is not JUST a wheelchair; it is “gold, pure gold!” (and that is a quote from Daryl Fulp and Dick Rutgers)
On the negative side: JUST a chair, not fitted to the child properly can literally kill a child. Usually it is not that dramatic, never the less true. Pressure necrosis can occur, causing an expensive medical care process. Infections and severe scarring all can be avoided if a chair is properly fitted. In order to do that it takes skills. Physical therapist along with a chair specialist can team up and configure a chair that is safe and offers increased mobility to the patient and their family. We have friends that are skilled and refer people in their direction.
So what is the need in Guatemala? (As you read this understand that half of Guatemala does NOT have smart phones or easy access to computers.) Well let me give you an idea by telling you about a recent event here at the Vine bodega. We had two containers with about 200 wheelchairs each two days apart. Cindy and I asked for help, graciously received from Orphan Resource International, Esperanza Contra Esperanza and our neighbors or Cindy and I would be in traction right now. We believe a conversation was overheard as one friend was telling family about what they did that day. Then a visitor in the home put it out on What’s App and Facebook that a gringo had 100’s of chairs to give away. They gave our address and the wrong phone number. We know the person with the phone – they have changed their number after receiving 10,000 plus phone calls. I was here on Thursday when the word got out and I could not get the doors of the bodega closed fast enough. I have a taste of what Noah must have heard after God shut the door of the ark. It is NOT pleasant to be on the victim side of a flash mob. It was heartbreaking to turn away people but we are set up to give to ministries who have the ability to give to individuals. There are those here that would pay 75 Quetzals to a crippled person and bring them here, get a chair and go sell it. Most of our ministry partners give and follow up to prevent such thievery. Some of our partners in mission here have staff that goes to the home to investigate the need and provide personal service which we cannot provide out of the warehouse. The depth of need – 400 wheelchairs sounds like a lot… from some calculations I have done, it is less than 1% of the need in Guatemala.
These particular chairs are given through Joni and Friends. They are a major blessing to Guatemala and we thank them. Other friends of Vine International helped cover the expense of shipping, Guille Cruz and crew, Jerry, Mike, Tim and Dave. For these we are also grateful. We could not do this work without the friends that give routinely to this work. We are especially grateful to you who give faithfully to keep Cindy and I here.
We continue to teach a Wednesday night Bible Study and are in Matthew 13 now. And we are blessed to be preaching one Sunday a month close to Antigua to a small but unbelievably giving church there.
Prayer requests. Whew! Vine ministers in many ways, some of which cannot be shared publicly in this format. Praying for safety, not so much for us but friends directly involved in those ministries. God is clearly at work here. We are directly effected in that the people of Guatemala (the church has taken to the streets! – would that the USA could understand what has happened here in the last six months) are demanding a cleansing of the corruption in government. This directly translates for us increased delays and expense in shipping – but the company that helps us with importing said just this week, “Your containers are blessed!”. The ports are medically speaking ‘constipated’. Delays mean increased expenses in importing. Prayerfully this may improve in the early months of next year and be worth the frustration we experience now. There are some awesome projects in the works, Fickers in Canilla, Stephanie Hawley/Exodo Foundation and Esperanza Contra Esperanza are being used by God to pour out compassion on Guatemala. Remodel of Hospital Santa Fe moves forward, soon Dr. Castillo and family will move into their home and out of the hospital buildings they have lived in and shared with teams and patients over the last decade. And as the LORD supplies, Vine International is on track to ship the 200th container I estimate in first half of next year. Thank you again for your support.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Not sure where to begin… The tragic landslide has slid from the news as things like this do. Baseball, football, Cardishians, politics corrupt and otherwise, take the billing now. Guatemala will likely make the remaining landslide an official cemetery. The village has been declared uninhabitable. Good hearted people responded with a flood of aid, days of labor, ministered to the grieving, identified bodies, sorted and dispersed aid… and snakes came out from under rocks and collected money and aid for Cambrey Dos victims and put it in their pocket. Records of some involved in local government have been seized and investigations ensue. There are complaints that aid has disappeared. If you read the reports don’t let the snakes win. Good people here gave mightily and it is not over.
Vine International has somewhat of a push on before the end of the year (this is usual, but this is a bigger than usual push). We had a couple of containers trapped last year in the slow down that occurs around Christmas and New Years when they send half of the worker in the ports on vacation. Also, it seems all containers are getting inspected. The corruption in government has boiled over and a massive ‘cleanup’ is occurring. Good! But it is really causing major constipation for businesses and ministries – the ones doing it right, oh well. The payoff will be in cleaning up the system, getting rid of bribery and corruption. But please pray, we need to get these in our hands and to our partnering ministries, so maybe WE can slow down a little at Christmas.
One final paragraph… I got off the phone about an hour ago after a discussion with Dr. Sergio Castillo… Let me tell you the story and then what came to my heart. Sergio calls frequently especially after particularly good news or after one of the surgery teams. He has always been one to express his gratitude for the work of Vine International. He does the hard work… we just unpack cargo containers, but he is always grateful, because he recognizes the material we give extends his reach so to speak. SSSOOO next week he has a doctor coming with a ton of reading glasses and wants to fit people in the region with glasses so they can read… the Bible and other things. So he speaks to the local radio station in the major community near him. They work out an advertisement, dates, times, location and service to be provided. BUT just before closing the deal Sergio asked that the announcement be made in local Mayan language… the conversation stopped. He was asked to leave. He could come back if he wanted it in Spanish only. Sergio found a pickup driver, put loudspeaker system on the truck and it is going through the Mayan villages today and tomorrow doing the announcement in the “tongue of their mothers”. Next week if you were in the area you would get to see really neat faces smiling… sigh! I have met this kind of racism in our own bodega on one occasion since I have been here. “Why do you help them?” I know the LORD was in the room, because what was in my mind did not cross my tongue…enough of that.
Here is what came to mind while Sergio told the story…The Bible is translated into Quiche, Mam and other Mayan languages. Do any of our supporters and readers have knowledge of radio technology. Can we put a low power FM radio tower at Hospital Santa Fe to do public service announcements for the hospital and to start doing Bible teaching in native tongue? I have NO KNOWLEDGE of this and cannot see the McCutcheon’s taking on another project. So we need someone who can take this on as a project or as a ministry. Sergio has an official nonprofit status that reaches back to his grandfather that will cover radio station – can God plan ahead that far; really? I know nothing of equipment, cost, recording etc. But I do have the ability to see what an awesome ministry this could be. This is a wild part of the country, parts accessible by horse or foot only. I believe there are some native language pastors close by that could be tapped for reading Scripture and teaching. Not sure how closely they would work together BUT even that could be approached as a ministry teaching and spiritual maturity issue. SO who is it that is reading this that the LORD just whispered in your ear – “Ain’t that a whopper of an idea?” You see the LORD speaks in native tongues – I just heard Him, “Now ain’t THAT right son!”
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
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