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Odds and Ends

25/02/2017

Just an update.  Cindy and I have started back to language school.  It is costing about $800 for 30 hours for two members in the class.  Cindy wins on penmanship.  We have a very nice ‘maestra’, a lady from Cuba.  We have taken the money out of our ministry account.  If any feel led to help replenish the funds we and Vine International would be grateful.  We are between containers and over the rush that always occurs Dec/Jan.  So we are taking the time to try to improve in this area of our ministry.IMG_1430.JPG

I often do my Bible study or letter writing in the ranchito.  There is a garden bench.  For those that follow Cindy on Facebook you have seen the chickens that have been added to “the farm”.  Well they are a forward bunch of fowl.  The photo below shows they have taken over the garden bench.  Just come and try to share the bench with them.  The squawking is impressive.  These are the young out of the last brood – way to many roosters so trying to get Cindy to not name them and in a few weeks let our neighbor have them for soup.  It is under discussion – I expect to loose unless too many roosters do what too many roosters do and get on her last nerve (evil grin).IMG_1420.JPG

OK, file these next two photos under scenes from Guatemala.  Shane Burkholder if you read this post harvest the garbage truck for your photo collection brother.

First look closely… there is a man sleeping in a jack-legged hammock above the hydraulic compactor in the back of this garbage truck.  They push the hydraulics to the max so they can make fewer trips.  I have a friend here when he travels with me tells me to get away from trucks like this as they do blow up!  The man is truly asleep as we had to follow for a kilometer or so due to traffic.  Interesting…IMG_1427 (1).JPG

And final photo.  This was in the album with the last post I think.  But here it is again.  Sometimes we get a different audience.  This is Brook Burkholder.  She is with the ministry next door to our warehouse Orphan Resources International.  Every since Cindy and I showed up in Guatemala this ministry has helped us in many different ways.  On a few occasions they have asked for help – if we are in country and free, the answer will always be yes.  PriceMart here in Guatemala gives food that doesn’t meet their quality control to ORI who quickly gets it into little bellies all over Guatemala.  Kids don’t care if the cake didn’t rise quite right or the crust on the pie was broke in the handling process.  Like all things ‘given for free’ there is still work involved.  So we have committed to help if the ORI team has construction team and can’t get to  Price Mart for pick up.  On this morning we did not have the van – it was on a different mission.  So we packed Cindy, Brooke, myself and a dozen pizzas, four cases of muffins, 20 some roasted chickens, case of doughnuts, at least 10 cakes, and 5 pies.  We almost lost Brooke in the back seat.IMG_1413 - Copy.JPG

OK we are working on issues dealing with our presence on the internet and emails/newsletters.  I am exploring Mail Chimp for notification of our newsletter and container announcements.  So far I like what I see.  I have received testimonies from some folks I trust about their experience with Mail Chimp.  It is likely that I will move my data bases sometime this next week.  After I do that I will probably put out some really brief note just to make sure I haven’t lost anyone.  Soooo it is a good time if you want to get off this list to let me know.  Also if you want to be added let me know.  On Mail Chimp there will be a way to subscribe – similar to the RSS Feed on the right of this post.  I will likely renew my account on Facebook as we have seen a reduction in numbers reading the newsletter.   It’s time for a ‘mater sandwich.

Thank you, all of you for your prayer support, financial support and encouragement.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

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Orphan Resources International and other neighbors

13/02/2017

Cindy and I have always been blessed with good neighbors, well there was the guy that didn’t like Cindy’s cats but that is the only one I can recall.  Lilly and her children are precious to us.  We give Lilly the keys to the house when we leave for the USA.  When we return she has always cleaned house and put a vase of flowers in the living room or dining room.  No you CAN”T have Lilly for your neighbor she is ours!  She and Cindy work on the chickens together, treat the animals when appropriate.  Those two ladies are always laughing.  It always amazes me with our limited language skill the ability Cindy has to communicate with Lilly.

Another neighbor at the bodegas is Orphan Resources International.  If you have been on the blog since the beginning you will have heard of them before.  They are a group out of Pennsylvania.  They help provide basic food stuffs to about 50 orphanages here.  ORI also hosts teams, several teams in a year to do construction projects, paint, roofing, build fences, play with orphans, etc.  On occasions when hosting teams, being short staffed at the moment they struggle to pick up food donated by Price Mart and recently asked us if we could help.  The only way we would ever say no to them is if we physically weren’t present.  They have helped us on multiple occasions on short notice.  So we had one of those mornings… We were to meet Brooke at Price Mart (close to a McDonalds so Cindy and I went a little early to have coffee).  As we were entering Micky D’s Shane called he had Brooke’s keys across the city could we go pick her up – of course.  Next issue.  We had loaned our van to El Barrios para Cristo for a need they had.  Now ORI didn’t have their truck.  We had the Yaris, very small car.  We all laughed and we went to Price Mart to see if we could get it all in the car (see photos linked here!).   It is a joy to help our neighbors especially when we can make fun of them and bury them in pizza.

Another neighbor, Hans and Mary Lou Schieber… the owner of our bodega, too.  We do a Bible Study each Wednesday night at their home, presently in Gospel of John.  Hans has been very generous to Vine International, by not raising the rent and allowing delayed payment on a few occasions.  He is one of the first to respond if there is a problem in the neighborhood.  He is always experimenting with farming and greenhouses (peppers, tomatoes, herbs, now coffee!!! – we always volunteer as taste testers).

We are very blessed.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy.

Rapid Start to 2017

03/02/2017

Well at least for Cindy.  She spent the first week of Jan. 2017 taking care of me.   But after that it was a race.  We had 51 visits to the bodega (202 all of last year) the last 3 weeks of January.  The last container of 2016 finally arrived middle of the month.  It was a wheelchair container sponsored by the Platillero family for which we are grateful.  In the middle of the month I was asked to do a dedication of some special babies.  All the Tejeda-Harris sisters were pregnant and delivered I think within six weeks of each other.  This is the family whom God has given us in Guatemala that helps with import of containers.  These ladies and their husbands are a blessing to us and I pretty much say yes to anything they suggest.

Brady Green came down from Knoxville but we were in the midst of a busy bodega schedule.  He borrowed the van and pretty much took care of himself.  He visited and interviewed Daryl Fulp and Dick Rutgers about wheelchair ministry and taking care of special needs children here in Guatemala.  I am anxious to see what comes of those videotaped interviews.  I warned Brady to interview these men separately or the footage would have qualified for Saturday Night Live.  They act just like brothers.

I am trying to pick photography up again.  I have an album of recent photos with captions – trying to tell the story of what Vine International does and the ministry’s effect here in Guatemala.  I get the idea that medicine can be merely humanitarian and some of the churches and pastors I have spoken to over the years don’t support medical ministries.  I actually think the complaint is legitimate.  BUT medical missions can be done in a way to effectively share the truth of Christ, effective church planting can be done.  The first person to clothe the naked I believe was Jesus Himself in Gen. 3, while it was ‘humanitarian’ it was also a type of His atonement to come – the Divine stepped into human history and got bloody to bring relief… and turn us from our just destiny and put our feet on the narrow way.  Check the photos out linked here and enjoy.  With the captions I add quite a bit of information about this past month.

We are tired and have taken most of this week off… the phone still rings, people need help.  Hard to say no.  Wednesday night Bible study continues and we finished John ch 7 this past week.  Looking forward to chapters 8 and 9 – some of my favorite stories.  Please pray for this aspect of the work here.  There are a couple of hurting families in our circle we are discipling.  Our children, Casey and Jeremy have moved into a new house.  We would have loved to been there to help them move.  Missing Peggy.  Jason and Hadley have our third granddaughter on the way I think in April.  And of course Olivia and Sarah always in our heart and on the front of our minds.

Please continue to pray for whoever it is that God would have replace us.  We are at that point we are about as busy as we can stand but not busy enough for two families… but somewhere, sometime transition has to occur.  Cindy and I are checking out language school again.  We have found a school close to us but it is a little expensive ($800 for 30 hours instruction)  we are praying.

OK the squirrels (Cindy calls them the little people) are playing above the ceiling so I need to go beat on the wall.  Thank you for your support in prayer and finances.  Here is to 2017 and the work ahead, looking forward to what God is going to do.  Amen and Amen.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

What it is like in Guatemala

24/01/2017

Hey y’all,

It was grits this morning for breakfast, as it was a good excuse to spend 20 minutes over the gas flame on the stove.  Al Gore is shopping his new movie at Sundance (in a snowstorm – grin) trying to explain why Manhattan is not under water as he predicted 11 years ago.  We here in the sub tropics are at 44 degrees outside.  Cindy and I are grateful for a windless night.  On windy nights we can keep the house only about 5 degrees above the outside ambient temperature.  It was 56 inside this morning.  The pictures from Xela, San Marcos and Huehuetenango are really impressive showing rime ice on everything… tree limbs are breaking in places.  Weather reports it is -6 Celsius or 19 Fahrenheit.  Our friends in those areas 8,000 ft + above sea level will really be suffering.  We are at just under 6,000 feet above sea level.

I think if you explained the first world’s fear of global warming to the farmers of Guatemala, they would probably laugh.  We have had snow in the highlands at least three of the 7 years Cindy and I have been here.  Fortunately for us it will warm up quickly with the sun at work.

We have had an extremely busy start to 2017.  A couple of containers arrived and many of the ministries that use our services are getting cranked up for the new year.  We have done something work wise every day since Jan 2 except one Sunday.  The rest of this week is full.  I reported that we had over 200 visits in the bodega last year.  At the end of this week we will have had 46 visits…  It won’t continue at that pace but we are seeing an uptick in using the shipping services of Vine International.  The need for medical missions in Guatemala is great and probably will increase.  News papers reported that the government is actually reducing spending on health care system.  We worked with a group just yesterday trying to find a solution for a trach tube for a patient in a hospital that is better funded than the national system.  The family was told the trach tube they had available was too small and the FAMILY would have to find it and likely would have to look ‘outside the country’.  We did not have the size they need, but I sent photos of an idea of cutting down a standard endotracheal tube used in anesthesia… no response yet.  Uhmmm does any one have a size nine trach tube in their pocket?  Actually I don’t trust the system so it would be nice to get sizes below and above the nine.  I have several pediatric sizes so anything six and above.

Well just a taste of day to day life here.  I can remember on an early trip to Guatemala about 15 years ago the Rice’s warned me to bring something warm to wear.   I threw a flannel long sleeve shirt in the bag.  Look its the tropics!  How cold can it get?  Now when I talk to people coming for their first time during the winter, I laugh because I know they think we are exaggerating.

Got to go to work.  We love you all.  Share our blog site with friends and family that might be interested in missions in Guatemala please.  Brady Green is in Guatemala as we speak – he is newest member of Vine family and is working on helping us get our message out in new ways.  It is a difficult story to tell.  We ship medical supplies and equipment.  We do it with extremely small staff.  Photos of containers coming in and full pickup trucks going out – well all containers start to look alike.  I wish you could see the smiles, hear the rejoicing and the prayers that go up from the floor of that ‘just a warehouse’.  When first started 24 years ago, Vine International partially supported a few medical ministries in western Guatemala.  We are now a major artery for Christian medical missions in the rural and inner city woefully underserved communities.  As an example, Cristo es el Camino has saved physical lives and shared Christ along the way.  They are now in a program to build churches in the recycler/pickers around the major garbage dump in the capital city.  Yes we just ship supplies and equipment but those ‘end stories’, well, we know the Holy Spirit is at work and Jesus is glorified.

Thank  you for you support..

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Thanks to the Dina’s

07/01/2017

Ed and Heather Dina friends from Calvary Chapel of Asheville, NC, support us in prayer and finances for which we are grateful.  Got a note this week saying it had been a long time since they heard from us.  I just looked – end of July 2016 to be exact.  My apologies to all.

I am disturbed  (OK Carroll Sue take your best shot on that one sister – grin).   Disturbed that I can ignore doing a newsletter to our supporters for six months and looking back I can’t account for the time.  Disturbed that I can’t physically keep up anymore and see trouble ahead if the LORD doesn’t intervene.  If it had not been for some friends here in Guatemala volunteering extensively in the warehouse it would be a mess.  Oh I can assure you that we had intentions of sending out handwritten notes… were going to do that the two weeks we were in the states early November but then there were the 2500 miles of travel, more meetings than days and we brought the note cards back with us.   Disturbed that we missed a niece’s wedding we were planning on attending… finances and two containers.   Disturbed when high winds took out a tree top with live electric lines and closed our driveway had to call Daryl Fulp and others to reschedule bodega visits.  Three days without water… probably more disturbing to Cindy than me (evil grin).

There is the flurry of containers that come the end of the year, five of them went well.  Two are in line in port, in a very long line, very slow moving long line in port racking up charges like you wouldn’t believe.  Burrocratic constipation.  Everything in our control is done.  Done efficiently.  It is the things out of our control that raises the blood pressure.  Just wait upon the LORD!  You know, I understand the concept but do we abuse this phrase to cover laziness or ineptness?  AAAHHHGGG.

OK – start off the new year with some numbers.  I think we did 17 containers this year and had 202 visits from medical ministries in Guatemala in the 23-24 years of Vine ministry in Guatemala by my calculations that makes it 4th most productive.  But the numbers tell only a ghost of a story.  There are expansions of existing medical ministries going on, some new works (literally one today), very few have closed their doors.  Due to the dismal national system the need for medical missions will remain for the foreseeable future.  We will continue to work towards improving quality of donations.  I believe we will do about the same volume this year and then as some of the missions mentioned above come to maturity in the following years the need for Vine International shipping services will actually increase.

If you have seen Cindy’s facebook page you will see a new chicken coop in the front yard.  Hopefully the run will get done in next few days and the crew will get to move in.  (Don’t ever let anyone give you THREE ROOSTERS).

So we don’t end on a DISTURBING Note… I got very ill this past weekend, nausea, headache, high fever (103.8) and if I had made it to Jessica’s wedding I may have negatively impacted their plans this week, so (deep sigh) thank You LORD for the fact that we needed to cancel.  And the electrical lines keeping us from meeting Daryl Fulp and others at the bodega that day, may have saved a child’s life that morning.   Hope for Home and the Fulp’s are engaged in the Harvest and worth checking out.  Blog linked here  and  website linked here 

So the LORD is in charge of the details of life.  I will try to improve on newsletters.  But I have had 15 requests for appointments at the bodega in the last three paragraphs… try to finish a newsletter with that many interruptions.   Please pray for our support.  Mostly for  a family that will partner with us here.  I must run.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

“found money”

26/07/2016

This blog post is going to touch on financial issues.  First, know that God takes care of us.  We do not beg.  We do match the ministry to the financial resources available.  Our bank accounts are never large.  Sometimes we can do more/sometimes we do less.  This year has been a very slow recovery from the annual downturn that occurs after Christmas.   The purpose for this blog is to call attention to some ways to bring in ‘found money’, you know the quarter you pick up on the street, the penny that has been run over 20 times in the parking lot – found money.

We have one young man, I think he was 8 or 9 y/o and he would empty his pockets of change into a jar and send that to us when it was full.  Deep sigh…  we are humbled by such stories.   Some of you have supported us with a monthly donation for the seven years we have been with Vine International, some for years prior to that while we were with MedEquip Missions.  Grateful doesn’t cover what we feel about you.  You keep us here.

But there are some resources out there that you may not know about that can increase financial resources to Vine International.  We take each donated dollar and convert it into $40 – $80 of medical aid here in Guatemala.  That in turn is visible in the lives of mothers, children saved during birth.  Children that live through attacks of disease, Christian hospitals and clinics that expand their services, souls saved because the church based clinic can intervene in a compassionate way.

Here are some of the things I do.  I use https://smile.amazon.com/  My family got a Kindle for me a couple of Christmas’ ago.  I order books frequently.  After signing up for SmileAmazon there is a window that comes up to allow you to support a ministry.  Vine International Inc. is registered with them.  Amazon gives I think 0.5 cents per dollar of purchase.  If you use Amazon Prime, do Christmas shopping on line this amount gets totaled up and sent to Vine every year.   While it seems small, if most people on our list did this it would add up.

I use Goodsearch http://www.goodsearch.com/ instead of other search engines.  I find the process is very close to the quality of Google Search.  They give a penny for every search.  With investigating new ministries, researching medical equipment, finding repair parts, many other things that I use searches for accounts for 7 to 10 dollars a year.  Small amount but if your college and high school student doing research for term papers used this instead of Google it would add up.  GoodSearch/GoodShop have put 12.4 million dollars into nonprofits in the US since its founding, a penny at a time!

I also use GoodShop http://www.goodsearch.com/goodshop .  If you do online shopping check this out.  Today as I write this Good Shop and Hewlitt-Packard are offering 25% off of their laptop line for back to school.  There are hundreds of namebrand stores on this site.  They give a percentage of purchase to the ministry of your choice (Vine International perhaps??).  When you set up the GoodSearch account you simply put Vine International in the box.

Things that I don’t do but you might qualify for!  Who do you work for?  65% of Fortune 500 companies match your contributions to nonprofits.  The parameters are too many for me to list.  Some companies insist that the nonprofit serves in their local region, in which case we may not qualify.  But I encourage you to check it out with your human resource department.  Some of these companies give substantially matching $5K -10K – even 25,000 dollars per year.

40% of Fortune 500 companies give to nonprofits with which you volunteer your time and skills.  Some ask that you give 5 hours or 500 hours in a year’s time, but they give $15 an hour or more depending on the company’s guidelines.

There are many unique ways companies give; BP (British Petroleum) gives $300 to employees choice of qualified charities; Nestle (yes chocolate) only matches 50% of your gift but if you give a day’s salary to a charity they give you TWO VACATION DAYS!; RealNetworks, matches up to $10,000, gives $15 per hour of volunteer time to charity of your choice, and have a loyalty clause – if you have worked with them for 5 years they will give $500 to charity of your choice; CarMax is now matching employees dependents donations until the 26 yrs old.

Many companies not in the Fortune 500 do this as well.  Companies find they can attract and keep a certain kind of desirable employee by offering such programs.  If your company has this kind of heart, take advantage of it.  Quite obviously these programs can change without warning.  Some of the information gleaned from a search using Goodsearch (claimed about 4 cents) could be dated so you would need to research the parameters your company has set up.

Finally, some companies give product.  Food pantry in Asheville NC would fold if it were not for the local industry giving food to them.  Food is not our need – it would be things medical, and that can be very broad subject.  Do you have ideas or questions?  Please share with us.

We are grateful for your support.  On Thursday the 200th container gets loaded and pointed towards Guatemala.  Please pray for rapid approval in customs.  There are two anesthesia machines from Metropolitan Medical in Asheville, for Hospital Elena in Cobulco.  We really want those machines in that hospital before their next surgical team and it will be very tight.  We are always looking for sponsor for containers – check out the process on our web site.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Psalm 29

15/07/2016

I am having quite an experience sitting in our ranchito (small covered patio) studying Psalm 29.  I challenged a group of friends this morning to spend their prayer and devotion time this weekend to NOT asking for blessing from the LORD but rather to offer praises to the LORD only.

While the Scripture encourages us to ask of the LORD for ourselves and others, it also teaches us to PRAISE the LORD.  So here I am reading and studying Psalm 29 (ASV ).

Psa 29:1  A Psalm of David. Ascribe unto Jehovah, O ye sons of the mighty, Ascribe unto Jehovah glory and strength.

Psa 29:2  Ascribe unto Jehovah the glory due unto his name; Worship Jehovah in holy array.

Psa 29:3  The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters: The God of glory thundereth, Even Jehovah upon many waters.

Psa 29:4  The voice of Jehovah is powerful; The voice of Jehovah is full of majesty.

Psa 29:5  The voice of Jehovah breaketh the cedars; Yea, Jehovah breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

Psa 29:6  He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild-ox.

Psa 29:7  The voice of Jehovah cleaveth the flames of fire.

Psa 29:8  The voice of Jehovah shaketh the wilderness; Jehovah shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

Psa 29:9  The voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to calve, And strippeth the forests bare: And in his temple everything saith, Glory.

Psa 29:10  Jehovah sat as King at the Flood; Yea, Jehovah sitteth as King for ever.

Psa 29:11  Jehovah will give strength unto his people; Jehovah will bless his people with peace.

 

Verses 1-2… Ascribe (Give, attribute) is a command to ‘sons of the mighty’ those who have royal blood in their veins.  Those who are used to being given glory and honor are to GIVE unto the LORD/JEHOVAH.  David uses the term for God that his country men believed so holy they would not allow it to cross their lips.  One sees this honor today in Jewish writings in the word G_d.   Was David seeing ill-discipline in his sons?  Did he see his boys receiving glory that was not theirs to hold on to?  Give glory to G_d that is due Him.  This is true worship.  In our era we count all things as worship, music, preaching, good works, sweeping the fellowship hall after a meal or youth fellowship.  OK, maybe?  Maybe not!

Do I ever take time to glorify Him and Him alone?  Do I ever take His glory?  Maybe there is a blessing in trying to see G_d with this kind of respect, a name so HOLY that one such as me cannot speak it.  In the verses 3-9 the clause the ‘voice of Jehovah’ is used 7 times.  One of the Jewish commentators believes David uses this as a reference to THUNDER.  Now go back and read those verses putting thunder in place of the clause!  As I write this, a large storm is forming to the south.   It has been moving closer for the last 30 minutes. The wind moves the leaves covering the ranchito and the trees.  Lightening (v7 flames of fire) is visible.  POWER in the lightening and in the thunder, the very floor under my feet shakes….   How can the Christian not think of the glory of the LORD?  There is judgement and destruction in those 7 verses.  There is power.  There is majesty.

In the pasture below my mother’s house stood a gnarly deformed barely alive locust tree.  Cousins, Jimmy Ray and David Fitzwater, and I would run to it in a storm.  We stood in the hollow place in the trunk.  Our adolescent clueless selves could stay out of the rain and laugh and listen to the thunder.  It sounded like the inside of a drum.  Grandma asked one time where we went to stay so dry.  We told her.  The next time I came to the farm that tree was gone.  That tree had been struck by lightning on many occasions.  Grandad thought if lightning strikes there, that would be good – less likely to strike home or barn.  Grandma’s mind went to dead grandson – ‘tree goes Buddy!’  There is power in the words of a grandmother.  There is power in the “voice of the LORD”.  Power to create, “the hinds to calve”.  Power to destroy – “breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon”.

Finally the last two verses.  While judgement may come to the earth there is comfort for G_d’s people.  The “I AM that I AM” Jehovah, sat over the Flood in this case most likely all waters in the heavens not a reference to Noah’s Flood and gives strength to His people and will bless us with peace.  With all that is happening in the world, I take comfort in David’s words.  Believing those words came straight from G_d I choose to praise Him while the ranchito shakes under to power of His Voice.  Well, actually like a chicken I am beating feet for inside!

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon