From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 12:29 AM
Subject: Guatemala day 1
Greetings from Antigua Guatemala! It is 10:15 pm Guatemala time (12:15 am
your time) and we are just settling into our rooms It was a very long day
starting with gathering at the airport at 5:30am. Our flight from Boston
didn’t arrive in Boston so we got bumped to an 11:30 am departure which
turned out to be more like 12:15 pm departure from Boston to Dallas. That
put us into Guatemala City close to 8pm. Customs closed at 6pm so there was
question as to whether we would be able to take the luggage from the airport
BUT -as God would have it, it was a blessing. The customs folks hardly gave
us a glance and we sailed through without any questions. They did pull Kim
aside to look in her extra luggage but it was filled with color books,
crayons, toy cars, stickers, etc. Kim just smiled sweetly and charmed the
guy as she talked about playing with the kids in the villages. I suspect we
were on the right flight that would help us to get through customs with all
the medications we will need to treat the folks in the villages.
We are now settled into Hotel Las Farolas in Antigua. It is a familiar
hotel and one that is very nice. Everyone is tired and headed to bed. We
will rise in the morning, have breakfast and drive another 3 hours to
Chichicastenango. Archie is our bus driver and we have had him many times
(I actually request him). He is an awesome driver and fun as well. Jose is
our host and he is more quiet but a great guy. Should be a good week.
Ok – my eyes are very tired and I need to rest. The fatigue from the day
has set in. Know that your loved ones are safe and sound in Guatemala and
in for one God experience after another. We have been truly blessed today –
by one another, by Archie and Jose, and by God.
Sent from my iPhone
From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2014 12:47 AM
Subject: Hola from Guatemala day 2
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who will be reading this! After a good
night sleep we started our morning with a wonderful breakfast in Antigua.
There were balloons greeting us for Mother’s Day and we had our picture
taken under the sign as a remembrance of all the mothers in our lives. It
was a lovely warm morning in Antigua and the walk to and from the restaurant
took us through a park and around a 5K race that was beginning.
After breakfast we boarded a bus for Chichicastenango (Chichi). It was a 3
hour ride on the chicken bus (Don’t ask why they call it a chicken bus
because no one seems to know) through beautiful countryside that reached
8400+ feet in elevation and was contrasted with shacks and beautiful
churches, farming on steep slopes, lush valleys, people walking on the sides
of the busy roadways often carrying heavy loads on their backs and sometimes
on their heads, as well as animals such as cows on the roadside. We saw
trucks with the back end filled to overflowing with people standing up –
trying to get from one place to another. was a real multisensory
We reached Chichi and our hotel around 12:30 and headed out to lunch in the
market. It is Sunday and Market day so the experience of walking to the
restaurant was a little overwhelming for some. They managed well and I
think most everyone went back into the market in the afternoon after lunch
to get the full experience of people and noise and saying No Gracias, and
smells and bumping your way through the crowds. At the end of the market are
two churches and that is always a favorite quiet place for me to get to.
There is something that I love about the mix of the Mayan culture and the
Catholic Church in a sacred space.
Before dinner we went to church at the National Methodist Church in Chichi.
it was great to see so many familiar faces and to see how the children have
grown. We offered the gift of singing “Santos Santos Santos” during the
service. We did okay!
Dinner at the hotel – conversation about today and tomorrow, communion
together, and a bit of organizing for tomorrow and we were off to bed.
Tomorrow we go into our first village to hold a clinic. We were told to
expect a lot of people – more than 100. We are all a bit nervous about
seeing so many patients with problems that only God is fully aware. We are
trusting in God fully – figuring if he brought us this far, he will show up
and get us the rest of the way! We are also trusting in one another to be
there for one another.
If you are inclined to pray – pray for us tomorrow (Monday). We prayed for
you tonight and feel blessed to have you with us on this journey. We are a
team with huge hearts and a willingness to do whatever it takes to serve the
people who will come before us, trusting us with their health. Pray for
them and pray for us that together we are blessed by one another.
7am is going to come very early so I will close this long note and leave you
with the video of our singing! We send our love to you all!
From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2014 11:45 PM
Subject: Day 3 village of Panquiac Guatemala
What a day this was in Guatemala! We traveled 50 minutes up and down the
mountain roads until we reached the village of Panquiac. It was a little
over 7000 feet above sea level. The last time this village saw a medical
team was in November 2013. When we arrived there were 50 or more people
waiting outside to be seen, We quickly got to work setting up the clinic –
turning a dusty school building into a working medical clinic. One would
not have known that the team had never before worked together or had
experience as a medical team. It was a beautiful thing – a grace filled
Sara and Jen teamed to do the intake on the patients with Sara expertly
using her Spanish to talk with the patients and Jen doing the vital signs.
Margie and myself saw patients – one after another with the help of two
interpreters each (one for Spanish and the other for Quiche), Steve manned
the laboratory and did an amazing job. Jim, Mike, Kim, and Gloria counted
pills while Robyn and Peter handed out the prescriptions with directions for
use. Kim and Gloria also had a ton of fun – as evidenced by the amount of
laughter and the sparkle in their eyes as they talked about playing with the
kids. I love their youthfulness and the energy they bring!
In total today we saw 65 patients. For the first day – that is amazing. We
did turn away 20 patients because it got too late and we can’t be on the
roads after dark. That was hard.
Tonight I imagine everyone is tired – in so many ways – but a good tired.
The entire team showed God’s amazing love and experienced God’s amazing love
back from those we served.
I can speak from my experience and say that it was humbling to have
villagers show up for care – trusting in our care and the medications we
brought from so far away. Some things so simple for us are unreachable for
many here. I saw a couple of young girls for monthly cramps – not
debilitating but certainly an issue in young active lives. Something as
simple as ibuprofen takes care of that – and yet they have no access to
ibuprofen. I gave them the ibuprofen they needed and prayed that it would
last them several months until another team comes their way. A man came in
knowing he was a diabetic but he had not had access to his medication
probably since December or January when the meds from the last team ran out.
His Blood sugar was 458. He had lots of aches and pains that will probably
be helped by medication. Another prayer offered. I saw one 8 year old who
weighed 40 lbs and was there because she would not eat. Mom was concerned.
She seemed ok – not sick – but didn’t feel hungry. I felt helpless to make
a difference in this one moment of this young girls life – and yet I was it.
No psychologist. No nutritionist. No GI doc to make sure everything was ok.
Just me (and God). So we talked about eating things she liked – beans – and
drinking fluid. I gave her several months of vitamins and some oral
rehydration salts and prayed for her.
I trust we are all together in this one place in this one time for a
reason.Perhaps it will change one person’s life, make someone’s day a bit
easier, give them reason to have hope, help us to find reason to hope….. I
don’t know, but I do know that God is with us and that together we
(Americans and Mayans) have reason to love and to hope and to experience the
peace of God together.
Sent with love from everyone….
From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:48 PM
Subject: Day 4 Village Xabilaquach
Hola from Guatemala! I love writing to you all because it gives me time to
reflect on these days. Oh my! Today was another very blessed day. The
team is working so well together – seriously – I am so blessed to be on a
medical mission with each one of them!
We saw 72 patients today and there some very sick patients. There were tons
of little ones – newborn to 3 or 4 years old – So many little ones today
that we are almost out of the 2400 chewable vitamins we brought. Tonight we
went to the pharmacy to buy more children’s chewable vitamins and they were
$15 for 30 chewable vitamins!!!! And the pharmacy only had 60 pills total.
Seriously?? No wonder parents can’t afford vitamins for their children
here. I know what we are going to ask you to donate to the next trip here!
We had one baby today who had pneumonia. He was having trouble breathing
and Steve was asked to give him a nebulized treatment. Steve talked about
how it was a God moment for him to see the baby’s breathing ease during
that treatment and Jen talked about how Sara went over to help the mom who
was a bit nervous about her young child having a treatment that was foreign
to her. Sara was able to offer comfort – one mom to another – because she
too at one time was that mom with a young child in need of nebulized
treatments. Another God moment. After the treatment I gave the baby a shot
of antibiotics and then sent mom home with antibiotic liquid, tylenol liquid
for the fever, oral rehydration salts for mom as she was breastfeeding and
the baby was not feeding well, and a lot of prayer. The hospital is very
far from this village and I pray that the shot of antibiotics kicks in over
night and the baby is a bit better tomorrow. For tonight it is all in God’s
It is a privilege and a responsibility to be the hands of God in this place.
It is also humbling to recognize the trust and gratitude and love that is
expressed over and over by those we care for. They sit for a long long time
on uncomfortable benches waiting to be seen, and yet there is no expression
of anything but thankfulness for the ability to be seen. I pray that we
would be so grace-filled if we were the ones needing care and having to
wait. It is so easy to feel entitled to health care and to lose sight of the
fact that most people in this world do not have adequate health care, water,
This morning we saw a 3 year old who needs heart surgery but has to go to
Guatemala City for the care. The family came in today to be seen and they
wanted the 3 year old checked out because her breathing was getting worse.
We asked dad if she had an appt in Guatemala City and dad said they did but
he could not afford the money to get to Guatemala City. He was hoping we
could help her to breath better. All I could hear in her chest was very
loud murmur everywhere – including in her back. She needed to go to
Guatemala City! So today this amazing team is helping a family travel to
Guatemala. Dad will take the child in the morning to Guatemala City to see
the cardiologist and we will cover the cost. Tonight when Hosea (our host)
mentioned that his God moment was knowing that this small act of kindness
might realize a lawyer or doctor in the little girl grown up – I knew that
God had worked his special stuff through us and that we were open enough to
let it happen.
I am grateful to be here in this time and place doing the work we are doing.
Tomorrow we head to another village. The days have been very warm and each
afternoon around 4 we seem to get a whopping thunderstorm and a deluge of
rain. Archie is keeping us safe on the roads and God is just everywhere!
Thanks for listening, for being on the journey and for caring about the work
we are doing!
Blessings this night from Guatemala!
From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 12:18 AM
Subject: Day 4 Village of Lacama I
I feel like I repeat myself every day but we have been so blessed during
this trip to have things go so well and to experience a touch of heaven here
We drove an hour on some very windy (probably an understatement) and bumpy
(probably an understatement) roads to reach this village at an elevation of
7500 ft. This village has never before seen a medical team. They closed the
school because of our arrival and the whole village came out to greet us. At
least it felt that way. The men from the village unloaded the heavy bags of
medications from our bus and carried them up the hill to the school. They
helped us to set up, moving dusty furniture out of the way and beginning the
work of transforming yet another dusty unused building into a medical
clinic. When we arrived the power was out. We had a pretty intense thunder
storm go through the area last night and they were still without power. So
we used the natural light from windows to lay out the room. It worked! I
hardly noticed when it came back on later in the day.
We saw 75 patients in this village. We turned away 10 because it got too
late and we had an hour to travel. It is hard to turn any away but I am
grateful to have been able to see and treat so many people today.
There are so many stories to share – stories of team members building
relationship with a little girl who needed to have blood taken from her
finger so that they could help her when the time came – stories of a
shoulder injection that took away years of pain and left the patient
jubilant – stories of laughter and play with the kids – so many stories!
Tonight I want to share the story of radical hospitality of a village –
hospitality that started with the men carrying our bags – that continued
with the genuine care of the local translators who helped bridge the gap for
those who only speak Quiche – hospitality that showed up at lunch time as a
local man brought us 20+ bottles of cold (hear cold) pepsi, sprite, orange
soda from the local tienda – hospitality that continued as they insisted on
carrying our bags back to the bus and then waited to share with us how
blessed they felt by our presence and our gifts of healing – and lastly an
offering to our team of a large bag of plums fresh off the trees in the
We have experienced so much amazing grace this week. It is what keeps me
coming back over and over and over. I feel a deep connection with the
people and while I don’t always understand the language or the customs, that
never interferes with the love we share in so many ways.
While I am tired tonight and soon to turn out the lights and get rest, I am
looking forward to what God has in store for us tomorrow. I hope you are
all well. Know that everyone here is well and having a very blessed
Blessings from all of us in Guatemala!
Sent from my iPhone
From: Linda Brewster
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2014 12:28 AM
Subject: Day 5 Village of Chulumal
Today was our last patient day. It started really slow. We drove only 20 minutes to this village and so were very early in arriving. I think we were there by 8:15 am. We set up the clinic and the patients trickled in – one by one. I should mention that Thursday is market day in Chichi so most people leave the villages to sell their wares in market. By 1pm we had seen around 30 patients I think. Despite it being slow, everyone on the team was engaged in the work and doing great things with patients.
Somewhere in mid day we had a visit from a patient we saw two days ago. Here i the tory I posted on FB….
This has been one amazing week! We saw another 79 patients today for a total of 285 in 4 days! We had the opportunity this week to make a difference in the life of one little girl. She came in with her mom and dad and brother the day before yesterday. Each one of them was being seen for something. When it was her turn, dad said that she was having trouble breathing and he wanted to know if we could help. I listened to the little girls heart and lungs and all I could hear was a crazy loud murmur throughout her chest and back. I asked dad more questions and found out that they had seen a doctor in Chichi and had been told that she had to go to Guatemala City to see a heart doctor because she could not be helped here. They had been unable to take her to Guatemala City because they didn’t have the money. My heart just wanted to break but I couldn’t let it because I had to figure something out to help this little girl.
I talked to Jose – our host and asked if we could pay the cost of getting them to Guatemala City. We rallied the team and decided to pay whatever was needed to get them there. Yesterday dad took her to Guatemala City and they saw a cardiologist. She had an ECG and an echocardiogram. She has a bad tricuspid valve in her heart and may need it replaced. They have to go back to Guatemala City soon for genetic testing and depending on the result she will be offered a trial of a medication which will require 6 month follow ups or they will have to do surgery to replace the valve.
Today she and her dad came to the village we were in to give us documentation of their visit and receipts for travel. The cost for their transportation on buses, tuk tuks, taxis, as well as meals and the visit with the echocardiogram and the ECG was $135.00. We decided to cover that cost as well as their next trip to Guatemala City for the testing. We gave him $300.00 in Qs and we prayed with them and for them. He has agreed to keep in touch with Jose and let him know how things are going. We might just find ourselves helping them out again : ) It was such a blessing for our team to be able to help this family and to make a difference in the life of one little girl!
That set the tone for the afternoon. By days end we had seen 79 patients. Today seemed like the easiest day! We couldn’t believe we had seen that many patients! In the afternoon there were lots of sick little ones with lots of coughing and crying. I got to pull a woman’s tooth! She was complaining of pain and the tooth was a bit loose and I asked if she wanted it out and she said yes…. so out it came. She was pleased and wanted to take the tooth home. Gloria and Kim once again had fun with the kids. At one point I came out of the “exam” room to find a group of children crowed around. I wondered what they were looking at and so I walked over to find Gloria sitting on a chair with 25 or more kids around her as she handed out coloring pages and crayons! What a beautiful sight.
Steve was a trooper in the pharmacy. Little did we know that he was praying that the pregnancy tests he was doing were accurate since they had all been negative and so he was praying for a positive. Well – today he got two! I sure hope those women appreciated his prayers for them : )
The pharmacy was in their stride once again as well. They ran like a well oiled machine all week. They were rarely backed up and a lot of medications went to folks who needed them. It was so helpful that Robyn and Peter both knew spanish! Sara was a bit under the weather today but she rallied around to once again do triage with Jen. I am praying that a good nights sleep with good drugs will find her feeling rested and healthy tomorrow.
Margie and I once again saw patients. 79 of them it appears! Wow. Were we blessed to see 285 patients this week between the two of us!
It has been a true blessing to be a part of this team this week. We have worked well together, loved together, prayed together, and broke bread together. I can’t imagine it can get better – but somehow when God shows up it i always “better”.
Tomorrow we have an immersion day. We will visit homes and a school and the clinic in Camanchaj. We will have lunch at Juan’s church and then be off to Panajachel for the last leg of our journey. It has been so much fun and a bit of work sprinkled in.
Thanks to each of you who loved us and supported us and are just dying to hear the stories! I hope you will consider traveling to Guatemala on one of these trips some day. Next trip will be October! For tonight we send our love home to you.
Sent from my iPhone