The Sand Dollar

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hello Everyone from Guatemala.

I know you are all getting e-mails flooding your mailboxes with Christmas cards and all kinds of stuff this holiday season so I hate to add just another junk e-mail but I just wanted to share a few thoughts at the end of this year with you.

This past year we had some of the best teams I have ever hosted. We have done things I really never imagined and doors have been opened again I never dreamed of. So I have a peace in my heart that even though we all have ups and downs in our lives, God works things out in the end.

I was looking through pictures of the past couple of years and realized the number of villages we have done medical and dental work in and it is over 180 villages. We still do not have all of the exact number of our statistics done yet so I don’t want to give a false number but I can tell you with the help of the teams that have come here to help we have seen thousands of patients and that is conservative.

But what I always seem to wonder at the end of the day, or at the end of a team is?

Did we make a difference? Are the villagers better off for what we have done for them?

Do they feel we truly showed them love or did they feel like a number waiting in a food line?

Another thing that is hard to calculate is their real feelings. You see the people I serve are Mayan Indians who are called Quetchi. They had to hide deep in the jungle 25 years ago to keep from being slaughtered by rebel and the government army.

They still live very primitive live stick homes with dirt floors and no electricity. So they are not emotional at all and rarely laugh or cry.

A man may work all day cutting weeds in a cow pasture with a machete for $4.00 a day.

He cannot read or write and at the end of the week sometimes drinks his salary instead of buying beans and rice or shoes for his kids.

He is not evil, it was the way his father taught him and it is all he knows.

His wife just keeps getting pregnant and then collects wood every day to cook corn tortillas for their meals.

Most of you know this. But over 92% of the people here go to bed without a single penny in their pocket and hungry. You can hear the children crying at night because their stomachs hurt from hunger.

The women mostly are treated as if they were a cow. They give babies, milk and when the man wants it sex. Not love, not affection, just sex like a cow. I am sorry to be so crude here but it is the most accurate way I can describe how a Quetchi woman lives.

Today a man brought a woman here to my clinic in a pick up truck. She was tied like and animal and her son and sister had to restrain her as she was wild and trying to bite them.

They said Dr Bryan, can you please help us with this lady. We have been to the hospital but they do not care and treated her like an animal and just tied her up. She is very afraid of doctors and does not want to come here because she is so afraid.

I said yes bring her in to my clinic and lets see if we can help her.

So I began to ask the son who was 18 years old what is going on. He said we do not have a father and my mother had 3 children, about 6 months ago she delivered a 4th baby and every since then she had been crazy.

He said the national hospital said there is nothing they can do for her. So we came to you.

So we carried her into my clinic screaming and fighting like a demon possessed woman.

He then told me she has not eaten or had any water for 10 days and also has not slept for 10 days. She was dehydrated and pitiful and yet fought us with strength I could not explain.

The lady did not want to look into my eyes and would not answer any questions. She was Quetchie but supposedly knew some Spanish.

I told my nurse we have to get an IV into her or she will die but she will not stop thrashing and I can’t get the needle into her vein with her moving.

So I leaned over her and looked her in the eyes and said in Spanish I love you and God loves you and I have been sent here to help you.

She immediately stopped fighting and looked up at me and then to my surprise spoke to her son in a rational manner.

Now as I said in the beginning I have seen thousands of patients each year and to be honest I cannot remember each one, so I do not remember ever seeing this woman, but she told her son in Quetchi, I remember this doctor coming to our village and he gave me good medicine and took care of me. I trust him.

So I looked into her eyes and then began to stroke her head and hair. Her hair had never seen shampoo so it felt like a horse’s tail. But I continued to touch her and tell her God loved her.

I then took off my gloves and put a soapy lotion on my hands and began to massage her feet, dirt and all. She closed her eyes and totally relaxed and stopped all fighting.

I knew where her feet had been but I saw what the touch and massage was doing for her emotions and soul. Now you know I am not a New Age Kook right? But this is just what I felt I was supposed to do.

She relaxed so much that when I asked if I could start and IV on her to give her fluid with electrolytes and medicine she needed she said yes and relaxed her arm.

I then washed up, gloved up and started an IV and infused two bags of Ringers lactate.

I tried to get her to eat an egg and tortilla but she would not, so I had bought some grapes in the city yesterday and gave her half a grape and she ate it. Her family could not believe it. Then she ate 3 more but no more.

I then gave her vitamins to take home and told her to eat and get some rest so I gave her some medicine to relax and be able to finally sleep.

The man who had brought her in the truck had gone to buy a part for his truck in town and when he returned he could not believe it was the same woman. She was up and talking coherently. She looked totally different.

I had everyone leave the room and I held her and but her head in my chest and said you can cry…and I prayed over her.. She cried and cried and sobbed and I stroked her hair and just love on her for 5 minutes. I don’t think anyone has ever done that with her, ever.

I told her she needed to go home and sleep and tomorrow start eating a little bit at a time and take my vitamins. Then she would get better each day. She looked at me and said I believe you.

Now about 5 years ago I had a team her with a doctor. At the end of the trip we were all sharing and he said, Bryan I will not come back here. I said why?

He said for one, you can do everything I can do because I don’t have a lab or CT scan so I have to just use my medical judgment and give the meds I think will work. He said you do that every day. But then he said some thing that hurt.

He said, you are not making a difference here. He said there are too many people and too many needs and you just cannot make a difference alone with what you are doing.

I thought wow, maybe he is right but then I remembered the little girl on the beach on morning. She was throwing Sand dollars into the Sea. Her father came up and said why are you throwing the sand dollars into the ocean? She said there was a storm last night and millions of these sand dollar animals where washed up on shore and are dying. So I am throwing them back into the sea to live.

He said honey, that is nice but there are millions of these animals and you just cannot make a difference. She took the sand dollars she had in her hand and threw it into the sea.

Then she looked at her father and said

“I made a difference for that one.”

The father hung his head and began throwing sand dollars into the sea.

So as I helped the lady get into the pick up truck for her long muddy ride home, she leaned down and hugged me and in perfect English said. “Thank You”…

I felt her warm tears on my neck so I knew the IV fluids had worked, she now had tears.

As they left I said God Bless you in Spanish and they said the same and off they went.

I went back into the clinic and said to the nurse, ‘Do you think we made a difference?”

She said yes Bryan, we did for that one.

As I turned to leave the clinic she was doing the report and I said by the way, this lady said she remembered me. The nurse said yes why? I said what was her name?

She said I really do not know how to tell you this but she is Quetchi and most have names like Luik, or Zyole, or Ukk cheek…. She said but this ladies name is: Sandy !

I went outside so my nurse could not see my emotions because my eyes were filling with tears and put my hands over my face and thought God, she was one of our Sand Dollars huh? Maybe we are making a difference…..

I know with everything that is going on in the world there are a lot of things to worry about, but I believe God is in control and we are going through a change to get our world back in balance. I only say that because I am going to be totally honest with you and tell you.

I need help. I can’t do this alone and I have more villages that need my help that I can see. I need people who are willing to go with me into the jungle and help the forgotten people who live just above the survival level.

If you have medical skills, I need you. If you can pass out vitamins or worm medicine, I need you. If you can help a child who has never had anyone show him or her love or affection and wash the lice out of their hair, I need you.

If you can help build a raised garden for a family in one of the villages and teach them how to grow vegetables, I really need you.

So here are the two things I am just going to come right out and ask.

  1. 1.      Would you please pray for me to have God’s hand on me to know what to do and the wisdom to build this desperately needed hospital?
  2. 2.    And if you or you know anyone who would be willing to put a team of 10 to 15 people together and come down here and help me, I need help!

Just think and pray about it and let me know if I can help you in any way if you want to help me help these people.

One last note, please take a look at my new web site. My friend Geoff Schultz had redesigned it and updated it so it is fresh and easy to use. There is a lot of great info about how to put a team together and pictures of your teams when you came down here along with past news letters, to put you to sleep at night.

For the past several years my friend David Harrison has been doing the web site but you cannot imagine how busy he has gotten and it is not only work but ton of free help to people and churches and he does not have enough hours in the day, so between Geoff and David I just wanted to say thanks and great job!

The Web site is:

Ok Love you guys and have a Blessed Christmas.