Gabby's Entry #9
back on the Inland Northwest Presbytery visit to the Alta y Baja Verapaz
region, certain things remain with me. We were on a whirlwind tour
to visit several communities within the APMK (Asociación de
Presbiterios Maya K´ekchi). Just for a little history, there are five presbyteries
(groups of churches) in this region and there is a partnership
between the Inland Northwest Presbytery and the APMK.
Anyway, we were traveling a lot.
met a pastor, Gerardo Pop, who taught himself to read and write when
he was young because his parents didn’t think education was
important. He came from
this difficult background to teach theology in the Seminary.
He is now trying to learn English from a book and was
practicing many of his words with us.
He was doing a whole lot better than I would have if I’d
tried to learn my Spanish just from a book.
He is a leader in his community and within the Church. This
same pastor was diagnosed with Trachoma by Chris, our doctor on the
trip, and was given medicine that likely saved him from eventual
blindness. He has two
brothers, Manuel and Martín. They
had it too. They were
treated along with a 4th pastor from the same region.
Gerardo and Alberto at
Castillo de San Felipe
learned that all the pastors in the APMK have been encouraged to
become government-certified health promoters.
They said, “Pues, tiene sentido.”
(Well, it makes sense). “Cuando personas
estan enfermos, ellos van a su pastor.” (When
people are sick, they go to their pastor).
This is common in communities in Guatemala that are stricken
with daily poverty. In a place where decisions about what to eat today are real.
They go to their pastor.
And this week, Inland Northwest was able to donate a set of
medical books to each community we visited: Donde No Hay Doctor
(Where There is No Doctor), Donde No Hay Doctor para
Mujeres (…for Women), Donde No Hay Doctor para Hombres
(… for Men) and Un Libro para Parteras (A Book for
don’t include these to bore, but rather to inform.
These are wonderful resources from the
Hesperian Foundation for communities such as these
that don’t always have access to adequate health care.
resources are often the difference between curing scabies and having
a baby suffer with it until it slowly goes away.
At least it seems to go away.
We rarely see cases of it in the 5-year-old and up age groups
but many of them have scars that seem to be a result of it.
It can mean the difference between recognizing dehydration
and malnutrition and death. Health
care is often too far for the poor to walk to the clinics.
Because they have with no vehicles they have to pay for
transportation. Once there, the healthcare is sometimes free and sometimes
not. But more commonly
there is no free medicine and what’s the point of a doctor visit
if you can’t cure the problem because you have no money for the
were also reminded of the problems the indigenous face with
diabetes. We encountered a family with two sisters, both registering
blood sugar levels 300% higher than normal.
Because chronic pain and suffering are the norm in countries
like Guatemala, it is a difficult for people to grasp the concept of
a lifelong necessity for medication.
So these women struggle through each day with no energy,
getting up three or four times a night to pee, and continue eating
their corn-carb filled diets. We can only hope that the information we shared and the
medications we suggested are available and that Esperanza and her
sister, Gloria, will continue to use them.
spent a few precious moments laying on the grass under the trees
with Josie, a 76-year-old pastor with more piss and vinegar than
most terrible-2-year-olds. As
we lie there she told me how she used to like to do this when she
was a child. Just
watching the leaves blow and the tree tops sway.
She is an amazing woman.
She was a pastor’s wife for around 40 years before he had a
debilitating stroke. At
60, she felt called into the ministry.
So after finishing four years of undergrad studies, she
continued into seminary and graduated at 66.
She is Native American and Mexican.
She was an inspiration to the Guatemalans and to us.
then a couple touched me. Ron
and Marianne. Ron is 80
and Marianne, younger (it’s rude to say, isn’t it? J
). Anyway, they are
still so much in love after 47 years of marriage.
It was really uplifting, watching them.
Sure, they have had their ups and downs but they are looking
forward to their 50th anniversary and hope to celebrate
it in Brazil where they lived for five years as missionaries with
person on these trips gives me a gift, some big, others small.
I hope I do the same in
the best we can do is be ourselves and hope that it’s enough.
everybody for the gifts you have and especially for the ones you
shared with me! Ruth,
Chris, Gayle, Midge, Pat, Laurie, Leslie, John, D, Ron, Marianne,
Bottom L-R: Leslie, Ruth, Pat,
Josie, De, Midge, Chris, Ron, Marianne,
Charity, Ruth, John, Josie
Top: Joe, Laurie, Gayle, Gabby