Friday, July 29, 2011

Kids Do the Darndest Things...and So Do Their Mothers!

So, life with children is never boring...seventeen kids simply takes the phrase "keeping on your toes" to a whole new level! Here are some of our latest adventures...or "misadventures"! Hope they lighten your day!

So, it was Wednesday morning and I was alone in the bathroom waiting for the boiler to finish heating my water before jumping in the shower when I heard it! The morning cry/whimper/plea/greeting from two year old David. This meant that Daniel's little voice would not be long in joining the chorus. I immediately faced a dilemma: Do I go and get the boys and have them join me in the bathroom? No, that would mean having to spend even more time after my shower picking up all the odds and ends they would have found to play with while I enjoyed my suds. Do I skip my shower and take one on Thursday? No, I wanted, no, I needed, that shower. Do I take the boys into their sleeping father? No, that would result in two sad little boys who earnestly desire their mother in the morning and a rather impatient father whose sleep would be interrupted. Do I just let them wait it out while I take my shower? That seemed to be the best option. They spend a good amount of time each evening after I put them to bed singing and talking to each other anyway, maybe they would do that in the morning too! Besides, they have both learned how to climb out of their cribs so, if they get desperate enough, they could climb out and entertain themselves in the living room with their toys, right? (OK, so by now you're thinking: "The woman has 17 children and she is naive enough to think that a 2 and 3 year old will take care of themselves while she showers?" I have two things to say in my defense, no, three: I am an optimist, I am blonde and I WANTED A SHOWER!) So, I acted like I hadn't heard their morning greetings and took my shower!

After the shower I walked into their bedroom where they both continued to wait patiently in their cribs! Wow! Success! Well, almost....after breakfast I went in to makeup their beds and sweep their floors and discovered what had kept them, well at least David, busy while I showered! He had pulled the sheet back from his crib mattress, discovered that the plastic on the mattress was torn and found out that pulling out chunks of yellow stuffing from underneath the plastic was great fun! So, my shower cost us a crib mattress, but he really needed a new one anyway, right?

Daniel and another "kids do the darndest things" moment! We had butchered one of our cows and when Victor pulled up in the pick-up truck with the meat, Daniel knew just what these horns were and what they were for and he figured he would make a good looking cow!

A few evenings ago, I ran into Ruth as she came downstairs and I headed upstairs. She had her little 5 year old arms wrapped tightly around her mid-section, obviously trying to hide something underneath her sweater while trying to keep the object(s) from falling while maintaining an innocent "I'm-not-doing-anything-wrong" look. I decided to go along with her game and simply just followed her with my eyes as she continued on her purposeful way. As she continued walking, sure enough, something fell out of her sweater. Then, another something and another and another. In a few seconds she had a very telling little trail of....pantiliners lining the path behind her! "Ruth," I gently called out, "you are leaving a trail behind you." She turned around, glanced down, and then looked at me with a look of "now what?" pasted across her face. Promptly, she knelt down, picked up each pantiliner, stuffed them back under her sweater and continued on her way! I decided this was not one of those battles waiting to be fought, so I let her go, only later to find the stuffed animal in my bedroom with a pantiliner diaper!

Saturday lunch, which we eat in our house, rather than in the "dining room/warehouse" of the basement of the main house, was instant soup. Only the smallest kids fit around the table, while the older children hit the couches, the front porch or the steps. I had asked eight year old Miguel to please eat at the table, but he took advantage of a moment when I became distracted with the younger kids and he escaped to the living room! When I finally realized what had happened, he had nearly finished his soup, while leaving a notable amount on the floor around him! "Miguel, get the broom and sweep up your soup." I will give him credit for obeying promptly, however, a few seconds later I looked up to see Miguel sweeping the soup, not towards a dustpan, but towards the door and onto the porch, which his sisters had just swept! (This seemed to be a much easier option than walking the three or so yards to get the dustpan!) "Miguel." His eyes meant mine and no more words were needed. He went and got the dustpan and picked up the soup he had swept! How did I know what he was about to do? Kids will be kids....actually, humans will be humans. I was once a kid and I'm still a human!

So, yesterday was my one-on-one time with Jocelin and she wanted to make cupcakes! Oops, no cupcake tin liners! So, Victor kindly visited numerous stores in the town of Ozumba in his search for cupcake tin liners. Our hunter had success and we began the cupcake making business! Oops - the liners seem to be too small for the tins! Don't worry - I had an idea! We'll just set the liners on a pizza pan, fill them half up and bake them! OK, so I'm still blonde!

OOPS! Maybe we could win some kind of modern art award? For your information, this is what happens when you try to make cupcakes in liners without putting the liners in tins! I know, I know, you would have never tried such a thing!

So, we put the liners in the tins again and, lo and behold, the liners, once filled, spread out to conform to the tins! What a novel idea! At the end of it all, the cupcakes were delicious!

And we had a great time!
Jocelin ended up with as much batter
on her clothing as in her tummy!

"Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy. "
Psalm 126:2-3

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

EMMC to Verapaz, Chiapas - A Crusade of Visions

From June 20-25, the volunteer Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade team was blessed with the opportunity to visit the mountains of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Following is the translation of the blog written by Vero: full-time staff member at Refuge Ranch and a key organizer of the crusades.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, may you receive a loving greeting from our team. You may be asking: "Why call this crusade a 'crusade of visions'?" In this particular crusade we were able to see visions fulfilled - visions that we have had and were able to see become reality during the week, as well as visions of things to come.

For some time now, we had had the vision to improve our equipment. Even though our doctors are willing to work under extreme conditions, we had wanted to provide better equipment for the well-being of both the doctors and the patients. God gave us the wonderful blessing of being able to do so! He provided new dental seats that are very comfortable for the patients, practical for the trips and, besides all that, pretty! The Lord also sent the blessing of a dry sterilizer for the dentists and surgery, two new Robotines (these are portable dental air compressors), and a gynecology exam table. We glorify the Lord for his provision for this ministry! These items were all provided through private designated donations.

Now we would like to share with you the "new look" for the Fishers of Men Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades. We thank Brother Joel for donating the vehicle stickers for the van and truck and for donating the stamp work on our new t-shirts. The new vehicle labels have been helpful when we have to travel through military and federal police checkpoints, as they lend credibility to our caravan. We counted over 19 checkpoints on this crusade alone!

In order to arrive in Verapaz, Chiapas, we had to travel 15 hours the first day and 5 and a half hours the second day! We thank Brother Lazcares and his family for housing us overnight with such love both going and coming from the crusade. When we finally arrived at the church, we were so blessed to be received by the brothers and sisters there with much love. They had homemade tortillas ready and piping hot, as well as a delicious chicken soup. The members of the congregation were ready to serve alongside us, and there were plenty of people waiting to be served! Within just an hour and a half of our arrival, we were set up and ready to see patients!

The first day we attended to a lot of people, despite the heavy rain that was falling. People came around curious to see if it was really true that there were doctors and that the appointment and medication were totally free. They had the impression that such attention free of charge was basically too good to be true! But, they received a pleasant surprise to find out that is was for real!

The following days were very long work days. A free medical crusade in that region was unheard of and hundreds of people came looking for medical care. We worked from 9:30 in the morning until 10 or 11:00 at night!

There were so many people gathered around the registration table that they crowded out Dolores who was trying to give free haircuts!

We thank the Lord that on this crusade we were able to enjoy the return of Dr. Bill, a surgeon from Iowa and a member of the Fishers of Men Board of Directors. He performed 16 operations with the help of Dr. Paty! We were also blessed by the help of Kayla Wyntheim from Iowa and Brighton Ballmer from Ohio, as well as Joanna Marshall from Refuge Ranch. We also thank the Lord for bringing us a new nurse, Ivonne, who specializes in emergency room nursing and a new dentist, Delia.

One of the most impacting testimonies of the crusade was that of a vision had by one of the ladies in town, Alma. Alma suffers from terminal uterine cancer and one week before the team arrived in Verapaz she dreamed that some very tall doctors came to town and cured her. Her husband showed up at the crusade to see what was going on, but when he saw Dr. Bill, Mark Marshall and Brighton, all very tall men, especially compared to your average Mexican man, he went running home to tell his wife that her dream had come true and that doctors had come to their town from far away. She went to see the doctors and was shocked herself! When Alma told Dr. Ariel, one of our dentists, about her dream he called much of the team together. They joined together in prayer, calling out to God for Alma's healing. Alma gave her life to the Lord that day and trusted in Him as her Lord and Savior, as well as her husband. We do not know if the Lord has healed Alma physically, but we do know that He has healed her spiritually and that her soul (Her name "Alma" in Spanish means "soul"), the most important thing, belongs to Him.

The people could not believe what was happening. They would ask the local pastor: "What did you do to bring these doctors here? How much did you pay them?" The local people were surprised by the love and professionalism of the team. We would simply respond to the pastor: "Tell them that it wasn't you or us, that that is simply how important they are to God and that He does surprising things for those whom He loves. It doesn't matter if he has to bring somebody from another country."

We suffered quite a bit of opposition from the Jehova's Witnesses, which is quite rare, since any opposition we experience usually comes from the traditional Mexican church, but this time was different. They tried to destroy our reputation while we were there, but the local people responded: "You have never done something like this for us, so leave the evangelicals alone."

Despite all of this, people's hearts were hard! Their hardness did not seem to come from ties to idolatry, as on many occasions, they simply did not want to believe in God. However, 55 individuals received the Lord. The clown ministry had the wonderful result of ministering to 50 children the first day and over 100 children the second day, without counting their parents and grandparents.

The last day we were about ready to start back to our homes when we had the opportunity to visit the country of Guatemala, since we were only about an hour and a half from the border. While we were visiting in Guatemala, we met some Christian women who began to ask who we were and what we were doing. They told us that they hoped that we could one day visit their communities also. So, one more time, God have us the vision and desire to go to Central and South America with the EMMC's. (We have had previous trips scheduled to Nicaragua and Belize, but they were changed to Mexican crusades for different reasons.) For now we must pray, trust and wait on God's perfect timing!

We give ALL THE HONOR AND GLORY TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST for all that was accomplished and we trust in Him that He will give the spiritual growth needed in Verapaz, Chiapas. We thank all of the doctors, dentists, nurses and support personnel for their huge effort and work. Despite the fact that the days were long and tiring, you pushed forward with the same love and effort shown to the last patient as to the first. Verapaz and our entire team could see the love and mercy of Jesus in your faces. Thank you for giving yourselves fully to the work of the Lord!

Crusade Statistics
Attended to:
General Physician 327
Gynecology 84
Dental 171
Hair Cuts 83
Surgery 16
Specialist Appointments 55
Children's Ministry 157

Accepted Christ as Lord and Savior 53

Total attended to (without children) 736

Team Members

*Dr. Escamilla *Dr. Bill *Dra. Leslie *Esmirna *Víctor

*Dra. Elizabeth *Ivonne *Adrián *Vero *Kayla

*Dra. Gisela *Dra. Delia *Gaby *Mark *Brighton

*Dra. Paty *Dra. Caro *Martita *Joanna *Rosa

*Dr.Ariel *Dulce *Helen *Becky *Dolores