Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

A Letter From John and Connie Otten

Written by John and Connie Otten
Thank you for your cards and letter at Christmas time! We had a wonderful time with Frank and Alice (John's sister), including a trip to Panajachel and Lake Atitlan for the New Year's weekend. May Overduin, our missionary friend, accompanied us.

Now we're back to the work routine, with several American guests at the hospital doing dental work. John has met with the personnel from each area at the hospital, and now he's implementing new ideas, such as rearranging the pharmacy to make more room for files, and more efficient medicine storage. He's checking the inventories and catching up on maintenance work.

The girls are back to school too. We work for about an hour in the morning on numbers, letters and printing. While Jolene and Melissa work on their papers, Sarah travels in and out of the school room, alternatively colouring at her desk and playing out on the porch with her train and wagon. After lunch Jolene practices reading while the girls are resting. Jolene does skip classes sometimes, when "Grandpa Bob" [Bob McRae from AMG] comes in early on Friday morning with his airplane. The girls enjoy going to the airstrip with Daddy. Bob McRae comes up almost every Friday with supplies, mail, and doctor exchange: bringing one in from his week off, and picking up the next one for his week off. The doctors work three weeks in a row and get one week off to visit their families in the city.

We are eagerly anticipating the visit of John's Mom and Dad. Jolene has put fresh flowers in their room twice already!

We have some case studies of different patients at the hospital which we would like to share.

Magdalena and Maria Raymundo, who are in the nutrition centre program, come from the village of Xun which is close to Cubulco. Their mother had been in prison for about seven months (we wrote about her in July last year) and was released this past December. She had taken her smallest child along with her to nurse her. Before going to prison she had been in the nutrition centre, where she had heard about God and became a Christian. While she was in prison she said she often was discouraged. Churches in the area came to the prison to minister and they encouraged her to go on trusting God and praying to Him. After investigation of her case, the authorities considered her innocent and released her. It was hard on the family and the husband did his best to care for the children. He also attended the classes at the nutrition centre. As his knowledge of Spanish is very limited, he asked Celestina for interpretation or advice on the legal procedures concerning his wife. The children recuperated well and were dismissed from the nutrition program in January 1996. The parents are so thankful that their children could be part of the program and thank God for caring for them. They now attend a local church.

We have tried an agriculture project with the children in a grade school in Tres Cruces (five-hour walk from Cubulco). Each grade is taught separately and grows a plot of vegetables. Some theory is taught in class, but most of the learning is by games and practice. Simple Bible classes are also given, using flannelgraph material. We held a meeting with the parents at the beginning of the season. Some were opposed to it, but the teacher encouraged them and finally they consented. At the end of the season a salad was made with the food and the children ate it for lunch. Several families bought seeds to start their own gardens. The father most opposed to the project then offered us the use of some of his land next year if the school property is too small.

Candelaria is a mother of seven children. She lives in the colony El Naranjo near Cubulco. He husband goes to the south coast to work on sugar cane farms, but the money they make is hardly sufficient to maintain their family. As a result they do not eat well and become susceptible to diseases. Candelaria has been feeling sick for a long time, but like a lot of people, she was afraid to come to the hospital. She, therefore, tried different remedies that neighbours and friends suggested. Then she went to the local curer or witches who prescribe traditional remedies which often complicate the disease or result in death. Meanwhile, her illness was getting worse. Finally she decided to come to the hospital. After some testing she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Now she is being treated with medicine and the rest of the family will have to be tested as well because this is a very contagious disease. It is a long treatment--at least a year. She is encouraged to come regularly for evaluation to ensure that she continues to take her medicine, even when she begins to feel better.

We thank you all for praying for us and encouraging us.

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