Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

From the Ottens

Written by John and Connie Otten
This letter was written in August and held over due to lack of space. Connie and John work for Word & Deed in Cubulco, where they carry out the "deed" arm of our denomination's mission work. In addition to being the administrator of the hospital, John oversees the nutrition centre and is local agricultural developer. In October the Ottens spent vacation time with family and friends in Ontario and also found time for showing slides of their work in the Hamilton-Branford area, where a good number were in attendance.
Summer sure is going by quickly! Our girls have started their new school year early, so that we will be on schedule when we go to Canada in October. It is about half a year later since our last letter, wherein we wrote of the need for more doctors to help with the hospital ministry.

The area of doctors is one of the most vital in a hospital, but we have found it to be one of the most difficult to staff. Not many people like to leave the big cities with the opportunities and entertainment that they provide. It seems that the last few years we have been operating with three instead of four doctors. This has made the on-call service taxing on the doctors. Providing good medical leadership has been difficult. Though we have worked hard at trying to organize the hospital, we did not have a doctor qualified to do it. We are thankful to God for providing us a Guatemalan medical director, Dr. Morales. Now we are implementing systems for streamlining the way patients are served. A nurse helps to orient the patients to the different services they may need as well as helps the doctors explain things in the native language.

The nurses are continuing in-service education so that they can do more of the patient care, which allows the doctors more time for patient consultations. Although they are always under a doctor's supervision, the nurses are more involved in the deliveries of babies. The nurses evaluate the children in the nutrition centre and the cases that need more assistance are referred to the doctor in charge.

Case Studies
Two case studies are included to acquaint you with the patients treated at the nutrition centre.

1. Maria de la Cruz was referred to the nutrition centre ten months ago. She is two years old and though she has been in the program for so long she does not improve much. The parents are not applying what they are taught and the family lacks a lot of motivation. Visiting them several times in their home, the workers at the nutrition centre have tried to explain, and help them apply, what they have learned in the program. They have even helped the mother clean her stove and dishes and shown her how to cover them, but neither she nor her husband cares much. He finds it hard to get work and they are often in poor health.

2. Maria Teletor is a four year-old girl who entered the nutrition centre program three months ago. She came swollen from malnutrition, but is improving a lot. The mother enjoys the classes and one can observe that she is applying what she has learned. When we visited the home the family was working together, shelling the corn by hand. They had just harvested it, and the father said that the crop was fair. As he doesn't have land of his own, he "share crops." This is where the land-owner provides the land and pays half of the expenses, and the farmer supplies the labour and the other half of the expenses. At harvest time they share the crops, each a half. The family has started to make their own vegetable garden, as they have learned at the nutrition centre. The mother told us that she has learned to wash her dishes properly, as well as cover them. This prevents flies from landing on them and spreading diseases. Often changes are seen when the families are motivated and this is very encouraging for the staff at the nutrition centre.

Due to the arrival of another doctor, the medical trips to the villages are being realized. Trips of one or two days are made three out of every four weeks. In the past four months we have had three dentists come and they have joined the medical trips to do necessary extractions.

Innovating at the agriculture centre, we tried growing several acres of sweet corn for marketing. It turned out to be quite successful. As it was the first time sweet corn was grown in Cubulco, many of the farmers tasted it for the first time, and they liked it--with ketchup and mayonnaise! We had a field day at the end of harvesting and invited local farmers to show them the crop. At three schools in the villages, the agriculture centre has set up gardens to teach the children. With the purchase of a motorbike, the six-hour walk to these villages has become a one-hour ride. This has given the workers more time to be in the villages. As most of the farmers work in the day and have the farm meetings in the afternoon, the agriculture promoters are able to spend the mornings with the schools. They work with about 50 children from the third to sixth grade, growing carrots, radishes, swiss chard and more. The teachers supervise the garden when the promoters are not there. At harvest time, they make a salad for all the children of the school, and then they give the children seeds to take home to plant with their families.

The joy of our work is to see that many people are helped and also that there are many opportunities to bring the Word of God to them. We will appreciate your prayers that the Word of God be presented at the hospital, nutrition centre and farm, and that the lives of the staff would be a positive testimony, not something that could be a stumbling block to the Gospel.

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