Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It’s Been Such a Long Time

I was looking at our last posting and I have to say we are not doing a very good job of putting down our thoughts.  It was August 13 when last we posted something on our blog.  Wow!  So much has happened since them.  I guess that is why you shouldn’t wait so long to put down one’s thoughts.  Mudslides and more rain, surgery team, preschool construction, road closures, road construction, clinic construction, volunteer absence, more rain, new volunteer, plans to open a newly constructed clinic, road closures, new teams for next year, more rain, cultural stresses, language stresses, getting lost stresses, faith stretches, sunshine at last, and our home church team came to visit including our son Jon. What a long journey in such a short time.

    DSC05386Life goes on down here in the cool tropics when the rainy season sets in, not tropics really as the elevation keeps us quite cool and when it rains, even cold.  The weather has taught us a lot about ourselves and about mold.  This has been one of the worst rainy seasons in over 60 years.  It started with Agatha and didn’t end until our Battle Creek friends brought us some sunshine.  We almost didn’t make it to the airport to pick up our friends because of slides that wiped out 3 of 4 lanes on the road to Guate (Guatemala City).  The economy in Panajachel where we live has been hit hard by the effects of the weather and the world economy.  Hotels and restaurants have seen so much lost business that many have closed.  People don’t have much work and the weather has affected crop yields.  We are so lucky because we have an income that does not rely on the weather or others.  We are so lucky and yet we struggle every day as we try and work to help     others.   


We try to help the economy  by eating out more, just kidding but we don’t mind helping out either.  Janet buys things from street vendors even if we don’t need anything.  We help with those that ask for help in the street and give support to Salud y Paz when they need something, or just a general gift.  Giving to support and nourish those that need it is so difficult.  There are many pitfalls and people who only want a handout.  Our job is to figure out how to make a difference not only now but after we leave.  We hear and see many efforts that have missed the mark, gifts that go unused, or opportunities lost because the givers don’t really understand the culture or the dynamics that money can play.  I used to think giving money away was an easy job, but it really isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support huge salaries or large bureaucracies that are unable to really move much along, but somehow feel that they really do some good. Our job is not to make those same mistakes but do good on a smaller scale.  Our job is to keep and grow our compassion while at the same time improve our ability to see the world where we live and want to make a difference.  There is a street here in Panajachel called Santander.  It is a main corridor for vendors, restaurants, and shops.  Janet and I have walked that street so many times.  However, every time we walk it, something has changed and we can’t find a place we just went by the day before.  The vendors take down there stands and the street scape changes.  Restaurants close for the day and the street scape changes.  The street is the same but it looks different and because of those changes, one can get a bit disoriented.  That is the way it is to live here and to try and do good works.  What was there yesterday is different today.  What was there yesterday wasn’t visible then but is visible now.  When making our way, it is so hard to find the path because the streetscape keeps changing.

Surgery, medical, and dental teams have a major impact but so do all the other types of groups that come to visit and serve in Guatemala.  The Battle Creek Chapel Hill UMC team is a good example of having an impact without being medical professionals or having some other special life saving skill to share.          



They spent the week with us and not only impacted our organization, the people we serve, but more important, they impacted us.  We were so moved to see our friends, meet new friends, and see our son it was such a wonderful experience.  We can’t tell you how much it met to have them visit.  Being here has had a lot of challenges.  We miss our friends and even though we have made many new friends, we find it difficult to to be separated. IMG_5057

We’ll keep on trucking and keep on doing because we have so much support from so many directions.  We pray that we will be effective and that we will keep our connections to those we love and to those that we work with and meet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our clinic last week was at three different sites near Cunen about 4 hours from where we live. We saw 60-100 patients a day, had lots of games for the children who were waiting, gave away goody bags (more like essential bags), applied floride, went without water sometimes at the hotel, eat good food, wonderful devotions, great people, lots of memories, and the list goes on. This team was from Everett Washington and provided care from one doctor and two nurse practitioners. We had two people working in the pharmacy, 2-3 in education, and 2 doing intake. We also had some great support staff from Everett and some great interpreters. Not only doo we translate from Spanish to English, but form Quiche Spanish. We had some serious cases and a lot of sickness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from Janet & Wayne

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Happy Holidays
We would like to wish and your family a very wonderful holiday season. Tis the season for new beginnings and hope for the future. Many have experienced difficult times in the past two years. It is easy to remember all the negative things that have happened and too easy to forget all the blessings that we have. Janet and I are so blessed to be able to do something different with our lives and so blessed that we have be given adequate resources to help us on our journey. But more on this later. The decision to go was clear, the getting ready and trying to plan for things at home while we will be gone is more difficult.
Moving to Guatemala
Last August Wayne celebrated his 60th birthday while in Guatemala. Janet gave him the best present ever when she made a commitment to move to Guatemala for two years. We will be working for Project Salud y Paz. Salud y Paz operates four medical/dental clinics and continues to expand. They also provide a preschool for Mayan children.
Wayne will coordinate medical and construction teams from the USA and elsewhere. There are 20-25 teams that visit for a week or more throughout the year. There are also four surgery teams that visit and work out of the two operating rooms located at the clinic at Camenchaj.
Janet will be the Preschool Director. There is currently one classroom open and one more to start in February 2010. Two more classrooms are slated to be completed and opened once construction is complete and funding is in place.
We encourage you to take a tour at the Salud y Paz website where you will find a great video that shows a lot of what happens at the school and the clinic. Just click the following link and off you go! Salud y Paz Website
What About the Boys and the House?
The questions we are most asked are: What will the boys do? and what are you going to do with your house? Ben will probably continue to study and live in Grand Rapids. He has changed majors and is now pursuing a possible nursing career. Jon is hoping to graduate in July and then find a job working with aircraft engines or at least somewhere in the field of Aeronautical Engineering. He is currently living at home and working part time at Meijers to save some money. Both boys support our decision even though it means more difficult times for them.
Our home decision has not been an easy one. We completed a financial analysis and concluded we would save money by selling the house. However there is no guarantee that we could sell it and, we will be coming home for at least a month around Christmas time every year. We also wanted to have a place that the boys could still call home.
The third most often asked question is what about guardianship for Janet's sister, Susie? A good friend who works in the field, Larry Kaiser, has agreed to be back-up guardian. That is a major help. Lots of family and friends have offered to help wherever they can and we will joyfully be taking them up on their offers.
Can We Really Learn Spanish?
One of the hardest things facing us is learning a new language. It is difficult to describe how one learns a new language latter in life other than to say it is really difficlut! What you learn one day you forget the next. Neither of us have ever done very well with languages. We spent some time this summer in Guatemala working on it. We are both taking classes at the local community college. We also have some friends who are fluent speakers and they have us over to their house once a week for a chat in Spanish. Janet seems to be in the lead right now as far as retaining what we learn. Wayne continues to struggle but keeps an optimistic outlook that somehow he will break through the wall into the next language and culture!
We have lots of learning aids and we try and speak some Spanish at home on a regular basis. Es muy dificil!
Keeping in Touch
One of the challenges of moving to another country is how to stay connected with family and friends. We also have the challenge of what to do with the mail, paying bills, etc. We have made some plans that we can share with you now. We have a new phone number that will connect you to us where ever we are. It is a Skpe number for those of you familiar with computer phones. It will connect you to us at no charge while we are in Guatemala and you can use the number right now if you wish. It doesn't cost us any additional for you to make the connection. Should there be a crisis at home, we will have the ability to forward the calls to our cell phone in Guatemala. That's right, there is good "pay as you go cell service" in most places. This number will also work while we are in the US. So, all you will need is one number!
Our new number can be used starting now. It is 269.841.4616.
There is always email and our Facebook pages. Our email addresses are: wdwiley@gmail.com and janetchichester@gmail.com. Please discontiue using our comast.net addresses. We will be canceling the comcast service this spring.
Please keep in touch with us.
Our plans are to be home twice a year. We'll have a little over a month off at Christmas and a short visit to see doctors, etc. in midyear.
Oh, by the way, we almost forgot about the mail. We have a new mailing address early next year. Please continue to use our current address until next June. Our new address is: Wayne Wiley or Janet Chichester, #302, 30 E. Columbia Ave. Suite F-1, Battle Creek, MI 49015
You Can Help
Some people have asked it they can help our work. This is by no means a fundraising newsletter. However, we will never turn down any help we can get. Here are the ways you can help and how the money can be used.
  • Give directly to Salud y Paz. You can send a check or give by credit card. All the information you need is on their website. Money can be donated directly to the overal operations or directly to the preschool. The link is listed above.
  • Donate to the Chapel Hill UMC Special Guatemala Fund. This fund has been set up by our church for our mission use. No money from this fund will be used for our living or personal expenses. We will report out how we spend this money in future newsletters. We anticipate needs arising in the community, at the clinics, or the preschool. For example, one thing we are working on is getting one of the volenteer fire departments a "jaws of life". It currently takes over two hours to get one to the scene of an accident in the more rual mountainous areas. These volunteers are a great help to the work we will be doing. Other possibilities may include an unfunded need at the clinic or a special need for a family. The address to make a donation is Chapel Hill UMC, Attention: Special Guatemala Fund, 157 Chapel Hill Drive, Battle Creek, MI 49015.
  • Funds for Living and Personal Expenses. As we said earlier, we are blessed with what we think might be adequate funds for our two years of living expenses. We expect some strain on our budget and have already experienced some changes to our assumptions which will negatively impact our finances. There is a fund through the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries Volunteers in Mission where donations can be made to help out with our personal expenses.. You can write a check to "Ädvance GCFA", write in memo line of the check, Advance #982465 for Wayne Wiley. Send check to Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068.
If You Made It This Far
If you made it this far through this newsletter we would like to thank you for your interest. Many people say what a wonderful thing we are doing. We would like you to know that we get more than we give. Our lives have been blessed every time we have given time or money to help others. We continue to grow in our faith and in our capacity to love. We ask for your prayers not only for our endeavors but also for our boys as we will not be able to be physically close to support them during the next few years.
Thank you for listening,
May God Bless You and Your Family This Holiday Season and in the Coming Year.
Janet and Wayne
Wayne Wiley & Janet Chichester • #302, 30 E. Columbia Ave., Suite F-1 • Battle Creek, MI 49015
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye

We are so very sad to leave our new friends, it is somewhat easier knowing that we will be back. We have met some amazing people. We were very sad to have to say goodbye to our Spanish teachers this morning. Walking down the street we want to take it all and somehow keep it fresh in our memory until we return. This has been a profound experience for both of us. We are somewhat daunted by the prospect of learning a new language but also encouraged by what we have learned so far. This is a beautiful and a frustrating country, both very livable and difficult at the same time. The people are wonderful and are in such need. We have been very welcomed. We are also looking forward to seeing our friends and family at home and ready to dig in and begin preparing for this move.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

People of Guatemala

We haven’t talked much about the people here. They are relatively poor and very hard working. They have mostly had a very difficult life. There was civil war here for 30 years that just ended in 1996. The government has been very repressive(with the help of the US government). People here remain optimistic despite the many obstacles they face daily. Life is not easy, although people smile easily. The Guatemalans are a gregarious people and very friendly. The Mayan people are probably the poorest and have the least access to health care and education. We are only able to talk to people a little bit, but they are very tolerant of our broken Spanish.

The people seen at the clinic in Camanja are very poor and some have very serious health problems, some children have some significant birth defects that are preventable. One of the exciting things about this mission is that in addition to the medical teams coming down to help, there is a Guatemalan doctor at the clinic two days a week, so there is follow up care.

We don’t have many pictures of Guatemalans because it is rude to just take someone’s picture.

Yesterday we hit a bit of the higher end on the culture here in Pana. We went to an art gallery that had a showing of a new artists and quilts that went with the paintings. The people were interesting and the gallery full of odd collections of old wooden pieces collected by the owner’s father some of which were 300-400 years old. The owners have German and Guatemalan roots and have a very interesting and beautiful place to live.

We also enjoyed the evening with our neighbors and friends, Carey and Jay. The power went out so we sat outside and talked about living and working here. We asked many “how to” questions and talked a bit about a schedule for moving down.

Today we are off to the market to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. We will also be working on our Spanish homework.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Yesterday was Wayne's 60th birthday. At school, everyone sang happy birthday in Spanish. We shared some treats and then after class we traveled to Santa Cruz via launcha. We had a long hard walk up from the lake to town. We were rewarded with fantastic views of the lake and the volcanoes. It was a difficult walk but Janet made it all the way. We had dinner with our friends Jay and Carey and our new friend from Germany, Sabrina. We ate at a great restaurant and returned home for some fantastic chocolate cake.
We even made some real headway on our decision process. Janet committed to making the move happen. She decided that this was something that she really wanted to do. Wayne has been committed, not to an institution but to an idea, but has been waiting to hear from Janet once she had some experience here. So we are on to the next level of planning for next summer. All in All it was a birthday to remember!
Today was more of the same. School and then off by launcha all the way accorss the lake to Santiago Atitlan. We went to a special house just out of town, via pickup, to see the Mayan diety Maximón. He is a combination of Christianity and Mayan Gods. He is wooden all dressed up in hats and ties, smoking a cigar. Maximón or San Simón is in a small house with a statue of Jesus and some of the saints, there are mayans sitting there drinking beer and collecting money. Mayans bring money, or candles asking for good luck. He is moved once a year to a new house during holy week. It is an odd combination of pagan and christian symbols.
We visited the local church and the memorial to all those who died as part of the conflict that lasted some some thirty years but had a major affect on this town for over ten years ending in 1990.
We then did a little shopping in town. By the end of the day we were really tired! Tomorrow we have class in the afternoon and no activities, thank goodness.