Hello, sweet friends! Here we are entering day 3 of our trip, and we haven't posted a single blog post... What?! Yes. After spending the day Friday travelling from Fayetteville to Guatemala City, we finally were able to get some rest around 1:30am. However, those alarm clocks had us up early Saturday morning to prepare for the long drive ahead. It took us about 8 hours to get to the remote village of Ruel Choc where we were greeted with tons of smiling faces.
Our team worked hard until about 9:00 that night. Katie was able to provide a sling and some instruction to an elderly woman who had broken her arm 14 years prior. She had not sought out medical care, and the sling was able to provide her some comfort and more appropriate positioning. Paige encountered many children with hearing loss, lack of speech and some oral motor concerns. Abby provided a sweet gentleman with a leg deformity with a new set of crutches and a knee brace. We were able to provide a wheelchair for a boy that had previously been bed ridden. We were able to provide care and instruction to 18 people, and after a long day, we felt very blessed to get to rest our tired legs once again at the beautiful Finca Chapultepec.
On Sunday morning we woke to the beautiful coffee farm ready to go! We spent half the day at Campur holding a community clinic for some residents. Paige was able to help a set of deaf siblings make gains towards verbal communication and provided great instruction to a very determined momma. Abby instructed them on exercise and blood flow for sister who also had a heart defect, and brother was fitted for an ankle brace and advised on knee pain. Katie, Paige and Abby were all three able to come together to care for a sweet (but very rambunctious) little guy with speech and physical health concerns.
We are up at at it this morning to head to Chimaltenango where we will revisit a boy involved in a bike wreck and drop by Mama Carmen's Farm! This has been a great group so far, and we are blessed to be on this mission together.
We started Day 3 in China with our breakfast soup and seeing kids at Dr. Lin’s clinic. We knew we had a busy day ahead of us but jet lag started to set in by mid-morning. But, this was nothing that a run to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken for coffee couldn’t cure. Yes, that is KFC for coffee! It is as popular as Starbucks in China and did the trick to revive Amy. Lori and Amy both spent the morning assisting with evaluations and treatment. Lori also got the chance to educate on Torticollis assessment and treatment.
We were really excited during the morning when Dr. Lin suggested that they could contact a couple of the families that we saw yesterday at the apartment complex to come to into his clinic for a follow up visit and additional services. We thought this was such a kind gesture to provide additional services, but knew the logistics of getting these families to see us were going to be difficult. First, we had no idea how to contact these families or even what the names of the two sweet kids were. In addition to these hurdles, the apartment complex was over an hour away and we knew having the resources to make that trip would be difficult. But, within 2 hours the staff from Dr Lin’s clinic had managed to reach both families and the invitation to come see us was extended and accepted. Dr Lin’s clinic arranged and took care of the transportation for them, and they arrived to the clinic by 3:00pm. This was a huge answered prayer!
So, Lori got to spend the afternoon going over the treatment activities in more detail and demonstrating therapy while the translator took detailed notes to send home with the families as a reference. The little boy scissored when he walked and Lori was able to provide straps and show mother how to facilitate much improved walking! This was the highlight of the afternoon. Amy got to spend a few minutes with each family as the day was wrapping up observing a quick snack time and making suggestions for improved oral motor and communication development. Both of the mothers were very appreciative and one of them was very hands on and quick to try the suggestions that Lori made.
We appreciate the prayers as we wrap up our time here and start our journey home. Our prayers are that each person we have been in contact with this week would be pointed to Him.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” 1 Peter 4:10
Hello from China! We are thankful for a smooth trip and warm welcome from our friends here. We arrived with our four suitcases and got to ride to the clinic the first morning with the trunk open and backseat full because we had some difficulty getting all of our supplies to fit!
We’ve had a busy two days. On Wednesday we evaluated new children at Dr. Lin’s clinic and got to see some familiar faces! We are always excited to see the same children and families and continue to build these relationships.
Amy did a quick presentation on Thursday morning for the staff that provided some new information for assessments and treatment approaches for young children with Autism. After this, we enjoyed spending the rest of the morning seeing the kids from the day before.
On Thursday afternoon we traveled across this little city of 11 million people and visited a housing complex designated for children with special needs. Families who have a child with a disability are provided government assisted housing and live together in a community of apartments. We were initially told we would see three children but word quickly spread and we had a crowd and were packed like sardines into a small common space on the 2nd floor of the complex. It felt like true TEAMWorks style. Lori was in high demand this afternoon with every child coming through the door having a physical need. Dr. Lin was busy reading X-Rays in the afternoon window light, translating, and assessing children. Amy was named a SPOT by Lori (Speech-Physical-Occupational Therapist) helping children with basic communication, oral motor techniques, reaching, sitting, and facilitating some standing and tummy time! Lori was able to do her magic on some orthotics using a borrowed hair dryer and a decorative flower spoon for one little boy. We made friends with many of the children quickly but some were very uneasy and needed more time. One dad (who also had a significant physical disability) expressed concerns about his little boy’s oral motor skills. The little boy would have absolutely no part in Amy getting any where near his mouth, so dad became the patient, and Amy demonstrated oral motor exercises on the dad. We saw several older children with significant needs, and enjoyed just spending some time loving on them and encouraging their parents. Our hearts were broken for the amount of needs yet full because we got the privilege of serving. We were able to give all of the children a toy as we left and a paparzzi style photo shoot ensued! This gave us a nice laugh on the way out for the afternoon.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
PS Amy didn’t eat all 3 bowls of breakfast soup alone.
Today, we returned to Hermano Pedro. We started in early assessing and fitting kids for hand splints and AFOs. They just kept coming! Abby, with a bit of assistance from Leo, adjusted several wheelchairs and even manufactured some straps to keep Manny's feet on his foot plates. Paige was able to get in on the action by working on "mas" with a smart, yet stubborn, little boy named Roberto to request more toys. While using placement cues to make the "mmm", Roberto independently shaped her cues to blowing a kiss. He was VERY consistent with his usage of this sign throughout the day! We aren't sure how functional it will be, but he can now use it to melt the heart of ladies everywhere...
We have visited this orphanage several times before and are becoming more welcomed by the therapy staff. It was nice to work along side them as equals to help better the quality of life of the children they serve. Although we are at the end of our journey for this trip, we are always looking toward the future. Our prayer is, in the future, we get to work with the nannies, those closest to the care for the kids. We are unsure what this looks like, but are awaiting God's plan for us in this place.
Today, Friday, October 7th we are headed home, but not before seeing our old friend Jonathon. We are hoping to provide him braces for better foot alignment and potentially some vision exercises. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support throughout our time in Guatemala!
Today we travelled to a nearby town to visit an orphanage. We have visited this orphanage before and were excited to return and see the sweet children, both new and old. Kelly and Paige were greeted by two very bright familiar smiles from Carolitos and Merlyn, two adorable kiddos from the previous year; and Abby was drawn to a sweet little girl names Sulema. We were able to observe the feeding of lunch with several kids and were then able to join the physical therapist in the treatment area. Abby was able to demonstrate different strengthening positions for her new friend Sulema and modify her chair positioning to be more upright. Kelly was able to play PT and fit a pair of AFOs to a beaming boy and adjust his chair to accomodate his growth. Paige was also able to play PT and fit Leslie with a pair of AFOs for improved foot positioning. So, as you can see it was a PT-heavy day and we are so glad for our fearless leader, Abby. That's right, she is back to PT. We would definitely love some prayers for tomorrow as we return to this orphanage. Plans changed at the last minute and we will no longer be interacting with the nannies as we had hoped. Please pray our time there is of good use and benefit to the amazing children who reside there and that God will use us in ways to reach those who interact most with the children to improve their quality of life.
After visiting Hermano Pedro we had a quick lunch on the top of mountain with a gorgeous view of Antigua and the surrounding areas. We then travelled back to Gerson's house to give him his communication device and fit him with a seat cushion cut from a wedge we packed. He looked much more comfortable when sitting in his chair. We then pulled him up to the kitchen table and broke out his new device! He was slightly anxious with the crowd and and was hesitant to try a complicated, novel task. We were able to watch him use his modified stylus to hit the correct targets upon Paige's request, and we are prayerful and encouraged that this might be a huge step in the right direction for his communication. We spent time with Gerson's father while Paige taught him how to program the device. She also offered her technical support via email for after we leave Guatemala.
Before leaving, Gerson's father brought us all together to pray. He prayed for us, thanked God for our visit and our service. It was so humbling, but we are truly the ones blessed by this family. Their bond so strong. Their faith so strong. Their beilef in Gerson's healing so strong. There are no words that can express the gratitude for all parties involved in this meeting. It is truly a God woven plan that we were able to meet Gerson and his family. We will definitely never be the same and look forward to keeping in touch with this family for a long time and seeing them in the future.
We will leave you with a quote from the medal that was given to Gerson on the day of the accident. He may not have placed first by crossing the finish line, but he definitely " Won the Race of Life" and for that, we a truly, truly grateful.
Never underestimate the power of dreams and the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within all of us.
Today began like yesterday with Abby and Paige heading to annex with the the new sign language chart they made for Hector. They arrived just in time for snack and Paige was able to help Hector learn three new signs for more, eat, and help. Hector was able to pick up these signs with a quickness and tell Paige "help" when a pancake had fallen, "more" when he wanted more food, and "eat" to even further differentiate he wanted more pancake. Check out the TEAMworks facebook page for a sweet video of Hector using his new found signs. We are hopeful that Hectors new communciation skills will unlock the potential for more socialization and independence. In the afternoon, the team headed to the main campus where a dance party ensued. Paige and Abby were able to share the potential of the joy within each child with a simple interaction.
Our ROCKSTAR PT has converted to a speech language therapist! Abby was able to help teach simple signs to many of the children and also spent her evening programming the assistive communciation device.
Kelly began the morning on the main campus. With the help of her new friend and translator, Melissa, she was able to help out in the other OT rooms. In the first, she noticed a boy drawing intricate pictures on a pieces of paper. When she inquired whether he could copy simple shapes or write his name, the answer was no, however, the teacher let her try anyway. Within seconds Benjamin had copied multiple circles and crosses, traced his name, and written his name independently without any prompting. His teacher was shocked, and Kelly really hopes this will encourage the teacher to increase his potential for learning with more demanding tasks. During lunch, Kelly was able to eat with a young man named Jose. He was not verbal and reportedly did not interact with the staff and other residents frequently. During lunch he would make great eye contact and reach for Kelly's help to load his spoon. Once loaded, he would independently bring it to his mouth to feed himself. She is hopeful that those who witnessed these interactions will be moved to push for interaction with this sweet young man.
These last two days have been long. The progress sometimes slow, but always evident. We hope that we were able to show that with even just the smallest bit of faith, encouragement, joy, and effort that EVERY individual has the potential for greatness.