Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dr. Chew

Julio with Dr. Chew
It was early 2009 when we first met Dr. Allan Chew.  It was not a good day.  But in hindsight, it was definitely a divine appointment!

We were new to Guatemala.  Still barely getting around… no Spanish yet, no real knowledge of our surroundings, etc.  I was in the city when I got the call from Kerrie.  “Brooke’s wrist is broken, I don’t know what to do.”  Certain she was overreacting, I asked if she was sure it was broken, or had she just banged it…  to which she replied “Babe – the bone is sticking out, please hurry!”

My mind was racing even faster than the car was for the hour it took me to get home.  My then 10 year old baby girl was crying at home with bone sticking out of her arm, and I didn’t even know where to take her!  I was calling the few people I had gotten to know by that point, trying to figure out what to do… 

A couple hours later we found ourselves in a hospital in Guatemala City.  Hospitals in Guatemala are nothing like hospitals in Saint Johns County, Florida.  One word described it – CHAOS.  People everywhere, long lines, people yelling, babies screaming, etc.  In those moments something else kicks in… you know what I mean… Courtesy, etiquette, following of the rules – all get thrown out the window.  (Respectfully, of course.  Haha...) 

Way down a hall on the other side of the hospital, I saw a man in a white coat coming out of an exam room.  I ran down the hall and walked into the X-ray room he had gone into.  I tried my best to explain what had happened.  I’m sure my desperation spoke more clearly than my Spanish.  He looked around (as if he was about to do something sneaky) and said, “bring her with me.”

He examined her arm and immediately took her into surgery.

(I shouldn’t even mention the THREE earthquakes that hit DURING the surgery.  Yep, an already near-panicked mom and dad sat in the waiting room of an insanely chaotic Guatemalan hospital trusting a completely unknown man who was breaking all of the procedural rules while inserting pins into our 10 year old unconscious daughter while the building rocked back and forth THREE DIFFERENT TIMES due to earthquakes.)

Needless to say we were praying.

It all worked out.  Dr. Chew has since opened his own practice at a very nice medical center in the city.  He is an orthopedic trauma surgeon with more degrees and awards on his office wall than I can count.  And he has become a good friend.  He texts me when he travels to the US, letting me know what state he’s in and where he’s staying.  I think being in the US just makes him think of his gringo buddy.

Since Brooke’s broken wrist, he has treated Jake’s torn ACL, my torn meniscus, Axel’s broken arm, several broken arms of our friends the Schmidt’s kids, and even done an Achilles surgery on one of the 12x12 employees.

Most recently, he operated on Julio's broken big toe.  Another 2 pins.  Only this time I wasn't nearly as nervous!  Dr. Chew has been another example of God's faithful promise to take care of us as we follow Him.  And he's also become a good friend in the process.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

december full of memories

its been a crazy december!  we always try to finish up the year with some special activities for the boys, especially considering that when they think of "christmas", most of them think of an undesirable time of year when the men are off work and get drunk and abusive in the street.

so part of our goal for december is to fill the boys up with christmas memories that will possibly replace those bad ones.  

we had our year-end trophy celebration and graduation, where we gave out 12 awards and officially graduated carlos, josue, and alex.  all the parents came, so we had over 100 people in the gym.  we served "typical guatemalan christmas food" which i think everyone loved!  we watched the videos from the USA trip and the Honduras trip, which the parents had never seen before.  there were lots of laughs and also some tears...

we had our staff christmas party at a local pizza place in antigua.  this is a party for our employees at bvsa and their families.  keep in mind a lot of these people would NEVER go to antigua and eat dinner... so just that alone makes this a special night for their families!  we did a white elephant gift exchange, which was a blast... and were able to give our employees a christmas bonus!

our graduates at dinner in the city
we also took our 3 graduates out to guatemala city to officially celebrate their graduating from the program.  we allowed them to bring a date along, which sort of confirms to them that they are moving into manhood - and that our role at bvsa is to help them along and support them in their new phase of life.  we went bowling and out to dinner - but my favorite "factor" in that night was how the boys get to watch us men interact with our wives.  when they see us goofing around, having a blast with our wives, it is something entirely new to them.  and even though they see it on a daily basis around the academy, its just different when in public.  another opportunity to teach the boys how to treat a girl. anyway, we had a great time and it was an experience the boys and their dates will never forget.

finally, we wrapped things up with the annual rhinos christmas party.  it was a great night.  we were able to do the gift exchange again this year...  each boy drew a name and had $15 to spend on a gift.  (we took them shopping a couple weeks ago.)  in addition, we had a visit from santa (my friend chris steed) who gave all the boys a soccer ball and a hat!  

my favorite part of the night was when the boys put on a "drama" for us.  normally, us coaches do a drama for the kids, but this year they asked if they could do it.  it was awesome!  it was a story about all the super heroes in the world who were upset because they heard about a new "hero" named Jesus who claims to have come to the earth to save the world.  it was creative, serious, and funny all at the same time.  just watching the boys express themselves while acting was incredible for us.  they have changed so much this year - especially in the area of self confidence.  we finished the night with some worship and prayer.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

julio's toe and his future family

so many deep things going on lately.  i could choose from 10 with this blog.  but i find myself thinking about julio right now.

we sent him back home on tuesday, after spending the last 5 days with us in our home.  he had surgery on his toe last week - two pins inserted - and doctor's orders were a calm environment with virtually no activity. knowing his home is the opposite of that, he stayed with us until he got his hard cast put on.

as a side note, he broke his toe in the final game of an 8-week tournament the week before.  it happened early in the second half... he limped around clearly in pain but unwilling to come out of the game... and made the game winning goal in the last minute or so.  3 days later we got it x-ray'd and the bone had not only broken clean through, but had separated so far that it needed 2 pins to join it back together.  another reminder of how incredibly tough of these kids are...

anyway, as kerrie and i laid in bed talking tuesday night, we were sharing about how much we missed him already.  he's been such a pleasure to have in our home.  he eased in to life with our family so well.  he sat in our family devotions.  my girls really enjoyed hanging out with him.  his great personality came to life even more during his time here.  jake was with him 24/7, helping him get around, playing xbox, watching movies, etc... just trying to keep him entertained.  and andrea (2yrs old)...  man... she loved julio before, but now is in love with him like her own brother.  kerrie cared for him like her own, and i enjoyed the many deep conversations God allowed us to have.

today, in the car coming back from the hospital, he broke the silence with this:  "brock, i want to thank you for all you've done for me.  your family makes me feel special.  i love being with your family.  i really like how your family loves each other and does things together.  i want to have a family like that someday."

i write his words in tears.  for those of you that know our ministry, you know that, aside from all the programs we have in place (soccer, devotions, class, etc), our prayer and mission is that the boys will learn how to be men/husbands/fathers by example.  to hear julio's thoughts reminded me that by example is the best way to teach.  for 5 days in our home, he saw with his eyes what he hears from us with his ears every day.  i was reminded that our simple model - life with the boys - is working.

however, i was also saddened with the rest of the conversation.  i asked julio if he was excited to go back home.  he said not really.  i asked him who he missed the most.  he said not really anyone.  he told me that he and his dad never talk (ever), and that they aren't really close as a family.

and julio's family is best case scenario in this village.

i encouraged him that he can be a big part of changing things.  to take what he "desires" for his own family, and initiate some new things in his current family to make it a warmer place.

more than anything, i feel a sense of thankfulness in my heart that julio's house, when he is leading his own family, will be a place of love, faith, and joy.  and i praise God that we get to be a part of that change process.