The Gary Family Travels to Guatemala

On June 14, a team of nine from Connexions Church in Dexter, MI, will be headed to San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala on a mission trip to serve the needs of the people in the community. Among the team will be the Gary Family, who will be returning to Guatemala for their second time in less than a year.

The following is written by Shelli Gary.

Last year we were in the Mayan Highlands in Santa Apolonia. The town was beautiful, and full of the traditional Mayan culture, that has not changed much over the years. The women and young girls still wear the traditional Mayan Huipals and Cortes (hand woven and multi-colored tops and wrap skirts). We served in a church by hosting a children’s fair and Vacation Bible School for more than 250 children! But, it was the Mayan people who captured our hearts and we fell in love with them. The Mayans are very warm and beautiful people, and very family oriented. It is not uncommon to see older siblings carrying their younger brothers and sisters around on their hip, or grandfathers carrying their grandchildren around on their shoulders. The family unit is very strong in the Mayan culture. But we also witnessed much need. There is great need for health education and medical and dental services, and the illiteracy rate is 64%, one of the highest in Central America.

When we head back to Guatemala next week, we will be taking lots of supplies with us to help meet these needs. Our team has been blessed by so many individuals and organizations with donations. The Dexter Lion’s Club and other individuals have donated over 500 pairs of used eyeglasses that we will be taking! Local Optometrists in the Dexter area have been reading the strengths and coding the glasses for us, so that we will be able to give simple eye exams to help the people pick out a pair of glasses that will help them see more clearly. In the Mayan communities, it is very difficult to have access to eyeglasses, and most go without. The cost of a pair of eyeglasses is worth 2 months salary to most, in addition to the cost of transportation to get into Guatemala City and the cost to see an Optometrist. These will be a big blessing to the people!

A local Rotary Club, who has in interest in Literacy, has donated 50 lbs. of Spanish children’s books! The collection of books includes both fiction and non-fiction and will be a huge blessing to the teachers and students of a school in San Juan Sacatepéquez! We are excited to spend a morning at the school and offer a brief geography lesson about Michigan and teach a bit of English (numbers and colors) with the students.

We will also have the great opportunity to teach dental hygiene to a group of 100 children and 40 teens. Thanks to the generosity of local dentists and many individuals, we are taking dental hygiene kits for these children and for their parents. Many people have been dropping off small tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes for us to make these kits and we are very thankful. I don’t know if people realize how their small act of generosity and sharing will make such a huge difference in the life of another individual.

We had a request by the church who is hosting our team, to teach about pre-natal and post-natal care along with family nutrition. We have a nurse on our team who will be teaching basic nutrition and personal care, and we will also participate in a group question and answer time. Remember, many of the women cannot read and have little or no access to medical care, other than the community midwife. It will be a very special time, as we also learn more about the lives of Mayan women. There is a local senior center here where women have been knitting baby hats for us to take. We will be giving these to expecting mothers. We are also taking prenatal vitamins to share, that will greatly improve the health of the pregnant mother and her baby. The infant mortality rate is an alarming 50% in some of the Mayan communities.

Our team will be staying in the church that is hosting us, sleeping on the cement floor in sleeping bags. I hear it is the rainy season in June and a bit chilly in the highlands (we will be at a 5,000 ft. elevation). We will eat fresh corn tortillas everyday and the local women will be cooking for our team – it will be delicious! Our boys will have the opportunity to make friends with others their age, and to practice their Spanish. Our team will also have two translators with us who are from Mexico City. They will be an invaluable bridge for our team, not only in the communication, but in bridging the cultural differences.

So many people have made this trip possible for our team with their kindness and generosity. I thank God everyday for this opportunity and know that with Him, all things are possible!

Go to our Flickr page to see photos from the trip last year.

For donation inquiries please contact Shelli at shellig@chartermi.net

Promoting Peace And Helping The Less Fortunate

This is a guest post written by our friend Tiffiny Wright.

My husband and I like to try out different places to live. In the past five years we have been promoting random acts of kindness in three different states, Illinois, Arizona and California. We have seen the difference of living in a city to the extreme of living in the desert. What we have learned is, across America, one thing is the same – We need to make this land the best it can be by acknowledging your neighbor and speaking kind words. By promoting peace in our communities, by doing little things like holding the door open for the person behind you. By saying please and thank you, by letting someone go in front of you, by putting others first.

One major issue that America struggles with all over is homelessness. Lend a hand out to the homeless people in your city. You can literally go on the streets and hand out food, make eye contact, they are humans and need to know humankind does care. If you’re more comfortable, go to a homeless shelter and speak to the director that can give you recommendations on how you can help.

In your day to day life at work, try extra hard to smile every chance you get. Remember the names of the people you see if you work in customer service. Create a peaceful environment around you to promote kind acts in your community. We all have the power within us to unite as humankind and create a peaceful world to live amongst each other and for our children to grow old in…

We’re not perfect, and we’ll never have a perfect day. But, we can try!

DINET

This is a guest post from Michelle Sawicki.

When I was 27, my life as I knew it was stripped away from me. I went from being a totally healthy, active, vivacious young woman to being completely bedridden all in one day. Doctor after doctor were puzzled by my strange symptoms, which were numerous and debilitating.

It took eight months for me to be diagnosed with Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. It took a year for me to be able to work again, and then it was only a part time, sit-down job. A ridiculously high heart rate and bottoming out blood pressure left me out of breath and seeing-stars-dizzy whenever I stood up for any length of time. I was lucky though; some people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome are wheel chair bound and can’t stand up at all.

It has now been eight years since I was originally diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, an often unheard of disorder characterized by dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the body that is involved in the control of automatic functions such as breathing, temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. I have healed greatly in the last eight years, and I know that I am blessed to be able to go for walks or just stand up to hug my husband and son when they come in the door. I feel as if I’ve been given a second lease on life, and I’ve spent the last four years running a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping others who have been diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

Because the disorder is not well known, funding is in short supply. If there is anyone out there who can help me, I’d greatly appreciate it. [See donation information below]

Thank you.

Donations are tax deductible and can be made:
Online at www.dinet.org
Mailed to:
DINET
PO Box 55
Brooklyn, MI 49230

Faye Dietiker of Breast Cancer Angels

Our tribute and praise goes out to Faye Dietiker of California. She is the founder of Breast Cancer Angels. Below you can read Faye’s own story of her awesome organization, and I have to say that Faye is truly an Earth Angel! Thank you so much for making this world a better place to live in with your selfless kindness and compassion!

The following is written by Faye Dietiker.

I live in Cypress, California with my wonderful husband Don. I am a mom with an extended family of five adult children. I have a beautiful baby granddaughter, Carianne who is 2 years old. I am also an 8 year survivor of stage 4 breast cancer and the founder and director of Breast Cancer Angels. Breast Cancer Angels is an organization that I began in 2000 to financially and emotionally assist women in treatment for breast cancer. When I was going through very aggressive experimental treatment I sat next to several young women who had to decide whether to buy their anti-nausea medications ($270.00 for 9 pills) or buy groceries to feed their children. Of course the children came first and the mom’s were sick for days. I decided that if I survived I would find a way to help these women feed their children and buy their medications.

My concept was that for $20 a month anyone could become an “Angel” and help support women going through breast cancer treatment. We started with 6 “Angels” putting in $20 a month and we now have over 250 “Angels” who send in from $20 to several hundred dollars a month. Our motto is “We can all be Angels here on earth”. In the past six years we have given out over $650,000 in financial aid. We are currently assisting over 70 women a month, with 56 children in these households. We assist with food, housing, utilities, medical co-pays, prescription costs and much more. We get referrals from ten Breast Centers in Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties and from other agencies. Breast Cancer Angels is run out of my home office and 100% of all donations go back out in financial assistance. A corporate sponsor meets our overhead.

I feel blessed every day that I am still here and able to make the breast cancer journey a little easier for the women we assist.

For more information about Faye and the Breast Cancer Angels go to breastcancerangels.org