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Episode #44 – Living in Chiapas Part2

October 21, 2007

with Martha Kilpatrick and hosted by John Enslow
Special Guest: Julie

(Julie)  Guermo has a son named Saline who’s fourteen and Saline now works the clinic also.  He mows for us in the summers.  It’s precious to me to see that God is showing Himself faithful to Guermo for Saline’s benefit as well at time when Saline is really coming of age and watching  that here his father has served faithfully in a very humble position for many, many, many years without complaint and that God is stepping in and providing for this family this way.  I think that’s just special to me that…
(M)  Yeah.  That the gift would speak of God to the next generation.  That’s bigger than the gift itself.
(Julie)  Right.
(M)  It speaks of God.
(Julie)  Because as the condition of a lot of people down there, Saline has had the opportunity to be more educated than his parents, and I just think it’s such a wonderful witness for him to see that his father’s faithfulness is being rewarded, that God has not forgotten his family.
(J)  How long has he worked at the clinic?
(Julie)  I know that he’s worked at the clinic there about eight or nine years.  I’m not sure exactly how long, but that’s a long time to work for, you know, what to us is an unthinkably low wage.  So, I really think now that…  My family had been on short term mission trips before we did this.  And we’ve been out of the country here and there in some different places.  We’ve been to Africa.  But somehow it’s really different when you move and live among the poor.  When you live with them long enough to get used to their lifestyle and what it’s like to live how they live and where they live, then it just begins to change you in understanding the unbelievable wealth of our country.
(J)  Right.  Right.
(Julie)  To these people that we live among now, it is an inconceivable wealth.  Some of them are wanting to come to the United States to visit and there’s times where I drive around when I’m back home and think, what are they going to think…  It’s going to look like heaven to them.  They can’t even conceive of cultured lawns and just so many of the amenities that we take for granted…  the well-paved streets and air conditioning and just things that work.  So much of Mexico is things are very poor quality and things that don’t work and just living among the constant frustration of whether or not you’ll have electricity today or whether or not you’ll have drinkable water today or…  It’s just different.
(M)  So how is it to live in the house in Mexico?  I know the heat is…
(Julie)  Well, thankfully physically we have adapted to the heat.  I didn’t know that would happen, but it has.  Honestly, when we come home we can hardly stand the air conditioning because we’re not accustomed to it now.  So, you get used to that.  When I first moved down there, honestly, the sheer labor of living down there was really hard, and I would go to bed and my back would ache from being on concrete all day because there’s no carpet.  Obviously there’s no carpet for a lot of reasons, bugs and dirt and whatever as well as just it’s not available where we are.  But the work of it…  It sounds silly but little things, not having an ice-maker and having to get used to filling ice trays and sweeping floors and you have to sweep down there…  I realize why all the little Mexican women always have aprons and brooms because you spend your whole life in an endless battle against dirt and bugs there.  But the work of it was tough.  But eventually, eventually you get used to that and that’s so much…
(M)  That’s just a life…
(Julie)  That seemed like the first stage of adjustment was just adjusting to the sheer labor.  Then  second stage probably had more to do with being separated from the people that we loved and the life that we had had and I don’t know what the next state will be.  We’re still very much in it.
(M)  You’re living through the stage.
(Julie)  Yeah.
(M)  Well, Julie, what are some other needs of the poor that you feel could be met that maybe our listeners could be interested in?
(Julie)  That’s a good question.  The needs in Mexico are endless, and I think sometimes…  I know the missionaries before us…  We came in under other missionaries.  We came into an already established mission and the missionaries before us are now in their eighties and they were ready to retire.  So we kind of stepped into it that way.  But their perception of their role was that…  Their belief was that the predominant benefit of American missionaries in Mexico was to bring American money into Mexico.  Like I said, the poor are rich in faith.  The Lord told me when we were praying about going to Mexico…  He said very clearly to me,  “You will go to Mexico to learn the gospel like you would never learn it here.”  And so I feel like in a lot of ways we are learning from them the true gospel.  So our role is not so much that.  There is an endless need for finances to be able to just help get their living conditions up to a standard that…  I mean we’re still learning how to balance the humanitarian side of it with the ministry side of it, because, you know, you can’t hardly share the gospel with the man who’s starving so to speak.  So there’s a certain need.  I know we hope to move in to some gardening and raising goats so that we can begin to go up into these mountain areas where the really really poor, most of whom are indigenous Indians.  In Chiapas there are of displaced evangelical indigenous groups.  One of the interesting things about Chiapas…  I don’t know if you want to use this or not but…  Back in the 1940’s and 50’s there were a number of evangelical groups who came to evangelize in that area, in the area of Chiapas.  There must have been a wave of some kind of let’s go help the Indians and so a whole bunch of them came.  So interestingly the Mexicans tend, meaning the Spanish decent Mexicans, tend to be Catholic.  But the indigenous Indians, because all those evangelistic efforts in the 40’s and 50’s, most of the indigenous are evangelicals, and so there are a lot of conflicts.  Chiapas is considered…  I thought it was interesting that at one time recently in Operation World listed Chiapas as one of the twenty-five highest areas of persecution in the world, and it was about number twelve.  I mean it was higher than some other nations like Afghanistan, which was interesting to me.  But it’s because of the conflict between the Catholics and the indigenous.  And even not too long ago probably about a month ago we had another martyr, where the Catholic, the Catholics murdered an evangelical indigenous man, who had come to evangelize in a Catholic area.  Now the Catholicism in that area is not necessarily like the Catholicism here.  Down there it is heavily mixed with a form of kind of witchcraft, really.  It’s real mixed.  It’s not all really like the Catholicism in the United States.  So, you know, that explains a little of it.  But anyhow there’s a lot of conflicts there so during the movement, some of the various social movements in Chiapas, a number of these indigenous groups were displaced and the government would give them land up in the mountains, which is very infertile lands, but it would give them somewhere to resettle.  So there’s a number of these groups in our area.  We’re hoping to get started with gardening and goat raising because we see as one of their basic needs finding ways to improve their nutrition to cut down the birth defects and things like that.  So, you know, finances are always a need.  Personally I would love for people to come and visit and come with us at the camp.  The medical campaigns that we do, like I said, we are always needing volunteers, especially bi-lingual volunteers who are willing to come and participate.  You don’t have to have prior experience.  Obviously we’re extremely grateful if ophthalmologists or podiatrists or…  We’re not really set up for extensive surgeries yet.  We hope to in the future, but right now outpatient type surgeries…  We would love for them to come.  But other volunteers who have no experience can come.  This last campaign we had the lady who sold us our Mexican car insurance came with one her friends and they were a tremendous blessing.  And I know it blessed them to see how much God could work through them to bless the people.  So, even more than funds, I would love to see participation of people to come and get involved at a heart level with the people there.  And the Mexican people and the Indians both are…  I feel very blessed to be called to Mexico because they are very generous people.  They’re very open-hearted people.  They’re very willing to receive you if your Spanish, like mine, still is very poor.  They will help you.  And so, I would love to see people come and visit and you can get information from our website about how to contact us and we can give you campaign dates and tell you when something’s coming up that you might want to participate in.
(J)  Again, that’s at Shulamitepodcast.com and then you go into the “Who are we” section and along the right-hand side is the Wilson’s as well as the Locker’s websites.
(M)  Julie, you told me the story of a mother of a child with crossed eyes that would not leave and waited.
(Julie)  Oh, yeah.
(M)  Tell that story.
(Julie)  In June we had a campaign that was all for children.  The first day of the campaign there was actually a handicapped child, and as the child was coming out of anesthesia and was fighting, it broke one of the machines that we needed for anesthesia and so we couldn’t go on until they got that repaired, so we lost about six or eight hours the first day in surgery.  All that to say that it caused us eventually to get into a situation in the campaign where we had to tell about twenty families that they were going to have to go home.  And this was after they’d waited two days; by that point two solid days sleeping on the concrete, sleeping on the ground outside, waiting and waiting, long, long, long days of waiting.  And we had to go and tell these people these families, “I’m sorry, but we just can’t physically get to those surgeries.”  So it was a real, a very difficult thing for everybody involved.  And there was one mother…  There were actually two mothers.  I’ll tell about the other one too,  two mothers of children who just refused to accept that answer.  One of them was loud and demanding, and just eventually was asked to leave and left.  But there was another one and the other one just said she was going to stay and pray.  So that day finished out.  The third day finished out.  We were coming into the fourth day of the campaign.  So this family had been there for four days.  And they kept telling her you might as well go home.  There’s no way.  There’s no way.  There’s no way.  Finally she told one of the translators, “Until the last doctor drives out of the driveway, I will not leave.  I’m going to continue to pray and ask God to make a way for my daughter to receive her surgery.”
(M)  How old was the child?
(J)  I don’t really remember.  I’m in the kitchen, so I don’t always get into all those details, but she was determined to…  And it was a cry.  It was a faith filled determination.  So on the last day of the campaign…  This had been four days, it touched one of the doctor’s hearts and he said, “I’ll do it.”  And so at about ten…  I think it was about ten or ten thirty, the night of the fourth day of the campaign, it was one of the last surgeries.   They performed this surgery on her daughter’s eyes.  And since that time, I haven’t told you this.  But since that time she brought the child back to the campaign we just finished in July, and originally they had thought that the child had a condition called retinopathy, which there’s nothing you can do about that.  It’s kind of a detached retina thing. But when we got into the surgery, that was not the case and the child was able to have the corrective surgery and is now able to see.  And she came and visited us.  She came back to the July campaign and visited us.  And it was just a real blessing and it felt like meeting the persistent widow because she was so determined to…
(M)  In a submissive way…
(Julie)  Yes.
(J)  How long does each surgery usually take?  Average?
(Julie)  I believe most of the cataracts take about thirty minutes apiece.  The sterbisma surgery is the more complicated surgeries take longer.  Some of them can take an hour and a half to two hours.
(J)  Wow.
(Julie)  So, we don’t do surgeries on children unless we have an anesthesiologist.  Anesthesiologists are precious on the mission field  because we just don’t feel like the children could handle the trauma of having to be still that long.  So the kids have to be put under.  The adults they just do local.
(M)  Is Keith in the operating room during this?
(Julie)  Keith is in the operating room and our daughter, our thirteen year old daughter is also in the pre-op area.  She’s hoping to become a nurse some day, so it’s a neat opportunity for her.  But this last surgery our eleven year old son also was in the pre-op area.  There’s a series of eye drops they use to dilate the eyes and deaden the muscles to get them ready for surgery.  So there’s occasions where our children are invited to help.
(M)  And so you wanted to really expand the hospital for more surgery in the future?
(Julie)  Yes.  Right now the surgery…  the operating area is upstairs in the two story building and that’s ultimately not the best situation, so there are plans that they’ve worked with the Mexican…  kind of like family services department in the Mexican government.  And they have had an architect draw up the plans for a new surgery facility that would have, I believe four operating rooms.  And they would like to create operating rooms that are up to international standards so that we could perform multiple kinds of surgeries.  I think the next direction and immediately that Keith is looking into going is hiring a full time OBGYN doctor because there is tremendous need for that type of work in that area.  And so that would be initially we would do that and try to expand even the surgery facilities to be able to reach out in those areas.
(J)  And most of these surgeries are being performed on people that the reason why they have the maladies they have is because of nutrition?  Would you say that?  Because, you know, I don’t ever see anybody with crossed eyes here.
(Julie)  Well, I don’t know that it’s…  Nutrition is certainly a factor.  Also even just the simple poverty of not having the money for sunglasses among people who work outside all their lives.  And they live in very hard conditions of life and so a lot of the cataracts and things like that develop just as a, you know, hard living so to speak.  But certainly it is poor nutrition, poor ongoing nutrition as they grow older.
(J)  Cause, I mean, I don’t see anybody in the States, really, that have crossed eyes, you know, so I’m wondering what are the conditions that are creating this, this situation?
(Julie)  I don’t know.  And I even was asking one of the ophthalmologists that came down.  Why so many cataracts?  Why are children born with cataracts?  Why crossed eyes?  I don’t know that there’s a real simple answer to that, but certainly the poverty and the poor nutrition and…  And I know one of the ophthalmologists said at one time it was because they don’t have regular medical care all the time. So conditions that we would go to the doctor much earlier and have treated aren’t treated and he said…  He said.  I thought this was interesting.  He said that the Indian people are very stoic and it’s unbelievable…  This was his comment.  It was unbelievable… It was amazing to him to see how severe their conditions were and how long they lived with them before seeking help.  And it’s just that it’s not available.  This eye clinic has actually become known as the eye clinic of southern Mexico.  So we have people travel in, sometimes for days, on busses to come there because it is a free clinic.  And we do the surgeries based on, you know, ability.  We do take donations.  But basically if you don’t have any money at all you can come to the clinic and receive what you need.
(J)  You were saying, though, that a number of the people around that knew about this would actually come to this hospital even if they had the money to have the surgery and, you know, because of the Mexican…  I mean because of the American doctors and the facility.
(Julie)  Right.  And one of the other types of surgeries that I didn’t mention that they do is they do provide the cornea transplants.  We have a little bit of difficulty getting the corneas across the border and did at this last campaign.  But when they can get the corneas in, then they do cornea transplants.  So there are times when people will come to receive surgeries that aren’t readily available in Mexico, even for a fee.  And that’s why we do the donations.  There are people who are able to pay and are very willing to pay.  We do prefer the poor.
(J)  Sure.
(Julie)  And we let that be known.  The clinic exists to serve the poorest of the poor.  And so they get priority.  But if there’s availability and surgery time then they will do others as well.
(M)  Well, Lord, we just commit this mission to You and ask You to sovereignly provide.  I ask you to surround this family with Your grace, Your power and Your strength, Your wisdom.  And I know the listeners join me in blessing them in Jesus’ Name for doing a work that others are not called to, but a difficult sacrifice.  I ask You, Lord, to remind us of the Wilson family.  Bring them to mind that we could just life them to You to be their entire provision and strength and hope.  And I just thank you, Julie, for giving us some of your time and sharing your life with us.  It’s a life foreign to every, everyone I know.

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