Author Archives: ritadoppenberg

A drop in the bucket….

Greetings from beautiful Guatemala everyone!  Wow, have we really been here for over 2 1/2 months?  Must be true because we are off next week on a furlough to Costa Rica for 72 hours.  We travel here on visas that are only valid for 90 days and you have to leave the country to renew.  The alternative is to pay a hefty fine at the end and risk refusal to re-enter next year.  So off we go!

I am sorry I haven’t written a blog in a long time.  There are various reasons for this… firstly I was completely snowed under by my University work for the first 2 months here.  Back in Canada I fell behind… seems ‘stuff’ really gets in the way for me in Canada.  I am all caught up and have only some cases studies to complete now over the next 2 months…. then my exam in June.  God willing, by July I will be a RHN (Registered Holistic Nutritionist).  I cannot tell you how invaluable this will be to what we do here.  People do not know how to eat to maximize nutritional intake on what can laughingly be called a ‘tight budget’.  Also with no money, comes no medicines to cure what ails them.  Its incredible how much has been provided to us in nature to cure us.  This is what I will be doing on a full time basis here.  To say I am excited to get started would be the understatement of the century.

Another reason I have not written a blog until now…. well honestly, I haven’t much felt like it.  This year, as opposed to previous years has been incredibly tough.  We have a family that we have been trying to help for the past 2 years that is just impossible to help.  You have to understand that sometimes here it feels as though we have 100 dependents.  I know that others are not our responsibility but in a way, by default of what we do, they are.  And lets face it, some families are just easier to help than others.  This family has had all of their kids in the hospital at one time… some several times…. one has already died…. all because the parents are separated… and to be totally frank, they are irresponsible.  The children are not cared for in the slightest…. and we fear for them every day.  But Guatemala has no FACS (Family & Children Services) like back in Canada.  So we jump through hoops trying to figure out ways for these children to get help.  But at every corner we are blocked by the adults in their lives.  We bring food… the adults eat it…  We had plans to build them a house, but we fear the adults will take it over and the young ones will be left out in the cold.  We visit this mountain family 3 times per week and the situation seems to be more desperate each time.  The kids are hungry, sick, dirty and neglected…. The adults are healthy and vibrant…. You getting my drift here?

This situation has reduced each and every one of us… and some of our volunteers, to tears at times.  We all just want to help so badly… but are at a loss at what to do.  Hermana Mercedes has tried psychologists, sequestering the children at the hospital… but all to no avail.  So needless to say, a feeling of hopelessness has overcome our little community here at times.  We have all grown so close to these kids…. Everardo, Jakelin, Yeimi, Gabriella, Esdras, Moises etc etc…. there are so many…. so sad.  Today Abram visited the hospital with his mom.  Abram is from a different family.  He was in the hospital last year and we all became very close to him.  Today he arrived for his monthly visit, check up and meds.  He looked so incredibly healthy.  Thank God for the Hospital Infantil!  Thank God for parents that care enough to help keep their kids healthy!   This is the way it is supposed to be!!!    Please keep this family in your prayers…. and us, that we along with the Hermanas can come up with a viable solution before its too late and we lose one of them or more… God Bless them.

So…. suffice it to say, we are struggling this year…. emotionally.  And when I struggle, I do not write… and if I do, I certainly get way too morbid for even my own taste, and thus I avoid.  Its just who I am.

Today however, I am writing.  Today, was a great day!  A day of renewed hope!  We formulated a maybe-plan for the family that might just work.  I won’t say too much yet about what it is until I begin to see it come to fruition.  But suffice it to say, today after meeting with the Hermanas we may just see some light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.

We also met with Manuel this afternoon.  Manuel came to us last year, armed with a note.  I will never forget what it said….   “ I am a man of limited means….. I cannot write but had a friend help me…. I do not want a hand out or money….. I want a job…. I am a hard worker and will learn anything.”    I remember the exact moment he handed us that note after waiting patiently almost 4 hours for the opportunity to speak with us after we finished work for the day.   Manuel did get work from us.  He worked hard, was early every day, and never missed a moment of opportunity to help us any way he could.  He even took a good portion of what he earned and bought and prepared a lunch for all the other workers on the last day of the job.  He is an incredible man, with an incredible heart and he is our friend.

Our meeting today was to see how we could help his family and to see if he wanted work for this year.  Yes he wanted work…. no he didn’t want us to help him.  His reasoning?   Well, he said that there are so many people out there much more poor than him and he never wanted to take anything away from anyone else in need.   He went on to tell us that he and his family prayed every day for our family and all the other Canadians… that God would bless us, so we could return to help the poor of his country.  He also wrote his name and phone number on a paper for us!  He is learning to write!!!   I am telling you, I love this man.  We all do.  He is so humble and amazing.   He will be helping us this year…. and we WILL be helping him.  There has to be 20 people living in his 2 room house that is crumbling.  Since we have decided not to build homes this year, unless there is an emergency situation we will help him in other ways.  Mainly by building him a roof like structure.  The thing that struck me today….  after talking with Manuel for almost an hour…. asking over and over if he needed anything… (a question he refused to answer), he finally did come up with something… he pulled us aside and whispered to Zack….  he needed 100Q  for his son to continue going to school…. and later he asked for 50Q so his other son could buy a hen for food…. he whispered because he didn’t want his sons to know…. Want to know how much 150Q is…. $19.00.   We gave this man 19 dollars and it changed his 2 sons lives.  How incredibly simple…. How do we drop $19.00 on trivial things back in Canada.  Sorry to pick on Starbucks but I’ve dropped more than that on 2 large coffees and a scone.  I can assure you I won’t be doing that anymore.  One thing being here does to me is helps me to be much more aware of my money and how just a little can go a long way for a family in need.

Now, about this roof structure… exciting times… one night, Geoff, Jamie, John and Zack (Jamie & Laurie and John & Helena were our most recent volunteers) sat outside at our plastic dining table and came up with a plan.  An amazing plan of a pre-fab roof that can be put up in a day.  There was a woman, Miriam from last year that we had promised to help when we returned this year because last year we were out of time and money…. This lovely woman and her family were our first trial of this roof structure.  It went amazing!  Geoff, Jamie, John and Zack, Luke and Gabe put it up in 1 day with some finishing touches the next day.  It was all pre-fab and welded in the courtyard of our home by some Guatemalans and its awesome.   Its not a house but its a structure that will keep them dry and warm in the rainy season.  One can attach walls of rock, adobe mud, bamboo, metal lamina etc etc.. virtually anything!   Our plan is to teach Manuel how to weld and employ him to make them for us for use in the mountain villages.

We also have quite the plans…. It always strikes me as funny how things change and how diverse we have to be.  We have begun a pig farm with plans to expand.  This will provide food (via pork) for the hospital AND money from the sale of the pigs.  We hope to have 40 sows producing babies year round!  At the moment we have only a few and need more.   We also (thanks to John & Helena) now have 2 cows!!!  Thelma and Louie.  A boy and a girl that hopefully will be producing baby baca’s (cows) within 6 months!  Again for meat and sale.   If anyone had ever told me that we would be basically farmers down here…. I never would have believed it!

Our plan for the farmland crops is on hold for now.  The market here is terrible for anything produce… even coffee  (tell me please, coffee shops in North America, how Guatemalans are getting only 10 cents per pound of coffee when you charge so much?).  Guatemalan’s have lost money… a lot of money in crops, so the land here right now is much better used for cattle.  Thus, we are adaptable.  Cattle it is!!!

The hospital is in full swing.  Lots of new Novitiates there and life is good.  So many awesome women who are giving their lives to serve the poor.  I believe the total woman serving at the Hospital now, learning and getting ready to go out into other parts of Guatemala and Central America now stands at 38!  There aren’t many kids at the hospital right now, around 10, but that is normal for this time of year when crops are still abundant from last harvest.  February -March is when the surplus harvest begins to dwindle and the kids begin to arrive malnourished…. By summer there are upwards of 30.  Such is life here…

I have to say, I have never been more proud of my boys…. they really have stepped up to the tasks here in Guatemala.  Zack is our translator now and is loving the farm life.  Secretly I think he was made for this…. It will be interesting to watch him grow and thrive over the coming years whether here or in Canada.  He is 18 now and has many decisions about his future ahead of him…. But he has shown such growth in these past few months into a young man that Geoff and I are so proud of.   He is actively a huge part of the decision making process here and has some fantastic input.  Nothing like the mind and thoughts of the young to get things going!  Luke and Gabe are also maturing…. its awesome to me to see their hearts and minds grown and work… when I think back to what I cared about at their age …. wow, they are incredible young boys and I am confident they will grow into incredible men… all of them!  They have an incredible role model in Geoff…. God truly blessed me with the men in my life!  I love them so much and its such an honour to serve here in Guatemala at their side.

So there you have it… the life here.  Its trying at times but good.  Volunteers have begun to arrive and we have said some ‘good-byes for now’ already.  Overall its an amazing privilege to do what we do here.  Even though its very hard at times….  The biggest obstacle as always is money.  We have many things going on to help, but we cannot do any of it without you.  We need money for pigs, more cows…. money for materials for the pre-fab roofs…. money for the hospital and the kids for food, medicine and education….  Pick something that touches your heart and visit our website www.thedoppenbergs.com  to donate now so we can continue to do what we do…. maybe even consider coming down and seeing for yourself!!!  We promise it won’t be boring… just ask anyone who has come before!

We have “Highs and lows” that traditionally accompany our after dinner talk. One night after an especially trying visit to the family we are struggling with, emotions were running high.  Helena mentioned a quote by Mother Teresa.  Apparently when Mother Teresa was asked why she would continue when its so little and the need is so large she said….  “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”   Helena likened it to a drop in a bucket…..  Thank you Helena for that…. We feel we were given this beautiful bucket by God.

So this is our bucket…. and we need you to help us put some drops in….  The bucket is large….. but it gets filled one drop at a time.  One drop at a time, together, we CAN make a difference!

God Bless!

Helena visiting the village to hand out some crochet blankets & hats she made

Helena visiting the village to hand out some crochet blankets & hats she made

The pre-fab roof

The pre-fab roof

Trish experiencing how sometimes we have to come up with creative ways to transport materials....

Trish experiencing how sometimes we have to come up with creative ways to transport materials….

Our pig farm

Our pig farm

Geoff and John putting together the pre-fab roof on site.

Geoff and John putting together the pre-fab roof on site.

Thelma & Louie being transported to the land

Thelma & Louie being transported to the land

Jamie & Laurie on one of our visits to the family in the mountains

Jamie & Laurie on one of our visits to the family in the mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this is Christmas….

Hermana Veronica comforting Esteban

Hermana Veronica comforting Esteban

Greetings from Guatemala everyone!  There is much to tell you about but right now I want to save that for later and talk about something… something like Christmas.

Does it not seem strange that we in North America seem to get so caught up in the buying for Christmas that we seem to forget what it is all actually about?  The way we traditionally celebrate Christmas is not exactly what I think God had in mind for the birth of His son.  The running around, the stress, the depression.  Its all so crazy.  Here in Guatemala things are very different.  Sure, the more well off people shop and buy gifts for each other, but not to the extent we do in North America.  They don’t let gifts and buying become the principal driving force behind Christmas… for them it is God and family.  Stores and markets shut down so everyone can spend tons of time together.  They spend more time with family than shopping, at work or anywhere else.  Being with and enjoying family to celebrate the birth of our Saviour is the most important thing to them over Christmas… and every day, if I am totally honest.  It really is quite beautiful.

For some people of Guatemala like, the impoverished Mayans of the mountains,  the Hermana’s and the children at the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro Nutrition Hospital it is the same.  But it is also a time of fear and of struggle just like every other day.  Fear of a child dying due to starvation… A struggle to afford food and medicines to keep the families, the Hermana’s and the children nourished and healthy!  There is no question of  which toy, what size of big screen tv, iPhone 5 or iPad mini, or of eating too much over the Christmas season, it is mere question of whether or not they will have a meal that day or that week.  Whether or not they will have enough food to survive at all.   Every day we watch this life and death struggle and pray for miracles.  Sometimes we get them… sometimes we get miracles different than what we hoped for. Sometimes our tears are of joy, and sometimes we weep in mourning…. but we remain hopeful!

If you are walking around, stressed and worried about what to do this Christmas Season…. or what to buy for that impossible person then I have a great gift idea for you.   Why not give the gift of life to a family.  There is no amount to large or small in order to make a difference and provide life giving nourishment to a hungry child.  You can give the gift in someone else’s name and they will be sent a card telling of the wonderful gift you gave in their name!  When you sit down to your Christmas dinner this season you can rest easy knowing that another family is enjoying life giving nourishment thanks to your gift.  Tis the season of giving… so help us give life!

Visit our website at www.thedoppenbergs.com and click “Donate Now”.  If this is a gift for someone else then once your donation is complete email us at:  info@thedoppenbergs.com with the name and address of the recipient and we will mail a card to them in time for Christmas!  Together we can fight the war against the needless affliction of malnutrition… and win….

 

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

War is over, over

If you want it

War is over

Now…

(John Lennon)

A Very Blessed and Happy Christmas to you all, from The Doppenberg Family,  The Hermana’s & The Children of the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro in Guatemala xoxo.

 

Don’t Miss This!

Ok everyone… we have a fundraiser on the go. Its a catalog of items from here in Guatemala that are made by the people here, and provide them with jobs and much needed income…. We have items like, purses, wallets, table-runners, backpacks, Christmas ornaments etc etc. If you are interested in getting a digital catalog to show at your school or work, email us at info@thedoppenbergs.com and I will send it to you. All proceeds from the sale of items go to the Hospital Infantil here in Guatemala. Thanks & God Bless!

And so it begins…. again

Hello everyone!  Wow, it feels like forever since I have written a blog.  I guess for me, I am a “Guatemalteco blogger”.  I don’t really blog in Canada…. In Canada life is life… nothing really exciting or interesting seems to happen.  I am happy in Canada… I love my family and my friends and I spend as much time with them as possible, knowing our time is limited before I return here to Guatemala.  Once I get to Guatemala, it changes… I have friends and family back home that are eager to hear about our adventures… and those that walk alongside us in our Mission that need to be kept up to speed.  Plus, sometimes things happen here that are just too crazy to not share.

It’s hard for me to believe I have been here for almost a week!  Time flies.  We have been very occupied modifying our new home that we are renting.  Samuel, our friend and the owner of the house, has given us a very good price on rent here.  He has allowed us to make any modifications to the house that we need at no cost to us.  This man and his family are amazing in how much they are helping us.  And some of these modifications are major!!!  He has put in a second bathroom AND a second shower for us.  There is no way that we could survive hosting volunteers with only 1 of each.  Sammy and Geoff have been working tirelessly the past few days on all the big and little things that need to be done.  We are almost there!   People here are so generous too.  We live similar to how we do in Canada, and we can only do it thanks to the generosity of the more affluent people here who give us furniture and other things to make us comfortable.  We live VERY simply however and we choose to do so, but we do not kid ourselves for one moment that we are NOT Guatemalan, we ARE Canadian and we need to eat a certain way… live a certain way… etc if we are to stay healthy and strong both mentally and physically to be of any help to anyone.

We have had many firsts already… killed our first snake (non-poisonous, I think hahaha)…. killed my first (not Geoff’s) dog on the road (sad but one of those situations where there is a cliff on one side and a chicken bus on the other so it was him or us)… We miss things about home, hot water being one of the biggest.  I had forgotten how cold showers can feel here.  So many other little things happen here that turn my life into a comedy show of sorts at times.  Me, Geoff and the boys sit and laugh about these things over dinner until we cry…. We laugh a lot here.  Seems a lot more than we do at home with all the noise and distractions.  Here, we have each other and life is much more uncomplicated.

It’s funny, when I am in Canada, Guatemala seems far away… and my heart aches for the people here.  When I get here, my heart is at peace.  I see the poverty right in front of my face.  I am literally bombarded with it hourly.  But somehow it’s different.  It is not that I am numb to it… or used to it.  It is that I feel like being here I am hopeful.  Like I am where I am supposed to be…. doing something constructive to help effect change in this little part of the world.

We met with Hermana Mercedes this past week for our “formal” meeting.  We discussed, over delicious fresh squeezed orange juice I might add, the past 6 months and the coming year.  Now, I may be at peace but that is not to say I am not frustrated at times by the speed at which we move.  Hermana explained that money is so tight that it is difficult at times to buy food for the nuns at the hospital.  The kids always eat, but the sisters do not always.  The big annual Christmas party that the Hermana’s hold every December that invites all former rehabilitated kids back to the hospital for a dinner and a fiesta (party) had to be cancelled this year… there simply is not any money.  They head up to the mountains, see someone in desperate need and use money to help… its not that they are mis-using the little funds they have… as a matter of fact they use it more wisely than I ever could… its that the money simply isn’t there.  Not in the amounts needed to run a hospital…. and to think, not one of them gets paid one dime…. imagine if there was payroll?

This frustrates me that we have been involved for this long already and we are still there… struggling to get food on their table and medicines to keep them healthy.  The Order of nuns is growing.  There are now 24 of them with 3 more Novitiates arriving by the end of the year.  That will bring the total Hermana’s & Novitiates to 27.  This is an amazing thing and it shows how much God is working in this place to grow it so that there will be so many more of these incredible women dedicating their lives to serving the poor.  However, if it was difficult to provide, food, medicine, education and basic necessities for 18 Hermana’s…. 27 is even more difficult.   But we know that God will provide!  And we will work very hard to make sure that we, as humans are doing all we possibly can!   Having the Hermana sponsorships will help once more people get involved.

The children in the hospital are precious as ever.  Most of the kids that were here last year are gone home and new ones have arrived to take their place.  The hospital never has any shortage of malnourished kids to rehabilitate.   One trip up the mountain usually results in at least one child returning with the Hermana’s to the hospital.  On our end, the child sponsorships are beginning to take shape and the kids should be returning for their check ups soon.  It will be great to see the beautiful faces again of those that have gone home, and we hope that these return visits will ensure that they do not end up back in the hospital.  We will be working tirelessly to get each and every one of these kids sponsorships so that when they come back for their monthly check-ups they go home with their medicines and food.  Be ready, if you aren’t sponsoring a child or a Hermana monthly, I will be pushing… it means so much… it really does…. it means life, period!

Marquitos is a perfect example that the sponsorships work.  For those of you that do not know, Marquitos was admitted years ago with severe malnutrion, blindness and one of the worst cases of cleft palate I have ever seen.  Over the years, thanks to Rachel, his sponsor, who began coming to Guatemala with us when she was only 14, Marquitos is at a healthy weight and has had 2 surgeries to fix his cleft palate.  Next stop, a blind hospital to see if anything can be done for his eyes and if not he will be admitted to learn to walk using a cane etc.  Sponsorships work!  Who knows where this boy would be without it.

Overall, while we are all missing people back home, it just feels good to be back here.  To be actively on the ground doing something.  Not that we weren’t doing anything in Canada, we certainly were… but just to be here amongst it all… feels different…. feels good.

I will be writing many blogs in the coming months.  People have said that I write too much… too long… etc… so sorry for all the words, but it is simply who I am and I find it necessary to communicate how I feel.  If its too wordy for you, then stay tuned, once our friend Dave gets here, we will be doing video blogs again… but that’s not until February.  In the meantime, more information and updates can be found on our official website  www.thedoppenbergs.com  so please visit often!

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this… and pray for us… and love us whether from here for from afar.  We love you all and look forward to sharing our journey with you!!!

God Bless!

Time to catch up…. where we are….

Greetings everyone!  Its been so long since I’ve written.  I am sorry.  Life in Canada sure gets full of noise very quickly doesn’t it.   Firstly I want to thank everyone who came, helped with or was involved in any way with our 2nd Annual fundraising dinner on Saturday night for the Hospital Infantil.  It was a great success, raising both money and awareness!  It was so humbling to look out into the crowd and see so many people.  It was amazing!   We are already looking forward to the 3rd annual.  I think that next year will be even better (minus the comedian) hahaha.

I wanted to take some time and fill everyone in on what is going on in Casa Doppenberg these days.   Firstly, we have made a decision to keep our house off the market for 1 year.  Honestly there are several reasons for this… some being financial… others being that we are unsure about our eldest son’s plans for his future.  He graduates from grade 12 this year and we want to give him some more time to make his life changing decisions on his own without pressure.  As far as financial reasons, we simply need to be very responsible with our money and make very solid decisions.  Since our ministry is funded 100 % by donations and every penny of that goes into Guatemala, the kids, the hospital and the projects,  we do not raise one dime for us personally.  But doing ministry, we obviously only work so many months of the year, when we are here… we need to be very careful.  We need to plan for our own survival, for our future and the future of our children.  Make sense?  So, for 1 more year we are going to hang on to our home here in Canada.

The biggest question I get is “When are you leaving for Guatemala and how long will you be there for?”   What a loaded question.  People (including me) are such planners… It has been very difficult for me these past months to let go of control so to speak.  Being a Christian we believe that we need to “Let go & Let God”.  That is so much easier said than done.  But we are trying.  We are trying to not plan too much.  It is our hope to leave by the end of October and return to Canada in May.  But we are leaving that very open.  Financially there are many decisions to be made.  We need to be “on the ground” in Guatemala for a large part of what we do, but not all of it.  If it seems better for the people of Guatemala that we serve, to invest larger portions of our money and less of our time there then that is what we do.  It’s just more responsible use of time and money.  So we are leaving it open in order to do what is best!

In Canada, many people are struggling financially.  It is a tough place to live.  It is not tough in the same way as Guatemala…. in the way that we are not starving… but it is still hard to live a healthy lifestyle here.  It just looks different… society tells us it must.  While many of societies reasons are things we personally do not agree with, it is what it is.  We have found that this year donation numbers are down.  Not everything always moves “up and to the right”.  With that being said, it has forced us to take long hard looks at how much actual time we will spend in Guatemala.  What do the numbers tell us.  We are still figuring all that out… and doing our best to make the best use of the money we are entrusted with… and put it exactly where it can do the most good.  Decisions are being made…. prayerfully and slowly.  This is not something we want to rush into just because WE want to be there!

We are entrusted with money that people give us to do specific things…. and we will do them.  It just might take time.  All successful projects have funding drives… and nothing is done until the money is raised.  If all the money is not there yet then it sits in trust until the time comes when all of it is there and the time is right.  For example, one project we have is a new hospital in El Salvador.  But we will not be building it this year.  We have not raised all the money yet…. nor do we have the existing hospital in Guatemala financially stable nor self sufficient yet.  Does it make sense to build a new hospital when the one we have can’t run to its full potential?  No… we would have 2 buildings that cannot function properly.  Take my area in Niagara…. we need a new hospital… so we have had a building fund in place in my region for years to raise the money… but still no hospital….  It will come, when the money is there.  Get my meaning…?

All I can tell you is that we have plans… solid business plans… solid funding initiatives…. and we are doing everything we can to move forward in a way that makes the most sense and will help the people the most.  After all, that is what it is all about right?

Some child sponsorships are in place and some still need to be fulfilled… some education sponsorships for the Hermana’s are in place and some still need to be filled… the existing hospital budget still needs to be met… the farmland we wish to purchase to provide employment and self-sufficiency opportunities for the hospital is almost there and will be fulfilled this year!  The new hospital building fund is ongoing and we hope to break ground in 2014.  As you can see we are making progress and things are coming together.  We are just learning lessons along the way, just like everyone else.

It is very hard to go to Guatemala, see what we have seen, experience what we have experienced and NOT go in guns blazing and try to fix everything all at once…. a type of feeling like a “save the world” complex.  This is not the way to go about it.  Everything of value happens in time… but it takes just that, time.  And we are learning how to let go…. in order to move forward… to move up and to the right…. one step at a time….

Consider stepping with us… visit our website www.thedoppenbergs.com and see how you can partner with us to help others.  Whether it be a financial contribution to sponsor a specific child or Hermana, a contribution to a project or a trip down to see for yourself… there are so many ways you can help.  So visit our website, spend some time investigating what is right for you and contact us.  Together we can make a difference!

Come Join us Saturday September 15th, 2012

As you know our family is very involved in helping to abolish malnutrition in Central America.  The only way we can do this is with your help.  Precious little children die every day from the totally preventable condition of malnutrition.  There are so many ways you can help….. On Saturday September 15th 2012 we will be hosting our 2nd annual Fundraising Dinner Banquet!  Please come out and join us for what we promise to be an evening of great food and great entertainment!  Tickets are $50.00 each.   It will be a night where you can find out exactly how easy it is for you to help us help the people of Guatemala and Central America and have a fantastic time doing so!   Contact us for tickets at (905) 563-1020 or email us at info@thedoppenbergs.com.   You can always visit www.thedoppenbergs.com to find out more information about who we are and what we do!   Thanks and we hope to see you there!!!

Introducing……

It’s arrived!!!   The Doppenberg’s have launched a brand new “official” website.  Visit now to find out everything you need to know about who we are and what we are doing…. and how we can’t do it without you!   I will be continuing my blog here… this place provides me with an outlet to write and share my emotions and feelings of what I am doing… and how I am feeling…. and the website will be there so you can personally get involved and keep up to date on how projects are progressing…. how the kids are doing etc etc!   It’s also the place where you can set up partnerships in projects… plan trips and set up child or Hermana sponsorship!  Thanks for all your love and support…. God Bless!

Visit:  www.thedoppenbergs.com

Me, Hermana Veronica & Hermana Yesenia with some of the kids of the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro in El Progreso, Guatemala

Hope Rise

So, I have some exciting news to share!!!   Hope Rise is a new CD by a great musician and friend of ours by the name of Andy Tallman.  All proceeds from the sale of this CD goes to the building of the new Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro in El Salvador!  How exciting!!!

What’s even more exciting is that it’s available on iTunes for download.  So head on over to iTunes right now,  buy your copy and support a great musician and a great cause!  If you want a hard copy of the CD as well, you can email me at ritadoppenberg@cten.org and I will arrange to get one to you.  CD hard copies are $10.00.

Hope Rise

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/hope-rise/id533147057

It is so remarkable that this is available today of all days, a day I needed some hope… iTunes had experienced some technical difficulties and the launch of the CD on their site was delayed until today.  Last night I had received an email from Hermana Veronica at the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro in Guatemala…. with some photos and some very bad news.  She asked me to pray… and get others to pray for a new patient they had arrive on Monday….

Precious little 9 month old Esteban is in very bad shape.  He was abandoned at and then released from the Jutiapa Hospital. He has been put in the care of the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro and the loving Hermana’s.  He is suffering from a very severe case of Kwashiorkor & Marasmus malnutrition with extreme muscle wasting and psychomotor retardation.  He is in the final stages of severe malnutrition where even hospital care with a feeding tube has not helped.  There was nothing more the hospital could do so they sent him to the Hospital Infantil.   Not much can be done, even there, for him now except to love him and pray for him.  The Hermana’s are keeping hope and doing all they can for this precious boy.  It is for children like Esteban that the Hospital Infantil exists, even at times when all they can do is hold and love a precious child until they are called home to Heaven.  For the time being, all we an do is pray…. so join us in praying for Esteban…. and let Hope Rise…..

Precious 9 month old Esteban…. in the final stages of malnutrition… Please pray for him…. ❤

Hermana Veronica comforting Esteban

Its all in the …. details!!!

Ok… its time… time to put aside the “how I feel” stuff…. (I am doing much better by the way).   I’m getting really excited for the coming months… Gearing up to return to Guatemala in the fall…. and getting to work here putting together all the intricate puzzle pieces that need to fit together in order for things to happen when they need to and how they need to.  This blog is a bit different.  Since coming home and re-connecting with everyone many questions have arisen… Great questions about the details and its time to be clear on exactly what is happening with the Doppenberg’s & the ministry we hope you want to be a part of both here and in Guatemala!  We are in the process of putting together a website…. but in the meantime…..Time for a little Q & A…. So here we go….

Question:  What projects do you currently have on the go in Guatemala?

Currently there are 4 major things that we are working toward.  There are many minor ones but we have narrowed it down to 4 major.  We have tried to narrow things down as much as possible.  Things that people can choose to get involved with based upon their hearts but without spreading ourselves too thin so to speak.

1. Now that the renovations at the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro in Guatemala are pretty much complete and the building has been made more energy efficient etc.  We need to get the monthly budget of around $4000.00 covered.  A hospital can only function if the lights are on, the food can be bought etc.   A functional building is only functional if the funds are there for it to be able to be utilized for the purpose in which it was intended.  You get the point.  🙂

2. We are looking to buy a plot of farm land.  To grow nutritious crops to sustain the hospital and provide jobs for locals.  Having the kids at the hospital being rehabilitated is fantastic…. but if their parents cannot make money when the kids go home they end up right back at the hospital in 1 year or less.  We have seen this happen several times.  Buying this piece of land would give the Hospital one more way to become more self-sustaining AND help local families become self-sufficient.  Win/Win!

3. Sponsorships.  These are so important.  We have in place a monthly sponsorship program for both the kids in the hospital AND the Hermana’s.  For the kids, people can donate monthly while the child is in the hospital and then continue that long after the child is home.  Monthly sponsorships will provide care for a bright future for each child.  To ensure that the child’s best interests are served, through sponsor donations we will be providing the sponsor child with a basket every month in lieu of just giving the family actual cash.  In the basket will be all the medicines that he/she needs for the month plus high protein foods and vitamins geared specifically toward their nutritional needs.  It will also contain school supplies, books, Bibles or other things geared toward whatever specific needs that particular child has in order to further their mental & spiritual development. For school age children, a portion will be used to fund school costs which are typically around $80.00/year to ensure that the child can attend school.   Parents will be provided bussing to come to the hospital with the child every month to pick up this basket and that will allow the hospital to do a physical assessment on the child to make sure that their health continues to steadily improve.  Monthly sponsorships will ensure that the kids are well provided for while in the hospital and when they are out through the basket program.   If you want to visit, on the month you come visit your child, we will deliver the basket to their home so you can see your child, their family & see where they live.  We will also be providing people with the opportunity to sponsor a Hermana.  These women give up their lives to serve and we feel that it’s only right that we help them.  One of the requirements of joining this particular order of Hermana’s is that you get an education.  Theology is obvious but they are required to also study something that you can use to glorify God and better serve the poor.  Many choose things like nursing, doctor, translator or teacher.  We helped one young Novitiate (a younger girl who is studying to be a nun) earn her degree in nursing.  What a blessing this was to us to know that we helped her realize one of her dreams and enable her to serve in a way that is much needed.  She now serves full time in the hospital tending to the children and has been such a blessing to everyone.  Sponsorships for Hermana’s will cover the cost of their education or in the case of some of them who have already obtained this degree, a sponsorship can cover things like monthly medicines etc.  They have health issues themselves just like everyone else and these costs can be expensive… many times they do without and this is no good.  They are the ones who run this hospital and they need to be taken care of.  Ever been on an airplane?  They tell you in the safety briefing to put your own oxygen mask on BEFORE assisting others because how can you help those in need if you are not healthy.

4.  And finally…. malnutrition knows no borders.  El Salvador, a small country who’s border lies 40 minutes from our little town of El Progreso is no different than Guatemala.  Hermana Mercedes has always spoken of walking hand in hand with the people of Canada, with God in the lead, across Central America serving the malnourished children.  El Salvador is the first stop in our walk.  We have had the plans drawn up to build a new hospital!!!   A facility that is small but efficient.  There are 2 Hermana’s that have completed their studies in medicine and they are ready to go and begin a 2nd location of the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro!   This has been a dream that God put on Hermana Mercedes heart over 30 years ago… the time is now and we hope to help this dream become a reality!!!

QUESTION:  You speak of sponsorships.  What is the minimum that I can donate monthly as a sponsor of either a child or a Hermana?

We know that times are tough here in North America and it is tough just to make ends meet.  The average cost per month to have a child in the Hospital is approx $135.00. That includes things like medicines, food, tests, lights, water etc.   That is a large amount for one person to cover.   No amount of monthly partnership is too small…. It is our hope that each child can have many sponsors.  Some of these little ones have no family…. some have families who love them dearly but that are truly powerless at this time to help them in any way…. what a blessing to have many families that they can be connected with, write to, draw pictures for etc.  We would love to see their beds filled with pictures of families that are loving them, supporting them and praying for them from all over the world!  We offer trips too…. so you can always know that you are free to come and visit!   Same is true for the Hermana’s.  They have the heart and the desire to serve…. what they need is a hand up…. a hand of help with finances and prayer.  Even if you cannot support financially…. every child and Hermana would love a prayer partner from another part of the world that they can connect with and write to.

QUESTION:   It seems as though a lot of this is about money?

Unfortunately money is a crucial part of this.  God is what drives all of it…and God is necessary.  In our world,  money is not as important as God but it is necessary in its own way.  None of what they do… what we do… or what you do is possible without either.  It is NOT all about money however.  It is about love… about prayer… about hope… Money is simply something that is necessary to physically accomplish concrete things.  People call money the “necessary evil”… it doesn’t have to be evil.  Money spent in a responsible way can be a blessing.  There are reasons that we were born where we were…. “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” — Luke 12:48    Giving is necessary…. and we ask that you give.  If this is not what God has put upon your heart to give to… and there are many choices out there… we understand… but give… somewhere.  Give of your money, of your time… of your heart… with gladness!

QUESTION:  I get that people there need help…. but what are the Guatemalan’s doing to help?  Surely this can’t be totally Canada’s responsibility?

I love this question.  It makes me so excited.  Excited to go back to Guatemala and get to work.  This past year we have made connections with not only the poor and marginalized people of Guatemala but with government officials, decision makers and people of means.  We have been working hard at getting the Guatemalan people involved in a real way.  We have been able to secure help from the mayor and several families in the region.  It takes time to build these relationships but we are making great strides in ensuring that the people of Guatemala and the people of Canada work together, serve together and give together!  Exciting times!!!

QUESTION:  What happens to the extra money?  Say a project I want to donate to is fully funded already…. what do you do with the money then?

Legal disclaimers…. gotta love them.  Every single organization needs them… To me this is the necessary evil hahaha.  Here goes…. Your donation will be used as designated with the understanding that, if the project is fully funded or discontinued, the remaining donations will be used for another ministry project.  The best example I can give here is, say you want to partner with us to build a new hospital in El Salvador.  By the time we get your contribution we have the hospital building already fully funded.  Well then the money would be used in a different way.  It would be used to fund that hospital’s operating expenses.  Make sense?  We will ensure that the money is used for as close a purpose as to which it was intended.  Most charitable organizations operate this way… and it is a good model in which to follow.

QUESTION:  What is your plan… as a family?

Our plan is …. well, we have learned many times to not rely on too much planning… our plans and God’s plan quite often do not mesh.  But since banks, mortgage companies etc do not really accept the “We are waiting on God” answers we have to have some sort of flexible direction.  Flexible being the key word….  Overall, our flexible plan is to sell everything…  Reduce our stuff down to a few boxes of only the most important sentimental keepsakes and sell all the rest.  Liquidate all of our monetary worth here in Canada and live very simply.  It is our hope to spend the next few years living 10 & 2.  10 months there and 2 here (give or take).  It is very hard to live in both worlds both mentally and financially.  We find that for our family it is very difficult to fund our work with mortgages and such weighing us down.  We need the freedom to take whatever path God puts before us.  It seems that the past few years, doors have closed and others have opened that puts us in the very unique position to “GO”.   It’s scary & exciting… but our entire family feels that this is the best way for us so we are going for it.

Question:  What about your people here… you have an active role in peoples lives here… how will that continue with you gone?

Gone is a very black and white term.  We won’t be gone.  The world has never been smaller than it is right now thanks to technology!  While we won’t be physically in the same room on many occasions we will never be gone.  Keeping in touch and loving people is do-able via skype, phone calls etc.  We offer trips so it is our hope that people will come to Guatemala when they are able.  We will be returning back here for the summers and will be free to spend quality time with people here in Canada.  A big factor for us in our decision was, serving at a pediatric malnutrition hospital is so amazing… but things must be taken into consideration.  Some of these kids are there very long term… away from family who cannot afford even the bus fare to come and visit their children.  Some of these kids have been left behind by their families etc.  So they become very attached, very quickly to those that surround them.  It has been a very hard transition for them to have had a family come and love on them every day and now just be gone.  Also with the plans I laid out in the first question, we feel it is very necessary to be there.  New hospitals, monthly sponsorships etc, are all very difficult to manage from a far and we want to make sure things happen as they were meant to.  Bottom line is that, Our ministry is simply better served with us being on the ground there at this moment in time.  Who know’s what the future holds.  We are trying to not look further ahead than a few steps.  This is right for us for now… but we are very aware that God may have other plans for us and we are very open to that.

QUESTION:  Aside from giving…. how can I help, how can I get involved?

We have so many needs…. we need you to be involved and not only in a monetary way.  We need prayer… we need you to keep in touch with us.  We provide blogs and regular updates…. and that keeps you in the loop with what is happening with us.  What seems to happen is that we get VERY out of the loop in what is happening here with you.  We need you to keep in touch and send us your prayer requests and simply treat us as though we are here…. regular emails, messages etc.   When we were got home this time, many said, “I was going to write but I knew you were busy and didn’t want to bug you”…. nothing could be further from the truth.  Bug us!!!  Nothing helps more when you are away from those you love than hearing from them…. Sometimes you feel pretty alone and isolated when you are away serving and even our boys need and crave the familiar at times…. so keep in touch…. always!

One other way you can help is by spreading the word!  Tell others of the opportunity to get involved with us.  Together we can make this grow and grow…. By making the decision to serve on a more full time basis on the ground in Guatemala we don’t want this to stagnate here because of an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.  Help us to keep things going here… in new and fresh ways.  Fundraising will still need to be done whether we are here or there and we will need all the help we can get spreading the word!!!

One example of what I mean is…. Andy Tallman, a very talented musician and friend of ours,  has been looking for a way to use his talents in a way that can further God’s Kingdom.  He met and is now dating Rachel Fast.  Rachel has been serving with us in Guatemala 3 times over the past 2 years.  If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know exactly who Rachel is.  Andy and Rachel have together decided that Andy’s newest CD which is set to release on iTunes tomorrow and on hard copy CD this Friday, will be used in a Kingdom furthering way.  They are donating the proceeds from the CD and the merchandise to the El Salvador Hospital Project!!!   Visit www.hope-rise.com for more details on these amazing young people who together are trying to be the change.    And don’t forget to get your copy!!!  What this does for us is gets people involved in very real ways… People that we never would have known… it spreads the word and gets people involved without us having to even be in this country.  God is directing this and people are learning about it when we aren’t involved directly.  Its not all about in person presentations and pie charts anymore.  God is leading it to have a life of its own so it can grow and flourish through others.  It’s how we always wanted it.  This ministry might have our name on it…. but that is ONLY because the governments of both countries say that it has to bear the name of someone who can be legally on paper.  This ministry is God’s… and we want all people who have a heart for it to take ownership of it in whatever capacity they want.  We want this to be something that we all do together…. in solidarity… hand in hand….

If you are interested in more information you can contact us at any time via email at ritadoppenberg@cten.org  or  if you are interested in supporting any of the above projects you just read about you can fill out the monthly partnership form from:    http://www.ctenc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Commission-To-Every-Nation-Canada.pdf … print it out….  fill it out… put “The Doppenberg’s in Guatemala” at the bottom & mail it to CTENC at the address on the form.   You can also make a one time gift at http://www.ctenc.ca/ritadoppenberg/   Keep an eye out for our website too… we hope to have it up and running in the coming weeks!

Thanks and God Bless!

Lonely Part II …. Clarification

It seems as though I have caused a tad bit of confusion and quite honestly I have offended some with my last blog post.  Please understand this was not my intention.  When I speak about Guatemala I always say I learned so much there.  One thing I have learned upon coming back home is that I should not say or write anything while my mind is so clouded.  Things do not seem to come out of my mind in the way I mean them right now.  They lack clarity and they have a harshness to them that I do not mean.  Those that know me are shocked by my attitude.  I have been approached by so many telling me that my last blog was harsh… or mean… or offensive.  I feel terrible that people have taken it in a way it was not meant.  I am trying to articulate feelings and thoughts that cannot be articulated yet.  They seem harsh because I just came from a harsh place.  Thoughts are muddled in my own mind and if I cannot totally make sense of them, how can I expect others to?  That is my fault and I should have known better.

I re-read my blog…. several times… What offended some the most was how I came across.  That Canada sucks and Guatemala is amazing.  People here suck and people there are amazing.  That could not be further from the truth.  But in my re-reading I see now how it was worded.  I did not do a good job in articulating what I was trying to say.  What happened in my writing was me trying very hard to compare apples to oranges… it simply cannot be done. The problem with my last blog that got to so many, was my use of the word ‘community’ and how we don’t have it here in Canada.  I overstated the point… in a way that made sense in my head and does when I explain it face to face with people…. but totally gets misinterpreted in the semi-impersonal world of writing.  Happens so often when we write… without expression & body language and a forum for others to jump in and ask questions,  things get jumbled…. Compound that with the thoughts being jumbled in my head, and that is not good….. lesson learned…

There is community here… strong, solid and good….  it is just a different type of community for a different part of the world.  Apples to oranges…. I stand by what I feel in the way that it can be at times an unhealthy type of community.  I love the people that surround me.  None of what I do or pieces of who I am could be without them.  But people, me included, sometimes seem discontent… busy… distant… it makes me sad…   People… friends, family, neighbours, strangers,  in our community live with loneliness and despair and we are clueless to their plights at times.  People in my own community are clueless to my plight… both my fault and theirs….  We are all guilty of it… whether here or in any other part of the world.  It is a broken world… everywhere… filled with broken people… everywhere…

Coming back from a mission experience of any kind, whether short term, or long term has its pieces.  Pieces of beauty and pieces of ugliness too.  You return with an extreme desire to fix things…. to fix people… to fix problems… to fix everything.   You want to scream from the rooftops how everything you see seems out of sync.  Make no mistake,  that is MY problem and not YOURS.  It is something that those returning have to deal with.  They have counsellors that deal only in this specific type of reverse culture shock for missionaries.  There is a very good and valid reason for those counsellors.  You cannot hold a dying child in your arms and not be affected… not be different… not be harsh at times.  I have had people say to me, “you have to be patient with us back home… we cannot understand”.  I have to say the same things to you… “Be patient with me…. you cannot understand…I have held the dying child.”….. Everyone is unique… and we all process things differently.  No one can totally understand how I personally process things.  And I cannot expect anyone to.   Its like I have been blindfolded and spun around.  Someone has stopped spinning me and removed the blindfold only part way and placed me in a place that is familiar yet unfamiliar.  Now I am dizzy &  disoriented and trying to find my way.  But I am only sure of one direction…. forward… but forward seems unattainable while my brain tries to re-orient itself and my eyes can’t really focus yet.

The bottom line is…. love one another… those that are close to you… and those that are distant.  Reach out to those you don’t know in small ways… they mean so much.  Take time away from completing tasks, from work… from extracurricular activities… from your “stuff”… whatever your stuff is…. take time from it and love on someone.  From the outside looking in (which is where I feel now at times both here and in Guatemala) it seems to me that people have been so busy with their stuff that they have lost sight of that.  I was one of the worst people for that… always surrounded by ‘have to’s’ … drop some have to’s and live… and love.  Yourself… and others.  It’s a lesson I learned during my time away.  And one I am still struggling to process completely.

Let me clarify things…. I love my life here.. I love my life in Guatemala.  I love my people here… I love my people in Guatemala.   There are so many things we do so much better here… there are so many things they do so much better there.  Apples to oranges….  People ask me, will you miss here at all?  Of course I will.  But, I know that this is the path that God has me on and I accept that.  Gladly and with a humble heart….. I am very passionate about this ministry that God has put on our hearts.  BUT, I am terrified.  Packing my life into 10 boxes … leaving family and friends… leaving my community…. starting over.  Terrifying stuff.   But I am also excited to begin a new adventure.  One that I want every single one of my community here to be a part of… because I cannot do this alone.  None of my family can.  This is not our thing… this is God’s thing…. and it can only work if we do it together, however that looks.

Once again, if you are one of those I offended… please don’t be offended… It was never my intention to hurt anyone… don’t give up on me.  I have changed in many ways, but I am the same person inside.  Many who have seen me personally have said I seem lost… I am lost.  About that I cannot lie.  I need you…. I need prayer… I need help… I need time… I need so many things.  Its not easy for me to say these things.  I am inherently a very independent person and admitting my need is a tough thing for me.  One of the biggest things I need is your understanding…. your patience and your love.

God bless you all!

%d bloggers like this: