Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Visit to Guatemala: medical care, new tile, and more

by Deacon Gary Franz, for the Inland Register

(From the June 21, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

From left, in the back row, are Sister Liz, Nedra Pautler, Sister Immaculata, and Sister Marie. In the front row, from left, are Deacon Gary, Loren Franz, Dr. Tom Pautler, and Pat Franz. (IR photo courtesy of Deacon Gary Franz)

My wife, Pat, my son, Loren, and I went to Guatemala to work with our mission partners in Novillero from April 13-27. We took two bags of medicines obtained through Providence Hospital in Seattle by Dr. Tom Pautler, brother of Father Mark Pautler, with sponsorship from the Spokane Family-to-Family program.

Dr. Pautler and his wife, Nedra, also made the trip and spent considerable time working with Dr. Josť Miguel in the four area clinics and seeing the countryside with Father David Baronti, the Spokane Diocese priest who ministers in the Guatemala Mission.

My wife and I spent most of the time maintaining the convent in Novillero that is home to Sisters Immaculata, Marie, and Liz. The main project was to complete tiling the shower/bathroom, rebuild toilets and sinks, paint, and support finishing the new roof on one of the clinic buildings with corrosion-resistant paint.

We also replaced some of their very worn pots and pans with new cookware to be used on the wood-burning stove. That happened on a rush drive to Guatemala City and a side visit to Sears with the driver while Sister Immaculata got an eye exam and new glasses. But that took too long, so we were not able to pick up the Sistersí mail in the city Ė it has been waiting for three weeks, and though important, it was not as important as providing the services to the people of the area and being home for prayer before dinner.

We spent a considerable time in prayer, attended a Mass for the feast day of Hermano Pedro, a Guatemalan saint, as well as a number of weekend Masses in various area churches. We also celebrated Nedraís birthday and then a sort of coming-out day as Sister Marie got her arm out of its cast after six weeks, following her fall on the very uneven main street in Novillero.

Dr. Tom Pautler checks a manís blood pressure in the clinic in Novillero, Guatemala. (IR photo courtesy of Nedra Pautler)

The rainy season started early as evidenced by afternoon or nighttime showers and the evening lightning shows almost every day, as well as the presence of massive numbers of June bugs that show up with the rains. The rains come in quickly and are pretty hard on wash thatís been hung out to dry.

As part of furnishing an apartment at the clinic in Nahuala for a potential dentist, we contracted with a young local carpenter from Novillero to make cabinets, and went to Xela to shop for a kitchen sink. At Decorabanos, we found a suitable sink, but while closing the purchase, Sister Immaculata tripped on a raised platform, fell and got a pretty good knock on her head. The staff at the store was very attentive and a vendor near the store provided a chunk of ice to take down the swelling on her cheek. When we returned to Novillero, Dr. Josť tended to her, including adding a couple stitches to two different cuts on her shin. Still, she made sure we didnít miss evening prayer before we could eat dinner. I have to say that while she is pretty frail, she is still very tough and committed.

Completing the tile and painting work were high points for us, as well as Pat getting to pick up goodies for friends in Panajachel. Another high point was getting five new rose bushes for Sister Immaculata and seeing the smile on her somewhat bruised face. Roses for the Lady!

As an end note, I should mention that Sister Liz is there to help out since Sister Immaculata is not able to do as much as she used to. But that is not the long-term answer. We still need a registered nurse to administer the clinics, manage the clinic staff and payroll, and support the doctor. If you know of a Spanish-speaking registered nurse who has a passion to serve people in need in a tough Third World circumstance, please contact me, Guatemala commission chair Donna Connell, or Jerry Monks.

(For more information, email

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