Seasons of Change: Cartel Update, Hospital Happenings, and Autumn Adventures

Greetings from Mexico! Despite our 7,000 foot elevation in the Sierra, we’re seeing hints of fall’s arrival. These past two months have brought change in many ways, from growth at the mission hospital to our anticipation of adding a baby sister to our family. Thank you for journeying with us in Mexico- and for your prayers and support which fuel our work here. 

Just the highlights. 

– A typical Saturday in the ER: from asystole to a second chance
– Update on cartel activity in our area
– Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training for physicians
– Launching of the Tarahumara Fabric Project
– Jessee’s pregnancy update and family plans for the winter

A Typical Saturday in the ER

Ramon (name changed for privacy) was a young Tarahumara man who was brought in the back of a pick-up truck by family members one Saturday afternoon. He had been struggling to breathe for days from a complicated pneumonia and was barely conscious upon arrival. Ramon’s parents were desperate for help, knowing that Hospital Misión Tarahumara was their son’s only chance for survival in such a remote place.  Moments later on our ER exam table, Ramon entered into cardiac arrest. Willy had difficulty securing an airway and placed a tracheostomy tube. The hospital team was able to revive him and transported him by ambulance to the city hospital. Ramon stayed in intensive care for an extended period of time, and thankfully he survived. Difficult cases like these are all too common where we live. As physicians, we constantly rely on God’s guidance and mercy over us while caring for patients in such a resource-limited setting.

Update on Cartel Activity

You may have heard of the tragic cartel-related ambush on November 4th that led to the killings of several members of a Mormon family in the mountains of Sonora, Mexico (bordering our state of Chihuahua.) The news was certainly shocking for members of our community and an all-too real reminder of the delicate balance between rival gangs in Northern Mexico. Thankfully, we are safe at the mission hospital and take security measures when we travel. The cartel members always treat the hospital personnel with respect and we know that there are plenty of places in the world where the dangers of being a Christian missionary are far worse. Please continue to pray for the protection of the missionaries who live and work here. Over the past few decades, the Copper Canyon has become a major drug-growing region and the Tarahumara are often forcibly employed in the drug trade. Please pray for our Tarahumara neighbors who have endured much suffering as a result of the cartel presence, that they would receive true freedom and peace in knowing God.

PALS Training Course

Every minute counts when you’re working to save a sick child’s life in the Copper Canyon. We recently had the opportunity to teach the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) course to five amazing Mexican physicians who are our colleagues at the mission hospital.
         The biggest killers of children in our region are severe dehydration from prolonged diarrhea, sepsis, and complications of malnutrition. Having a solid foundation of pediatric resuscitation skills means the difference between life and death for our littlest Tarahumara patients. We are grateful for opportunities to invest in these providers who are on the front lines caring for the Tarahumara.

Launching the Tarahumara Fabric Project

We are excited to have recently launched a new hospital initiative called the Tarahumara Fabric Project. In a nutshell: we believe that 7 meters of fabric + some thread and needles = healthier, happier Tarahumara families.
        After spending over a year caring for Tarahumara patients, we have become increasingly aware of how important it is to the Tarahumara to stay busy with their hands. At home in their villages, the Tarahumara enjoy sitting outside sewing, carving wooden figurines and weaving baskets. The pride and joy of every woman is her collection of handmade colorful dresses. Not only that, dresses are like a Tarahumara bank account, allowing women to clothe their families, barter for food, or sell to tourists to improve their family’s economy.

We realize that being hospitalized can be a very foreign experience for the Tarahumara and a drastic change from their home routines. In the past, we’ve had some patients abandon hospital treatment for their tuberculosis or fractures because they feel the burden of needing to work to support their families. Providing a meaningful, dignified occupation for our patients allows them to support their families while finishing their courses of antibiotics, for their malnourished children to gain weight, and for their families to hear the Gospel message.
        In early November, we launched the project with a goal of purchasing 100 large pieces of fabric, needles, and thread to enable the Tarahumara women in our hospital to sew dresses during their stay. One week later, we are already over halfway to meeting our goal!
        $15 will cover the cost of supplies to make one dress and help a family feel more at home in the hospital. If you would like to get involved, please comment below with how many dresses you’d like to sponsor. Online gifts can be made by clicking on the following link: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/medical/wmm-doctors/ . Just scroll down to the box under Support a Missionary Doctor that says “Find Dr/Medical Professional” and type in Bustinza. 100% of donations will go directly to the fabric project. Mateteraba! (Thank you!)

Update on Pregnancy and Travel Plans

In the midst of a flurry of hospital activities this past month, God blessed us with the visit of Drs. Mike and Diana, two American physicians volunteering through World Medical Mission. Dr. Diana, an OB-GYN, evaluated Jessee (who is now 33 weeks pregnant) and informed us that she was at risk for pre-term labor (likely related to dehydration and the altitude in the setting of her usual hospital work.) She recommended modified bed rest and that we consider returning early to the United States to be closer to medical care in the event of an early delivery requiring NICU care.
         Though the trip was not in our original plans, we prayed and felt peace about this decision, sensing that God sent Dr. Diana to care for our family at this time. This past week, we relocated to the Orlando area to await baby sister’s arrival. We will continue working on hospital administration and education projects remotely. Thankfully, things look stable with our baby and Jessee is feeling better. We appreciate your prayers for little sister’s safe delivery! Our family plans to return to Mexico when she is 1.5 months old.

Prayer Points

– For the continued protection of our missionaries working in the canyon
– For wisdom for our hospital administration team as they hire and educate new physician staff members
– For an upcoming evangelistic outreach where MP3 players with the Bible will be distributed to over 2,500 homes in the canyon
– For a safe and healthy delivery of baby girl Bustinza (due date December 31st)

From our family to yours, may this Thanksgiving season be filled with God’s joy and peace.
The Bustinzas- Willy, Jessee, Lucy, and baby sister

2 thoughts on “Seasons of Change: Cartel Update, Hospital Happenings, and Autumn Adventures

  1. Thank you for keeping us updated and giving us opportunity to join in with the good work that you are doing! I’m praying for you and the Tarahumara people, and for your upcoming delivery! I’d like to sponsor 3 dresses. I’m going to click the link you posted to donate online. Much love!!! 💗💗💗

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