Tag Archives: Staff

Happy Birthday Lola!

 

Lola's birthdayToday we are wishing a very Happy 20th Birthday to Lola who has been with us since February volunteering in our Hospitality department.  Lola is from Germany and will be with us for only 3 more weeks.  We sure will miss her when she’s gone!!

 

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Saying Goodbye Is Hard To Do!!

Over the last few months we have been anticipating the departure of Samy, Marley and Moises (and baby Sean) and today the day finally came.  We have shed our share of tears and will miss them so much.  They have been a part of our family for the last 15 years so it’s hard to imagine what it will be like without them!

Both Samy and Marley came to the mission as kids and we have had the privilege of watching them both grow-up, continue their educations, and create a family together, all while serving the Lord full-time in missions.  It has truly been a joy and a gift!

Even though we are sad to see them go, we are also happy for them to start this new chapter of their lives, as they move to the city of Monteria (about 180 miles south of Cartagena), start new endeavors, and have their second son who is scheduled to arrive next month.  We will always hold them in our prayers and thoughts and they will always be family to us, no matter the distance.  We are already looking forward to future road trips to Monteria!!

 

The First Week

After 15 years of dreaming, planning, working, and persevering, we were finally able to see the dream become reality and enjoy the fruit of years of labor.

GETTING STARTED:

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Cinic & Mission Staff on our grand opening day:  (Back) Yuly, Luz Neira, Clara Ines, Samy, Katrina, Marley, Ricarda, Marlaine; (Front) Yolanda, Jorge, Erika, Esther
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“I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2

PHARMACY:

RECEPTION:

MEDICAL:

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DENTAL:

Therefore… stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

… You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful…you will be!

Psalm 128:2 (NLT)

Introducing Our Clinic Staff

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Lto R:  Erika, Luz Neira, Zuly, Clara Ines, Katrina, Marlaine, Esther

We are so blessed and thankful to have a great pioneering team to operate the clinic on a day-to-day basis.

Erika is our dentist and she treats patients Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  In addition, Erika has been a part of Proyecto Libertad’s team for the last 14 years and has served as the mission director in Bocachica since 2008.

Luz Neira is a Bocachica native and a long time friend of our Proyecto Libertad family. She is in charge of cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the clinic as well as properly disposing of clinic waste materials according to the governmental requirements.

Zuly, from Bocachica, is our pharmacy assistant who mans the clinic pharmacy from Monday through Friday.

Clara Ines, also from Bocachica, was enrolled in Proyecto Libertad’s child sponsorship program.  After graduating from high school she studied and trained to be a nursing assistant and we are thrilled to have her on our team!

Katrina, from Bocachica and a child sponsorship graduate, is the dental hygienist who assists Erika with all of her patients on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  Katrina has been assisting Erika as a volunteer at the mission for the last couple of years, even before the clinic was opened.  In addition to dentistry, Katrina also helps with clinic administrative duties.  

Marlaine, another Bocachica native and child sponsorship graduate, is our clinic receptionist.  Marlaine’s childhood home is next door to the mission so our families have been neighbors for the last 19 years!  It was always a dream of ours to be able to see graduates of our child sponsorship program working at the clinic some day, so it is very special for us to have Clara Ines, Katrina, and Marlaine working with us!

Esther is our medical doctor and clinic administrator.  She has played a vital role in getting the clinic legally registered, approved and opened.  Esther has invested untold hours and many late nights in order to help make the clinic’s opening and operation a reality!

Unfortunately a couple of people were missing the day this photo was taken.  Not pictured above but also very much part of the team are:

Elisabeth , who is currently visiting family, friends and supporters in her homeland of Norway.  She is a general practitioner and treats patients Wednesdays through Fridays. God sent Elisabeth to us at a time when we really needed someone to help hold up our arms (Ex. 17:12)!  In addition to treating patients over the last two years, she also played a big role in helping with all of the official paperwork (manuals, procedures, contracts, etc…) in preparation for the clinic’s registration with the Health Department.

Maira, from Cartagena, is our pharmacist.  She comes out to the island once every other week to oversee and supervise the pharmacy operations. 

Note: Erika, Esther, and Elisabeth are full-time missionaries with Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

 

Clinic is Open!

We are humbled, excited, and thankful to announce that on July 20th the clinic officially and legally opened it’s doors to serve the community of Bocachica.  July 20th, 2016 will be a day that goes down in history for all of us here at Proyecto Libertad.

We are so encouraged to share the news and to thank each person who participated in making this dream a reality.  From the donor who helped us buy the property back in 2001, the  youth group who helped clear the land, the countless staff, volunteers, and donors who participated over the last 15 years by working, praying and funding; the community of Bocachica…from small children to strong young men, middle-aged housewives and elderly grandma’s…who helped unload sand and cement, hauled building supplies, made cement blocks by hand, stuccoed and painted, who helped with every phase of construction, who cheered us on and kept encouraging us even when things looked grim and we wondered if this day would ever come.  To the teams who have come and invested their time, resources and expertise in making this dream become a reality.  To those key people who spent untold hours pouring over paperwork, creating operating manuals and safety manuals, filling out forms and applications; studying, researching and getting everything officially and legally ready for our inspection by the Health Department; and to our pioneering team of clinic staff who are dedicated to serving the community day in and day out!  This has been a team effort and so many have invested a piece of themselves!  There are too many names to name and we would fall way short if we tried.

We thank the Lord for not letting us give up; for His protection, keeping everyone safe during this whole 15 year process; for sending so many people to help in so many ways; for providing finances and resources at each step; for correcting us when we were wrong, for picking us up when we stumbled, for encouraging us to persevere, and for teaching us so many lessons about life, service, and faith throughout this whole process.  We thank Him for giving us the privilege of serving Him and for allowing us to see the dream come true.

After witnessing and experiencing His faithfulness through it all, we know can stand firm and trust that He will continue to be with us as we learn to walk out this new phase of the dream.  We know there will be new challenges to face, more mistakes to grow and learn from, and bigger mountains to climb.  But we know that we are not alone.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 

A little walk down memory lane:

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We Passed!!

THE CALM AFTER THE STORM…CELEBRATING WITH A STROLL TO THE BEACH!

 

We are elated to share the news about how everything went yesterday with the visit by the Health Department!

You know, God always answers our prayers!  Sometimes he says, “No”.  Sometimes he says “Wait”.  Sometimes he says “Yes!”  And then sometimes he says “Yes, and here’s a little something extra!!”

Yesterday was a big “Yes and here’s something extra!!” kind of day!

Two days ago we posted a special request for prayer!  We said, “…wouldn’t it be awesome if there were no corrections or changes to make and we could get fast-tracked to our final approval?!!  PRAY CHURCH!!!!!!!” – Well, you must have been praying because that is basically just what happened!!

A group of 8 representatives from the Health Department arrived to Bocachica yesterday around 9am.  Some of our staff met them at the dock and made the trek back through the community towards the clinic.  As they walked, they took in the sights, sounds and smells of daily life in Bocachica.  They kept wondering and asking, “So, where is this place?” until they finally rounded the corner, saw the white building on the hill, and were met by our team and a welcome with fresh fruit and cold drinks.

Right away there was a very pleasant atmosphere and rapport felt between our staff and the inspectors.  They were interested and intrigued to hear the story of the ministry and the 15 year journey required to bring us to this moment.  (Yes, you read that correctly!  We bought the land in 2001 and have been working, planning and dreaming ever since!)  They were taken aback by the story of all the years of struggle, set-backs, and hard work; all the money donated, all the volunteers who labored, all the prayers prayed, and all the years of perseverance invested.  Later in the day they shared that in all their years of experience in this job, they had never seen a case like ours where such effort and care were given and such an investment of resources was made NOT FOR PROFIT, but TO BLESS!

As the day continued, each aspect of the clinic was inspected.  They reviewed our facilities, our manuals, our contracts, and our procedures; they questioned and interviewed our staff about everything from the process of construction to the plans for patient care.  Something that our staff especially appreciated was the fact that they came not with a spirit of judging and pointing out our flaws but with the spirit of helping, guiding, and advising us.  It was evident that they wanted to help us succeed, not prevent us from doing so!

As they went along they made suggestions about things that would be helpful and beneficial to us and to our patients.  Most of their recommendations were about things that we already realized we needed to do and had planned to do at some point.  For example, we still need to finish the construction of the handrails that go around the front of the building;  we need to put some type of awning or trellis over the entry patio to provide shade; we need a sink here and a door there, etc…

After the inspection was over everyone made their way back to the mission for lunch.  The group of inspectors met by themselves for a while as they discussed and sorted through their recommendations.  Then they called our team over to give them their official report.  Since we knew that this was a preliminary visit, we expected to be given a time-frame to make the needed corrections before the final inspection.  But, to our surprise and delight, we were met with the news that they had decided and declared that we were ready and prepared to open our doors for service!  They approved our facilities and commended us for our motivations and intentions.  We passed the inspection and were fast-tracked to legalization!!  Over the next two days we will make a couple of visits to the Health Department to sign paperwork and pick up our registration documents and as of tomorrow, May 26, 2016, we are legally registered and approved by the Colombian government!!  We are planning to officially open our doors for service on June 6th!  (Update:  It actually took longer than we expected to finish up the last preparations.  We officially opened on July 20, 2016.)

We can’t even begin to express in words the flood of joy, relief, and gratefulness we are experiencing right now!!  We were all brought to tears just taking in the wonder of this moment!   There were so many times in this journey that we felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and discouraged  but by the very grace of God we had the humbling privilege of experiencing this moment of  victory  and fulfillment yesterday.  We give all the glory and thanks to God because without Him it would have been impossible for us to make it through!

Now we will face a new and different set of challenges such as keeping the clinic staffed and financed and walking out our long-time vision to bless the community with access to quality health-care in an atmosphere of care and dignity and to be instruments of God’s love.  We trust that the Lord will guide, teach, correct, and help us every step of the way.

There will be a follow-up inspection in a few months, after the clinic is in operation.  The next time it will be a different group of inspectors and they will be evaluating how well we are able to put all of the “theory” of our operation and procedures manuals into action.  They will evaluate for example, how well we follow through on the policies we have established regarding the cleanup, decontamination and disposal of a body fluid spill; how we handle life and death situations; or how we follow the guidelines for lab collection services.   It will be a new season of learning, growing and persevering.

God has been speaking to us lately about the principles of planting and harvesting.  We have experienced the pain of seeing dreams die and then the joy of seeing God revive and renew them (John 12:24).  We have experienced first hand the truth behind Psalms 125:5: Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”  And we have witnessed and lived 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 which says, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”  We know the road ahead will require more planting and watering and weeding!  But we also know from the experience of the last decade and a half that God, in His own time, in His own way, and for His own purposes, will produce the fruit and give the growth… in our individual lives, and in the work we do.

We have learned that God doesn’t NEED us.  He GIVES us the amazing and awesome PRIVILEGE of learning to listen, discern and obey His voice and in the process we experience the JOY of being used by Him, in spite of our flaws, weaknesses and failures.

Today is the Day!

Well, folks, as I type the Health Department officials are visiting our site in Bocachica.  The news so far is that things are going well and they are giving suggestions.  When we hear more we will give you the update.

In the meantime thank you for remembering our team in prayer.  Here is a breakdown of what everyone is in charge of presenting to the officials today so you can pray for them by name:

Admistrative Area:  Esther (Doctor & Clinic Director)
Medical Area:  Elisabeth (Doctor)
Sharing the vision and history of the ministry:  Erika.(Dentist and Mission Director)
Pharmacy Area: Maira
Architectual Design & Construction: Astrid.
Security: Samy
Hospitality: Ricarda & Marley
Also, I have some photos of the inspection in progress, hot off the press, just sent from Bocachica:

Last Minute Details

Believe it or not today we had a broken pipe with water everywhere! So the team has been scrambling to get everything repaired, cleaned up and ready for inspection tomorrow!  After a long and hard days work, we are finally ready.  We have done everything that we know how to do and many have prayed and played a part in getting us to this point. We rest in the knowledge that everything is in the Lord’s hands and we trust that He has a purpose for everything that He allows.

A Lot Of Catching Up To Do

We’ve gone a few months since our last update so in order to catch everyone up with the latest, here is a month-by-month overview of what has been going on with us ever since:

NOVEMBER:

In late November, ministry directors, Jorge and Karen, headed back to the USA for some medical check-ups. Unfortunately what was intended to be a few weeks stay has turned into another year-long journey as doctor’s discovered that Karen has had  a relapse of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was first diagnosed when she was a young teen.  Karen is now undergoing chemotherapy and if all goes well, she and Jorge hope to be back in Colombia full-time by the beginning of 2017.  In the meantime, Erika continues to do an excellent job of leading and directing the ministry in their absence.

The Cruzate Family returned from 6 weeks in Iquitos, Peru where they were attending a YWAM school of leadership development.   After almost 13 years serving with Proyecto Libertad, Samy and Marley are considering moving to the city of Pereira to help launch a new mobile worship team with the YWAM base there.  They are still praying about this decision and about the timing but they are excited about the possibilities.

DECEMBER:

Jorge was able to travel back to Cartagena for almost a month and a half to help tie up some loose ends and to spend the holidays with our staff.

 

JANUARY:

Just a few days after ringing in 2016 we welcomed our first volunteers for the new year.

Louise Ricarda Ida
We have been so blessed to have these three young ladies join us as volunteers.  Louise and Ida (left and right) came for three months from Denmark and Ricarda (middle), from Germany, will be with us for six months.

Shawn working

Shawn, from Colorado, came for a month to help us tackle our long list of mission maintenance projects!  This was a specific answer to prayer and also to the SOS we issued back in October!  We thank the Lord for Shawn and his servant heart.

Our biggest focus during the month of January was tackling an ever-growing list of maintenance projects that desperately needed attention:  deteriorating walls, rotting stairs, and termite infested paneling, just to name a few.

 

Meanwhile, Elisabeth has been working hard on all the paperwork required by the Health Department.  We are getting so close to finishing this process and having our clinic officially and legally registered! And last but not least, check out the new hand-rails installed at the clinic:

clinc railings

FEBRUARY:

Esther
We are so excited to welcome our newest full-time staff member!  Esther is a Colombian doctor and will be directing the clinic.  What an answer to prayer!
Staff photo Feb. '16
Goodbye get-together for Shawn!  We were so blessed by all your hard work and servant’s heart!
Mari and staff
It was great having new friends and old with us… Mari (left), a nurse from Florida visited us for the first time and Yolanda (right), a nurse from Bogota visited us for the uh…millionth time?  We’ve lost count!  Here they are with Ricarda and Esther.

 

We had a great week with a short-term mission’s team from Hope Lutheran Church from Minneapolis, MN, led by our long-time friend, Ben Sollie, who is now on the pastoral staff at Hope.  This group was also an answer to prayer and a direct answer to our October SOS!

 

MARCH:

We started out the month by welcoming our first ever volunteer from Lithuania:

Aiste
Aiste, a nurse from Lithuania volunteered with us for 2 weeks.
retiro staff marzo '16
Early in March our staff attended a weekend city-wide YWAM staff retreat outside of Cartagena.  It was a time for all the staff of the different YWAM Cartagena ministries to come together for fellowship, worship, prayer and teachings.  Proyecto Libertad is part of a family of about 10 different ministries operating in Cartagena.

This month we also hosted a group of 13 German volunteers for 5 days.  They are volunteering in different parts of Colombia with a sending organization called “Weltwärts” and came to Bocachica  to meet together for a time of debriefing and retreat.

Jorge was able to return to spend the month of March with our staff.  He was able to work with Elisabeth on finishing up the clinic paperwork, help host the German group, and take care of a few other items of official business.  He will be returning back to the USA on March 31st as Karen prepares to start her second round of chemo.

staff feb '16
PL Staff
Staff Weekend Turbaco
Staff fun day in Turbaco.

Cuts, Colds, & Cavities

Each week we have the privilege of helping to provide basic medical and dental care to our beloved Bocachica community.  Some days are super busy and crazy and others are slow and easy.  Currently our small pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, our doctor treats patients Wednesday through Friday, and our dentist treats patients Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  On average, we are able to help about 75 to 100 people each week through our medical ministry.

In our infirmary the most common problems we see are colds, flus and viruses that are going around; skin infections, rashes and funguses; muscular pain; digestive issues, especially parasites and amoebas; respiratory infections; and injuries/accidents such as cuts and burns.

In the dental area, Erika continues to see patients with  typical problems such as cavities and gum disease as well as those who need extractions.  Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see that in recent years there is a much higher awareness and interest on behalf of our patients to come for cleanings and preventative procedures.  Erika shared, “Years ago people would come to get a tooth pulled because they were in pain and then I would never see them again.  Now they come to see if the tooth can be repaired and then they continue to come back for cleanings and follow-up.”

Click on the photos below for more details and to read about two of our volunteers, Katrina and Neysdulia, who are fruits of our Child Sponsorship Program.