Lindsay's Update on Lorena Guiselle

 Summer has been flying by!  From my last update , things got more serious for awhile as we faced the reality of what the purpose of this stay was. We had a very emotional and very grim second doctors appointment where we started to discover the extent of damage to Guiselle's arm.  The doctors were very thorough and discussed all options and possibilities with us which included amputation.  We were all in tears as the doctor shared his doubts that guiselle would ever get any movement or growth out of her arm.  Xrays showed extensive damage to the growth plates and her elbow. After letting things settle for 2 weeks, we moved forward with hope and prayer filled hearts.  I think we were all hoping for a small miracle.  While the doctors were correct about Guiselle's permant loss of movement, the surgery went as well as they could have hoped for.  They saved her arm- no amputation! Her arm is now straightened to about a 130 degree angle.  Her skin is healing beautifully. They planned for 2 areas of skin grafts which she will get on August 4th.  There is a third small area that may need a graft as well but considering the amount of incisions, it is better than they expected.  She has not had any pain throughout this process.  I wlsh we could hope for the same with the next surgery but I'm afraid there is no way around the pain from her skin donor sites.  If all goes well with the grafts, they will fit her for a sleeve (the pressure garmet you see burn patients with) and then she should be able to return home after that.  So hopefully in 5 weeks! I am sure they are terribly home sick and would love a shortened trip.

In the mean time, there have still been some fun things. Thank goodness for Amy who took Lorena to fetal photos and let her find out that she is expecting her third son! I am not sure her husband will recognize her as she is definitely looking very pregnant.  Amy came to the rescue again as Lorena no longer had very many clothes that would still fit. Now she has 3 bins full from Amy. Their weekend with the Dukes also included an outing to This is the Place Park and Rancho Markets. I think it was refreshing for Lorena to have a store filled with more ethinic foods and everything written in spanish. Guiselle inherited a bunch of clothes from Amy's neighbor and I can tell she has loved getting dressed in them every day. 

They have been able to make a few friends out here. My neighbor is from equador and her husband served an LDS mission in Guatemala.  They took Lorena and Guiselle all day saturday.  They ate dinner downtown and then went up the canyon to a cabin they own.  They also tracked down some people they new from home that moved here 10 years ago. They have spent the last two sundays with them, one of which included a tour of temple square. I think it is refreshing for them to be around families that all know Spanish but I think they are wondering about all this Mormon stuff!  haha.

Guiselle was in the Hospital over the 4th of July and was able to see a few fireworks out the window but on the 24th it was our State celebration and we took them to fireworks. I didn't prepare Guiselle well enough. We were very close to them and when the first ones went off, they scared her to tears.  But after she recovered, she loved them and was smiling ear to ear for the rest of it.  The next night we did smaller fireworks at home and there was no doubt that Guiselle was familiar with sparklers. She has the best smile and I love it when she shows it!

We finally made it over to the library and found out they do indeed have a Spanish section. They each checked out 4 books and my son was especially excited to see one of Guiselle's choices was a book that he has.  He loves her and I can't get over how fun it is to watch them play together.  He is a typical XBOX junkie of this generation and he's been teaching her.  He reported today that she is getting much better!  It's too cute. 

Meeting Elsa Lorena


Elsa Lorena and I bonded in the car listening to La Mega Mundial, one of the local Spanish radio stations here in Atlanta. The hit song right now is El Perdon. When the song came on, It was a moment when we both felt like we were back home in Guatemala, where there is family, work we’re passionate about, and tortillas.

We also spent a lot of time in the airport together. That’s a long and boring story, but to say we spent three days together and two were in an airport. With that and swapping stories over coffee, black beans, eggs and tortillas, I learned a little bit more about Elsa Lorena.

Elsa Lorena, who also goes by her second name (Lorena), is a public high school teacher in San Andres Semetebaj. I had the pleasure of knowing the institute where she works when I went to give an adolescent pregnancy workshop in May of this year. By coincidence we found out we were both there that day, but that her students were taking a test and not in the workshop.

IEB San Andres Semetebaj, May 2015  (Junior High School where Elsa works)

IEB San Andres Semetebaj, May 2015  (Junior High School where Elsa works)

Of course with my Americanisms in mind, I asked if they were in summer vacation yet. They are not. She is actually taking unpaid leave and may not have a job when she comes back. Finding a teaching position is very competitive in Guatemala, and oftentimes it is hard to even be able to work at a school within an hour of where you live, so it’s a big deal that she is HERE in the United States and potentially sacrificing a position that is conveniently located in the urban center of San Andres Semetebaj, where she lives.

And did we mention she’s expecting? She is just entering her second trimester! This will be her fourth child, which she is excited about. Lorena Guiselle is her oldest daughter and she has left two small children at home, just another sacrifice she’s made to be with her daughter during this time.  However, she is doing her best to not feel worried, because her husband says it isn’t good for her to be worried all the time. She’s willing to make the best of it though.

I wish she could contribute her own voice to this conversation, but later on when things settle down hopefully she will have a chance to write her own story. For now, its second hand, third person and the best I can do.

Lorena Guiselle makes it to the U.S. for Medical Care!

In May 2014, we met Elsa and Lorena, a family from the small city of San Andres Semetebaj, Sololá, Guatemala. They came to the medical mission for a consultation with Dr. Devan Griner, a pediatric plastic surgeon and committed volunteer.

Lorena Guiselle

When we met Lorena Guiselle, we learned that 40% of her body was burned when she was 4 years old and that has led to loss of use of her left arm and scarring across her body. It is a miracle she survived the burns that she sustained after touching a high voltage device that launched her from the roof of their home to the roof of another building, leaving her body badly burned without proper specialty care. While the national hospital in the capital city (about 4 hours from her home in Sololá) did everything they could to help, the lack of resources and specialized medicine left Lorena with scars that have affected the development her muscles and limbs. The treatment she requires is advanced and required more than could be done in the span of a one week medical service trip. Our volunteers were not satisfied with sending her home without treatment, and explored the option of sending her to the U.S. for surgery.

After nearly a year of fundraising, organizing paperwork, obtaining visas, and homestays for the family, we have accomplished bringing Lorena Guiselle and her mother, Elsa Lorena, to the Shriner’s hospital in Salt Lake City. This is a big moment for us, not just because it accomplishes our desire to create binational relationships that can enrich lives and share the gift of health, it also demonstrates the strength and commitment of our volunteers to do the same. We are impressed by the amazing hearts of many volunteers, including new volunteers who have joined our family to support Lorena Guiselle and her mother. We appreciate everyone who has contributed to making this possible in the past year! It would not be possible without your support! And of course, we also recognize that this would not be possible without the commitment of Lorena’s family to her wellbeing and their willingness to make this sacrifice. It has not been easy.

One of Love in Action volunteers Jami Huntington requested medical assistance from The Shriner Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah where she previously worked. The Hospital required Lorena Guiselle to travel with her mother or father to the United States with her. Also it was required us to show proof of living accommodations in the Salt Lake area transportation arrangements to/from the Hospital.

There were four families who were willing to host Lorena and her mother. One of those families was selected to host them. After several months of getting all the paper work in order, passports, visas and airplane tickets purchased thanks to donations of generous volunteers.
— Miriam Lemon, Founder of Love in Action Mission

We will be keeping you updated on Lorena’s story as she and her mother take on this journey. We have received permission from Elsa Lorena (her mother) to share their background and experiences and she gives this access in gratitude to all those who made it possible.

So keep your eyes open, because you will get a chance to peek in on a special moment for Lorena Guisellse her family, the Love in Action Mission, and for the family who has so graciously welcomed them in their home. Always keep in mind that this will come in fragments, and can’t always fully give voice to Lorena Guiselle, her mother, their culture, their experiences and perspectives. (But we’ll try our best!)

Lorena Guiselle and Elsa Lorena First Days in U.S.

Lorena Guiselle and Elsa Lorena on the Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga, TN

Lorena Guiselle and Elsa Lorena on the Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga, TN

Lorena Guiselle’s first stop in the USA was in TN and  Atlanta.  Since they had to stop somewhere between and Guatemala and Utah, we decided to provide the opportunity to see a little more of the USA and spend time getting to know our family.

Guiselle and her mother  Elsa Lorena arrived to Atlanta  on a Friday May  29 and spent the weekend in Chattanooga where they learned  a little bit of American Life.

She enjoyed a visit to the Aquarium,  Coolidge Park  where she  was  able to go on a merry go round  ride.

We also walked  across the TN river. She was shy but we were able to know she was enjoying her time.


She told me her favorite food is Hamburgers.  My husband thought she has to try  a home made  grilled hamburger so  he prepared some for dinner.


After dinner we watched cartoon movies in Spanish.  On Sunday Lorena Guiselle and her mom went to church with me.  After church a blessing was given to Guisselle . It was a  beautiful blessing promising that she will get heal and a reaffirmation of the great love our Heavenly Father has for her.

After church we had dinner with my family. They both enjoy the time since all of us speak Spanish.

Lorena  later that evening we went for a walk around the lake. She enjoyed the ducks.

I wish was able to spend more time with such sweet ladies. Listening from Elsa Lorena the story of what happened to her daughter when she was 4 years old and what they have gone through  was very touching. 

My daughter Emily spent the following couple of days as they had some challenges with the airline overbooking their flight.  Emily took them to the store purchased a prepaid phone so that they had a way to communicate in case of an emergency. She prepared their everyday Chapin meal for them.

It is such a good feeling to know that they will be well care for amazing families and doctors  in Utah. As we said bye we promised to keep in touch  to pray for them daily and continue helping them in any way possible.

Our Start

Love in Action was born from my own desire to relieve the suffering in Guatemala. As a Guatemala native I have vivid memories of seeing people live in extreme poverty.

As a teen I wanted to make a difference but found myself unable to make any changes in my nation which at that time lived with extreme political unrest.

It took 35 years since my departure from Guatemala to return to my country with a clear vision of how to help my people by helping them with a gift of health.

As Health Administrator of two multispecialty clinics in Georgia and Tennessee I found that there are a lot of medical supplies, medicines and equipment that go unused in hospitals and clinics all over the country.  I have also realized that there are also many people with a desire to help others.

After talking to a great friend I learned that in the rural areas of Guatemala there is a great need for medical services, especially from doctors who focus on specialized medicine . Not many have the ability to go and seek private service in the city.

So with the support of friends and family we completed the first mission to Sololá in April 2013. The first mission was also made possible with the collaboration of Fundacion Para Proyectos Interculturales de La Paz del Mundo and Clinicas Santiago, who not only trusted us with their facilities but also  worked hand in hand with us. I can’t thank them enough.

The first mission was such a success that everyone said, “I want to go back!” The second mission, in May 2014,  doubled in number of volunteers, which allowed us to see more patients and have a greater impact.  On this mission we performed cleft palate and general surgeries. Our medical team was spectacular.  If the first mission was good, the second mission was even more so and gave us even more satisfaction. All of our surgery patients recovered well and were happy when they came back for their follow up visits.

This mission allowed us to go beyond the medical needs of our target population and we were able to provide housing for a family in need.  The volunteer doctors were able to connect with the local doctors and established a relationship of team work.  We were also able to donate an ambulance to  Bomberos volutnarios de la aldea Argueta.

In many ways our second mission hasn’t quite ended yet.  We identified a little 8 year old girl who needs surgeries that only can be performed in the USA. After a long road of obstacles we are happy to say that she will be travelling to the USA to receive the treatment she needs. This year a 42 foot container full of equipment, medical supplies and medicines valued at of US $287,000 was donated to Clinicas Santiago.

During this next  mission in May of 2015, we hope even more people will come to take advantage of our services.  Our latest mission will bring 48 volunteers and 25 of them  medical professionals specializing in plastic surgery, general master surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, family medicine, emergency medicine, pharmacology,anesthesiology, Oncology and hematology.   We will be working out of Las Clincias Santiago  May 3rd to May 7th .  We believe that as we help the people of Solola with their medical needs, it will free them to be able to focus on other areas of their lives and thus help themselves. We believe that if they are healthy they will be able to take care of their own needs.

Our missions doesn’t receive a lot of financial funding.  In fact, our revenues are very low, and we depend on donations of supplies rather than funds.  Our model works because we have found a way to use the surplus supplies that won’t be used in the United States but can still be used safely and successfully in Guatemala.  

The other part of the donations is the time of many caring doctors, nurses and other volunteers who choose to use their vacation time helping others. They choose to spend their own funds traveling to Guatemala to help those in need. Their dedication to our mission is driven by our shared desire to help those in need.  These individuals are some of the top specialists in their fields in the U.S.A. and the services they bring to Solola are truly making an impact on the health of the people they serve and the community at large.  The residents of Solola who receive our assistance can rest assure that they are receiving top notch care from dedicated professionals whose only goal is to provide health services to those in need.

Our vision is to continue working with Dr.

Karla Mogollon, Dr. Devan Griner, Dr. Lee Trotter, Dr. Pablo Perez, Dr. Jack Rowland and many others like Norbert Muiggs  who share the same passion of helping others.

 Miriam Lemon