Natural childbirth in Guatemala


Chrisi at the Chichicastenango municipal sign

Pregnant and moving to Guatemala

On January 28th of 2011, we moved to Guatemala to serve as missionaries when we were six months pregnant (about 25 weeks) with our first son. We wanted to have our son naturally, and we very quickly found out that this would be a bit difficult. With C-section rates at 80% in the private hospitals in Guatemala, we realized that we needed an alternative in order to have the birth we wanted.

For months we’d been preparing, reading and learning about giving birth

Download a free book on Healthy pregnancy (52 Brilliant Ideas) from Amazon!
Other books we found helpful as we prepared for our little one are:

Ok, Back to Guatemal…we started checking our options. We were studying Spanish in Xela so we checked out an APROFAM public clinic that has a birthing center, but it still wasn’t what we were looking for.  We did have an ultrasound and bloodwork done at APROFAM and every thing was looking great!

BabyBjorn Travel Light


In Xela we prepped the baby’s bed by buying 5-inch mattress foam and cutting it to fit inside our BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib. We used three pieces and had them covered with regular sheet material we had purchased at Megapaca. A sastre or sewing guy, made the mattress cases with a zipper for us so we can change them as needed. The new mattresses gave 15 inches of lift to the modified play pen so our baby would be at a bassinet level and we can lower it as he gets bigger. Continue reading

APROFAM Medical Clinic in Quetzaltenango

Are you an expatriate looking for a women’s health clinic in (Xela) Quetzaltenango, Guatemala? Maybe you’re a Spanish school student, missionary, or traveler needing some extra medical attention.

We moved to Xela for Spanish school and we also happened to be pregnant so we checked out the APROFAM (Asociacion Pro Bienestar de la Familia) Clinic. Since we were looking for a place to have our baby in Guatemala. Here’s what we thought…

Especially for women,  APROFAM provides a full-service clinic and mini-hospital complete with multiple in-house surgeons, doctors, overnight rooms and birthing facilities.

This clinic is part of a nation-wide clinic service and offers an all around good choice for locals and expatriates as well. Located on 3 Calle 7-02 Zona 1 in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, APROFAM is just a few blocks from Parque Central (Central Park) just off of octava avenida (8th Ave.) Phone: 7765-3886 Continue reading

Nais: Guatemala City’s Aquarium Restaurant

At the new and high-tech Oakland Mall in Guatemala City (Diagonal 6 13-01 Zona 10) a unique restaurant named Nais S. A. provides more than a tasty meal. This restaurant provides unique entertainment for the entire family to enjoy.

In the center of the dining space is a large saltwater aquarium 128 feet long and lively with a good-sized shark, rays, moray eel, and a variety of other saltwater fish.

This mid-scale dining experience feels top notch because of the one-of-a-kind environment. The restaurant  includes a significant menu with prices ranging from about Q42 – Q100 (US$7 – US$13) per plate.

We dined on a large tasty burger, a chicken sandwich, fries, potato soup, and an all-you-can-drink soda for Q150 (US$ 19.97) including the tip. We didn’t try the fish.

This restaurant is great for your next family outing. Occasionally a diver passes by waving to the crowd and a glassed-in air bubble let’s adventurous diners stand inside the aquarium area for a photo with the fish or the diver. We hear it is a pretty exciting show during live feedings, but we didn’t get to observe this.

Refilling our soda with our own soda fountain wand!

Food was delivered to our table quickly and we didn’t have to stand in line. (We’ve read that people waited for more than an hour when Nais S.A. first opened at Oakland.) At first we thought the waiter was neglecting our refill on the soda. When we asked for a refill on our Sprite, he indicated a small cabinet on the wall. Inside this Coca-Cola branded cabinet was a soda fountain nozzle all for us! We could refill our soda until we were as full as the aquarium!20110422-051705.jpg
Seating on the main floor is booth style seats. On the other side of the aquarium the restaurant seating area continues with larger tables and the walls include smaller fishbowl aquariums house a number of jellyfish which are entertaining to watch.

So if you are looking for unique dining experience, Nais S. A. is the place to check out. Before or after dinner you can wander the stores of the six levels of Oakland Mall.

Bathrooms are kept clean and include a baby changing station.

Online donation options for non-profits

Several online payment services offer many useful tools for businesses and for non-profit organizations too!

As e-commerce becomes more and more common and is embraced by many as the norm. It is not time to sit back and wait for people to send checks to your organization. When it comes to fundraising, it is time to take that same ease of payments that for-profit organizations use and bring it into the non-profit world. Put online giving within easy reach of donors. Here’s a breakdown on three options for online donations.

Thanks to PayPal,, and other sources like Facebook’s FundRazr App non-profits have the ability to collect individual donations or even schedule ongoing gifts with tools that e-consumers are already familiar with.


PayPal Donate Button

PayPal Donate Button

PayPal offers several options that give non-profit organizations the ability to accept donations in a simple way that consumers are already use to using PayPal accounts or credit cards. See a guide on how to setup online donations on PayPal.


PayPal features include:

  • Configure buttons and copy HTML code for use on your website or HTML websites
  • Enable one-time donations at donor-determined amounts,
  • Schedule regular online giving at pre-determined amounts and cycles
  • Management of funds
  • Auto receipt
  • Optional info collection for followup


PayPal accepts donations from people with or without PayPal accounts through:

  • PayPal Account transfers
  • Credit Card Processing


With PayPal’s fee structure  you receive a discount if you verify your 501(c) 3 status. The regular rate is 2.9% + $0.30 but while the non-profit rate is just a wee bit less:

$0 to $100,000 2.2% + $0.30 $2.50 fee on a $100 donation
$100,000+ 1.9% + $0.30 $2.20 fee on a $100 donation


Amazon Payments Logo offers a similar non-profit donation plan. Amazon’s no start-up cost option  includes the ability to configure your own donation buttons (to be posted on your site or in your html e-mails).  Amazon also provides flexibility to set fixed, minimum, or donor-determined donation amounts along with scheduling ongoing gifts.

Donors will have to either open an Amazon Payments account or have one already to use this service.

Amazon supports giving through:

  • Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, and JCB).
  • Bank Account debits (only supported by Amazon FPS)
  • Amazon Payments balance (only supported by Amazon Simple Pay and Amazon FPS)


Amazon charges no start-up fees, but neither do the other options listed here so that’s no big deal. The key is to compare per-payment charges. At Amazon they’re pretty similar to PayPal:

  • For credit card transactions >= $10: 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card
  • For transactions < $10: 5.0% + $0.05 for credit card

I couldn’t find good info on their charges for non-credit card transactions, but they provide a pretty good FAQ page.


FundRazr provides a unique option of embedding your giving links into Facebook and providing goal-oriented giving with on the fly followup charts so donors can see how the donation project is progressing.

I like this idea, but have found it to take some work to setup (though recent reviews say it’s easy now!). Still with the popularity of Facebook this could reach a lot of people on the social network.

Payment sources?

  • Credit Card
  • Debit Card
  • Paypal Account


Recipients pay a fee of 4.9% + $0.30 on every payment. The fee includes all PayPal transaction fees. This is higher than either Amazon Payments or PayPal’s regular service, but the ability to integrate with Facebook is really attractive even at nearly 5% in fees per payment.


I like PayPal but it doesn’t hurt to have several options as long as they’re displayed in a user-friendly way.  In unofficial numbers PayPal had more than 153 million accounts worldwide in 2008.  Amazon has about 615 million and Facebook has over 500 million users. That puts Amazon in the lead with users by evaluating your audience may be a good idea if you just want to use one service instead of all three.

Keep in mind the fees involved. You’ll need to account for these as you keep up on your records since this will be a reduction in the total donation you receive when transferring the donations to your organization.

Do you have a different source that you use for online donations? What’s working well for you?

Billionaires to give away fortunes

Billionaires giving away their cash!

Billionaires have discovered that giving away money can not only be fun but also benefit the giver and the receiver.

Here are some highlights from the Washington Times story on those who took the pledge to give away at least 50 percent of their wealth:

Media mogul, Ted Turner: “Looking back, if I had to live my life over, there are things I would do differently, but the one thing I would not change is my charitable giving,”

Investor, Warren Buffett: “Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.”

Former Citigroup Chairman/CEO Sanford Weill and wife, Joan, said ” we are firm believers that shrouds don’t have pockets.”

Melinda Gates: “We do not want to give excessive wealth to our progeny. Giving wealth to young and future unborn children, in our opinion, reduces or eliminates the character-building challenges ahead of them in life that they would otherwise face.”

Read the whole story here.

Review of Gravity Water Filtration Systems

I’m considering a gravity water filtration system. These can be a key element to personal health especially when you’re dealing with water sources that are not sanitary.  Here’s what I’m discovering so far:

1. ) La Natural Terracotta Base with ceramic filter

Combines old technology (naturally cooling effect of terracotta with modern filtration technology. Pour 1 gallon of water into container and gravity pulls it through a “dual micro-pore ceramic/activated carbon filter that removes 95% of chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals including iron, aluminum, lead and 100% cryptosporidium, giardia and sediment.” Can filter 6 gallons a day…if you keep up with filling it. The filter lasts one year or 2500 gallons.

Costs: $198 (from

Replacement filter: $72

Positives: Natural cooling effect is nice.
Negatives: Small capacity, heavy for shipping and fragile for transport. Pricing seems high compared to more higher tech and ones with better ratings than this. Continue reading

Getting a deal on healthcare costs

Sonya Weiss gives a number of good suggestions on how to save money when it comes to health care costs….

Never take a bill at face value, especially if it’s a large hospital bill. Errors are more common than you think. If you notice a mistake, ask for an audit.If you can pay cash to pay a hospital bill and the bill is a large one, the hospital will give you a better rate. Some will even cut the amount in half. But you won’t get that savings if you don’t ask. Some pharmacies keep coupons and discount cards given to them by drug companies beneath the counter in a binder. Ask for a discount coupon or card.

Read her article at  no_health_insurance.