Medical Missions in Honduras – Part I

July, 1988

I attended a Bible study for singles and was blessed by Dr Pete, a Christian surgeon, who spoke about the medical mission trips he has taken over the past few years. The local pastor or missionary always shares the gospel with the patients as they wait to see the doctor, so their spiritual needs are met as well as the physical ones. Pete’s wife died 7 years ago and his children are adults, so he feels the Lord has set him free to do missions. He grew up in the Philippines and was led to the Lord by missionaries there when he was 15 years old.

He is going to Honduras in October for one week and there are openings for nurses and general helpers. I met him for lunch along with a respiratory therapist, Judy, and we also signed up to participate. We are so excited to have this opportunity to share the gospel in another country while helping provide for the local people’s medical needs. I’m brushing up on my Spanish I learned before I went to Chile, and ordered 400 Spanish gospels of John to take with me and give to the clinic patients.

Honduras – October 23, 1988

I just arrived in Honduras after changing planes in Miami, but my suitcase didn’t make the transfer, so all I have is my carry on bag. I put in an extra pair of underwear and an extra blouse, my Bible, blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, a few snacks, and little else. Dr. Paul, our medical director, led our group in devotions this morning before we boarded the old school bus to travel over muddy dirt roads 70 miles through the mountains to the villages where we will hold free clinics. We all sang joyfully, “This is the day that the Lord has made!” He then read,

“Jesus came and spoke unto them,…..Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

He encouraged us to remember Jesus was with us, be flexible, and smile! He then led us in prayer, and we committed the day to the Lord.

We bumped along about 5 miles per hour and enjoyed getting acquainted with one another. I never appreciated the smooth paved roads we have in the USA so much as I did today! At the top of the mountain, our bus started leaning and became stuck in about 12 inches of mud. Everybody got out to help push. We managed to push it out, but the mud was like quicksand and sucked my only pair of shoes (loafers-big mistake) right off my feet! I dove down in the mud and pulled them out. I climbed back on the bus in my stocking feet totally covered in mud.

Honduras bus stuck in the mud! Everyone helped push it out, and I lost my only shoes. 1988We arrived at a boarding school where  I took a cold shower and we slept in bunk beds. It’s about 50 degrees tonight. Someone loaned me a pair of scrubs and clean socks. One of the dentists gave me a toothbrush, and a nurse gave me a pair of ear plugs. She kindly brought a whole bag for us newbies. I found out the countryside is noisy because the dogs bark until 2 a.m. and roosters start crowing at 5 a.m!

I traveled the next day in a small pickup truck with Maurice, who hauled the team’s luggage to the clinic site. We did lots of pantomime since I only know a few words of Spanish and he knows no English. Smiles go a long ways! We stopped half way to visit his friends for a few minutes and they kindly gave us a cup of very strong coffee. I was happy to be able to give them a Spanish gospel of John to read. They thanked me profusely with broad smiles.

Maurice transported the team's luggage and me to the clinic site.

Maurice transported the team’s luggage and me to the clinic site.

Maurice's friends gave us coffee during our break.

Maurice’s friends gave us coffee during our break.

I marveled at the beautiful mountains, a pretty little girl walking alone down the road, and the ox cart loaded with wood.ox cart

Mountains

pretty girlOnly one doctor, another nurse, and I arrived at the clinic. We did not know where the rest of the team was that were standing up in the huge cattle truck bumping along. There was no telephone in the village, so we prayed for safety for them and began the clinic. Lynn, the other nurse, went to set up the pharmacy in a building down the street from us. I began checking blood pressures and triaging the throngs of patient waiting for us at the village school. I shared John 3:16 in Spanish with each patient, and then they went to the waiting area in the courtyard to listen to the village pastor share the gospel until the assistant called them to see Dr. Ed in one of the classrooms. The dental staff set up their clinic down below us.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Reflection

So began my week in Honduras in the remote mountain village which took one day of air travel and two days of bumpy road travel to reach. When my luggage was lost, it made me realize how little I really needed to survive. The kindness of the team members in giving me some of their clothes to wear was a blessing to me. The spirit of camaraderie while giving the patients the gospel and some basic medical care was  heartwarming.

My interpreter told me some of the Hondurans walked 8 hours to reach the clinic, and had never seen a doctor or pill in their life. The pharmacy staff carefully instructed each patient not to trade their pills on the street for one that was a prettier color!

Next post, I will share more about the clinic days and the patients we saw.

Advertisements

Published!

Using Games in Nursing Education – 1988

February 19, 1988

Dear Ms. Pamela:

I am delighted to inform you that your excellent manuscript, “Using Games in Nursing Education,” has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Nursing Staff Development.

88 Pamela BSN

My “author” photo – 1988

I can hardly believe they will publish our manuscript this year! Lynn, my coauthor, was so excited when I showed her the letter! We began about six months ago when we sent them a query letter with several ideas for an article. It was worth all our hard work of writing, rewriting, editing, and working with the photography department to make the black and white photos and diagrams.

Our abstract introduced the final print of the article:

Games are an exciting and useful teaching strategy that we have used successfully in the orientation and continuing education of hospital staff nurses. We have created and adapted games to stimulate interest at the beginning of a program, to present new information, and to review course content. Directions for playing nine games as well as some guidelines for creating games are included in this article.

The following describes three of the nine games we published.

Jeopardy Game

At a recent planning retreat of our nursing education department involving 20 people, we played our version of the popular TV game show, “Jeopardy.” The purpose of the game was to help everyone review together the past accomplishments of the department and the present trends in order to plan future goals. The nurse educators were divided into several teams of three people each. The newer educators were matched up with the more experienced educators. The nursing education managers wrote columns with categories at the top on a flip chart, followed by dollar amounts from $50-$500. Then each team chose a category and dollar amount. If they answered the question correctly, the dollars were put in their account. At the end, the team with the most imaginary “dollars” received a small handmade craft item as a prize. All the other teams also received consolation prizes.

Nursing Jeopardy Game

At the end of the game, the participants were enlightened about the history of our department, exhilarated by the game’s effect, and appreciative of management’s efforts to make the day enjoyable. The information presented helped everyone prepare to develop future goals for the department in light of the past and present trends.

Feedback Game

Presenting new information is always challenging and consumes a large percentage of our time in nursing education. One game we created to teach our new nurse preceptors during their workshop is the “Feedback Game”. The game dramatizes to the preceptors the effects of giving feedback to orientees. The participants are paired up and then seated back to back. Half of them are given a paper with a simple line diagram and become the instructor. The other person is given a pen and blank paper and becomes the student. The the instructor must give directions to the student. The student is not allowed to look at the instructor’s diagram, ask any questions or ask for any clarification. When they compare papers, the results are usually poor replications of the original diagram.

Feedback GameIn the second half of the game, the roles are reversed. The only difference is that the instructor may answer questions and give unlimited feedback. The resulting diagram is much more accurate that the first one. The new preceptors realize the importance of giving their orientees frequent feedback throughout the orientation period.

What’s New? – Solitaire

When existing policies and procedures are revised, it is communicated to the nurses on their unit through “What’s New?” – Solitaire Posters. A small poster (6″ x 14″) is made with “What’s New?” at the top followed by four or five questions. the questions are typed on the outside of small folded cards with the answers typed on the inside. Then the cards are glued to the board. The poster is put on the nursing unit’s bulletin board for two weeks at a time. After the nurse reads the questions and answers, he or she signs the accompanying attendance sheet for continuing education credit. The response to these posters has been excellent since it only takes a few minutes to be updated on procedures. The busy staff nurse can choose the best time to learn the information.Game Solitaire

The following steps describe how we designed new games for our various nursing education programs. The incorporation of game playing into our educational offerings has greatly enhanced our program. The participants have indicated through their evaluations a sincere appreciation of the enjoyable and varied approaches. Another positive effect has been the revitalization of our instructors; they demonstrate more positive attitudes toward teaching the same information routinely. Create your own games for your specific situation and remember to have fun. Your enthusiasm is contagious and vital to the health of your educational programs!Game Create

Reflection

I always loved to play games as a young child. I’m thankful that my parents encouraged this as seen by these old photos of my brother and me playing together on Christmas morning, and my sister and me splashing each other in the creek.

60 Marsha Pam Splashing

It’s amazing that they still show “Jeopardy” every night on American TV, although they have doubled the money categories since 1988. No more $50 clues! I still find it fun to play decades old board games such as Scrabble or Monopoly. It takes my mind off the challenges of living in this world and gives me a short mental break to bring out the child in me again. I thank God that He gives us times of laughter and fun. Truly, laughter is good medicine!

A time to weep, and a time to laugh.. Ecclesiastes 3:4

A couple years ago, a friend told me about http://www.duolingo.com which is a wonderful free website to learn a new language. I enjoy their teaching method because it is like playing games while you work on listening, reading, and writing skills as you expand your vocabulary. Some of the languages offered are English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Turkish, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Ukrainian.

I hope you have fun this week and play a game with someone and laugh!

Trapped on the Stretcher!

Autumn, 1974- College Sophomore

“Class, after you finish making an occupied bed, put the side-rails up, put the bed in the low position, be  sure the patient is comfortable and all desired items are within reach including the call bell. Answer call lights quickly so that patients learn to trust you and do not feel the need to get up without help. Tell your patient when you will next check in and be prompt, ” instructed Professor Z. during our Nursing Fundamentals Skills Lab.

Patient's Call Button

Patient’s Call Bell

February, 2008 – Emergency Room Patient – 2 a.m.

I lay on the stretcher at with my head throbbing from the gash where I fainted at home alone the hour previously. I had a high fever and was heading for the kitchen when I fainted. I woke up on my dining room floor confused as to where I was and how I got there. God brought to my remembrance that my cell phone was in my pocket, so I called 911 because I was so weak I couldn’t even sit up. The paramedics came through the snow storm to my deck door which was locked. I managed to scoot over to the door and reach up and undo the lock. They kindly and gently applied a dressing to my bleeding head, loaded me on the stretcher and carried me out into the bitter cold and loaded me into the ambulance.

Trapped on the Stretcher!

Trapped on the Stretcher!

The ER nurse started an IV in my arm and started pouring the fluids into me because my blood pressure was so low. They did a nasal swab for flu which came back positive. The masked doctor walked in, introduced himself and said he would put staples in to close my scalp wound. I felt the prick of the lidocaine needle followed by stinging, and then my scalp became numb. I heard the “clunk, clunk, clunk…” 10 times as he put the staples in my scalp.  He said I would go have a CT scan of my head to see if I had any internal bleeding. The doctor and nurse walked out of the room and tightly closed the door since I was now in isolation to contain the flu virus.

After nearly a liter of IV fluids, I knew I would need the bedpan soon. I fumbled for my call light among the blankets. Where was it? I slowly turned my head and saw it lying on the shelf out of reach. I weakly called as loud as I could, “Nurse, Nurse!” I knew no one could hear me call through the tightly closed door. I prayed, “Dear Lord, Please send me someone soon to help me so I won’t have to wet the bed. You know how miserable I feel.” The minutes ticked by as my bladder became more uncomfortable. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes…..I couldn’t hold my urine any longer and wet the stretcher as my tears wet my pillow.

The door opened about 10 minutes later and I told the nurse what had happened. She looked at me with embarrassment at having forgotten to give me my call light, and apologized. She said they had a patient who had a cardiac arrest that they were caring for. I told her I understood. The tech came in and together they cleaned me up and changed the sheets and my gown as I rolled side to side on the narrow stretcher. They sent me for the CT scan which showed I did not have any internal bleeding, so they admitted me for next 4 days. They started me on Tamiflu medicine immediately which would shorten the course of the flu from 2 weeks to a few days. They diagnosed me with a concussion and discharged me home to recover.

Reflection

I have never forgotten how helpless, isolated, deserted, and forgotten I felt during those minutes on the stretcher when I didn’t have my call light. I was out of work for 3 months while I waited for my brain to heal from the concussion. When I was finally able to return to the nursing home where I worked as a Nurse Practitioner, I became acutely aware of triple checking to make sure my patients had their call light before I left their room!

Even though the nurse forgot about me that night for a time, I am thankful that God never forgets or leaves me or any of His dear children!

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

  “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

I was richly blessed this week in reading a selection from Miles J. Stanford’s None But the Hungry Heart.

“We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for out ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper much first be a sufferer. “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” II Corinthians 1:4   The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

Well, it is but a little while and He will appear to answer all inquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?”

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17

Overwhelmed in Chemistry Class

College Freshman – September, 1973

” When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 ” …and that Rock was Christ.” I Corinthians 10:4

I entered my nursing adviser’s office and sat down. “Mrs. M, I signed up for pre-med chemistry rather than pre-nursing chemistry this quarter because I liked chemistry in high school. But the professor covered everything I learned in high school in the first two lectures! I am totally lost in the lectures and feel like I’m in over my head. Do you have any suggestions?”

Chemistry Lab

Chemistry Lab
-photo by S. Rao-used with permission.

Mrs. M reviewed how I needed to get an A or B in pre-nursing chemistry to have any hope of being accepted into the school of nursing next fall. Last year, 800 freshman applied for the 200 openings, so it is very competitive. She advised me to drop pre-med chemistry and sign up for pre-nursing chemistry winter quarter instead which was taught at a slower pace. She said I could still register for sociology this quarter so I wouldn’t fall behind in my prerequisite courses.

December, 1973

I followed Mrs. M’s advice and had a fairly easy first quarter of 18 hours credit: Psychology – 5 hours, Sociology – 5 hours, Music History – 5 hours, Introduction to Nursing – 2 hours, and Horseback Riding – 1 hour. I really enjoyed all my classes and learned my way around the gigantic campus after a couple weeks. We had 12 minutes between classes, so I rode my bike sometimes so I wasn’t late. I loved to hear the melodic bells chime from the tower at noon as I crossed campus, especially when they played beautiful hymns!

I was richly blessed by attending the weekly campus Bible class and traveling one hour to the Bible Church  for worship services on Sundays with the other students. On Wednesday nights, we handed out gospel tracts outdoors in nice weather, or inside the dormitories during cold or rainy weather. I always asked the Lord for boldness, love, and wisdom in giving out His precious gospel. Sometimes the students were receptive, and other times they slammed the door in our faces or argued with us. It was quite the learning experience! Afterward we met together to share our experiences and pray for the people to receive Christ as their personal Savior.

I also started a Bible class for the girls in my dormitory. Only a few attended, but I was blessed in studying the gospel of John to prepare for it. How I thank God for bringing me here to this University, a huge mission field with students from every state and many countries around the world. This has been the most exciting time in my life!

Reflection

The Lord was very kind and gracious to give me an easy first quarter academically. It was quite the culture shock for this country girl to adjust to a big city of over one million people which surrounded the University of 50,000+ students. By God’s grace, I received an A the next quarter in chemistry and was accepted into the school of nursing!

I still use chemistry daily when I interpret my patients’ laboratory results, prescribe medications, and develop their plan of care. I understand now why the school of nursing emphasized the chemistry grade, because it indicated if a person had critical thinking skills which is essential for a nurse. When I contemplate all the delicate chemical balances within our human bodies, I praise God, the Chief Chemist, that He created us so marvelously!

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

Oceanographer or Nurse???

Dear Readers,

I have been having some health issues recently, so I will share some of my earlier posts with you over the next few weeks.

Pamela, APRN

March, 1971 – High School Junior – Midwest, USA

I thank the Lord that He has now given me peace and a purpose in life: to walk worthy of the Lord, serve Him, and increase in my knowledge of God.  My sister, Marsha, withdrew from the university pre-veterinary program and is now studying to be a nurse at a hospital diploma program. She comes home every weekend and teaches a Bible class for my high school friends and me. It is so wonderful to study the Bible, God’s love letter to me, so I can grow closer to Him!

I also am reading books in the home Bible study program and biographies of Christians which have been so helpful.  I especially like Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary. Notes on the Pentateuch by C.H. McIntosh has really helped me understand the first five books of the Old Testament. My favorite Christian biographies so far are By Searching and In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn, and God’s Man in China about Hudson Taylor. They both served God in China with the former China Inland Mission which Hudson Taylor founded.fav books sm

While she was a student in Bible school, Isobel Kuhn learned to put the Lord first every morning and spend time in Bible reading and prayer. So after reading “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek Thee; my soul thirsts for Thee…” in Psalm 63:1, I asked the Lord to help me get up earlier so I could read my Bible and pray before I went to school. It is really wonderful to set my mind on the Lord in the morning and ask Him to teach me before I get so busy with school. When I oversleep, I really miss it! When I get home from school, I study my Bible for an hour before I start my homework. It amazes me how God multiplies the time and helps me do my homework faster! I also silently pray before I take a test at school, and God helps me figure out the right answer.

The past year, I have asked God to show me the way as to what career He would like me to pursue. Before I became a Christian, I wanted to be an oceanographer or landscape architect because I enjoy science, art, and the outdoors so much. But now, I want to work with people and hope to have opportunities to point them to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have considered becoming a teacher or a nurse. I think I would like to become a nurse like my sister because I like science, but I could still help people. Perhaps I could even teach nursing or the Lord will allow me to be a missionary nurse!

Reflection – 2013

Old and new electronic edition!

Old and new electronic edition!

And so the Lord led me to become a nurse. I think my concept of nursing was strongly influenced by the Cherry Ames RN series by Helen Wells which I avidly read in my early teens. The first book was published in 1944 during World War II and was a catalyst for many young women to join the Army Nurse Cadet Corps. Cherry went on to work in about 25 different fields of nursing! I was delighted to discover they are now available as electronic books. I smiled as I reread the first book, Cherry Ames, Student Nurse.

On her first day of nursing school, the Nursing Superintendent said to the new nursing probation students, “Let me remind you that you are going to need good health, intelligence, unselfishness, patience, tact, humor, sympathy, efficiency, neatness, plus plenty of energy for hard work.” A groan echoed around the room. “But let me remind you, too,” Miss Reamer said, “that nursing is the most rewarding of all professions for women. And frequently the most romantic and exciting,” she added with a twinkle in her eye.

Real nursing is not nearly as glamorous, but it is fulfilling. Although I never became a full-time missionary nurse, the Lord blessed me with several short term medical missionary trips to Belize, Honduras, and China, as well as a graduate nursing course in the Dominican Republic. Many opportunities have been given to me to point my patients, their families, and my co-workers to the Lord Jesus Christ, for which I thank Him. I never lacked for a job for long, never went hungry, and always paid my bills on time. God has proved Philippians 4:19 over and over again to me, “But my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

So nursing has been good to me. There have been the challenges and frustrations that are part of any career, but it still gives me great satisfaction when one of my patients says, “Thank you so much for helping me today, Pam!”

By the way, I am so glad I never became an oceanographer since I later discovered that I am very prone to seasickness. I will share more about that in my blog about being a cruise ship nurse — for one week! Truly, God makes no mistakes……

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10