Sleeping in Statistics Class

College Freshman – May, 1974

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary…” Isaiah 40:29-30

“Pam, Can you please see me after class?” announced my statistics professor. I nervously approached Professor L. who had shared at the beginning of the quarter with the class that he was a Christian. (He was the only professor in my four years of college who claimed to be a Christian.) He said, “I noticed you have been falling asleep in class. Do you have a job where you work at night?”

Sleeping in Statistics Class

Sleeping in Statistics Class

stat class

I explained that I worked ten hours weekly at the main library. The statistics class was from 4-5 pm Monday-Friday when I was most weary. I had also just missed a week of class because I was sick with the flu. We reviewed my midterm grades of 96% (A) on the first one and 6% (F) on the second one. I had never failed a test before and was horrified when I saw the F! I had reviewed my classmate’s notes for the week I missed, but I guess I didn’t understand the material. He kindly said, “Pam, get a tutor to review the material before the final exam. If you do well on the final exam and remaining quizzes, I will drop your F on the midterm now that I understand your circumstances. I thanked him profusely for his consideration and advice.

In addition to working and taking classes, I was teaching the women’s Bible class weekly and children’s Bible Club every other week. It was no surprise that I became ill, because I was simply doing too much! I found someone else to teach the Bible clubs, found a tutor, and did my best on the statistics final exam. In June, I apprehensively opened my grades when they arrived in the mail.  B in statistics!!! Thank You, Lord, for your grace and strength! My courses this quarter were: statistics – 5 hours, chemistry- 5 hours, violin lessons – 1 hour, logic – 5 hours, tennis – 1 hour.

Reflection

So ended my freshman year of college. It still remains a constant balancing act between worshiping and serving the Lord, working, maintaining my home, and getting enough rest and relaxation. I ask the Lord daily to help me put Him first and do all things for His glory and honor while resting and delighting in Him. When people ask me to do something, I pray about it first and ask the Lord what He wants me to do. As nurses, we are used to always helping people and our automatic response is “Yes”. But I have slowly learned over the years to say “No” if God does not give me peace about going forward.

Many times in my nursing career when I have been totally exhausted, I have cried out to God to strengthen me and ask Him to do my job through Me, while leaning hard on Him. A favorite poem of mine is “Lean Hard“.

Child of My love, Lean Hard, and let Me feel the pressure of thy care;

I know thy burden, child, I shaped it; Poised it in Mine own hand, made no proportion

In its weight to thine unaided strength. For even as I laid it on, I said,

I shall be near, and while he leans on Me, This burden shall be Mine, not his;

So shall I keep My child within the circling arms of My own love.

Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder

Which upholds the government of worlds.

Yet closer come; Thou are not near enough; I would embrace thy care

So I might feel My child reposing on My breast. Thou lovest Me? I knew it.

Doubt not then; but loving Me, Lean Hard.

(unknown author)

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee.” Psalm 55:22

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” I Peter 5:7

Rest in the Lord

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Honduras Medical Mission – Part 3

Camasca – Thursday, October 29, 1988

Today I woke up at 3 a.m. with a stomach ache. I have been doing well with the food until now. The village dogs howl until 1 a.m. and the chickens start crowing about 3:30 a.m. so I keep waking up early. I never knew a village could be so noisy at night! After the clinic started, I had to run through the crowds to the only toilet a block away. So thankful I made it in time. I thought I would be crushed in the mob waiting to see the doctors outside the village school. It’s a good thing I’m a head taller than most people here. I just kept saying, “Permiso” (excuse me), and the crowd parted for me.

This afternoon, the mission director came up to me in clinic and told me they found my suitcase and he put it in the women’s house! During a break, I went to the house to bring back some more gospels of John to hand out. I gave the rest of them to one of the helpers to hand out tomorrow and next week at another village they are serving.

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in after one week! It contained 400 gospels of John for the patients.

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in after one week! It contained 400 gospels of John for the patients.

I am so sad that this is my last day to work with the group who is going to another village Saturday and staying a second week. There is no telephone or telegram to communicate with Dr Pete in the next village. Judy and I don’t even know how we’re getting to the capital city, Tegucigalpa, tomorrow. Short wave radio contact is difficult. The mission director said we will be taken to the next town at 4:30 a.m. where the local doctor will take us with him to Teguc (short version for the capital).

I feel like I have a fever so one of the doctors gave me a new antibiotic to take called Ciprofloxacin to kill the stomach bug I have. I taught Harold, one of the general helpers, how to take a blood pressure. It’s challenging to hear in this noisy crowd, but he was a quick learner.

I gave the devotional tonight after dinner on “Christ, the solid Rock” from 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 and 2 Samuel 22:1-3. I might tremble on the Rock, but the Rock never trembles under me! How wonderful it is to trust and rest in my faithful Savior.

The Lord is MY ROCK, and MY fortress, and MY deliverer. 2 Samuel 22:2

Afterwards, one of the school teachers gave us a brief history of the town of Camasca which was founded in 1746. Currently it has a population of 6000. The average annual salary is 50 Limperas ($25).

Friday – Camasca to Tegucigalpa

Judy and I arose at 3:30 a.m., but the pickup truck arrived at 4 a.m. – 30 minutes early! We were hurrying in the dark and my flashlight batteries were almost out, so I forgot my camera and suitcase wheels. The head lady flagged down our truck and took us to the pharmacy where she had two cups of hot tea and cornbread ready for us. What a treat! We both gave her a big hug of appreciation. The driver took us to the next town, Concepcion, and dropped us off at Dr C’s house at 5 a.m. and then sped off. Dr. C came out and was rather upset with us. He had waited up for us until 10 p.m. and then finally went to bed. Our ride to Teguc came at 2 a.m. so we missed it. I guess there was a communication breakdown somewhere. His car clutch is broken, so he is concerned about driving that far, but finally decided to try it with a friend. We made good time to the next town, La Esperanza, in 3 hours.

Kathy, the wife of the mission director, lives here, but she didn’t know how to get us to Teguc. Someone heard of a school teacher going to Teguc, so she took us out to the bus stop. The “bus” was a little Toyota pickup truck. We threw our stuff in the back and climbed in with 11 locals – 10 men and 1 woman. I sat on my big red suitcase with my other bag at my back and bounced along for 5 hours. The scenery was beautiful and the sun was shining, but my back ached as my skin burned. At the end, a lady climbed in with her little boy and a big bag of oranges she was selling in town. She smiled and asked, “Christiana?” (Christian?) We said “Si” with a big smile. She pointed to herself and smiled and pulled her Bible out of her bag! It was so wonderful how the Lord took care of us.

We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant. Judy and I had a Coke and cookies because that is all we could safely eat with no guarantee of a bathroom. I am so thankful the fever and stomach ache are gone today.

Then the pickup truck dropped us off by the roadside and we waited with the teacher. Behold, a large modern air conditioned bus stopped and picked us up! The soft reclining seat felt like a little taste of heaven! It only took 2 hours on a smooth road to go the rest of the way to Teguc. Then the teacher called us a taxi which took us right to the hotel where Dr Pete was waiting for us. He arrived at 11 a.m. by small plane in 30 minutes from his village. He tried to contact us by shortwave radio to tell us we could also fly out, but couldn’t get through. I’m rather glad though that we came safely in 14 hours by 5 different vehicles, because the Lord showed Judy and me how much He truly cared about us.

Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. I Peter 5:7

Camasca is near El Salvador. It took us 14 hours to get to Tegucigalpa in 5 different vehicles!

Camasca is near El Salvador. It took us 14 hours to get to Tegucigalpa in 5 different vehicles!

Judy and I walked into our hotel room and were excited to see two real beds and a real shower! I couldn’t find a light in the bathroom, so I took a hot shower by flashlight which was totally refreshing after a week of sponge baths. After we ate dinner, we strolled around the city park. It is hard to witness the poverty everywhere. I am thankful we were out in the country most of the time. When I came back to the hotel, I noticed the light over the bathroom sink, but it took me 5 whole minutes to find the light switch. Judy and I had a good laugh over that one! After a week of sponge baths in the dark, I had forgotten what a light switch looked like. I thanked the Lord for journey mercies, and fell into bed at 8 p.m. totally exhausted.

Tegucigalpa, capitol of Honduras

Tegucigalpa, capitol of Honduras

October 31 – Home

We flew to Miami where I said goodbye to Pete and Judy, and then spent 2 days visiting friends before flying home. The greatest blessings of the trip were becoming friends with Judy and praying and reading the Bible together every day, seeing God answer prayer daily, sharing John 3:16 with over 400 people, seeing the beautiful countryside, having my faith in God increased, and meeting so many godly doctors and nurses.

Reflection

This first medical mission trip certainly expanded my world view in a different way from my previous journeys to Europe, Chile, and China. It is so wonderful to know that God loves each person in this world He created and desires each one to receive Him as Savior so they can enjoy Him for all eternity. How thankful I am for this opportunity God gave me to sow the seed of the gospel in Honduras. I hope I meet some believers from Camasca in heaven who read the gospels of John and received Christ!

Medical Mission Trip to Honduras – Part 2

Honduras, October, 1988-Tuesday

We just finished our first clinic day together as a whole group. The rest of the team arrived in the cattle truck around 5 pm yesterday after standing for 8 hours and bumping along the roads. They looked exhausted. I am so thankful the Lord let me ride in the little pick up truck with the luggage. I’m not sure I could have stood that long.

The women are staying at a former missionary’s home which has three large rooms and a covered patio with fire pit for cooking in the back. I even have a bed with mattress, two clean sheets, and a pillow. The men are staying a block away in another village home and join us for meals on the patio prepared for usby the church women. There is one toilet on the porch and a curtained place to take a sponge bath. The village has running water for three hours in the morning, and electricity for three hours in the afternoon, so we eat by the light of two gas lanterns. When the water isn’t running, we pour a bucket of water down the toilet to flush it. When the water is running, the women collect huge pots of it to supply the team the entire day.

When we woke up this morning in the dark, each woman took turns of dipping a bucket of warm water from the large pot on the fire and then taking a sponge bath be flashlight. By the time the men arrived for breakfast, the sun had risen. We had a precious time in God’s word, sang some choruses together, and then prayed and committed the day to God, asking Him to use us for His glory and honor. I loved learning the new chorus,

This is the day that the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Then we all gathered our medical supplies and walked down the street to the village school. Those of us who worked yesterday afternoon showed them the classrooms and each doctor chose one and was assigned an interpreter.

Anatomy of a cow on the village classroom wall.

Anatomy of a cow on the village classroom wall.

I continued to be the triage nurse and check blood pressures and give out John 3:16 and gospels of John. The crowds outside the school were unbelievable!

The crowds patiently waited outside the school to be seen by a doctor.

The crowds patiently waited outside the school to be seen by a doctor.

They have been waiting for several hours to see us. I did a few ear irrigations. Today, my interpreter was named Tony who is from Belgium. He is teaching 12 and 13 year old children how to teach school. I was shocked when he told me 70% of the people cannot read.

Everyone has intestinal parasites(worms) so the pharmacy people set up a Piperazine table under the tree, so each patient gets a tablespoon of sweet red “Pip” (for short)  before leaving. The pharmacy was incredibly organized with Spanish stick on labels they placed on little zip lock bags with the tablets inside. Ella, a pharmacy technician runs it. She is married to an anesthesiologist who is with Dr Pete doing surgeries in another town in Honduras. This is her sixth time coming to Honduras. On her first trip, she saw the need to become a pharmacy technician, so she went back to school to learn how to do it.

We saw about 200 people today in the clinic and are exhausted. After supper by lantern light and evening devotions, we each quickly fell into bed.

Wednesday

Today I was on my own at the triage table because we were short an interpreter. The doctors decided it wasn’t that helpful for me to gather chief complaint, so I checked each patient’s blood pressure and then told them John 3:16 in Spanish. Quite a few of them said they were Christians. Too bad I only have 10 of my 400 gospels of John since my suitcase is still lost. Amazingly, one lady told me I was beautiful and wanted to hang my picture in her living room. She then invited me to her home for dinner. I felt so honored that she chose to invite me to her home which I enjoyed with one of the interpreters. I wrote down her address and will write to her when I return home.

Mrs. G. who invited me to dinner in her home!

Mrs. G. who invited me to dinner in her home!

I had fun with Gladys, our beautiful friendly Honduran girl who brought the team water and tried to teach me Spanish. I pointed to an object and said “Que?” (what?) and she would tell me the Spanish word. I repeated it several times and she laughed until I said it correctly!

Gladys, our water girl, taught me Spanish. We had fun  together!

Gladys, our water girl, taught me Spanish. We had fun together!

I was feeling a little bit useless this morning because it doesn’t seem like I’m able to do much except check blood pressures. Dr. E. had devotions this morning on Philippians 2 and shared how we are called to serve like Christ even though it is exhausting and repetitious. It was convicting and really helped my attitude.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant…

Philippians 2:5, 7

At dinner, we reviewed the day and some of the patients we saw. One 25 year old man had had a stroke and was paralyzed, so his family dragged him here to see what we could do to help. Sadly, we could do nothing. Wheelchairs are totally useless here on mud roads with no sidewalks. Another baby had a cleft palate, so we are trying to get the baby to the surgical team to see if they can repair it. There were some with respiratory infections we could treat with antibiotics, and many gynecologic infections they were able to treat. Since the life expectancy is only 40-50 years old, we really didn’t see chronic diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes. There is no obesity here because the people walk everywhere. Their main food staples are rice, corn, beans, and chicken.

Tonight after dinner, the village people put on a cultural program in the town hall for us to show their appreciation which was enjoyed by all. They thanked us for coming to their humble town to help them. The young people did traditional Honduran dances, somewhat like American square dancing. Then a man did a couple pantomimes that were hilarious! One was about chewing gum, and the other was about how to take a bath in Honduras. Then they did a skit about going to the doctor. It was enlightening to see their interpretation of the medical profession.

Reflection

I was definitely out of my comfort zone the entire time I was in Honduras. It was a huge culture shock to me to see the poverty. It was so exhausting to be bombarded by new sights and the sounds of a foreign language all day long. It was also challenging having limited water, electricity, and toilet facilities. It was sad and frustrating that we could do so little to treat some of their medical needs. But hopefully we conveyed the love of Christ in trying to help them and point them to Him so they could have an eternal personal relationship with Him. Next post I will tell how the trip concluded and our harrowing journey to leave the country.