International Nursing

Medical Missions in Honduras – Part I

July 1988

Dr. Pete, a Christian surgeon, spoke to a singles group 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 the Lord has set him free to do missions. He grew up in the Philippines where missionaries led him to the Lord at age fifteen.

He plans to go to Honduras in October for one week and said they need more nurses and general helpers. I met him for lunch along with a respiratory therapist, Judy, and we all decided to participate. We are 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. I ordered 400 Spanish gospels of John to take with me and give to the clinic patients.

Honduras – October 23, 1988

I 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, 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 seventy 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 Matthew 28:20.

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

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

We bumped along about five miles per hour while chatting 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 a foot of mud. Everybody got out to help push. We managed to push the bus 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, shivering in the cool night mountain air. 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 earplugs. She kindly brought a whole bag for us newbies. I fell exhausted into my bunk bed but discovered to my dismay that 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 pantomimed since I only know a few words of Spanish and he knows no English. Smiles go a long way. We stopped halfway to visit his friends for a few minutes and they kindly gave us a cup of strong coffee. In return, I gave 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.

ox cart

Mountains

pretty girl

Only one doctor, another nurse, and I arrived at the clinic. The rest of the team still stood in the huge cattle truck and bumped along over the tortuous roads. With no telephone in the village, we asked God to keep them safe and began the clinic. Lynn, the other nurse, set up the pharmacy in a building down the street. I began checking blood pressures and triaging the throngs patiently waiting for us at the village school. I smiled and shared John 3:16 in Spanish with each patient.

“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 KJV).

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 below us.

Reflection

After losing my luggage in this remote corner of the world, I realized how little I needed to survive. The team members blessed me when they generously gave me some of their clothes. The spirit of camaraderie during our busy clinic days thrilled my soul.

My translator told me some of the Hondurans walked eight 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.

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