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!

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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.

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.

The Lost Suitcase – International Travel Tips – Part I

Honduras – October 23, 1988

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

I have just arrived in Honduras to join my first medical mission trip. We changed 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, 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 Matthew 28:20 and 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. 1988

Honduras bus stuck in the mud! Everyone helped push it out, and I lost my only shoes. 1988

We 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 check each patient's blood pressure and share the gospel with them.

I check each patient’s blood pressure and share the gospel with them.

I traveled the next day in a small pickup truck with a kind man who hauled the 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!

Only one doctor and I arrived at the clinic. The rest of the team is in a cattle truck and apparently delayed. So I began checking blood pressures and triaging the throngs of patient waiting for us at the village school. This continued to be my assignment the rest of the week. I shared John 3:16 in Spanish with each patient and gave them a gospel of John while the village pastor shared the gospel with the crowds while they waited.

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in the Honduran village after one week!

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in the Honduran village after one week!

I had been borrowing scrubs to wear all week and the village ladies kindly washed them out for me and hung them up to dry. Friday, I looked up the dirt road and could not believe my eyes! Our mission director was walking down the road with my red suitcase! I never thought I would see that suitcase again. I was amazed how I had survived an entire week without it, and how God had wonderfully provided for me. I then realized how little I really needed to survive. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Reflection – 2014

I just returned from a two week vacation in Ecuador with a lady from my church who is fluent in Spanish and very well traveled. She said she learned many travel hints from me and encouraged me to share them with you, which I will do next week.

I was rereading my first travel journal from 1978 which has a leatherette cover embossed with “Trip Abroad”. The first few pages give general travel hints and carefully explain how to take Traveler’s Checks in small denominations and Letters of Credit from your bank to prove you have sufficient funds for large checks. Thankfully, those days are past and ATM cards work around the world giving you cash in the local currency. Until next week… Hasta luega!!

Ecuador Pacific Sunset, Puerto Lopez - 2014

Ecuador Pacific Sunset, Puerto Lopez – 2014

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