Mountain Medical Team Warwick
August 24 – September 1, 2013
Hola from Honduras!
The start of our trip could not have been more perfect had it been scripted. Everyone showed up, on time, baggage in hand and passports. Well…almost everyone! Twenty-six 50-lb. duffels, one box of cardiac catheters, 14 personal carry-ons, and 14 backpacks were through security in a matter of minutes. Our connecting flight from Richmond to Newark was a piece of cake.
Next stop — San Pedro Sula, Honduras!!! Five hours later as we looked out of the plane windows, we were greeted by the most beautiful mountains and countryside one could ever dream. Moments later after clearing customs, we were greeted by the smiling face of ELMER! (And a good bit of humidity.) Everyone was feeling a little hungry so we decided to partake in some Honduran food: Wendy`s!!! With the duffels waiting for us and the sun beating on our backs, we loaded up and headed for Alfredo`s House.
Driving in Honduras is unlike anything this gringo has ever experienced. It seems there are NO rules, but obviously God is amazing and we arrived safely. Upon entering the compound, it was as if we had never left — open arms ready for hugs, smiling faces, the smell of lunch being prepared and what we would later learn to be, WORLDWIDE award-winning coffee.
A light afternoon of moving duffels, introducing Newbies and catching up with old friends led to a home-cooked meal and an extremely emotional and powerful hour of devotion lead by Charles Hunt who may have retired but has, by no means, lost his touch. The evening fog rolled in across Santa Barbara mountain and Alfredo`s House shut down for the evening as the weary travelers rested their heads (and backs). Alfredo’s House is already our HOME!
Despite traveling over 12 hours the previous day, most of us rose with the sun. We were greeted once again by beautiful countryside and an awesome breakfast. After breakfast, we were given a VIP tour of the compound by Nury. This was not just pointing out bathrooms and laundry facilities; it was an in-depth, emotional, educational and awe-inspiring story shared by an amazingly passionate woman. She is the glue that holds it all together while the troops are in the trenches. As if that wasn`t enough to drive us through the week, it was time for church. We walked to our neighboring church for a bilingual, multi-cultural, and emotional service. It never ceases to amaze; you can travel half way around the world, be immersed in a third world country, hear a different language, and yet somehow, God will find you! Everyone seemed to receive a message that was personalized for them. The church had recently suffered a loss and during the individual testimonies as to how amazing “Gordon” was, you could tangibly feel the sorrow and grief, while also experiencing the tremendous amount of love and respect this community felt for him. There was singing, dancing, live music, fellowship, and a love for God that knew no borders and no nationalities. The service concluded with the leaders of the church praying arm-in-arm with the entire team.
And now…it was time to eat….AGAIN! The food here is incredible! After filling ourselves to the brim, it was time to do some real work. The strategy was to divide and conquer! A lot of prep work goes into visiting five communities in five days. The medicines, vitamins, glasses, flip-flops, toothbrushes and clothes necessary to impact approximately 1500 lives is truly unfathomable…and there might have even been a few soccer balls too! As the saying goes ¨many hands make for quick work.¨ All the work was completed in a little less than three hours; talk about teamwork! For all of our efforts this far, the team was “rewarded” with a wonderful meal at a local restaurant. Fun, fellowship and food were abundant!
As our night concluded, Charles led our evening devotions;’ dedicated to a dearly loved, respected, and extremely missed teammate, Connie Richeson. How appropriate that this was held under the portico of Alfredo`s House, dedicated in remembrance of another dearly loved and very missed part of the Friends of Barnabas’ family, Alfredo Vasquez.
Day 1 of our actual medical mission was a complete success! We traveled about an hour and a half north of Peña Blanca to the community, San Antonio de Zacapa. Upon arrival we were surprised there were so few people gathered in the school yard, however, that soon changed. The villagers all showed up in their Sunday best and patiently waited to receive any and all of our services that they desired.
Four clinics were set up: Deworming/Vitamin A/Fluoride; a field style dentist office; a general health clinic with five stations with a full service pharmacy; and an eye clinic. In what seemed to be a short time later, the combined total consultations would be 377:
223 patients received personal medical consultations;
21 patients consulted with a dentist and were relieved of 31 dead or decaying teeth;
26 patients were fitted with 33 pairs of glasses restoring their gift of sight;
107 patients, mostly children, received deworming, fluoride, and vitamin A treatments.
Not bad for our first day on the job!
Out of the 377 consultations, one young man showed up quite ill. Cristian, a 10-year-old boy, was seen in Beverley and Eugenia’s station. Eugenia is one of three Honduran medical students from San Pedro Sula that we are fortunate to have assisting the Warwick mountain medical mission team. She diagnosed him with a heart murmur and what appeared to be a chronic lung infection. His skin was pale and cold to the touch, he was incoherent, and at times even seemed to drift in and out of consciousness. He was placed on our portable nebulizer. There was a grave concern for his health and a number of team members monitored him with personal one-on-one care. After Dr. Moncada consulted with his mother, aunt, nurses and staff, it was decided that young Cristian needed to be transported to the hospital. Keeping true to the motto of Friends of Barnabas, Cristian and his family were brought back with the team to the Barnabas House. Here Cristian, mom, and dad were all bathed, freshly clothed and shoed, before Elmer escorted them north to the hospital in San Pedro Sula. Please add Cristian and his family to your prayers over the following few days that they may receive a clear diagnosis and prompt attention to his illness.
Today, we were reminded very quickly of how fragile life is, and how grateful we should be for the time we have here. With that sentiment on our hearts, we eagerly traveled into El Cerron Taulabe. The views from the mountain were awe-inspiring; and to our relief, the community’s elevation resulted in a much cooler working day. When we arrived, the entire community was present and waiting. In true Honduran fashion, the men formed a line to assist with unloading the bus. This was extremely good news to the team, as the stairs from the bus to the school house were basically a vertical climb.
The “welcoming ceremony” for the team began with members of the community offering songs and applause for the team and our Lord; followed with a prayer by Melvin Martinez, a valuable employee of Friends of Barnabas and a much appreciated member of our team. Individual prayers were also offered by Charles and Cindy with translation provided by Carlos and Bessie. Thereafter, everyone quickly manned their stations and prepared for our first patients of the day.
Almost immediately we were faced with an emergency. A 78-year-old woman, weary from her walk to the clinic, fainted and fell into the arms of Bessie. Almost our entire medical staff dropped what they were doing and began attending to her – vitals were checked, cold compresses offered as well as water and a breakfast bar. Soon it was determined that although frail, overall, the woman was in good health.
Once it was established that our Señora was okay, it was back to business as usual. All four clinics had quite a busy day as indicated by our numbers:
258 patients were seen in the medical clinic;
27 patients consulted with the dentist (Mike Turck) and were relieved of 43 dead or decaying teeth.
30 patients were fitted with 30 pairs of glasses restoring their gift of sight; and
66 patients, mostly children, received deworming, fluoride, and vitamin A treatments
With a heavy storm looming in the distance, we packed up with great haste and departed for our home in Peña Blanca for dinner, devotions, and some well-deserved rest. (The Internet WAS affected by the deluge, thus the delay in our journal.)
For some, today was the introduction to a TRUE Honduran mountain road, and for others, a bumpy ride down memory lane. While taking a brief stop for a cultural experience to pick and eat guava, a young girl on horseback stopped to socialize with the team. Her gentle smile and warm spirit proved to reflect the overall personality of the entire community. This community was clearly smaller than the others we’d seen, but due to accessibility and road conditions, the need was clearly the largest. Their church was a single room concrete square and their school, a three room concrete box. The nicest area in the village was their soccer field, full of lush green grass and horses lining the edge.
Upon arrival, the team witnessed the emotional reunion of Zenaida, one of our Honduran nurse/translators, and Soany, a young girl Zenaida met the first time Friends of Barnabas visited this community. At one time, Zenaida brought this beautiful little girl into her home for two months to get her weight up and give her the nursing care she needed to become healthy. Soany learned to walk while in Zenaida’s loving care.
While the overall numbers were lower; we must reiterate that the level of need was greater. The smaller size of the community allowed for longer consultation times with our medical staff and a greater level of fellowship with the people; including a multi-national soccer game, manicures, and conversations.
164 patients were seen in the medical clinic;
17 patients consulted with the dentist (Dr. Mike) and were relieved of 19 dead or decaying teeth;
10 patients were fitted with 10 pairs of glasses restoring their gift of sight; and
19 patients received deworming, fluoride, and vitamin A treatments.
As we are traveling a long distance this morning (Thursday) for our clinic, we secured Internet at a BEAUTIFUL road side paradise where we are having breakfast as we send this. Please trust and believe we are truly among the most beautiful of God’s countryside and people! How fortunate for us to have this opportunity!
Keep your thoughts with us as we go forth to serve, demonstrating “the love of Jesus Christ in action!”
Beverly Franklin, Cynthia Funk, MG Funk, Dallas Groseclose, Elizabeth Hamilton, Charles Hunt, Carlos Liceaga, Cynthia Moore, Carol Phelps, Justin Phelps, Martha Rhodes, James Taylor. Virginia Taylor, Michael Turck