Honduras – 2011 Medical/Dental/Optometry/Hearing Impaired Education/Veterinary/Construction
After 12 months of preparation the trip has come to an end and what a trip it was! Forty-seven missionaries from 4 countries converged on the small villages of Paujiles and El Portillo to provide service and education to the local population. The trip started out a bit rough with 12 of our member’s arrival delayed due to flight problems, but throughout the difficulties we saw God work in wonderful ways. Our visit to Nueva Esperanza, the government orphanage, was a sad and humbling experience. The children ranged in ages from 18 days to 11 years old, some with very acute problems. Their physical needs are great; however, their greatest need is love and affection….from the babies to the youngsters, the common theme was a starvation for quality adult interaction and love. The staff that oversees them are doing the best they can with the limited resources at their disposal. While we were only there for a few hours, we held, interacted and fell in love with these little children. There are many stories, but one little boy in particular stole my heart…he looked to be 13 years old and had a severe mental handicap. Getting to connect with Carlos, clapping, raising his hands and making direct eye contact brought a smile and screams of laughter….what a blessing to connect with him if even for a few moments. There were other little children who just wanted to be held and it was awesome to see the team immediately engage to hold the smallest of God’s children so they could experience a momentary respite from the hopelessness of their situation. The older children were an active group and an impromptu soccer game as well as kick-ball and catch helped to burn off some energy.
Our Vacation Bible School and Evangelism rocked the house each day by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to each person who was seen in any of our ministries. The Plan of Salvation was shared to the adults and Hermie the caterpillar made numerous appearances throughout the day to engage and communicate with the children how we become a new creation when we get to know Jesus.
Our medical/triage/nurses/pharmacy teams were an exceptional group of individuals who cared for 2346 patients in 4 ½ days. While the majority of the patients needed vitamins there were some exceptional cases that allowed our team to shine with their God given talents. Our hospital referrals increased significantly from last year, an 8 year old with possible scoliosis unable to walk, an elderly man who had a large hernia for a number of years, an elderly man with an abscess that needs surgery, an adult woman who was waiting in line when a rotten branch fell from the tree and hit her in the head (she was expertly rushed into our clinic where she was stabilized and taken to the hospital and returned later that afternoon on her way to a full recovery). The most acute was an 8 year old little girl with a hole in her heart….our pediatric PA was able to hear the murmur and called back to a heart surgeon in the US for a consult, only to find out that this particular doctor is scheduled to be in San Pedro Sula in October seeing patients. Coordination is already underway to get this little girl to the clinic where she can be seen.
In 2010 we received the unplanned opportunity to help teach two young deaf girls key skills so they could better communicate with their families. Like the parable of the loaves and fishes in the Book of Matthew, we saw that number multiply this year to 53 children. “WOW” is about the only expression that helps to communicate the impact on these children. Our ministry used a bus to transport these kids from El Progreso each day so they could receive the daily training and education. We provided each of them with a 500 page, comprehensive book on Honduran Sign Language so they can further their knowledge and communication capabilities. For all of these kids, it was the first time they had received a book of this caliber and they were elated. For the parents who attended with their children, they were given additional training on how they could help to encourage, promote and help to educate their children to be all that they can be despite their lack of hearing. Most of these kids are in the main stream schools where there are very few interpreters, so you can imagine the lack of education they are receiving. We had one teenage who is currently in the fourth grade because of the difficulty he has had in comprehending due to his inability to hear. Is the ministry over just because we have returned to our homes away from the mission….absolutely not! North Texas Missions is praying expectantly to see how God would lead us to make an ongoing, significant impact in these kids lives….if we found 53 children as easily as we did….we know there are many more who are in the same or worse conditions. Additional deaf education is a must and we are actively seeking God’s guidance to determine how we engage to provide help.
The Veterinary Ministry was a new ministry this year and provided help to many of the local animals around El Portillo and Paujiles. In these rural villages, the livestock and animals provide the major source of income or protection for their owners. The team vaccinated, wormed and provided vitamins to 319 cows, 26 horses, 160 dogs, 11 pigs, 3 cats and a goat.
The Construction Team did an outstanding job of digging out the placement for hundreds of feet of pipe that will eventually solve a water problem for the Tilapia ponds at Promise Home. Their efforts chopped down trees, dug ~100 feet of a 3x4 foot “L” shape into the side of the mountain to provide a stable and gradient path which will allow the water to continuously flow downhill and solve the problem of air bubbles causing the water to stop flowing. The team also traversed the mountain to retrieve a 50 foot steel bridge, brought it down to the workshop where it was cut into two 25 foot sections and welded to provide the span needed to bridge two culverts for the new pipe.
The Optometry Ministry was new this year and through a generous donation of over 2500 pairs of glasses from the Lion’s Club, we were able to help to 1225 patients who were not able to see properly. Each patient had their prescription read by our auto-refractor which printed out a prescription that allowed the team to find the closest possible match from our inventory. The expression of joy on these faces when their vision was restored and they could see, is a priceless memory and one that the patients were extremely grateful!
The Dental team pulled 695 teeth this week. While there were many who experienced the temporary pain of having their gums numbed and the tooth or teeth extracted, the long term impact on their overall health is exceptional. So many of these teeth were so far gone they were causing the person significant pain and discomfort. Another tangible way we expressed the love of God by caring for their physical needs.
As I said the trip was a huge success and we saw God work in wonderful and miraculous ways! Our awesome team became a cohesive group in a matter of hours after first meeting. We are already planning the trip for next year, possible two medical trips to even further our impact.
I thank God for His provision of all the resources needed for these trips and for your dedication and support for our mission. Thank you for your prayers for the ministry and I ask that you continue to pray as we seek God’s direction as we grow and expand in Honduras!