Friday, May 19, 2017

Final Day

Friday, day 5

Our last day of clinics took us up a mountain to the community of Maranatha. As we reached the highest part, we could see Santiago, (a community we visited during other trips), in the valley below us. These two communities share our clinics. One year we will go to Santiago, and another year to Maranatha. This year, women and children from Santiago climbed the mountain to see the doctors and get medicine.

This fifth day of clinics we became a "well oiled machine". We set up quickly in the school in three classrooms, everyone knowing what neeeded to be accomplished and getting to task. The doctors saw 168 patients. Many of them complained of stomache issues, probably due to parasites and poor diets.

As the doctors and pharmacy finished with the patients many of us had time to play with the children.  Sherri pulled out her craft bag, which many children enjoyed.

Heading back to our hotel we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Honduras as we bounced down the mountain.

Reflections Of The Day:

  • The road was so bumpy that Miriam said her kidneys ended up in her shoulders - everyone needs a chiropractor. 
  • A huge black butterfly landing on Kelli's pant leg and hearing her scream as she thought it was a bat - it really did look like a bat.
  • Trying to get a little girl to smile with no success - you should have seen the faces we made but to know availe.
  • The large pig getting a bath just outside the window - and the rooster and turkeys out the same window.
  • Laura having the plastic cap to the otoscope getting stuck in the children's ears due to the gobs of wax - Yikes!
  • Cindy's little friend, Kevin, trying to photobomb all the pictures she was taking - " there he is again!" 
  • Sherri had an older man so interested in her heart weaving craft, that he wanted to make one. She asked who he was making it for, and he smiled and said his wife - aww!!
  • Peyton changed jobs after lunch and became the bouncer for the pharmacy - keeping the crowds out of the room until they were able to be seen - "Are you ready for another one?"
  • Aurora's awesome lunch - as always. 

Tonight we will say goodbye to our Honduran friends (a total of fifteen) who helped us this week with driving, doctoring, hauling the heavy suitcases to clinics ( Bob with twelve women weren't much help!), translating, food, and pitching in wherever needed.

Our totals for the week were 936 people seen by the doctors. Twenty - two cases will be referred to Children Without Choices.

Thank you for your prayers.

Camryn, Peyton, and Kathy

Good Pastor

This morning, once again, the caravan carrying medications and volunteers - both Honduran and American - headed back across the vast sugar cane and banana plantations.  As always, our driver Gustavo, chuckled as we approached the highway toll.  He explained that the government set up the toll to pay for the road repairs, but the people feel that its the responsibility of the government to take care of the roads, so the people have decided just, well, not to pay.  So, it's been the same each time we approach.  The toll arm is down, we drive up, Gustavo greets the attendant, then a few seconds later, the arm goes up, and driving away, Gustavo says with a laugh "No pago" ("I don't pay."). This dispute between the people and the authorities has been going on for quite awhile - and in this one, the people seem to be winning the day.  As I look out of the window of our van at all of this bounty, I wonder - what will it take for the people to have more influence on how these tremendous natural resources are shared?  If only they had the collective power to create the more equitable systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable to obtain basic nutrition, medical care and education...

We were welcomed today by the people of the village called "Buen Pastor" which means "Good Pastor."  The team has come to this community in past years - to help with various construction projects at the school and to help work on the community water tower.  The nutritional status of this village was poor, with many reporting that they have no access to fruits and vegetables, and are eating just their rice and beans.  We were alarmed by the amount of anemia in the community.  Out of the 185 people we saw at the clinic, 59 of them had a hemoglobin level between 8-10, with one women with a level of 6.  Their symptoms include being tired and short of breath.  We were happy to be able to assist them, and are happy that the Project will continue to assist this community with various needs.

Throughout this week, we have been hearing from our Honduran partners about the gangs that have been terrorizing the region.  The people are on edge, since neither the police nor the military have been effective in protecting them from extortion and rampant violence.  The situation here is fertile ground for gangs to thrive.  This afternoon, the group met with a local Pastor who works to try to help get young men out of the gangs.  He explained that young men, who have often been abandoned or abused, have a bleak future.  Without the support of a family with resources to help them get established, the gangs offer these boys a source of income, and a sense of identity to fill their void of belonging.  The drug trafficking networks through this area are well developed, and the groups lure them in.  The Pastor described his work with local youth who have fallen into this world of darkness and culture of death.  The gang members must make a "pledge to the morgue."  Yet at great personal peril, the Pastor told us of how he has been able to develop relationships with many young men, who have responded to his weapon of choice - unconditional love and acceptance.  With God's help, he has many encouraging examples of young men who have left "la vida loca" of the gangs.  He shared a book that includes his work written by Robert Brenneman, "Homies & Hermanos - God & Gangs in Central America."  It's a compelling story of the power of love amidst utter darkness.  After hearing of his daring ministry, the group gathered around this good Pastor to pray for safety and that God would go before him to open doors and hearts.

We ended our day with a sweet time of fellowship at the Central Mennonite Church, where we got to meet some of the students (and their families) who receive scholarships.  Some of the church members were there as well to share a meal.  It was beautiful to sing together a few songs including, "How Great Thou Art." The Hondurans and Americans took turns singing to each other - the same tune with a different language - but united in faith.

Thank you for continued prayer,

Ruth, for the team

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Third Day - El Cipes

     We all met outside our rooms at 6:30 AM for prayer then head to a great breakfast. I love the sweat plantains every morning and always look forward to it every time I come down here.     
     This is my fourth trip here. My first trip 5 years ago inspired me to go back to college to be a nurse practitioner. I felt I could do so much more to help as a NP. These trips also put things back into perspective that the petty things in life do not matter. 
     At 7:30 we headed an hour and half out to a more remote area where the roads are gravel, dirt and bumpy. Our driver Gastavo is an excellent driver despite the craziness of the traffic. There seem to be no rules but everyone seems to respect each other even though they make 3-4 lanes out of 2. They beep at each other but there is no anger. It seems to be a curtousy to warn each other that they want to pass or butt in front of you. Gastavo does not speak much English but his smile and sense of humor always is always makes one feel secure and safe. When ever we go through police check points, we never have to stop. I thought I heard Barb say he was with the police at one point. Is that right  Barb? Anyway he is an excellent driver and I always feel safe.
     We set up our clinic at El Cipres which was originally a farm that was donated to ACEM and used for retreats. The driveway drops down a steep embankment as one pulls in, then we had to cross a wooden bridge then up another dirt embankment which opened up to a beautiful opening where the camp was. There were people already waiting for us. We set up quickly and got started. 
     The flow went really well today. It was really hot like other days and we were all pretty sweaty. But this is nothing compared to these people who walked far to see us and then wait in line for hours. Patiently they wait without much water. It always amazes me how everyone works together to help one another. Even the children will help someone's else's child. Often when I begin to examine children in a family the ones that are done will look after the younger sibling. There were some toddlers that wanted their older sibling to comfort them rather than the mother. This community had quite a bit of anemia. I had a boy 13 years old with anemia which I started on iron until he could go to a clinic. There were some very sick toddlers in which needed to be started on antibiotics. Many of the medicine we take for granted they do not have so I always give out Tylenol. So thankful for this  opportunity be among such beautiful people.
     We have returned to our hotel and dinner is being served so I must go. Continue to pray for us but especially our Honduran brother and sisters.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tuesday: A Clinic in the Garden

I brought my 2 daughters (12 year olds) to Honduras excited to see what my father, their Pop-pop, aka Bob, has been seeing and doing all these years traveling here.  Now I know- what a beautiful and hospitable country and people!  It has been a wonderful experience learning about the culture and connecting with the local people as well as getting to know the terrific team of individuals we are here serving with.
As for Day 2 of clinics, today we travelled about an hour and a half away to Tapiquilares.  The area became more and more remote as our van climbed a windy road to the top of a mountain with lush vegetation- rows of pineapple, avocado, banana, coconut, papaya, orange trees everywhere. We parked at a home nestled among these trees owned by the president of the community (130 houses).  HER name is Gumersinda and she has 15 children and 20 grandchildren.  Her projects are funding her community's roads and a water tower.  Many people were already there anticipating our arrival, and it was clear hat her home is a center of community life.  Blankets had been draped across trees, creating separate "rooms" for our stations in the shade.  It was a lovely and welcoming site.  
My view from my "donation station" is both fun and challenging. I follow the anemia stick station, so I see (and hear) lots of crying children and nervous adults having their fingers "pricked" and then get to provide smiles with beanie babies and matchbox cars in addition to soap, toothbrushes, shoes, etc.  However, it can be challenging when I run out of "fun" items or when kids see someone with a "better" toy...  Moral of the story: kids are the same everywhere!  The other stations seemed to go smoothly today and 235 people were seen- weighed, blood pressure checked, anemia stuck, vitamins and meds provided, eyeglass eval, and assessed by the doctors.  Twelve potential Children Without Choices cases were identified as well.
Gumersinda provided us with a delicious lunch made by her and her daughters. Many of the men in the community travel 3 hours to work in the fields for a week at a time. Some of the children are tasked with daily delivering their lunches- by horseback.  During breaks or while waiting in line, the kids loved playing with bubbles, racing their matchbox cars, coloring, making bracelets, and other crafts. They also kept returning to my "donation station"😉
It has been a delight to see each other's gifts and skills be used to serve and meet people's needs here. At the same time, it has been sobering to realize that this is most people in the world's "normal."  I will not take making a same-day appointment with my doctor for granted again.  Knowing how far these people are traveling and how long they are then waiting in extreme heat (many with multiple babies and children) reflects just how rare, needed, and valuable medical treatment is here. As I look into the eyes of the children that I'm handing out items too, I am repeatedly reminded of my own children and how I would do anything for them...  I pray that this week we can continue to share God's love and faithfulness to the children, families, and communities we encounter. May we continue to point to Him as our good and perfect Father who sees, knows, and loves each one of us.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday - la Mealer

Today was a leap in faith day. With 13 team members from Pennsylvania and another 13 Honduran doctors, translators and helpers, and about 6 suitcases of medicines, supplies, toys for the kids, and crafts for later in the day, we set out for the community of la Mealer. How would we transport all of these people and all of these supplies we needed?  Well, Dinora and the staff from ACEM had it figured out, and we had enough vehicles and a pickup truck to transport us all for the hour and 15 minute drive - about 55 minutes on decent highway, and 20 minutes on bumpy dirt roads, through palm oil plantations.

It took our team some time to figure out where to set up in the church and two rooms of the preschool, but we were soon seeing patients, and both our new team members and our return members were doing well at their various tasks.  

The heat was almost unbearable, with the temperature in the mid-nineties and the humidity equally as high. It didn't take long for many of us to have wet shirts. Isn't a "wicking" shirt supposed to stay dry?

The doctors consulted with 202 patients today. The lines were steady all morning, and we finished up around 3:30 in the afternoon. The waits were long, especially for the moms carrying a child and another hanging onto their side. With the high heat, many of the little ones were crying and probably wanted to go back to their houses.  But, the mothers were all very patient.

Pastor Jesus Hernandez and his wife were with us much of the day, and he recalled how DRE had a team there about 10 years ago, and we prayed with him in their old bamboo sided church. Today, they have a large unfinished concrete block church, and he is hoping to find funding to finish the church.

One of the teachers at the pre-school, Aracely, recognized me, and helped me to remember that I was on the team 10 years ago that helped her husband, Antonio, build their house. They also had a son, Jorge, who was confined to a wheelchair as a result of MS. At that time, Jorge was strong enough to propel himself around. Today, Aracely wanted a small group of us to come over to their house, about a 5 minute walk. When we got there, she went into a back room, and came out carrying Jorge in her arms. This 6 year-old is now 16, and the family has surrounded him with their love and constant care, as he is no longer able to do anything on his own. His muscles have shriveled up to nothing. But, the family continues to thank God for each day that Jorge is with them!

Our first day went really well, in spite of the awful heat. Everyone is healthy and enjoying our time together, and we're looking forward to what God has planned for us tomorrow. We will have a 1 1/2 hour drive, so we'll be leaving our hotel by 7:30. Continue praying for our team, our DRE group and also our Honduran brothers and sisters.

For the team,  Bob Moyer

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day in Honduras

Our first full day in Honduras was a busy one. Breakfast at 6:30 and then on to church at Central Mennonite Church located in San Pedro Sula. The team members that were mothers were honored along with the Honduran mothers. The pastor spoke on how valuable a mother is to her family. She is a life long companion to her husband and a teacher and a guide to her children. Afterwards, We shared a special Mother's Day lunch with the church.
In the afternoon we visited the Alpha and Omega Home. It is an orphanage for 18 children. Sherry, one of the team members, prepared grafts for the children which they enjoyed doing...and we enjoyed helping. Our hearts were touched by the children's plight. We attempted to make them feel loved and special while we were there.
We traveled over many bumpy, pot hole ridden roads back to the hotel. We all jumped into the pool for a refreshing swim. The temperatures are in the high 90's and the water felt delicious. After supper, during our team meeting, we reflected on how blessed we are to be serving in Honduras. Even though the task may seem overwhelming and perhaps insignificant, we know our God will help us through and bring fruit to our efforts. To Him be the glory both now and forever more.

For the team,


P. S. Happy Mother's Day to all those at home!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

We arrived to a warm sunny day in beautiful Honduras.

Thank you for praying us thru the stressful day of travel. All went very smoothly- the missing seat assignments ended up being upgraded to the comfort seats, the rain on the east coast did not effect our flight times, and all of our bags made it!  We arrived at Villa Nuria about 1pm (3pm EST) enjoyed pizza and fresh fruit for lunch and then tackled organizing the 19 bags of medicine, shoes, toys and other donations. It seems like our medicine has multiplied already (thank you prayer partners!). After a few hours of work it was time for a swim to get refreshed and cooled off (still 88 degrees at 5:30pm).  Looking forward to our first dinner made by Aurora in a bit. Please pray for Ruth, her flight is delayed and she will not arrive until 11pm.
Tomorrow we will go to the Central Mennonite church worship service (we heard there is a big Mother's Day celebration) and to see our friends at the Alpha Omega orphanage in the afternoon.
With appreciation for your prayers,
Barb for the team

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Team #34 departing soon!

Team to San Pedro Sula working thru Children Without Choices and ACEM (Proyecto MAMA)
May 13-20, 2017

Team Members:  
Bob & Kathy Moyer
Kristen, Peyton,  and Camryn Burleigh
Barb Rice
Kelli Rice
Cindy Rush
Laura Heacock
Ruth Cole
Beverly Unruh
Sherri McClintock
Miriam Garnica
Please pray for our preparations this week and departure early Saturday morning.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finished and Report

We finished the week tired but very pleased with all we were able to accomplish. As we celebrated with the staff tonight at a special dinner, we acknowledged that only thru Jesus Christ and our partnerships with the MAMA staff and the communities, is our success possible.

Our totals: 
Concrete floors=50, bags of cement=491, persons in the 50 houses=259
Deworming= 797 persons, Micronutrient vitamins= 1746 persons
Malnourished children found= 62
Backpacks of food, a Bible, and other gifts (left at houses with new floors)=36

The cement crew did the 10 floors for today close to the mission house, down the road from the nutrition center in the rural area. They said the homeowners were very poor but had agriculture. 
One family lost their home to a fire and are rebuilding a new one with material from the burnt house. It is impressive and appreciated when the homeowner and neighbors chip in to carry sand and water. 
One man walked up and down a super steep hill carrying water. The homeowner said he was not family but a good friend--that's true friendship!  

The medical clinic was super busy. Not the most courteous and respectful crowd, but we got thru the day with our highest counts of patients seen. 

We split up tomorrow as half fly home and the rest head to Copan. 
Thanks again for your faithful prayers,
Barb for the team

Thursday, January 19, 2017

La Victoria, Santa Cruz

Today we headed toward the zoo!  (There is actually a really nice zoo near the mission house.) We headed up the mountain after the community of Santa Cruz to beautiful mountain views, pastures, fields of neat rows of pineapple, coffee and sugar cane.  This was a new community for us.  It was fairly healthy although there were very many high blood pressures.  We had two children faint in the clinic today when they saw the blood from the anemia check…this was a first and we were fortunate to have medical student Kelly there to handle the situation. 
Our count for today was about 300 people served with deworming medicine and micronutrient vitamins.   
Each day our concrete teams are pouring concrete floors for 10 houses in each community we visit. Often there are minor logistical challenges that come along with these projects. Getting the sand, water and cement to the location can be a challenge and having enough people and space to work can also be a challenge. The first home one of our teams visited today had no running water in the area. This single mother and her two children have water delivered to their one room house, as they need it and the water delivery did not come. She was out trying to find ways to get water for the concrete, but it was going to take significant time so the team decided to move on to the next house, expecting that Felix, our coordinator, would work with her to find a solution so they could finish the work later. We were told later that as the team was leaving and she saw them walking away with all the tools and buckets she thought they weren’t coming back, that she wouldn’t get a floor for her home, and she broke down crying.  After the team finished two other homes, they returned and the woman was so excited and so thankful. She had worked, others in the village helped, and she had enough water for the floor to be done. We were going to make sure that she got her floor today. Her joy and gratefulness just overflowed. We know that this simple concrete floor won’t change her world over night, but we hope and pray that it is a blessing and a step towards a better tomorrow for her and her children.
Ruthie led us in devotions using the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  The author challenged Ruthie to look for things to be thankful for thru the day.  Ruthie shared all her discoveries with us-patience as people wait in line, the grandmom who is here to take care of her grandchildren after their mom died, to see older children care for younger siblings, and the doctors on our team taking extra time to care for one of the children who fainted, to name a few.  Ruthie challenged us to look for the many ways we can be thankful thru the day.
We look forward to serving close to home here tomorrow- here in San Francisco de Yojoa.  We are all healthy and enjoying serving together.
Thanks for praying us thru this week!
Barb and Loren for the team

Photos from the Concrete Teams

Many of the homes that we visit are far from the main road, only accessible by walking down narrow paths though the Honduran Country side. All of the sand and cement has to be carried in the same way and we have to carry our tools and equipment to each of the houses.

Some times the paths disappear and we need to cross streams and crawl under barb-wire fences.

One of the homes in the Honduran country-side. This small one-room, bamboo and mud-brick home was home to a family of six.  

Many homes have hammocks.  This one had an adorable occupant. 

Sometimes after you have finished a beautiful floor everyone is so excited to get back into the house to check it out. Even the family live-stock. This chicken was very excited to test out the new floor. It warmed Dave's heart to see that his new floor was already being used/

Our American teams work together with Honduran staff to complete the projects.Each team of 5 from the US is complimented with 2 or more Hondurans who work with MAMA. 

A small two room home.

This was among the smallest homes that we have worked on. This 6ft by 10ft, one room building, is home to a single mother and her 4 children.  

Sometimes the homes are spread out throughout the village and we need to load up the equipment into a pickup to be take to the next location.

Sometimes the homes are high up on the mountain-sides.  

Here's part of our crew finishing up a home out-side of Santa Cruz.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday, January 18

We had gorgeous weather as we traveled to Montanuelas, Taulabe, to a new community we had not been to before. The Community was fairly high up the mountain and the views were marvelous. The clinic saw 107 children, 73 women, 50 men, while the doctor saw 80 persons. The number of men was down as many were harvesting coffee.  Micronutrients were given to 94 families.
The construction group achieved a new record as we did 10 floors and 100 bags of concrete.  Don Rice, our long time finisher, remarked that one house today had perfect sand, the best of all the years he has been coming.  We also experienced touching moments as we worked today. One house was about 6x10 and housed a grandfather and his spouse who were caring for a single mom and her 2 children.  The grandfather and spouse were not related to the mother and her children, and the team was touched by the incredibly generous act that most men would never do. We also had opportunity to talk with home owners who pitched in and carried sand and water, and were very grateful to receive their new floor. We have a wonderful time joking, poking fun, and building comraderie as we drive to and from communities. We are also deeply appreciative for Ruth who stays on top of the laundry, for Isabel who has fed us wonderfully, and for all the MAMA staff who work behind the scenes before we arrive, and with us each day.  We closed our evening sharing stories about God's generosity and our opportunity to share that generosity throughout our lives.
Tim Weaver for the team

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday January 17 - Santa Fe

Today we went to a town called Santa Fe which was about 2 hours away.  This is a community that our January team has visited quite a few times before.  You might remember that this is Nolvin's community who Children Without Choices helped with his club foot.  The drive there was bit long with the first half being on a good highway and the second half being on bumpy back roads and going up onto the mountain.

The medical team was set up inside of a school in the community and saw approximately 99 families.  This community appeared to be fairly healthy.  We believe this partially due the consistent visits from MAMA teams.  In addition, the community is set on a hill requiring the people to walk the hills quite a bit which we also attribute to their good health.   Overall they had a good day!  

The concrete teams did 10 floors again today with a total of 97 bags of cement.  Dave did not have any issues with chicks today but a duck did try to get on one of the floors.  Since we have been to this community a fair amount of times before a lot of families already have concrete floors.  We had to hike up and down the hills to a couple of the houses but luckily a lot of houses we poured floors at were relatively close together.  The houses range in size .  One house that the group I was with poured a floor for was only about 8ft x 10ft (only 4 bags of cement) and was home to a woman and her 4 children.  Overall, everyone on the concrete crews was tired but had a good day.  

This evening we enjoyed a great dinner prepared by Isabella and nice devotional time lead by Ruthie.    Everyone is a little tired but in good health and looking forward to what tomorrow brings.  We appreciate all your prayers!

Eric (for the team)

Deep Run Mama Team - Jan 2017 Finishing a concrete floor.

Deep Run Mama Team - Jan 2017 Finishing a concrete floor.

Here is a video of our team finishing a concrete floor yesterday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Jan 16, 2017

Isabel started our morning with scrambled eggs and, toast.  We all had a reason to smile on this bright day of sunshine as well as our meal.  We traveled to LaCeibita on steep mountain roads which were very bumpy.  Irish Meetinghouse road seems smooth in comparison. There were crops of corn on the side of the mountains, many banana trees, varieties of trees as well as colorful flowers. The long lengths of fencing was admired by the men. Fences are built by posts and trees that are trimmed like a post and barbed wire. It is an interesting way to make a fence and it helps to keeps steer off the road.
     When we arrived there was a small medical building so the dentist, the pharmacy, and the exam rooms were in this building. Lucky for us there was a church across the road. It was a bright airy building. Here we set up stations for vitamin A and deworming, blood pressure, hemoglobin testing, micro nutrients, registration of height and weight and test results and finally the donation table.
Aaron Clemmer, a seasonal volunteer gave out the donations as well as other jobs like set up and clean up. He is enjoying the work and had fun playing with the children. Marlon Hernandez helped me at the vitamin A and deworming station. He had lived in the USA for fifteen years but came back home to care for his mother. What a great asset for the team!  It is wonderful to have a fluent translator, because you learn so much more about each family. Karin Hernandez is a full time student studying tourism but had a break from school and she wanted to help. Karen's mom is Isabel the cook at the mission house.
The community showed up and the flow was a nice steady pace all day. The people showed patience and had great appreciation for the services at the clinic. Our team worked well with the locals. We had 60 families, 121 children, 74 women and 68 men and 103 bags of nutrients were handed out.
     The concrete team worked very hard on ten floors. They divided into two teams to accomplish this task. Mixing 99 bags of concrete took all day!
One team had a sixty year old man, Eusebio Euzman Diaz, that helped carry sand which is very heavy. The team worked on his home and learned that both of his sons worked security and they were both shot. He is raising their families. He was so appreciatie.
The only problem was Dave Rice had with a chick at his first house. After chasing her out and fixing his finished floor he moved to the next room. The chick returned and messed up his finished floor again. The chickens were not appreciated on the job!
  We didn't make it back to the mission house until dark. Isabel had dinner all set and we enjoyed our meal. Tim shared devotions and we prepared for our next adventure. We were all blessed as we went through our day and I am sure our team will enjoy tonight's rest.
Keep praying for us.
Ruth Hohenstein