Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend in Copan and goodbyes to our Honduran family

After trying to post to the blog 3 times last night with no success, I am trying again and will recap the past 2 days.

We arrived in Copan about noon on Saturday (after a quick hardware store stop for Wendell and Brandon to load up on farm machettes). Various activities were enjoyed -ruins, bird ranch, and lots of shopping boosting the economy in Copan! We enjoyed the traditional Carnitas dinner more shopping, and coffee/ice cream (thanks Barry!) Saturday evening.
This morning Colleen and I had problems...relying on technology rather than our old fashioned wrist watch getting up at 4:30am since our phones adjusted for daylight savings not used in Honduras. After breakfast some of the group headed off to the zipline while others shopped yet again. We headed back to San Pedro Sula and Pastor Juan's community to arrive by mid afternoon to say goodbye. Pastor Juan read a letter he wrote to the team,gave gifts including his favorite soccer team jerseys to us. It was a meaningful time of giving praise to God for the partnership in the work of helping those in need. We also ventured up the mountain to see the room addition for Donacio and Lily. We were amazed at the location on the side of the mountain and the good job done. We saw many friends and it was sad to say goodbye .
Back at the hotel, after pizza we had a time of sharing appreciation with Dinora, Gustavo, Aurora, and Patty. We all expressed our feelings of being family and a good week of work.
Heading to the airport tomorrow around noon. Look forward to seeing you all soon. Thanks for partnering with us this week with your prayers.
Barb for the team

Friday, March 11, 2011

If We Are The Body...There is a Way

The construction team had a terribly hard day! :-) In the morning we (Vern, Wendell, and Pastor Juan) installed three windows. We also helped them get started on the roof. After a delicious lunch with the medical team, we went out to visit several homes. Emilio's home was built this summer. After that we visited Jose, Maria, Miguel, Martha, Nelsie, and Elias' home. After a few pictures, we went to the home of Olimpia, the wife of Mauricio, that we built last year. Mauricio passed away this past January. This was not the first home on Pastor Juan's mind to build last March, however with God's will it was chosen and now his family has a home. We spent some time mourning with them. On the way back to the clinic, we took some pictures of the children sponsored for school from Deep Run and Swamp members. It was a very fulfilling day- both seeing the work that was completed and getting to know the children of Pastor Juan's community.

The medical team was also in Gracios A Dios. Brandon and Bob joined the fun, which was very helpful as almost 100 people were registered by the time we arrived. We were blessed to have received six boxes of MCC meat, a 50-lb bag of soy, and two boxes of lentel bean protein mix to provide to those in need. Some of our members had to regretably leave throughout the day; Sandy and Alison had to retun home, while Rolando was traveling to Tegucigalpa to visit family. So for the last few hours of clinic we joined together as a team to help those in need with only Colleen left to serve as a nurse. Overall, most families were much healthier than those seen earlier in the week. However, with regret several families had to be turned away with our supplies and team members limited. It was very hard for many of us to deal with, we wished we could have done more. During devotions later in the night, however Barb lifted our spirits by reminding us of the story of the starfish, where a woman going along the shoreline throwing starfish back into the ocean replied to a skepitical man that while thousands of other starfish may be out of the water somewhere else, she was making a difference to those she touched.

Devotional time was also a time of great reflection. Wendell and Brandon reminded us of a song entitled "If We Are The Body". With the end of the week at a near, we are beginning to struggle on how we can continue serving others when we return home. Serving is easier when time has been set specifically aside to do it. But how do we continue to serve when we return to our daily routines in life? Bob reminded us that even the little things, like remembering the birthdays of our friends here in Honduras, allow us to remember to "do our homework" and serve others. If we are the body, with Jesus anything is possible.

With the end of the week nearing, I would like to personally thank the team for all the gifts they have offered this week. Liz has been my right hand girl all week interpreting and without her I wouldn't have been able to learn about and touch the lives of so many this week. Barb and Kathy faithfully handed out medication after medication- providing relief to those in need. Brandon and Wendell offered both their construction skills as well as much laughter to the team. Sandy offered her medical skills to those in need as well as lots of laughs- even if they were sometimes at her own expense. Vern provided his knowledge and experience with building. Joyce was a source of encouragement for all the children we saw, always smiling at them as they had to take their deworming medicine. Rolando offered his spiritual dedication as he led our team and the people of Honduras we often met in devotion. Bob, as team leader lended his experience to support the team through our journey this week.

Please continue to pray for us at home for safety and some needed R&R in Copan. Also, on a quick personal note, for all of my nursing teachers at home right now following along on my trip via the blog I would like to thank you for all the gifts of knowledge you have shared with me. This week has allowed me to see just how much I have truly learned- this week I was able to provide not only medicine but also education to every patient I encountered so when the medicine runs out they still have the power of knowledge on what they can do for the health of both themselves and their family.

-Wendell and Colleen on behalf of team

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mucho trabajo

Another full day of service for our team in SPS and Gracias a Dios!

The medical team served the Eskipulas community again today as it is a very large colony and it is the first time our team has been there. Gustavo drove our team through the community before setting up our clinic, so we saw some of the conditions that the people live with each day.

The construction crew worked on putting up the roof support today as well as getting the windows ready for placement tomorrow.

The temperature today was very hot again - probably in the 90's. So, we're drinking lots of water and sweating most of it out.
Tonight the director of Proyecto MAMA, Erlinda de Robelo, talked to our group about the various programs they are administering at the present time. Educational programs are their main focus, with preschools, tutoring centers, computer training, English classes, and other programs.

Our group continues to be thankful for good health, for the many ways we have all been blessed, and for all your prayer support.

Hoping for another great day tomorrow - in Gracias a Dios - with both teams.

Dre Mama Team, Roberto

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

El que no vive para servir no sirve para vivir

This was the theme of the devotion tonight that Rolando shared, and it fit very well with our experience today. The phrase means that anyone who does not live to serve isnt really living. At the clinic two older women came to see Sandy and Colleen with seriously damaged feet, and they washed their feet and cleaned them up as much as possible. Personally, I did not even want to see Colleen wash the one womans feet (I figured out awhile ago that nursing was not my thing), but it was a great physical reminder that we came to humbly serve others, which means being willing to kneel down and get our hands dirty. Overall the clinic saw over two hundred people, many of whom are from a very poor community along the river and have little access to health and dental care and clean water. There was a dentist with us today, and we were also able to give out some food supplies.
The construction crew was working in pastor Juans community today, helping put on an addition to a small house that currently has four people living in it but will have eight once the addition is done. After making the harrowing trip up the mountain and climbing down slanted stairs, the crew was able to pour concrete for the floor. They also had the chance during lunch to talk with pastor Juan about the microfinance program that has been set up there and the situation with Mauricios wife trying to keep her house.
The medical team will be going back to the same community tomorrow and the construction crew will also be in the same place as today. It will be good to continue the work we started and be able to continue to serve those we come in contact with and also learn a lot from them about humility, thankfulness, and joy. We are all learning a lot about service and compassion, which Rolando taught us means "suffering with."
Thanks to everyone who is praying, and we would ask for continued prayers for the communities we are working with.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Back to the Mealer Community with God Moments

Keeping up with the construction crew, and the unconventional windows and doors because we were looking for the windows and doors yesterday. Today we found the windows and door being made when we arrived at the job site. The windows and doors were made from tongue and groove boards. It is our task to install the door and window openings (4) of the house. There is no latch on the outside BUT inside to keep anything entering into the house for example a pig or chicken or whatever is roaming outside. When you want a breeze in the house you open the windows across from each other to let the air flow through. This is what we call air conditioning!!

The family who will live in this home has six children. The youngest boy is unable to use his legs and uses a wheelchair. He also has a specially golf cart- style with petals and steering to go to school and get the around the community.

Bob,Wendell, Brandon and Verne are happy to have the fathers help because of his building skills and hard work he puts into his future home for his family, He is trying to make his house beautiful with arches instead of a plain cinder block house

We set up our clinic in a school and church building. Wendell and I were dispensing worm pills and vitamin A. We had a two year old who was such a good patient. She took her worm pill biting it piece by piece without any fuss or expression. All the children around were so tickled how she took her pill.

The medical clinic experienced life's joys and sorrows today. They started the day with a woman who filled the room with happiness that came from within. She told Rolando that she is a Christian and despite being deserted by her 6 children she knows she is not alone, that God is with her. Colleen experienced a God moment as she was able to use the instructions written in Spanish for treating diaper rash that her prayer partner Phyllis just gave her that morning! The end of the day was hard. Rolando, Sandy and Colleen did a house call to a woman with advanced brest cancer. They realized they needed more supplies to treat the tumored area and came back to the school and invited all of us to come to pray. Rosita prayed over the woman. If in the US, this woman would have had surgery and by now would be on hospice with morphine. Their treatment today was just to provide dignity and deal with the pain...we gave her what we could...tylenol and ibuprofen. And also could provide love and comfort to the family. It was a lesson in true compassion.

Saw 165 lab closing...more tomorrow.
Joyce, Verne and Barb

Monday, March 07, 2011

El Cayo

Today was our first day at work. The teams were close to one another allowing us to enjoy the day together. The construction team is working on finishing a home that was started by the owners and they were unable to complete. They mixed concrete to pour the floor of the home for three different rooms of which one was fairly large. Throughout the day they were entertained by a young man that decided to stop and help out. The shirt that Bob changed out of in the morning was washed, dried, and pressed by the owner by the day's end. They finished their day a little early and pitched in at the clinic. This may be more of the result however of the hard work of Wendell, Vern, and Brandon, because as even Pastor Juan said, Bob was just a supervisor today. Stay tuned for tomorrow's results on the construction team's ongoing card game, as Bob reports they are in a 2-2 tie. Don't know when they fit time into playing so many card games while being so hard at work- maybe this is why they weren't able to beat the January's usual 40 bag days!
As for the medical crew, we were blessed to have Dinora's niece, Allison, a doctor. Sandy and Colleen worked alongside of her as well, allowing the team to have three doctor stations. Rolando and Liz served as wonderful translators. Joyce worked alongside the MAMA staff to register patients, obtain height, weight, and vitals, as well as giving Vitamin A and deworming medicine. The pharmacy was staffed by Barb, Kathy, and Dinora. The community was very organized and with all the extra help we were able to spend quality time with families at the doctors station rather than feeling rushed. By day's end we saw 172 plus patients (some patients were missed on cards and added to a sibling!). The team felt truly blessed to be able to have three people serve as doctors which allowed the day to run very smoothly. With a Honduran doctor with us, she was able to provide prescriptions to those in need. Colleen was able to catch up with an old friend- a woman she treated for the first time with Karen Detweiler 2 years ago that had a severe fungal infection of her legs. It was a blessing from God to see her last year, and such a joy to see her again this year still doing well. Great organization was also provided by Gustavo who directed families to the next available doctor. We were blessed to be able to have enough medications in the pharmacy to provide to those in need and only ran out of very little. After our lunch we were surprised however to find a hen in the pharmacy who was trying to lay her eggs. After many efforts and a close call for Kathy who was almost pecked, Farmer Wendell saved the day and the hen finally decided to lay her eggs outside!
Thank you all for continuing to pray for us. Both the construction and medical teams are headed to the Mealer community tomorrow. Please continue to pray for our eyes and hearts to be opened by those we are here to help. Continue to pray for good health- everyone is doing well. Also pray for us to not forget to continue taking time out to truly get to know the communities we serve.

Joint posting by Wendell and Colleen, with additional commentary provided by Bob, Brandon, Liz, Kathy, and Sandy.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Day of Contrast

Our day started with a wonderful breakfast at Villa Nuria. The fresh fruit was wonderful, personally I "hate" plantains. Other people on the team really like them. Yuk . Then we travelled to the Teen INFA house with Pastor Juan and Rolando serenading us. The teen girls were awesome. Some of them we even recognized from previous years. Rolando and Pastor Juan shared with the girls thier stories while Liz translated. She did really well. Colleen brought bead bracelets to make, and the girls just kept coming through the line getting more beads. They were making the bracelets for Kathy and Liz. It was so sweet. Verne and Joyce brought journals and pens for the girls. They really loved them. The girls entertained us with singing and hand motions. The Honduran people are very spiritually gifted people. They really get into God. It's so cool. Then we went to Power Chicken not to be confused with pollo loco, loosely translated crazy chicken. Lots of chicken references, really not sure what that is about. Anyway the food was excellent, again yum. Can't speak for everyone but the food is worth the trip. Just saying. Getting serious now, we went to the Childrens INFA house. We were armed with tissues and gifts. It was so sad, we went into the nursery and Colleen honed in on a premi baby that made us all so sad. His neck was contracted to the right, and he could not be fed while being held, Barb and Colleen tried, but were unsuccessful. He needed to have his bottle propped. Joyce figured that out. The director said the ratio of staff to infant was about 14 to 1. Remind me never to complain about patient ratios again. They also are in desperate need of diapers and formula. Then we handed out crayons and coloring pages to the older kids. Barb was ambushed for the silly bands. Next back to the hotel for a quick mandatory dip-even Joyce went in in her clothing!
Forgot to tell you about the young boy who climbed up on Kathy's lap and was hugging and kissing her. The kids are so affectionate and lovable. After our quick dip, Guastavo kept us on schedule, to Gracios A Dios for an awesome church service. Barb and Verne were ambassadors from Deep Run and Swamp churches, and were called to the altar during the service. This was a surprise to them both, but they rose to the occasion and both shared from the heart. Pastor Juan referred to Bob as his brother, and how much he valued his relation with him. Pastor Juan's sermon on character was very moving. We were then presented with t-shirts from the children we sponsor for school. Wendell and Brandon posed for pics with the boys, the kids really gravitate to the young people in the group. It's neat. We finished the evening with, you guessed it FOOD. Again it was great. Then back to hotel and devotions and getting ready for tomorrow. Please pray for us as we start our week.
Miss you all xoxo Sandy Gemmell Aka mamaloo

Saturday, March 05, 2011

We are here

After an early start at 2am, we are here. Yeah! We were scattered throughout the plane and had no buddies to help with the paper work for customs- hope we can get out of the country. Finally arrived in Honduras...its quite a temperature change as it is 89 and HOT AND HUMID! All of our bags arrived safely, and we headed off to the MAMA office to begin sorting meds for the week. Mucho gracias to Gustavo, who rented us a fabulous van with AC. We then headed to Villa Nuria, where we are staying for the week. After unpacking two vehicles full of suitcases, we were finally able to relax and enjoy some of Auroras yummy cooking. Its only 8 here, as Bob constantly reminded us during our meeting, however I think he has forgotten we have also been awake for 17 hours straight! However, our generous leader is letting us be a little lazy tomorrow and we arent meeting for breakfast til 8am.

Keep us in your prayers and thoughts tomorrow as we have a packed day. We will be heading off in the morning to spend time with some teen girls and then to an orphanage for young children and babies. The experiences will be both emotionally hard and fulfilling. Then we will be off to Pastor Juans for service and dinner.

Respectfully submitted by Sandy, Wendell, Brandon, and Colleen (secretary...haha)