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.