Friday, January 28, 2011

"Have a Safe Walk Home"

Late Tuesday afternoon, our second day at Trascerros where we served a record number of people, Amanda examined an older gentleman. He had also brought his wife to be examined, and she was dying of throat cancer. Debbie examined her (get her to tell you that story). So Amanda finished examining the old man and he brought his wife over to Amanda. According to Amanda they said many things to her to express their appreciation (some of which she’s not sure she completely understood), and then the old woman, dying of throat cancer, took her hand and said “Have a safe walk home.”

Those words have haunted me at so many different levels. When we have friends come to visit, or our kids leave to go back to school, we say “Drive safely”. They are words you express to someone that is close that you care about. These words are the parting thought you say to express that affection. She said to us “Have a safe walk home”.

Geographically I’m guessing her world was very small. Almost everyone that came to our clinics walked, many for two hours or more. The world we live in is so big. We don’t walk anywhere. Consequently, our world is much more fast paced than hers. Are we moving so fast that we no longer see (or care) about those that are right around us? Have a safe walk home.

Finally, I thought about our spiritual walk. For Christians, we are all walking towards “home." Heaven is our final destination. What does it look like to walk there safely? I don’t know. But I’m sure it has much to do with staying close to God through His word, seeking to follow the road He has laid out before us. And, as we have learned in Honduras, there is safety in numbers. We need to share the message of Jesus Christ with those we meet so that we are walking towards heaven surrounded by others walking with Jesus.

This is my fourth mission trip. Logistically they have gone as smoothly as any trip I’ve been on. Your prayers preceded us to “smooth the road” and make it “safe." Thank you. In a few minutes we will be going to the airport to travel back to the United States. Thank you for being a part of our journey. I say to you, “Have a safe walk home."

Click here to see the 2011 mission team you have prayed for so faithfully this week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Team Slide Show

Each year we try to put together a little slide show for the team to see at the end of the week. You all work so hard at your respective jobs and often do not get a chance to see your fellow team members in action. This is our gift to you.

Doug & Libby

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trascerros – They Just Kept Coming.

Close to 400 people were already at the school in Trascerros when we arrived this morning. They were lined up at the entrance all the way up the street and around the corner!

Click here to see I mean.

By the end of the day, we literally touched 751 lives in very tangible ways. We ran out of many of the medicines that we brought because of the record crowd. However, loving hugs, heart-felt prayers, gentle touches, kind words, warm handshakes, mischievous tickles, comforting pats, tender smiles, and knowing nods were dispensed generously. We never ran out. These genuine, Christ-like gestures impacted lives in ways that cannot be measured by counts or with scales.

Tomorrow we will serve the family and neighbors of the Tree of Life and Plan Escalon community on what will be our last clinic days. Then, our journey home will begin with an overnight stop in San Pedro Sula followed by a day of relaxation together on Thursday.

The health of several team members has improved (Cipro is a miracle drug). Thank you so much for your faithfulness. It is so obvious that your prayers are being answered.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trascerros = Behind the Mountains

Once again the alarm clock went off at 5:00 a.m. We boarded the bus, had breakfast and devotions at Tree of Life and then began the ride to Trascerros, or” behind the mountains”. The village is about 1 ½ hours from Tree of Life, and it is appropriately named. Click here for a taste of what the road was like as we traveled to other side of the mountain. (then click on the back button in your browser to return to this page)

Riding through the countryside we see many things we aren’t used to seeing back home (at least not in Nashville, TN!). For instance, several times we’ve had to wait for the cows, horses, sheep or donkeys to get out of the way of the bus. The construction of the homes, or sometimes the dilapidation of the homes, the cottage businesses, and the wash on the clothesline all give an air of strangeness. Click here for a out-the-window view as we pass through Trascerros.

Once at the clinic site, Beth Anne, Doug Nally and Bart Perkey look over the site and decide which of the school classrooms will be used that day and for what. Once the decisions are made, the rest of the team is told the plan and then everyone helps unpack the trucks and get the areas set up. For Beth Anne’s briefing to the team today, click here.

Today we saw around 500 people. Experience has taught us how important it is to have a “traffic flow” plan to keep folks moving from station to station. Today the layout of the school was very good because there was only one entrance, and we could monitor how many came into the clinic site at one time. (Unfortunately, we couldn’t monitor when they left, and many chose to just “hang out” for the day. It got pretty crowded at times!) So, as persons arrive they are registered (this is usually done by our friends at Tree of Life), and our “door keepers” welcome them and lead them to de-worming. From de-worming they receive their vitamins, get their blood pressure checked, and receive a gospel tract and other “goodies”. Click here to view today’s layout.

Once they receive their tracks they wait for the opportunity to see a medical staff person. Our team this year consists of a great blend of doctors and nurses. Each one brings their special gift to their care giving. The conditions are less than optimal, but their attitudes are top notch. Click here for a peak at one of the medical stations.

After meeting with and being examined by one of the medical staff the patients usually have a prescription that needs to be filled. Again, our door monitors and Tree of Life students escort them to the pharmacy. Translators meet them at the door, pass the bags to the “pharmacy technicians” who fill the prescription and give it back to the translators. They explain the dosage instructions to the patients and make sure they don’t have any questions. Much of the pharmacy preparation happens the week before we leave at the annual “pill packing party” at Crievewood. (click here for a peek). However, the liquid medications have to be prepared onsite. Bart has developed a new technique for that process this year. Click here to hear him describe it.

Those who need reading glasses proceed from pharmacy to the eyeglasses station. Many need distance glasses, but we aren’t able to help them since we don’t have an optometrist with us. However, many just need magnification in order to read or do handwork. The smiles on their faces when they can see the words in the Bible are plenty of thanks. Click here to see the pharmacy and eyeglasses station.

Finally, some patients proceed to the dental clinic. Teeth here are terrible, in large part because they start drinking sodas from a very early age. Also, many don’t understand the importance of brushing. Consequently, this dental clinic is all about pulling bad teeth. Click here to get a glimpse of the dental clinic.

I hope this video tour has helped to give you an idea of what our clinics are like. Video helps, but it doesn’t allow you to smell the smoke that is all around because they burn their leaves and trash. It doesn’t communicate a child’s fear of seeing the doctor or dentist, or the appreciation that so many patients have for what we do. The work is physically demanding but the rewards are great. Thanks for taking this journey with us. - Libby

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not a trip for the faint of heart!

This morning started before the sun was up. The bus picked up us at 6:00 and we went to Tree of Life for breakfast and our morning devotions. Then, we boarded the “seen better days” school bus and headed up the mountain (seriously, we had to step over the hole in the floorboard to get back to the seats!).

Honduran driving is tricky at best, but riding in an ancient school bus up the mountain, taking hairpin turns while traffic is coming down the mountain, all the while avoiding the multitude of bicycles, horses, other cars and trucks and all the pedestrians is a little scary! But, our driver was an old pro and we arrived without incident.

We went to the same town today (Sunday) that we went to yesterday. Only today there were a lot of people waiting for us when we arrived! Pastor Guy told us that they didn’t have to work in the coffee fields today, so they were able to come.

We were planning to only stay today until about 1:00 so that we could return to our hotel, get showered, and back to Tree of Life for their service. But, by about noon it was obvious that if we left at 1:00 there were patients that wouldn’t be seen. The leadership team met and decided that we would stay as long as there were patients to be seen. After lunch we jumped back into seeing patients. By God’s grace, we had seen every patient by 3:00. We were sure we would go until 4:30 or 5:00. We made it back to the hotel in time to shower, rest just a little, Skype with the Sunday evening service at Crievewood, and still made it to worship service at Tree of Life. Pastor Dan Hunt, one of our team members from Eastview Baptist in Hopkinsville, preached a great message. Ask him about his blind date when he was in high school!

Everyone of the medical folks has their own story of a particular patient that touched their heart. For me, I just continue to be overwhelmed and saddened by the number of teenage pregnancies. There are girls 13 years old coming in saying they are pretty sure they are pregnant, and what do they do now? Sometimes the best medicine we can give is some loving advice, including practical steps to deliver a healthy baby, and suggesting lifestyle changes that can keep it from happening again. Hugs are a great medicine for hurts of the heart, and we dispensed a lot of those today!

It is now way past my bedtime, because I have to be up at 5:00 again tomorrow, but I’d like for you pray specifically for the health of the team. Montezuma’s revenge has set in on several team members. This affliction is never pleasant, but it is even worse when bathrooms are primitive at best.

Make sure to take a look at the brief video we posted today. It will give you a real quick overview of where we are and what we’ve done for the last two days.

More tomorrow, Libby

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And we thought we were tired last night.

We are all exhausted… but it’s a good kind of exhaustion. Things could not have gone any smoother today at our first clinic site in the village of Nueva Protection. We saw over 400 patients and the team worked like a well oiled machine. Looking forward to sharing our stories with everyone …soon. What’s needed now is sleep.

Doug (for Libby and the rest of the team)

Friday, January 21, 2011

We’re here, and what a contrast!

We left the church this morning at 3:45 a.m. It was dark, cold and snowy. Much thanks to Rob Schiffman and Ron Carr for driving the Crievewood folks to the airport.

Check in and security clearance were as easy as I ever remember them being.

A couple of folks were chosen for a “pat down”, but no problems. After a somewhat turbulent flight we landed in Miami where it was warm and rainy. Finally we boarded the flight to San Pedro Sula. Again we had some turbulence, but we landed safely. We cleared customs in near record time, and every piece of luggage arrived. They didn’t even seem to notice that we had medicine with us. Thank you, Lord!

More contrasts - San Pedro Sula was hazy, hot and humid. Spanish was the predominant language on all the signs, and we could no longer drink the water.

After clearing customs, we were united with the members of our team coming from Oregon. We could recognize them because they were wearing the same spiffy Luke 9:2 Ministries t-shirts that we were! Guy Henry and crew met us at the airport with a school bus and van to take us on the long 2-hour ride to La Entrada. San Pedro Sula is a pretty big city, and the sound of traffic and the smell of diesel fueled trucks was everywhere.

When we finally arrived at Tree of Life, we relaxed just a little and then had dinner - tortillas, frijoles (black bean puree), scrambled eggs with peppers and onions, chorizo sausage, and delicious pineapple and watermelon.

Now, as I type this we are in our hotel room which is not bad. However, Holiday Inn has nothing to worry about!

Tomorrow we start at 5:45 a.m. We have to get to Tree of Life for breakfast, have our devotion time, and then its an almost 2 hour bus ride to the clinic site.

Pray for stamina - these hours are wearing me down! Pray for the team as we come together - many of us just met today. Mostly, pray for the people that will have walked so far to receive care. Pray for the physical and spiritual health.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Ready To Go

We leave THIS Friday morning for our mission trip to Honduras. Folks keep asking me "Are you packed yet?". I'm starting to feel paranoid! The trip is still 3 days away, and yet I feel like I'm behind schedule! Do folks really start packing 3 days before they leave?!? I've thought about what I will take. I've purchased the food I will take (very important!). And I've washed a few clothes. It will come together. Sometime.

As I thought about getting ready to go, I realized there are other things that need to be done besides packing and shopping. We got traveler's insurance. We made sure our passports and shots were up to date. I went to the bank to make sure I had enough cash for Doug and I to pay our exit fee out of the country in new dollar bills! So many details!

Finally, I've started praying. I've prayed for our team members that we would be healthy. I've prayed that all luggage would arrive and that our medicines would easily clear customs. I've prayed for the Honduran people. I've prayed that even though they may not understand our words, that they would understand the love in our actions. That God in his supernatural way would intervene with his Holy language and help those we are trying to help know that we do so because God first loved us.

Will you join me in this prayer? Pray that our time in Honduras will meet physical AND spiritual needs. Pray that as a team we would minister to one another as we minister to the Honduran people. Pray for Dr Ponce and Tree of Life Ministries as they follow up with people long after we've left the country.

Finally, pray for a good internet connection while we are in Honduras so I can post updates to this blog! I look forward to sharing the story of God's love to the Honduran people as written by Luke 9:2 Ministries in January 2011.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This year is Honduras!

On Friday, January 21, 2011 a large group of believers from all over the United States will leave for a Medical Mission trip to Honduras. We will once again be travelling as Luke 9:2 Ministries. We will work with our friends at Tree of Life Mission.

Pill Packing party is coming up soon. I'll post as soon as I have the details!