Monday, July 15, 2013

Home again!

Adios Honduras....Hello America!

Well, I'm home. I am a month early due to a family emergency. After seeing that horrible plane crash in SF, I'm very thankful to be home safely. My prayers are with those families. I think I'm having a little culture shock but otherwise seeing my husband after five months and the warm shower was glorious!

Thank you everyone for all your support and prayers, and following my blog. It was truly a life changing and wonderful experience. My goal was to go by faith trusting God to lead me day by day and to serve wherever He needed me. I did not know a living soul when I got there, but I can truly say my prayers were answered. It took a while for me to let go completely...but after about a month, it was nice to just do whatever needed to be done as God opened the way. Even though I was working hard, which I love to do, It was very mentally relaxing to just trust God with my life day by day..watching Him open and close doors as I prayed to be led. That is one lesson that I hope to bring back with me. Being a very choleric goal oriented planner, I hope to continue to let go, let God lead...and lead a gentler life.

I will really miss the family I made while there. They really helped me to adjust smoothly with no real culture shock. They gave me so much love and helped me so much to find my way around the mountains, then the city. They showed me how to make tortillas, where and  how to take the buses and how to keep safe. They sometimes laughed uncontrollably at some of my attempts to speak Spanish. Even with the language barrier we grew very close and had so much fun working together.

some of my Honduran family
I'll miss all my new friends at the hospital, in the village, and around town. I'll miss the simple life, without constant access to computer, radio, telephone, sometimes no electricity for hours, and sometimes no water for a day and a half...actually turned out to be a blessing in so many ways. Even though I worked very hard and just as long hours between the restaurant and the hospital schedule, due to no access to still left many hours to go for walks, relax, meditate and read. I will also miss the fruit..the luscious fruit and the beautiful mountains.

Even though it was not a vacation as others would describe vacations..I found that living in obscurity with no self imposed pressure to succeed or to perform was very freeing, and other than working hard and no sightseeing in that sense, it did feel like a vacation in some ways now that I am back. And I did cross one thing off my "bucket list", I milked a cow at five in the morning with my "partner in crime" Wilma. A big thank you to my buddy Wilma from Maryland who was always "game" for an adventure. This lady is over 70 years old and helped me to not miss my girlfriends so much. She was there in the mountains teaching school at the ministry. When we could get together, we had fun, laughed at some of the cultural norms there, took a road trip to Belize, fussed at each other, called and spoke English to each other when we thought our brains would explode trying to speak Spanish all day. Thank you Wilma for making it easier.

this is my buddy Wilma from the states..she was always looking for exciting Honduran things to do
Wilma walking up the mountain..everyday...Bye Wilma
So now I'm back... loving the cleanliness, not paying to use the bathrooms, not having to carry toilet paper, hot water, smooth roads, air conditioning, service with a smile, did I say hot showers! I am having a little culture shock being faced with all the seemingly unimportant things I just "have" to do. And how easy it is to serve there..because the needs are so blatant and close to home when you're living among the people. But I'm thankful to God for the opportunity..I am attempting to simplify my life here from so much "stuff", technology, and to make more room for actual meaningful contact with friends and "family".


Monday, June 24, 2013

Medical Brigade!

Wow..what a way to end my stay here in the Honduras. The gracious brothers and sisters from Idaho welcomed me with open arms to join their medical brigade to the villages around Santa Barbara. They treated me as one of the team by including me in the fellowships, food and play. It was a wonderful experience after being here on a solo mission trip..not knowing one person in Honduras when I came here. I wondered what the group mission trips were like, and I got to experience both.

It was highly organized. Brett and his wife had done this nine times, so they were very experienced at herding groups of 20 to 30 people that have never worked together before. The huge amount of supplies and food needed was in itself a sight to behold. the packing and unpacking..very impressive.

Everyday we were in a different village in the mountains. We usually had 300 to 400 people from the villages come out each day. Travelling up the mountains was both beautiful and treacherous in these huge school buses. Sometimes we were so close to the edge, I just put my life anew in God's hands. I know that sounds dramatic..but it was quite hairy at times.

These are the two buses we went up the mountains was very exciting! we slipped,  slid, rocked to and fro, and got stuck in the mud. At one point everyone had to get out and push!

Of course it had to rain everyday making the trip up the mountains treacherous. But God got us there safely and back.

Crowds were waiting..lines and lines of people!

In case those of you don't know what a medical brigade I didn't..I'll give you a picture in case you ever get a chance to join one. The first day we went to a village called El Eden. The connection is set up through a local pastor. We usually use the public school as a base. There were 450 people waiting for us when we drove up. We had several stations...Evangelism and Hygiene, Triage, Medical, Dental, Glasses. Pharmacy and Shoes. Usually there is women's health, but unfortunately not this time. The first village, I helped in triage doing vital signs and blood pressure.

these old guys from the mountains have perfect blood pressure and vitals. They work really hard up and down the mountains with their coffee.
Then in La Zona where I had lived for the first month I was here, I ran around and did everything because I knew the people.  It was so nice to come back and provide these services to people I knew.  I got lot's of hugs and kisses, it was so wonderful. The next village I helped to pull and cleaned teeth.

there were two dentist there to guide us
Then there was Pharmacy, giving out worm pills, vitamins, antibiotics, pain killers, etc. with doctors orders of course.
counting out the pills

giving out the pills
The next village I fitted people for glasses. It was so nice to hear them exclaim claro!, claro! they could read or see far for the first time.

Then there was shoes...which were all gone in the first hour or two. we had to ration them to each village. Seeing the big holes in shoes and being able to give a new pair of nikes was a blessing.

And then fixing food and feeding the five thousand..well 450...that is what it felt like anyway.

My little Spanish helped a little, but we did have Honduran translators with us.
the Honduran translators
 Some of my new found friends

the wonderful Honduran doctor Raphael that invited me..thank you Raphael!

In the evening we had a wonderful fellowship with singing and testimony time..sharing the experiences from the day.  So many different people from so many different churches with one goal, to serve and honor god...what a blessing it was!

All I can say is thank you Lord for this wonderful opportunity!  He has orchestrated this whole five months for me. One opportunity after another to serve in so many ways. I just came..not knowing a soul in Honduras..and He just led me. A safe place to stay, good clean water, healthy food..lots and lots of new friends from all over the world. And not one day sick or even a tummy ache. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Winding down

Well my work at the hospital is coming to a close. It has been an exciting, sometimes frustrating and rewarding experience. I pray that I was a blessing with all the back rubbing, coaching, comforting, and prayers. I learned a few new tricks on birthing that you can only learn in the third world. I want to thank some of the doctors and nurses in particular, who were very nice to me while I was here. Many of the doctors spoke English very well which was helpful. They made it a wonderful experience. Most of the ones I got close to are finishing up their social service that they owe the government and are leaving. They were all curious about how it´s done in the States. We had quite a few discussions on fundal pressure or not. Before they left they told me that word is...
it´s being banned in the Tegusigalpa based on new studies..YAY!

This is Zoila, one of the nurses...a burst of sunshine! She made me feel so welcomed the first time I met her.  She let me do everything. I will really miss her.
This is Dr Emy..she really appreciated the fetal stethoscopes that we donated
These are my favorite doctors...Marta and Eduardo. They spoke excellent English and really took me under their wing. They will be getting married soon and want to practice in the States

Dealing with the very young mothers, sometimes thirteen and fourteen years old, having babies was very sad. Honduran women tend to be small anyway..and these little girls were so tiny. You wondered how they would deliver...but they did fine. Some were surprised at the time of birth at where the baby was coming out. They thought it was going to be through their "belly button". There is so little education and I don´t think these mothers would come if there were classes. They barely come for their prenatals which are basically free. I often envision a ministry of going out to the villages and giving prenatal care. It´s so hard for these mothers to get to town from the mountains.
one of the really young moms..with her baby bundle clothes

As a homebirth midwife, my experience with death right under my nose in the 35 years I´ve been doing midwifery, has been very limited, almost nil. But here in the third world it was every few days. There are also lots of infections, meconium, fourth degree tears, and many premature babies. Again much of that is from lack of prenatal care and education.

The really sad part for me has been the care or lack when these women have lost a baby. They are friend or partner, no relative. There are no words of comfort or special consideration. The baby is delivered right next to a mom having a healthy baby. Then it is put in one of the warmers for all the moms to see, dead. Then it is wrapped in brown paper and placed on a gurney in the reception room for the husband or family to come and take it home. She doesn´t hold it, barely sees it or is explained what happened. I just wheel them back into the post partum ward, with ten to twenty other women there all with their babies...and there she sits, with empty arms. Another needed ministry...would be to be available to talk to, comfort, and pray with the sick and bereaved.

seems so sad and lonely

It may seem like the nurses and doctors are heartless but it´s just the way it is. The familiarity with pain and suffering is just so common place..they just learn to deal with it and expect very little. We get so much special consideration and compassion in the States. We would be in therapy for years if we had to go through a fraction of what these women go through down here.

So even though my hospital days are ending..I will spend my last days doing my favorite thing. I will be going into the villages again with another mission team (a medical brigade) from Idaho. I don't know them but I was invited, so I jumped at the chance. We will be visiting and ministering to the medical needs of the people in the villages. We will go to a different village every day. Last time I went to the villages it was on mothers day...taking bundles of goodies, praying and singing to the poor moms...just to brighten their day. There were many tears, it was a blessing. so I´m looking forward to this experience. I will keep you updated.
some of the moms in the village we visited on mothers day

So..I´m winding down. Due to an emergency back home I have to leave a month early. I´ll keep you posted on my last days. Thank you Elisha and Charlotte for making it possible for me to go on this other mission trip within my mission trip.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

To Belize and Back

one of the buses
Thank you so much for all your prayers for my safety. It was actually a twelve hour bus trip through Guatamala to Belize...and ten hours back. Most of the buses had air conditioning ..I was VERY thankful for that. I met so many wonderful people on the way that were really helpful. A few spoke some English. Except for having to pay to use the bathrooms, and some bathroom experiences I will never be able to get out of my mind...and trying to switch from Honduran money to Guatemalan money to Belize money all in one day, all in all it was a very safe, pleasant and enjoyable trip. So now I can add two more countries to my very short list of countries I´ve visited. I have to say that Honduras is most beautiful to come back home to. Oh these breath taking mountains.
some of the sights on the way

So my passport is stamped for another three months. I am really enjoying the people and the culture here. They are very kissy/huggy here, and very willing to help...especially with the language. It doesn´t feel like I´m in the murder capital of the I have a hard time being warned all the time not to go here or do this or that. It´s frustrating but I´m mostly careful anyway. There are armed guards with huge guns all over the place...that helps to remind me. I guess that's comforting for some people. But Santa Barbara is a little safer than San Pedro Sula so it´s good to be back safe and sound and thankful to God.

Men with guns are everywhere in this little town. In front of banks, ATMs. all around the hospital, guarding some businesses

One of the reasons I chose to go to Belize is because I had a place to stay there. I also heard there were lots of black people there, (it was a whole month before I saw one in Santa Barbara) meaning I could get my dreadlocks tightened and maybe washed by someone else for a little pampering. Well, after much searching. I found a little hairdresser who had the cutest little outdoor cabin. I asked if she could wash my hair..she said yes. The next question of course was do you have hot water. I think I got that spoiled American look..and she said "I´ll have hot water for you." After all this time in Central America I still didn´t catch the wording. So I go to her house for the appointment. Ready for my luxurious treat. She says, "I´m ready for you now". So I head for her house...and she says, "no, right here". I look at the two buckets on the ground and hoping against hope I say, "where?" She said.."kneel right here".  I thought ..all the way from Honduras for this? But..I smiled asked for a towel for my knees and thought...oh well another cultural experience. She had warmed some water a little...and sort of tightened the locks. After that I said these dreadlocks are coming off.

say it ain´t so!

O K!

I´ve really been tempted to cut them off., but the Lord showed me how they really have helped me. Some of the young doctors in the emergency room here love Bob Marley so much that they really like me at first sight, I know it´s because I have locks. They really let me do stuff I wouldn´t ordinarily get to do.. and also comfort, help, and pray with the people. They say I look like him and call me "Rasta woman". They were shocked I didn´t know any Bob Marley songs. It´s been a great opportunity to give my testimony to let them know I´m a Christian.

People really stare down here...I mean in a terribly rude way. But it´s not rude in this culture. And if they are standing next to me for any length of time they feel free to just start touching and handling my hair. It really has opened lots of doors and conversations for me. So I guess I´ll keep them and use them to my  advantage.

Happy Mother´s Day to all my friends who are mothers. We are going to fix gift/food bags and take them to all the poor mothers in the mountains this weekend.  Pray for us!

Please don´t envy me too much. But I´m in mango heaven right now...smooth, sweet, melt in your mouth...yum!...4 big ones for 20 limpiras ($1) yum! Everyday for breakfast I have a mango, banana, papaya, kiwi, strawberry fruit salad in my granola and little soy milk. For supper I have some crisp cold watermelon...the best I´ve ever tasted, or more mangos. Fruit heaven!...much needed in this heat (103 degrees). It just shows that God does provide everything according to our needs in our own locality. Moringa grows right here in their back yards but no one knows a thing about it´s amazing nutritional value. God does provide but we don´t often take advantage of His provisions.