Friday, June 29, 2012

My Dad

Word just dad does NOT have cancer!!!!!! Snoopy dance o'joy!! We are so thankful that God has chosen to give dad more time with us. Thank you so much for praying. We could feel the prayer. The hemmorhaging my dad was having is a side effect of the prostate cancer he has battled for the past 14 years. He will need additional treatment but for now we are grateful that his cancer has not spread to his bladder.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quick Update on my Dad

My dad's cystoscopy was changed to Friday at 1:30, so we should have some news afterwards.  Thank you for your notes and prayers.  We definitely feel the prayer.
Mom, Dad, and me in Honduras

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Prayer Request

Please pray for the fires in Colorado Springs to be contained.  Ryan had surgery yesterday and while he was there, the place where he was living was forced into a mandatory evacuation.  He will be released today and will be staying with a friend of a family member.  The fires are out of control and burning homes.  The Navigators have a retreat center there (Glen Eyrie) and have requested prayer as many of their buildings are in the path of the fire.

Also, my mom had to take my dad to ER in the middle of the night because he was in severe pain. Once there, they discovered his bladder was full of blood.  They were going to try to do a procedure on him this morning, but couldn't.  He has had prostate cancer for 14 years, and we know it can travel to the bladder, so of course we are worried.  We would so appreciate prayers.  We are very thankful that this didn't happen in Honduras.  He is supposed to return to the doctor on Tue., and hopefully we will know more then.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Home...and struggling with re-entry

The entire team made it home safely for which we are very thankful.  Several of us connected on Facebook last night and found that we are all struggling with our return back to 'normal.'  The scenes we witnessed are replaying in our minds, breaking our hearts over and over.  

Normally, teams have a day or so of R&R at the end of the trip so that they can talk and help each other sort through their emotions.  It wasn't possible for this trip, so we are going to 'talk' through Facebook and hopefully, Skype. 

There is just not an easy adjustment between seeing a child in rags, with not enough food, living in wretched conditions and standing in the grocery store, with food in abundance, seeing magazines with stories of so-called celebrities and other things that do not matter.

Maybe my teenager put it more succinctly when he said, "Makes you think when you spend $5 for a cheeseburger but $5 could have bought the medicine that would have cured the strep infection for that guy with the kidney failure."  

We can bring short term help, but God can fill them with everlasting HOPE.
And He can wipe the tears from their eyes...
Healing for their pain.
A room full of priceless treasures
And one cute baby that liked giving me the stink eye
My sweet little shadow
"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come.'"  Isaiah 35: 3, 4
Know you are loved.  You are not forgotten.
God sees.  And now we have seen.  We cannot pretend we have not seen their misery, nor can we turn away.

Another sweet shadow in a different location.
Jesus loves them...they need to know.
I challenge myself with the question, "What more can I do?"
Do I really not have enough to be able to give more?  I wonder what God thinks as He looks down from heaven and sees us with our great abundance, yet hanging on to our wealth with tight fists.  I think His heart weeps.
"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places."  Isaiah 45:2, 3

This trip was not a one time thing.  It was an invitation to another way of life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Clinic Day in the Village

Today we did a medical clinic in one of the villages nearby.  It was the most heartbreaking thing I have seen in a long time.  This is the sight that met us when we pulled up.

It is incredibly hot and humid here. The temperature was in the 90s so it didn't take long to get dehydrated.  It was difficult to see the people lined up and wonder how long they had been waiting.
There were all ages.

Older folks
They continued to come throughout the day.
Some were obviously not feeling well.  

There were some really sad stories.  One young man in his 20's was carried there because he was too weak to walk.  He was skin and bones and hadn't been able to keep anything down for a month.  He lost 40 pounds in that month.  The doctor wasn't sure what was wrong with him.
Another young mother of two, age 27, had an auto-immune disorder that is treatable in the U.S.  However, the meds are very expensive and unavailable in Honduras.  She is in so much pain and just sat and sobbed when the doctor told her that there was no medicine to cure her.  One of the other team members and I prayed with her and asked God for a miracle.  It's frustrating to know that there is medicine for her health problem but no way to get it to her.
There were quite a few cases of high blood pressure and diabetes, most of which had been going untreated. There were a few cases of diabetes that had rather shocking glucose levels.  I know there were lives saved because of the meds we were able to give out.
I started out doing vitals but pharmacy got slammed and I had helped out there the other day so kind of knew what to do.  I ended up staying there all day.  We saw over 80 patients.  We were very busy and I had a lot of fun learning about different meds and racing to see which of us could count out pills the fastest.  Ha. 
I lost. 
But I'm going to practice for the next mission trip.
I'm a bit competitive that way. 
I'm pretty sure the baby on the left is giving me the stink eye.
This little girl broke my heart.  She was the most pitiful little waif.
Our lunch was delivered by one of the pastors' awesome family.  I couldn't eat it all but I didn't want to throw food away when I knew there people sitting there hungry.  I asked if it would be okay if I gave them the rest of my lunch and got the ok.  I walked out and handed it to the first child I saw--who eagerly took it. The rest of the team was also having trouble finishing theirs and pretty soon, bowls of noodle soup were being handed out to the waiting crowd.  Jerry had just started eating but as soon as he saw what was happening, he gave his almost full bowl to us to pass out.  The Mama in the picture above is feeding her little boys one of the bowls of soup.

Think about how hungry you would have to be to eat soup after a stranger had been eating it.
In the afternoon, there was a program for the children while the clinic was still going on.  During a lull in the pharmacy, I went over to take pictures of the kids. 
The two children in the front were so adorable.
These kids were completely geeked to have me taking their pictures.  
This precious little girl held her baby sister on her lap despite the fact that it was a bazillion degrees in the shade.
Sweet girls...have you ever heard that Jesus loves you?
Peeking around the 'big people' to get a look at the speaker.
Heading home.
"...bind up the injured and strengthen the weak."  Ez. 34:16

This kid was totally loving having the camera pointed in his direction and kept looking back to make sure I was still aiming it at him.
A few of my adorable little shadows today.  Yes, my shirt is all wet.  No, it is not sweat.  It's from the wet towel around my neck.  

Most of the team...back at the hotel, refreshing our weary feet.
Well...that's partly because the power went out five minutes after we got there, meaning our rooms were not air conditioned.  The A/C is turned off during the day because it's so expensive to run it.  So it takes a few hours for our rooms to cool off.
Have I mentioned that it's incredibly hot and humid here?
Oh...yeah...I guess I did.

We are getting up at the crack of dawn to make the drive back to Tegucigalpa to catch our flights home.  I am sad to be leaving, although I am eager to see my family and sink into my soft bed.
And have hot showers.
And brush my teeth with water from the tap.
And not see spiders the size of silver dollars.  

Except for my family, those things are all immaterial.  It has been an incredible honor and privilege to be here.  
I've been pinching myself all week.
And I don't know what I'm going to do with myself now that I won't be able to do any more verbal sparring with Jerry.

Girls Know How to Have Fun

Little girls excited to have Nina get the bubbles out.

Oh my goodness.... I never knew taking portraits could be so fun!  We gathered at 7AM to get started.  We had told them that only the first 8 needed to be there that early, but they ALL came to watch each other.  It was the cutest thing!

I had a dear friend praying because I had no idea how I was going to be able to take all portraits and get them edited by noon.  Ya'll, it just wasn't possible.  Editing takes hours and I really wanted the ladies to look beautiful.  I didn't want to rush through editing and have the portraits look less than best.  I knew that good lighting would cut down on editing time so I prayed that God would help me find just the right location.  I had one picked out but wasn't sure how the light would hit it in the morning.  This morning, I woke up and peeked out the window.

And giggled.

Because it was cloudy.  Yep...nary a sunbeam in sight, which meant that I could shoot those portraits anywhere I wanted and wouldn't have to worry too much about sun spots on faces.

God was way ahead of me, as usual.  (Well...lots of other people are usually ahead of me too...but I digress.)

So we had fun...  One woman after another came and posed for me.  The others cheered them on.  We had a blast!  Afterwards, one woman had a birthday today, so they all sang.  During the song, each woman came up and hugged her.  Most of these women didn't know each other before the conference, so it was wonderful to see them interacting like that.

Miraculously...and I do mean, miraculously...I was able to get them all edited and off to the print lab by lunch time.  I seriously do not know how God was able to pull that off, but He definitely helped me.  I even had time to help out a bit in the pharmacy when they got swamped.

Tonight we had the big presentation.  I haven't so much fun in a long time!  They were a hoot!  The translator here is a woman and is very bubbly and outgoing.  When their names were called, the women would come up front to get their portrait, and the rest of the women would start clapping and cheering.  Then the translator would hold up the framed print for everyone to see and they would cheer again!  It was so much fun!  I got lots of tight hugs, 'thank-you's,' and 'I love you's."  Waaaahhh....  It was the BEST!  We girls know how to have FUN!

Afterwards, one of the ladies said through the translator, "You have given us a precious gift."

As I was sitting in the last meeting of the conference, and I saw how these precious ladies cradled their pictures, it brought tears to my eyes to think that God could use something as simple as a photograph to make someone feel so loved and treasured.

Sometimes people seem to think that serving God will be a burden...something to dread and do out of obligation.  But this entire week has been nothing but joy.  Hard work, extreme heat, and (shudder) some bugs, but NOTHING BUT JOY!  God sent me to do something that He gave me a passion to do and I am loving it!

Now for a few God stories...  :)

These happened at the last place we had clinic--not here.

One of the ladies got up to share on the last night.  She said that her husband had called her cell phone to tell her that he had been robbed that day.  The robbers took all his money and his son was very sad because now there would not be any money for his birthday cake.  She said she told her son that God would provide but she didn't know how.  Then she held up the envelope she had just received along with her portrait.  Inside the envelope was some money for her to take home.  (All the women received a financial gift.)  She was so excited because God had provided money for her son to have a birthday cake!  Isn't that awesome?!  God provided on the very same day that they lost the money!

Second story:  I had brought a flash drive with me so that it could be taken to the photo lab to develop the pictures of the women. didn't work.  The person who was driving to the lab, needed to go and I couldn't get the flash drive to load any of the pictures.  We started to ask around to see if anyone knew anything about computers.  Our translator there, Carlos, volunteered to help.  He didn't elaborate...he just sat down and started working on it.   After a few minutes, he said it wasn't working but he had a flash drive in his car that I could use.  Um....who carries flash drives around and just happens to have a spare?  (Maybe some of you do...but I don't.)  Not any that work, anyway.  ha.

Later, he told me that he works on computers as a job!  God sent a computer tech to help me just when I needed it.  I gave Carlos his flash drive back later that night but 1/2 hour later, he came up to me and said, "I feel that God wants me to give this to you."  You guys...flash drives are not cheap for someone who lives down here.  And I also found out that he recently lost his job.  I was so humbled by that lavish sacrifice on Carlos' part.

I continue to be amazed and humbled by all the Honduran Christians I have met.

And last but not least...  Our fearless leader, Jerry, has provided us with some rather hilarious photo ops this week.  Jerry loves to entertain us with his wit and sarcasm and has made the week so much fun.  We wanted to return the favor, so we made a collage of humorous pictures and presented them in a frame right after we presented the women with theirs.  Mouhahahahaha.....

Jerry just told me that he directed many of his friends from Operation Barnebas Int'l to this blog to see what we are doing this week, so if any of them are reading, this is for you.  For the rest of you who don't know Jerry, don't let the white coat fool you.  He isn't a doctor, he was just goofing around.  As usual.
That photo of him trying to break down the door?  It wasn't posed.  He was actually doing that!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Off-Roading in a School Bus

Yep...that's what it seemed like.  But that event happened mid-day so I will start with the morning news.

We went to the church where we set up the clinic.  We are developing a better system of getting the women through and keeping all their tests straight.  It can be easy to get test results mixed up, so we came up with a numbering system that will hopefully make all of our lives easier.

My mom and Megan setting up

We were able to see about half of the women today and will finish up the others tomorrow.  Then I think the plan is to open it up to the church families who are in need of medical care.  Basically that means that we have absolutely no idea how many patients we will see.  The doctor had to send another pregnant woman to the hospital today because she had an infection that needed a specialized medication.  Without treatment, she was at serious risk of her baby dying in the womb.  It really has made me much more aware of how easily a pregnancy can end without good medical care.  Other than that, we mostly saw a few high blood pressures, but nothing too serious.

After the conference meetings were over (around 2:30) we took a school bus to the shopping area to take pictures of the ladies picking out clothes.  Unfortunately, there is no mall in this city and the market wasn't very safe for Gringo's.  I was not allowed to get my camera out because it was just too dangerous.  Drat.  I was chafing at the lack of freedom but I prefer not to be dead, so I decided to do as I was told.

It was so fun to watch the ladies pick out their dresses and shoes!  They wear very high heels with lots of sparkly things on them.  My feet ache just looking at them--but they look very cool.  They got their shopping done incredibly fast.  In less than two hours, 22 women had new shoes and dresses.  (We had been told that 35 were coming but not all of them showed up.)
The wheels on the bus go round and round....  There are some kids here with their mommy's for the conference.  This little girl spent the morning giving me the stink eye, but she likes all of us now.

After the women were done shopping, we went in search of our bus which the driver had to park a few blocks away.
Around the biggest potholes you have ever seen.
There was no way to avoid them we went.  It was quite fun except for the fact that I was trying to take pictures out the bus window, which is quite difficult when you are on your knees and bouncing up and down like a fishing bobber.

Our hotel...oh my word.  When I pulled back the shower curtain this morning, I just burst out laughing.
Can someone please enlighten me as to why there is an outlet directly under the shower head?  Electrocution anyone?  But no worries.  The outlet is painted over for your protection.

 Aside from the obvious gross-ness, do you notice a lack of anything?  
Hint:  it gives you hot and cold water.
Yep...there is only ONE faucet handle, rather than two.  
Weird, I thought.
But no.
Actually, it's just common sense.
There is only one temperature, so to put hot and cold faucet handles there would just be superfluous.
And that one available temperature is, of course....cold.
Not freezing cold...but cold nonetheless.
And the water pressure...well that is non-existent.  There are two skinny streams coming out which do a very poor job of rinsing soap out of one's hair.
But least it's indoors.

Some random photos from the day:
This dad was hanging out while his wife was at the conference.

Not sure he liked the camera but the stickers from Nina were pretty great.

I would add more pictures but it's late and I have to get up early to start taking portraits of the 22 women in the morning.  I have to take and get them edited by mid-afternoon.  Ack!  They have to get printed and framed by tomorrow night.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Intermittent Wifi and Electricity

First of all...HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet daughter, Molly, who was very willing to have Mama miss her birthday so that people in Honduras could be loved on for a few days.  Thank you, honey...and I hope you had a wonderful day!

And secondly...HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to my awesome husband, Jeff, who is being a great dad all by himself while I am here.

Here is a shot of the ladies in their new dresses and shoes.

And here is a shot of the pastors in our group.  The ones on the left are American, the ones on the right are Honduran.  And That Guy in the middle is keeping us all entertained with his sarcasm and quick wit.  He's been making fun of me and my camera since I got here--and I make fun of him right back.  This was his idea of a pose after I was always asking the ladies to put a hand on their hip for their portrait pose.  hahaha

So sorry for not posting last night but wifi was down at our hotel.  We had traveled all day yesterday and stayed in hotel in Tegucigalpa that had really soft, comfy beds.  I went to bed early since I had nothing to do with no computer, and slept for about 10 straight hours!  I guess I needed the rest.

Yesterday's trip was, shall we say, interesting.  Our van was a diesel and loaded down with people and suitcases.  Toss in the need for A/C and our 4 hour trip turned into 7.  There were times when we were going up the mountain that we were only going 20 miles per hour.  I know this because I was sitting in the middle of the front seat.  With no seat belt.

Later, we were told that the driver had been told to drive slowly and carefully through the winding mountain roads because my dad is having some health issues and I get car sick easily.  Ironically, my dad and I were probably the most perturbed by the S.L.O.W. driving since we...uh...tend to be slight lead foots.  Not only that but we were going uphill in first gear and engine was seriously begging to be shifted.  hahahaha  It took great restraint not to help the driver shift since my knee was touching the stick for 7 hours straight.  
I think I've made it pretty well known how much I love cold Coke in a glass bottle.  We stopped briefly and I ordered one but we had to leave right away.  The cashier poured my soda into this bag, tied it up with a straw and handed it to me.  Um...ok.  It worked and still tasted good! :)
These gorgeous trees are all over the place.  Love them!
Don't have a clue what this is.
Bananas are EVERYWHERE.
Old and new combined.
Colorful houses on a hillside in Tegucigalpa
We see this kind of exhaust a lot.  

Yesterday was supposed to be our R&R day (aka, shopping day for the ladies) but everything was closed by the time we got to Tegucigalpa.  Oh well....  We went to church this morning where my dad gave the sermon with a translator.  I love worshiping the Lord with people from other cultures.  Their music was hand-clappin, toe-stompin' and wonderful.

OK--Jeff--you might want to stop reading right now so that you don't have a stroke, but the translator is an attorney and she facilitates adoptions.  She says there are 500 children in a nearby orphanage that are all adoptable.  She was asking me if I would be interested in a set of premie twins.  I made the mistake of looking at their picture.  Don't worry, I didn't make any promises!  She will be with us all week so I may see if there is anything we can do to help her with the kids she advocates for.

For those of you interested in adoption from Honduras, it IS possible but there is a 6 week stay in country required.

Today we traveled from Tegucigalpa to Choleteca.  It was another drive through the mountains but this time were in a school bus.  The mountains were SO beautiful.  One of the medical students, Justice, was helping me take...oh...I don't know...about 100 pictures as we zoomed by.  It got pretty comical as the two of us tried to figure out when to lower the window and when there would be a break in the trees for me to snap the photo.  He would lower the window, I would crawl across the seat and he would watch for the tree break.  "Ok--now!" he would say and I would take a ridiculous number of pictures.  Maybe we will get one non-blurry one.  Surprisingly, I only got a mild upset stomach during all that activity--thank you Sea Bands, you rock.
My dad preaching this morning.
Alter call

 Our bus today
We saw a rainbow in the mountains
Beautiful mountains with clouds drifting low
Jerry with a weird pillow donated from the medical team and of course he had to play with it and call it a bedpan.
Accident we saw on the way.
We stopped to use the restroom and a pick-up truck with five policemen pulled around and behind us.  I am pretty sure they came to protect us.  Sadly, the dr*g cart*ls have been using Honduras instead of some of the other South American countries and things are not as safe as they used to be.

Not a road sign you see every day.

Tomorrow we start up again--two days of clinic, women's conference, portraits, etc.  I am trying not to freak out at the bugs on the floor in my bathroom.  Eeeek.  I hate big bugs.  (I'm sitting on top of the bathroom counter and trying to work up the courage to jump down and go to bed.)  I can't even think about getting in the shower in the morning!  There is also a monsoon sounding rainstorm going on right now so hopefully it will be gone by morning.