Sunday, June 16, 2013


Last week was the All Saints Medical Brigade/ Construction Team.  All week I had water on the brain.  It started with a trickle.  Half the team's flight from Memphis to Atlanta was cancelled.  The medical  team started trickling in... Thursday, Betty Lisle arrived. Friday, the construction team arrived.  Saturday, 5 of the medical team arrived, Sunday, the other 8 arrived.  Once everyone was present and accounted for, the floods began.


Every clinic brings waves of people clamoring to see the doctor or standing patiently in the hot sun to have a tooth (or two) pulled by the dentist.  First wave is early in the morning.  Second wave is after lunch.  Third wave is as we are closing down registration. People pushing forward hoping to get in that final wave, holding up sick babies, pleading with their eyes... That is the hardest part of a brigade - saying no.    I suspect the docs would stay all night seeing patients if it weren't for the work to do back at Casa LAMB for the next day and a new set of 250+ people waiting their turn.    For many of these people, the clinic is their only chance to get medical care.  Two of our clinics were quite far from the city with no community health centers or doctors in the area.   Transportation to the closest clinic is either unavailable or too expensive.  Even if they get to a health center or hospital, there is no medication.   Getting a bag with vitamins, worm medicine and maybe some Tylenol or much needed antibiotics or other prescription medication is a blessing beyond words.   Something as simple as Tylenol is out of reach for so many.  You can buy Tylenol by the pill here but you still need those couple of lempira to do so.
Waiting at Nueva Capital
Waiting at Pastor Felix's church
Waiting at Colonia Emanuel

The rainy season came on early and strong this year.  The mountains are green and lush.  A "tormenta" comes on quickly with torrential rains and high winds, sometimes even hail.  Our first day at the clinic at Nueva Capital, a tormenta started.  Suddenly sheets of rain are falling through the ceiling, running down the walls!  It looked like those waterfalls in the mall.  Stuart the dentist calmly continued pulling a tooth while the water was rushing around his ankles and the local women were sweeping the flooding waters out the door!  To paraphrase the Queen, "Remain calm, keep pulling teeth."

We had heavy rains at least once a day.  At Pastor Felix's church, there was little impact on those of us in the church at the clinic.   At Col. Emanuel, we stayed dry inside the church.  We had a flood of people stream into the church to stay dry waiting for their turn.  With the rain pounding on the tin roof and a huge crowd huddled together by the registration desk, the docs and interpreters had a tough time hearing their patients.


You can't avoid tears during a clinic.  Sometimes they are tears from frightened children about to have a tooth pulled or a baby unhappy with the turmoil of the clinic.  Sometimes it is a tear of joy when a pair of reading glasses make the words of the Bible clear for the first time in who knows how long.  

Do NOT point that scary camera at me!

More frequently, it is our tears as we hear the stories of our patients.   We met a young woman, thin as a stick, who looked 14 but is actually 19.  She was carrying her 1 yr old baby.  Sara, a Honduran med student working with us, could see the anguish in her eyes.  As she was examining the young woman, she could see a pleading in her eyes.  "Can I pray for you?"   The young woman nodded and suddenly her story spilled out along with a torrent of tears.  She had been raped at 15 and now lives with her "husband" who is an alcoholic and beats her.   Sara had seen that combination of hopelessness yet pleading for help in her eyes.  As they prayed together, the young woman accepted Jesus into her heart.   As she left, several of us gathered around her to pray.  Silvia, the pastor, led the prayer and finished by inviting her to join the church.  "We are your family now.  We are here to help you."  We were all crying by then, overcome by compassion and hope for a better future.

(An aside:  Silvia was one of Suzy's first missionary training students! She established this church, El Cordero, in what was a squatter's settlement after Mitch.  Now it is a vibrant church with a lively congregation and a 300 child compassion program during the week.  I think it is safe to say Silvia is bearing much fruit for the Lord!  Since Silvia is fruit from Suzy's work, does that make Suzy grandfruit?)

Still waters run deep 

One member of the team is Allan Cherry, 70 something, who is a quiet, self-effacing person.  He comes to work and work he does.  But... that's not the best part about Allan.  I sit next to him as often as I can so I can listen to him talk.  He speaks softly, barely above a mumble, but every word is golden.  He is an expert in civil rights and the history surrounding it, going back hundreds of years to the sources of attitudes, cultural origins, and conditions that led to the struggle we are familiar with.  He has met, marched with, or worked with just about everyone you have ever heard of.  He is the master at bi-partisanship, bringing together the most unlikely groups on the most incendiary of issues to craft an elegant resolution.  He accepts no labels, affiliates with no party or group.  He stands firmly in truth and justice, which need no other names.  What a privilege to get to know Allan.  

Oceans of love

The rest of the team spent the week at SBV.  They worked hard and accomplished alot. They sanded, painted, dug trenches, mixed cement, built a ramp and cut hair.  It was important work and they did it well.

Truly, the week for this part of the team was about love.  The Holy Spirit was working full time bonding people together.   Two families are exploring adoption.  Two families have added a new "son" as they became Padrinos (sponsors) to Jose Luis and Elias Hernandez.  Both are special needs children who are often ignored by visitors.  Not this team.  From day 1 the love was there.    It was particularly beautiful to see the relationship between Allen and Elias develop over the week.  Allen prayed for Elias every day during our communal worship.  I know this is a covenantal love between two special young men. 

God's Palabra for the Group

As we finished up the work week, God had the final word for the team...

Servants of God, well done!