There are remote areas that still have mud huts with thatched roofs, no clean drinking water and people who don’t know or understand that bacteria from water, plants or other sick people cause disease. The need is great and that is exactly why God placed a hospital called Loma de Luz in one of those remote areas off the northern coast of Honduras. My wife, Raquel, my 8 year old son, Jaden, my 6 year old son, Clay and I try to travel down there every year to help the missionaries serve the people in Honduras, supply them with resources, and bring them encouragement that what they are doing is making a difference for the people they serve and for God’s kingdom.
This year was another great adventure. The adventure started out a little rough because when we arrived at the airport to check our baggage at 3:30 AM, and found out Clay’s passport expired in 87 days and Honduras requires 90 days. Too bad they didn’t tell us that when I put the passport information in when we bought the tickets or even when I put it in again when I checked in online the day before. Oh well, we loaded all the supplies back up and the next day we got an emergency passport and headed off to Honduras. When we arrived we met our driver that took us from San Pedro Sula to La Ceiba, got some groceries and headed on the dirt road out to the hospital. It was a pleasant surprise to find that all the rivers to get there now have bridges so we didn’t have to drive the truck through the rivers.
Raquel was her usual friendly, hospitable, and computer-savvy self. She had tons of missionaries over to our place, treated them all to delicious home cooked meals, and gave encouragement to all the amazing missionaries working at Loma de Luz. She also helped with a lot of IT projects on the computer including making a new form for ordering/billing for the entire hospital and updating the internal hospital website.
Jaden and Clay played with the Honduran kids and befriended three foster boys from the Children’s Center named Luis, Manuel and Ever. It is great to see Jaden and Clay share their toys with the boys and love them so much while we are there.
The day after we arrived I jumped into work at the clinic. I saw the normal patients with high blood pressure, headaches, diabetes, arthritis, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin infections, and broken bones. We have basic labs, an EKG machine, an x-ray machine and even a new ultrasound machine. I fix the things I can, educate the patients in a way they can understand, and pray with some of the patients when I am prompted. All of the patients meet with a pastor after we are done and the whole community knows this place is all about showing God’s love to them as we follow Jesus. One major difference from here is that Honduran culture does not separate the physical from the spiritual. You can talk about both aspects together. Everyone there knows they affect each other and are both important.
I also had medical mystery patients including a man who had his skin peeling off for the last 3 months all over his body (likely autoimmune or some strange bug bite according to a dermatologist in the US), a pregnant woman with abdominal pain and jaundice that was likely from a common bile duct stone, and a lady with atypical chest pain. The lady with the chest pain, we will call her Maria, was 62 years old and had a left sided chest pain that sounded like reflux or arthritis in the joints of the chest when she first described it. Her EKG was normal and we did not have anyone to do an ECHO or a treadmill stress test. I was going to let her go home with more reflux medicine and Tylenol. This was her 3rd time to the clinic for this and she was scared about the pain. We prayed about it and while praying I got, or was given, the idea to try to do a stress test. I thought this would be negative and I could give her more reassurance. I had her walk down to the gate and back up the large hill as fast as she could and I asked our Honduran tech, Tomas, to do another EKG right after she came back when her heart was still racing. When she got back she had all her chest pain and said she felt like she was going to die. Tomas strapped on the EKG and sure enough there were new large ST depressions in the lateral leads on the EKG suggesting this pain really was from blocked arteries in her heart. After a few minutes the chest pain went away and she started to feel better. We got her started on all the right heart medications, blood pressure medications and cholesterol medications this time and I am hopeful we can treat this medically now that we know what it is. After treating her I was thinking back to when I was taking time to pray with her. It struck me how prayer not only gives us a chance to talk to God, but it also makes us take a moment and let him talk back to us. I am so grateful that I have a God who cares so much about an elderly lady on the remote coast of Honduras that he makes me change my mind and come up with a new way to get the test she really needed. I love being a part of God’s work!
I also had the chance to take some great pictures of a toucan and monkeys on this trip! This was my first time capturing a toucan picture.