We will be having a short presentation this coming Sunday morning at the 10 AM educational forum. Members of the group will be offering some brief reflections on the work we did and the experiences we shared - please come and join us!
I became so aware of who we are collectively and how we changed each others lives, and those for whom we had the privilege of serving along side of in Trinidad. We are most humbled for the opportunity to instill this overwhelming level of pride in our supporters and friends and family. How wonderful to know that our support from across the nations sustained us and helped us to be successful in our efforts.
Whilst I lay in the comfort of my own bed this am at 1:30, it stuck me as to the magnitude of commitment and the level of professionalism that existed between us all. We are all unique in our own rite, however; There were no individual's in our daily challenges, we are and always will be
"Team Honduras". The Deacon, the Organizers, the Doctors the Retired folk, the Teachers, the Nurses, the PA's the Students, the Former Marine, the Interpreters, the Church Madras's, the neighbors, the Rector-Padre and so many more...
That is a great feeling and I am so happy to be part of such an enormous endeavors and from the deepest reaches of my soul I personally wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to:
Paul- for your presence among us all and your many endearing qualities that either intellectually stimulated me or made me laugh and yes this morning cry, as I sit listening to your last sermon as Curate of St. Mark's. I was taken by surprise by you and look forward to a long friendship between us, your cool! I'm sure your Parents and family are proud and supportive, because I can see in you, thier choice parenting abilities, they are lucky! Your Friend In Christ, Nick
PJ- for your drive , energy (most days), your respect for each of us, your time and talents professionally and your friendship. It is important for us to remember our place in the world and I, am but his servant as are you, thus we nourish each other in comradeship and deed. Your family Should elivate your accomplishments and encourage whatever your next challenge. Thank You! Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Sara- Muchos Grasis! You Rock and I am blessed to have you in my inner circle now. Your skills and knowledge of the Spanish language will help you in all your future endeavours be kind to yourself and be well always. May the stars you wish upon and reach for always be at your finger-tips. Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Doris- What can I say? You are a fascinating study in the human spirit. Your reliance and determination has definitely served you well over the years. One can only aspire to be so kind and understanding, my lesson and gift from you, enthusiasm for life and all things old and new. Bless you and be well, may your next adventure be just as great! Your Friend In Christ, Nick.
You make me smileKelli- What privilege and honor for me to know you. So we now have two Missions under our belt together and I so look forward to another, but only wish we do not loose touch until then, let's remain close and promise to nurture our friendship, that it will always remain in our hearts and minds. I know that your folks are elated over your success, so keep going where life takes you, it is a gift. Your friend In Christ, Nick.
Matt- As roommates go, your TOPS! Your broad base of stimulating conversations, views on life, knowledge of medicine are all to be admired and reflected upon. And as I get my head out of the clouds and back to reality of our own lives I trust that you and I formed a bond that will only be fostered by more social situations with you and your(s). "Carpe Diem" Many thanks to you for making me laugh so much at then end of some "Krazy" days...
Mary Cate- Girl ,you're on track for great things and well, I've never encountered anyone with your approach to life, for any given situation, and I just love how you manage to see life through the "Rose colored spectacles" Certainly not an "Princess" , but a Force not to be reconed with, thanks for keeping us all grounded and aware. Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Christina- Well not sure where to start with you, you make friends everywhere and are such a delight to be around. I feel so happy in your presence and find you to be so witty and beautiful, both inside and out, may all your dreams be realized an may you and Beau, have as many years and more, as Reed and I together. 10 on the hair flip! Let's make a point to stay in touch? Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Aron- Could not have managed to get on as well as I did without your knowledge of the language and your ability to mix a mean antibiotic. Not to mention your specialty in "pest control" You can add some Medical Latin to your credentials now! And I my Spanish writing skills which could only be acquired through a mission such as ours. So glad we served together and hope to maintain and foster more time as friends through St. Marks as well as on our own. Best of luck upon your return for the rest of Summer activities, Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Amy- Like finding a goodluck charm. Cracker Jacks a prize at every turn... Fun, adventure, skills, compassion, care, knowledge, and so on, and so on... You make me proud to know you, so let's stay connected ok? Lord knows we need lots of friends, until we meet again, Your friend In Christ, Nick
Elizabeth- I hold such a fond affection for you diplomacy and your nurturing ways, you exemplify all the qualities of Mom to many of us and your caring ways with the live you touch are eched in my memory for safe keeping, as are the goodies. Be well and happy in all your do next, may it too hold many new experiences and keep you safe. Always in Gods image do we serve and sustain. Your Friend In Christ, Nick
Michelle- Just a delight! And Funny beyond belief. What a joy to get to know you and work along side you as our Medical patriarch. Thanks for the guidance and the morning laughs and all the conversation, whether regarding medicine, religion, poverty, geography etc. I owe you! Your Friend In Christ, Nick
May all your hopes and dream for world poverty and peace be consider or realized. My heart is filled with joy this day and I aspire to be like all of you who reflect GOD and Love.
With much affection,
We made it! There were a few delays at the airport, but Team Honduras safely arrived home safe and sound last evening (all, that is, except for Aron, who is staying a few more days in Honduras on vacation).
Members of St. Mark's as well as some family met us at the airport and drove us home.
It's hard to let go of a trip like this...I'm sure we'll all be struggling with ways to forever incorporate what we learned and lived into our daily lives.
Stay tuned for some more reflections as well as information about a presentation we will be doing at St. Mark's sometime in the fall. Adios for now!
It’s hard to believe, but we’re getting close to leaving for the airport. If you asked me how long I’ve been here it would take me a minute to come up with the right answer. One the one hand, it feels like we just arrived yesterday, and on the other, it feels like a little piece of me has always been here. Is that possible?
One of the nice things about a trip like this one is that we can remove ourselves from the chaos of our lives and focus in on the work that needs to be done. And it would be impossible to leave here without realizing just how much work does indeed need to be done.
I think all of us are now a little more inspired to take up that work.
We owe a big debt of gratitude to everyone who has helped and supported us in this journey – financially, morally, spiritually…trips like this don’t happen without a lot of help. So a big THANK YOU to everyone to helped make this possible. And a special thanks to everyone’s families for letting their loved slip away for a week – I know it’s not easy, and I thank you.
I’m off to pack – see you soon!!!
Ok, the group split into three today so as for everyone to get their hearts desire for relaxation. So the following are some of the adventures collectively. This group, PJ, Sara, Aron, Kelli, Christie & Nick all went to Pulhapanzak- a fantastic adventure.
I know it's "Krazy" but there we were and suddenly the falls called to us and before we knew it, we just took the plunge! Our pictures will do no justice, but the experience is etched in our minds. "A picture no artist can paint.” Liz and Doris made their way to Copan and explored the ancient Mayan ruins, while Mary Cate, Michelle, Matt, and Paul stayed local, spending time at the market and the hotel pool. I think we all got to see a side of Honduras we haven’t yet seen – it was a wonderful way to spend our last day here.
From the meeting at the airoport to the packing up, we are so blessed to be in the company of the many fine local people of the towns of San Pedro Sula and Trinidad. They are the most professional group of individuals and we owe them a debt of graditude for thier time and energy. Mucho Blessings! Lets meet them:
Yury- (Deya) Traductor and student
Hector Madrid Presbitero
Salvador Erv cargado Del Templo
Pasar En elporton
Petroria A vetar pacieutes
We are quite a group. We range from 26 years of age to 82, and from 6’6’’ to 5’1’’. We are Episcopalian, Catholic, and “other,” and our political beliefs span the spectrum.
Some of us claim St. Mark’s as our home parish, while others do not. But one thing I know for sure, and that is that whoever we were when we arrived in Honduras, we are different now. How could we not be?
We’ve traveled thousands of miles to get here; we ran a medical clinic and treated over 350 patients in four days of work (well, three-and-a-half, really). We’ve been greeted with the most open of arms by a small community that uses a beautiful yet run-down church as it’s epicenter, and we’ve seen levels of poverty that just don’t exist in the U.S.
And so we did the only thing imaginable – we came together as a team and did our best to leave this place a little better than how we found it. What a privileged group we are.
We sure went out with a bang. It was by far the hottest day of our trip, and we were all fighting exhaustion as we arrived at Trinidad a little before 9 this morning. There were already 50 people waiting for us, and they were some of the hardest and most involved patients we’ve had yet. In addition to the usual parasitic infections and vitamin needs, we encountered severe dehydration, an infant with a defect that prohibited him from passing his stools, and a young lady who had attempted suicide and was living with an abusive husband. That women was especially difficult for us – it took the skills of our Deacon and the dedication of Padre Hector to assure her safety. We saw nearly 70 patients by lunchtime, and we were well over 100 for the day.
And it’s an especially good thing our boxes arrived, because in them was our equipment to start an IV for fluid resuscitation. This was particularly important to me (P.J.), because during lunch break it was the overwhelming opinion of our medical staff that I needed some IV fluids. Apparently in the chaos of the day, I forgot to hydrate, and I suffered the consequences. I am blessed to have traveled with an astute, caring, and capable group of professions.
We left Trinidad today infinitely richer for our time there, and the locals who helped us made sure that we knew their gratitude for our work. Hugs, kisses, and the promises of a return visit made our departure a moving one.
We are taking the day off tomorrow to explore some of the country of Honduras. It is an amazing place with a beautiful people – I can’t wait to see some of it.
(Sorry about there being no pictures - the internet is being funny; more later!)
It’s hard to believe, but we’re about to set off for our forth and final day of work at our clinic in Trinidad. We’re exhausted, I know, but I find the work we do equally energizing and inspiring.
Last evening, Deacon Paul read to us the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes – while at first there seemed like there was not enough food, suddenly there was ample food, and then so much that there were leftovers. When we were packing for this trip, we kept asking ourselves if we had enough medications and supplies.
And then when our boxes got held up in customs, we had to purchase some things in order to keep us going. Then our shipments all arrived – a good thing, as we have already consumed much of them. But there will be leftovers. We’ve already arranged with the Rector of the church in Trinidad, Padre Hector, to take some of them to a local Episcopal clinic – and I’m sure he’ll gladly take the rest.
So off we go!
One thing we knew coming into this trip was that we’d have to be flexible. As of this morning, three of our eight boxes were still tied up in customs. We had already performed minor procedures without some of our equipment – we had to use steri-strips (fancy tape) in place of sutures, and topical anesthetic instead of injectable (which is not nearly as effective) – but now we were running short on medications. So we simply got creative.
We substituted as much as we could yesterday - Christie even gave her own asthma medicines to an elderly lady because we had nothing else for her - but eventually we got to the point where we were flat running out of supplies. Part of that was because we have seen larger quantities of conditions we did not except: huge numbers of hypertensives, diabetics, and patients with gastritis have come our way. So this morning we made a run to the pharmacy (good thing we had extra money in our budget!) and stocked up with what we could. They didn’t have as much as we wanted, but we still came away with a lot of stuff. And a good thing too, because this morning we saw more of the same: gastritis, hypertension, aches and pains, and infections of all sorts. And of course parasitic worm infections and malnutrition are more common than not.
By mid morning we were again at a critical level with many of our staple medicines, and then…our three boxes arrived. Just like that we were again well-stocked with what we needed. Our level of success, if we are to have any, will directly related to our ability to stay flexible, make adjustments, and have faith that, if we do our best, we will make a positive difference down here.
Day two- with the bare necessities, our well assembled volunteers have seen some pretty interesting things, such as: Divine intervention of a 7 month child with phimosis that escaped the scalpel, to cronic reflux and diabeties.
Our day filled with one unique challenge after another. All the while we are making friends and changing lives, it's all good!
The team I'm sure will all share stories of their own, however we for this sites purpose provide you with this snap shot, so enjoy and stay tuned formore in the coming days. Team Honduras-
Today started off with high hopes of our first full day at the clinic. The only catch was that our boxes of supplies were due to arrive this morning – so we awaited their arrival…hour by hour. Eventually we decided just to go with what we had, and rest in faith that we would still be able to make a difference while the supplies caught up to us. So we set off for Trinidad. The bus ride was full of anxiety: what would be waiting for us, and what would we be able to do about it? When we arrived, shortly after noon, we were met by a line of about 40 or so patients. None of the patients were angry because we were late, and none seemed disappointed by our lack of supplies. They stood there patiently as we did a few final adjustments to our set up. And then the supplies arrived. Five of the eight boxes came by van, so we promptly began setting up our pharmacy with drugs, supplies, and equipment. Finally, just after one, we opened up for business. We had three folks working triage, five practitioners diagnosing and treating, three or four in the pharmacy, and two translating and otherwise helping. Our doctors, PAs, and nurses did what they do best, and the rest of us were called upon to do things above what we typically do.
With the help of Doris and Kelli, Liz was able to triage patients. Under the guidance of Michelle, our practitioners – Matt, Amy, Mary Cate, and Christie – treated and diagnosed a vast array of ailments. Parasitic worm infections, scabies, urinary tract infections, cerebral palsy, chronic cancers…it was quite the mixed bag. With P.J. helping in the pharmacy, Nick, Aron, and Paul were able to sift through the bottles of medications we have and distribute them appropriately. Sara floated around and made sure everything was going smoothly, and, along with Aron, probably spoke more Spanish today than she has anytime recently. We were provided with three translators today, along with other local volunteers from Trinidad – they made the day possible.
We saw patients until shortly after 4, and that was about as long as we could have handled today. The total count was somewhere in the mid-50s: not bad for three hours work. I confess it felt like many more – it just goes to show how exhausting this work is. We made it back to San Pedro Sula in time for dinner, ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Today we went and visited the site of our clinic: the village of Trinidad. It is just this side of Santa Barbara, which is about and hour and twenty minutes by bus. It is a nice village: cobble stone streets give way to quaint house and a few odd shops. Most of its inhabitants work in the nearby coffee fields. We arrived this morning for a special mass that they were holding in our honor - they usually hold their services in the evening. The church is small with maybe seven rows of small pews on each side, and shows serious sings of weathering. But it is gorgeous. We were greeted with smiles and open arms, and we participated in a traditional Episcopal Eucharist, presided over by their rector, Father Hector. Though everything was in Spanish, it was hard not to understand the sentiment of everything that was said and sung – the welcoming sincerity and love could not be mistaken. The exchange of peace, in the middle of the service, was a long one, as we greeted, hugged, and kissed nearly every member of the congregation. After the mass we worked with Fr. Hector and members of the congregation to transform the parish into a clinic. When we left this morning we did not know exactly where we would be setting up shop, but it turns out we will be doing so in the church. Using pews, tables, and even the alter, we set up stations to triage, areas to treat, a pharmacy, and unloaded what supplies we had. There is a small glitch (our first of many, I'm sure) – our 8 boxes of medications have not yet cleared customs, despite all the appropriate paperwork we provided. We are told that everything will be available first thing in the morning for us to collect and drive to Trinidad. Tomorrow morning we will stock our pharmacy and start seeing patients…
Our team at the airport. From left to right: Doris (St Mark's parishioner), Kelli (PCOM student and OMM fellow), Liz (team mother), P.J. (St. Mark's parishioner and recent PCOM grad), Sara (St. Mark's parishioner), Paul (Curate, St. Mark's), Amy (St. Joseph's resident physician), Michelle (St. Joseph's physician), Christie (physician assistant, PCOM grad), Mary Cate (St. Joseph's physician assistant and PCOM grad), Nick (St. Mark's parishioner), and Matt (St. Joseph's resident physician). Not pictured is Aron (St. Mark's parishioner) who traveled ahead of the group (and who recently met up with them!)
We've arrived! All 12 of us who departed from Newark bright and early this morning are now safely checked into our hotel (Copantl) in San Pedro Sula. The flight was totally uneventful, and the customs process was long but otherwise smooth. We were greeted by representative of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras at the airport, and a hotel bus was waiting to pick us up. The drive to Copantl was an interesting one - a mix of struggling industry and blatant poverty. Even though San Pedro Sula is a city, there are indications that it is a very rural place - fields, livestock and other animals giving testimony.
We are scheduled to attend mass outside Santa Barbara tomorrow morning, after which we will begin to set up our clinic - we begin work Monday morning...more later!
"Therefore, as we have oppurtunity, let us do good... Galatians 6:9-10
Just checking out the site to see if all systems are go? And they are, so you folks that will be following our team in Honduras, happy viewing.
Over the past several months, we have been collecting all manner of medications and medical supplies -- antibiotics, gauze, sutures...in all, we amassed eight boxes each weighing approximately 30 pounds. To be in compliance with the laws of Honduras, everything had to have an expiration date of June 2009 or later. We had to make careful inventory of everything we collected and packed to be in compliance with Customs. The boxes were shipped last Friday, and have already arrived in San Pedro Sula.