“Go therefore….” Mathew 28:19
In today’s medical climate of third party interference, malpractice litigation, unending red tape, and immeasurable stress, I would recommend a getaway. Most of us went into medicine with the desire to serve others through a very noble profession. Regrettably, that seems like a long time ago. Someone has said that medicine is the most scientific of the humanities and the most humane of the sciences. This is how it should be.
This spring Dr.’s Joe Barron, Brad Johnson, and myself, led by Dr. Mike Walker completed a mission trip to remote Honduras. The purpose of the trip was two-fold: to bring much needed medical care to an area with really no access to care, and to introduce or advance the gospel. Dr. Walker’s grandson, Alban, also accompanied us.
After our commercial flight from Houston to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, we were met by missionaries Marlon and Trish Munoz, and their two-year-old daughter Madison. They had made all the arrangements for the rest of the trip and had selected the areas to visit. The following day after loading all supplies into duffels and crates, we departed for a four hour truck ride, one hour boat ride (a hollowed out large tree trunk), and half hour uphill hike to our first destination. This consisted of a small village of about nine families all with the same parents. Each small shelter was packed with children of all ages, cows, dogs, pigs, and chickens (North American roosters crow at dawn-Honduran roosters crow all night). Word that the medical missionaries were coming must have spread rapidly as people came from a 25 mile radius either on foot or horseback.
The clinic at the first village consisted of an open-air tent which we set up on arrival. Dr. Walker saw dental patients and pulled teeth, while Dr. Barron, Dr. Johnson, and myself saw medical patients. Most common ailments were parasites, joints pains, upper respiratory ailments, etc. There were lots of young mothers so peri-natal vitamins were in big demand. Poor is not a strong enough word to describe these people, but all were most grateful for the care and anxious to pay you with a smile or hug.
At night the tent was transformed into a theater where a Jesus-related DVD was shown by a projector powered by a portable generator supplied by the missionary. Sleeping quarters were either under the tent or on a concrete floor with air mattress and sleeping bag. Other than a few mosquitoes and tarantulas, insects were not bad.
After three days in this village we headed back down river and conducted a one-day clinic in the village of Santa Maria. Here we saw approximately 200 patients with similar problems.
The entire trip lasted 7 days and was truly ‘chicken soup for the soul’. Many people were aided by our presence, but none blessed so much as us. I would encourage every physician to consider such a trip. If you are ever asked to donate supplies or samples for a trip, items that always seem to be in short supply include parasite meds, antibiotics (especially pediatric), pediatric decongestants/antihistamines, antifungal cream, asthma meds, ibuprofen, Tylenol, antihypertensives, etc. Remember, these people have nothing, so anything is appreciated.
If you ever get the chance, “Go therefore….”