Monday, June 29, 2015

Medical overview

Ever wonder what it looks like to go on a medical mission trip somewhere in the world?  Having done more than 500 mobile medical clinics, established a permanent clinic in a third world country, and worked in disaster situations, I've seen a is a video to give you an idea of what it looks like to be involved in medical ministry.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Medical team and construction

This week I had the privilege of working with two docs from Westminster Presbyterian Church of South Carolina, and my friend Denise who currently lives in Florida.  We had a full week of medical clinics, from a mobile clinic in an outlying village, and finished up in the permanent clinic in Armenia Bonito.  The rest of the team did a full week of construction, spent some time with the Peter Project (our street kids ministry), and taught English class at our Hig School.  

Overall we saw 159 general consult patients, and 50 additional children were treated for parasites and given children's vitamins.  We saw a variety of patients with a multiple variety of illnesses. 

This is an interesting place, mentally, for me.  As our job roles have changed, my position is going to look very different.  Medical brigades and the clinic have been so much a part of my life over the last 7 years,  In that time frame, I have easily had over 16,000 patients come through my mobile clinic and permanent clinic.  I am excited to see what this next chapter is going to look like.  I know that there will always be a medical/mercy ministry component to what I is just part of my genetic make-up.

Mobile medical clinic in barrio El Trejo

Running an EKG on one of our patients

Sweet little 95 year old patient we saw in clinic

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Growing things

I have always loved growing things.  In The States we always had a huge garden.  Finding things to grow well here has actually been quite challenging.  Because of the extreme heat and tons of rain that floods things out, I struggle with making things grow the way I am used to.  About six months  before we left to go back to The States this furlough, I purchased a papaya from a local fruit stand.  Now, I am not a huge papaya fan, but I know the nutritional value of them so use them a lot in fresh smoothies.  So I took the seeds out of the papaya, and threw a bunch of them in a pot with some soil.  Well...they took off.  By e time we returned from furlough the trees had started fruiting!  However, not so sure I will actually be able to enjoy the fruit of my labor so as some local fruit bats have found out about my tasty papayas.  All in all, it is the growing of things I love, so that's okay :-)

Here is e planted tree right before we left

The trees after we returned

And some fruit that the bats are enjoying...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Readjusting to life in Honduras

Well, we have returned, and started things off with a bang.  Two days after our return we started a leadership assessment of the men on the team.  Folks from Mission to the World have come down to be a part of this process.  It is a great way of looking at strengths and weakness in areas of leadership and is designed to give some insight into each couple evaluated.  We have not only been evaluated, but are part of the assessment team.  During the same time we are trying to get our house in order.  We have literally been going non-stop since our return, and have not even managed to unpack, we are still living out of suitcases.  Gratefully food is provided during this week as our stove and oven are not functioning, and we are not home to be able to have a repair person come evaluate it to be fixed, or if it is even fixable.

Life here has continued on as expected.  New businesses have opened, many have closed. My he clinic has been running well, and continued mobile clinics in numerous communities have continued as well.  We are going to take the next few weeks to get our house in order, spend time together as a family and just live before we start evaluating what our role here is going to be.  Summer teams are right around the corner, so there is that as well.  We have numerous international trips planned including a trip to Africa to do some information exchange.  They have a great seminary program up and running and we want to learn from them, and we have done much in terms of medical/mercy ministry and they are looking at starting something and want to learn from us.

So that's us in a different than usual, the Pettengill's running 100 miles an hour, but that is how we roll :-)

Sunday, April 26, 2015


The intent of this cruise was to relax, sleep in, and have zero agenda.  In typical Pettengill style, our days have been jam packed since we have been on furlough.  An awesome church, Faith, in South Carolina, provided us all the funds we needed to go on this cruise.  So we did it "right."  We got a mini-suite with a balcony and relaxed.  Here are some pics of our trip... 

our suite...

Leaving LA Port
USS Iowa
Room service
Puerta Vallarta
Cabo San Lucas
We did a lot of this...

And this...
And this...
We enjoyed each other's company

And even caught a few episodes of The Love Boat that played endlessly on the TV...

Threw some bread to the seagulls as they flew by

We slept in late every day, and even enjoyed some "Movies Under the Stars" each night.
All in all our goal was accomplished.  We were unplugged for the week, I read three books, watched lots of movies, gained some weight, and just relaxed.  Thank you to the incredible people of Faith who took a HUGE extra step to make this happen!!!  We appreciate it I think more than you even know!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Our return

It has been a long road.  Furlough, or better known as Home Mission Assignment is meant for a number of things.  The primary reason for furlough is for rest, and a time of refreshment.  However, most missionaries will tell you that very little of either of those things actually transpire.  We have obligations to meet, supporters to visit, and tasks to do.  It is a great time for churches to utilize their resources and have us teach on missions, participate in missions conferences, and share the work of what is going on in Honduras.  And we are happy to do these things!  This is part of what we do, afterall.  We couldn't be in Honduras if we didn't have people praying for us and financially supporting us.  Mike and I also decided that I needed to pick up a job while on furlough.  We were going to be located in one geographic location this time, unlike last time, so this would enable me to take on a job. This would allow us to send Madison to Europe this summer for a study abroad program for college, pay off some bills, and have the opportunity to just have some fun without feeling the financial strain.  

So now the end of our time here in The States is on the horizon.  We will be headed back to Honduras in just over five weeks.  There are still things I feel we have left undone, but for the most part we were able to see friends and family, visit all our supporting churches, and yes...even have a little bit of fun.

I have eight shifts left at work, we still have a visit to Seattle coming up, another trip to California, Mike is going to Orlando, and we have to drive across country to drop off the car we have been using and pick up Madison from college.  So although our time is short, we still have much to do.

Please be in prayer for our final time here in the States, we are starting to feel a bit ragged and know we have a lot coming up yet, then back to Honduras and are immediately back to work.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why do I matter? What is my worth? A Nurse on the Mission Field

I started working and making money at 15 1/2 years old - the earliest you could obtain a work permit in the state of California.  Fast food, cashier, U.S. Army, secretary, waitress, and nurse.  The only time I didn't work was the 3 months after Madison was born.  I was successful at what I did.  I felt accomplished.  I made great money.  Then we went to the mission field.  I no longer made ANY money. 

Being a mom, wife, and missionary has always been a challenge.  I came to the field as a "professional" woman - having had a full-time career (working nights) so I could be a full-time mom as well.  I homeschooled my daughter, never missed an activity or event she was in.  It was the best of both worlds!  My mom taught me to be an independent woman, so I would be able to "survive" if something were ever to happen to my husband.  She taught me what it was to be strong, yet to be a good wife and mother.  And I felt all of these things.

Then the mission field...women live in this terrible dichotomy.  Our culture tells us to be accomplished...our women peers who have jobs look at us and judge us based on what we do for a living.  On the other hand, our friends who are stay-at-home moms look at us and shake their heads - that we are taking away the precious time we have from our children and working instead.  It is a hard place to be - this place of mom/wife/career woman.  We are never fully accepted by those whom are fully one or the other.

Then the mission field...the working mom comes to the field and is torn.  Do you commit yourself to your family?  Do you commit yourself to being a missionary?  Or are you able to do a little of both?  And what happens to those around you who chose to do one or the other?  Will you be judged by those moms who are choosing to be at home with the family?  What about those that are working full time as a missionary?  And then there is the feeling of worth...

The mission field...the weird place to be as a woman.  I chose to be both.  I was a full-time missionary nurse, and a full-time mom.  It came easily to me.  It's what I did before the mission field, so being able to work and be a wife and mom at the same time was very natural.  But now I did it for "free".  As a volunteer, I worked full-time as a nurse but made no money.  I felt like I was not contributing to my family.  Keep in mind, I had been working since 15 1/2.  For that entire time I brought money to the table.  I contributed.  I mattered.  Now I didn't.

I didn't realize I felt any of this until we returned to the States during furlough and I got a job as a nurse at a children's hospital.  I once again made really good money!  I was contributing to the family!  I felt accomplished!  Was able to pay cash to get Madison to Europe this summer for overseas study for her college!  We paid off our bills, was able to go out to eat whenever we wanted, date nights, and live a little freely with the extra money I am making.  I didn't find myself having to transfer money from Mike's account to mine - I had my own money :-)  It felt great!  It FEELS great! I won't deny it.  But this brought to mind the internal feelings I didn't even realize I had.  What is it that gives me a sense of purpose?  What is it that makes me feel accomplished?  Where do I find my satisfaction?

Now I am NOT talking about satisfaction of who I am in Christ!  I have always felt that whatever I do I do for the glory of God!  That if I follow where He leads, there is no wrong!  That He can use weak vessels, like me, to accomplish what He wants.  So what is it?  It's my culture...that's what it is.  It is the culture I grew up in that placed this need in me.  This need that showed me the only way I was successful was to be accomplished in a career.  When I applied for my position at the children's hospital, do you know they didn't even contact our mission agency?  They didn't view that as "work" at all.  They wanted to know the last hospital I worked at - because that was actual work, and mission work wasn't work.  Don't get me wrong - as an agency that cares for sick children in a hospital setting, they wanted to see how I was when I worked at a hospital.  I get it - but it also highlighted the fact that our own culture doesn't value what we do as missionaries, that when seeking a professional job, they didn't look at what I had been doing for the last 7 years - to them - I had been without a job in their eyes.

So here is my confession.  I do struggle with this.  I struggle when some visiting nurses and doctors come down to work in my clinic and they see where I "work" and I see in some of their eyes that what I do is not "real" nursing.  The medical profession is a tough field.  More often than not nurses can eat their young.  We want titles and initials behind our names.  When I am told, "oh we don't do it like that anymore" in hospitals in the U.S. - it stings.  I feel like I'm so behind the curve and lesser as a nurse.  That I maybe don't matter anymore.  I know...I know...pride is such an evil thing!  The root of most of our sin. 

Bottom line...why does it matter what I look like in other people's eyes?  I am following God's calling for us - and His is the only one I matter to.  The thing that speaks to my heart, when I stand before Him in my final days, and He looks to me, the ONLY thing I long to hear is, "Well good and faithful servant," because I followed Him.     

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:40

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”   Isaiah 6:8