Tuesday, May 31, 2011


And so it begins...as most things do...with a plan.

Today our team mate - John, and our Honduran foreman - Santos, lined out the foundation for the clinic. I love that we have an (almost) completed soccer field, an (almost) completed High School, but let's just face it - what I've been most excited about is a clinic. This will give me a place to see patients, have a pharmacy, a storage area, and exam rooms for visiting doctors. This is an exciting step in our ministry here. Now to be patient....and wait...but it's a start :-)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Boys Soccer Day - May 28, 2011

On May 28th we took 15 boys from the super poor community of Armenia Bonito to play a few hours of indoor soccer.

Watch this 2 minute video to see the fun:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Never a Dull Moment

Yesterday was clinic. I saw 30 patients - many who were very very sick. I was so grateful to be able to help out our little community :-) It's been SO hot here, and sitting in a cement sweat box all day can be quite challenging. So, after a long day we arrive home and all I can see from a block away is smoke - and smoke that looks like it's coming from our house. With my heart pounding, and I get closer, I notice it's not my house that's up in smoke, it's the empty field right next to my house that's burning. Why is itburning? Honduras has had no rain for almost 3 months. That means the rivers are bone dry, and there is no moisture anywhere - imagine being 95 degrees 3 months straight and no source of water. Things are drying up. There are villages with no water at all. It's getting a little desperate! I looked at Mike and thought - what in the world are we going to do? Right when I thought this the Fire Department showed up! Now, keep in mind - there are no fire hydrants here. No source of water. So the only water they have is the water they carry with them. So,after about 10 minutes, they had used the water and went on their way. It helped stop most of it - but they didn't have shovels out, no ground was over turned, no smoldering piles were stomped out. So hours later we still had smoke wafting into our house. There were particles of ash floating in our living room and upstairs. It was quite a site!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Guest post - Madison's third essay

This essay Madison was charged with writing about something she did that had an impact on someone else.

Love needs no words
Madison Pettengill

The time was two years ago. It wasTuesday and our weekly kids club continued as normal. I was romping and playing with the rest of the children who live in the slums of Armenia Bonito, the village we work in. I am a kid missionary to Honduras. Looking up, I noticed a little girl standing far away. Sitting up a little I smiled and waved. She seemed shocked at the acknowledgement and backed off a few steps. My smile faded as I got a better look at her. She was tall, compared to the rest of the Honduran kids, tall, and far too thin. Her filthy shirt fell flat around her body, which gave absolutely no indication of age whatsoever. She was tall enough to be 11 or 12, but still far, far too square with utterly no figure. Her dark hair was matted and dirty far beyond any recognition. Bursting from my chest, my heart grew wings and flew, going out to this unknown girl.

Week after week I came out for kids club, and week after week she was standing there. Every time we came out to Armenia from downtown, where we lived I saw her there. My mom saw her too. School had started and my visiting times were limited to how fast I could cram down my homework. But while I was glaring at my 20 math problems, my mom did some research. She started asking around Armenia Bonito. Who was this girl? Where did she live? Why is she so timid? Why is no one else noticing her presence?

When the answers finally came together, it was not a pretty picture. Her name is Oneida. We know of at least two siblings of hers. Her mother is dead and her father is… drunk. She takes care of herself with no help. When she’s not ignored by the other people in the village, they hit her. She is stuck at the bottom of the godlike social hierarchy right next to the dogs. It’s no wonder, then why she hid for so long. But she did eventually come out.

She finally started coming to our kids clubs and even participating in the VBS style games and activities therein. It was then I really met her. Using my bad Spanish, I tried in vain to start a conversation with her. She said absolutely nothing in response to my words. Only sitting and refusing to pick up the crayon we had provided for coloring, insisting through gestures that I color the picture. I met her insistence with my own and inserted and utter refusal to even touch the crayon. “It’s your paper, you color it”, was met with a look of ‘what?’ though it had been spoken in a language she clearly understood. Grasping her hand in mine I realized just how small it really was. I led her hand to the crayon and she grabbed it. As I guided her hand in a small scribbling motion, Oneida tried to slip her hand out of mine, and force the crayon into my possession. Squeezing my hand in a definite ‘No’, I led her hand to scribble another mark over the paper. I let go and she looked up at me. I smiled, and she smiled back. Finally.

Now two years later and I’ve never heard Oneida make a full sentence using words. She’s not mute; she just doesn’t speak. Her most common sound is a ‘tii’ followed by many signs and gestures that I speak fluently. Both my mom and I have developed a full relationship with Oneida. I first met her across the street as the most horrible personification of the word ‘lonely’ I had ever met. Now we will have full conversations. Me and my mom have made it fully clear to all the other kids that there will be full and severe consequences for hitting Oneida in our presence.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is notquick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:4-8)

Madison working with Oneida during Kids Club

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hospitals without Medicine

You know you are in a third world country when this is the headline in one of the English newspapers:

The secretary of the Sindicated Employees of the Public Hospital School [Sindicato de Empleados Públicos del Hospital Escuela (Sephe)] José Girón, said yesterday that there will be only medication for one month, and that they have not been awarded new funds.

“What is worrying, is that there have been awards, but there is only medication for one month because the process is long, and drugstores have not been paid either, so there are more delays,” said Girón.

The union said that they “do not have more than one hundred drugs”, of the 450 basic drugs the hospital should have.

The head of the pharmacy, Yaneth Carvajal, assured the public that “we have an 80 percent supply; there are medications through July; the problem is that the process takes up to three months, I already have a shopping list,” she said.

For Girón, the problem is for people who need daily medications.

“Our concern is renal failure patients, hypertensives, and diabetics,” he said.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On my way home

Just spent some AMAZING time with some AWESOME folk in Paso Robles. The missions conference was a huge success, and so exciting to see so many people excited about missions. My best friend, Mindy, drove all the way from Sacramento down to San Jose to hang for a half day with my folks, then we caravaned down to Paso Robles where we hung with Margaret and Jack from church down there. I'm currently sitting in the San Francisco airport after my whirlwind trip and coming back with all sorts of fun things for Madison's 15th birthday party next month. My plane doesn't leave until 1:40am. It then goes through El Salvador, and arrives in Honduras at 10am. After that I have a 3 hour bus ride to La Ceiba and I have NO IDEA what time the bus leaves. So - I'll be arriving in the afternoon after not having slept for well over 30 hours unless I can actually manage to sleep on the plane - which I almost NEVER can do. So here's to praying for some sleep! See ya back home!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Madison guest post and leaving for the States

Tomorrow I am leaving for the States. I will be gone only for 5 days. The reason is two-fold. My mother has been in the hospital for almost 2 months now, and is still recovering. I will spend a day with my mom and my dad making sure all is as well as can be expected. The other primary reason I am going is to go spend some time with a great church in Paso Robles - Covenant Presbyterian Church - they are hosting their first Missions Conference and I have been given an opportunity to speak.

Madison was given a second assignment for homeschooling (see this post for her first essay). The topic was an event that happened in her life that made a huge impact. Here is her essay:

My life started at seven

By Madison Pettengill

Walking into the huge foyer of the largest Baptist church near us, the three year old me giggled and skipped as I held my mother’s hand while we were walking. After signing up and pinning a nametag to my shirt, mom and I walked back across the vast entrance and into a classroom labeled ‘Preschool’. I entered the room and beamed. Over twenty other kids my age were gallivanting around the room, playing in the midget-induced chaos that came from two or more preschoolers placed in a single location. These were the Cubbies of AWANA.

Four years and four classes later and I was out of Cubbies and into the primary school level of Sparkies. Ever since I had started in AWANA those four years previous, I had visited the enormous building every Wednesday from 6:00 - 8:30 and romped around for a full hour and a half playing the most ridiculously fun games imaginable, split off into a smallgroup, had a little bible study, then recited the couple of scripture verses we had memorized over the past week.

By my second year in Sparkies, I had fully memorized John 3:16, half of Psalm 23, and countless other single verses from all around the bible. I knew who God was, I could recite the creation story, Jesus was God’s son, Jesus had died and ‘wresarected’, Easter was not about bunnies, and Christmas was ‘Jesus’s birthday’. I could tell you how to get to Heaven. I could say that you need… something I lacked. I could hypocritically recite that you needed Jesus in your heart. I would say that you needed Him as your savior – something I did not have.

One day, a visitor came to AWANA and spoke to all the Sparkies during assembly. He was a man we all loved. Me especially, as he knew all the Doughnut Man songs by heart and often called me up from the crowd and we would sing them together. That day, the counselors had passed out chips, and I was munching on Cheetos, which were my favorite snacks of the time. With my eyes glued on the man – who’s name I don’t even remember – I silently passed one cheeto after another to my mouth. He spoke of God and Satan. He once more told the story I had heard more times than I can even now recount: First day, Light. Second day, sea and sky. Third day, land. Then birds and fish. After that, plants. Then animals. Then People. God had created the world, so he rested. Our storyteller told us about the trees. One of which would give you everlasting life. The other would give you the understanding of what evil was. The people ate it and were banished. The man then jumped to the other side of the bible and told about the cross and exactly why Jesus had died. All of a sudden, my hand stopped in the cheeto bag. The man had not stopped telling the story. He had not said anything new; I had already memorized this story. Something had just suddenly… made sense.

The story ended and a new sentence began. Our beloved ‘Doughnut Man guy’ asked the crowd at large if we wanted Jesus. Though my vocabulary was not as colorful at the time, my mind screamed the seven year old version of “Oh, heck, yes!”

Not waiting for an answer, the Doughnut Man guy led a collective sinner’s prayer to the 1stand 4th graders in the room. My life started then. It wasn’t a glorious ‘aha’ after a lifetime of evil. It wasn’t a heart-wrenching realization that Buddha didn’t have the answers. It wasn’t on the lonely deathbed of a darkened hospital room. It was me, sitting cross-legged, on the floor of a humongous Baptist church, with my hand in a bag of cheetos. God decided to start then.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Clinic and dorms

Thursday we held our weekly health clinic. This is such an amazing opportunity to show word and deed ministry! Christ did it all the time - and as we try and emulate Him, and keep Him always in front of what we are doing. I've decided to do a devotional each week, before the beginning of clinic for those who are waiting in line. This week my devotional was "A God of Impossibilities". It really hit home to the people in line. We have a God who can and does do the "impossible". And when so many people live in that kind of reality, to know that the God that we love can do ALL is a comforting thing indeed!

Cleaning a badly infected wound

Giving a devotional before the start of clinic

The dorms are going full-steam ahead. We've received additional funds, although we still need more (the life of a missionary :-) ) - but we are praying that the dorms will be completed in 4 short-weeks so teams can start staying there. The tile and paint (hopefully) will be delivered today! You will see in the pictures that there is still much to be done - but our workers are awesome - so as long as the funds continue to come in, and there is time - there is a decent chance they will get done before the first team.

Bathrooms in the dorm

Dorm rooms

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guest Post

One of the assignments for Madison's homeschool was to write an essay about a time in her life that had a positive and or negative impact. She chose Jr. High - ah what a good choice :-) Anyway - over the next week or so I am going to post her essays here. It's an interesting thing to see Mission Life from the perspective of a kid (okay...okay...young woman - AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!). One thing about Madison's writing - I think she has an uncanny way of writing visual pictures. I can see it happening in my head. I know I'm biased, but I think she writes very well. Anyway - here it is:

Hell – Also known as Junior High
By: Madison Pettengill

Two years ago my parents and I stepped off a plane and onto the tarmac of the La Ceiba airport. Greeting us was the unrelenting heat wave, ratty dogs, and short people who were blabbering in a language I hardly understood. Grabbing our carry-on’s we lugged them inside and over to the front desk to collect the rest of our luggage. Then - using what little Spanish had been pounded into our brains over nine months in Costa Rica - we eventually deciphered that only two or three of our fourteen bags had made it on this flight because our scrawny ten person puddle-jumper would have literally been too weighted down if all our bags had been stuffed into it’s little cargo area. We looked at each other then hauled our three little duffle bags and carry-on’s outside as my dad hailed a taxi. It was hot. I had stood there dripping as my twelve-year-old California body suffered in the ninety-five percent Honduras humidity. Dad and the cabby argued a little bit over the cab fare. The driver was trying to bump up the price because, clearly, all gringos – including poor missionary gringos – are filthy rich. After the price was settled upon, we drove thirty minutes to our temporary back room of some nice person’s house. Where we lived for a week with exactly three changes of clothes, no Spanish, no money, and little food. Welcome to Honduras.
A month later and we lived in a new house, had a new car, and I was going to a new bilingual school. I would wake up every day and dress in the school uniform I hated. My stifling, white polo matched perfectly with my stifling, blue-with-vertical-white-striped pants that were too long. Even though we had gone to the fitter four times to get them done, my pants were still uncomfortable. All Honduran girls of my age will paint their pants onto their legs so they look as loose as a python, while I will bypass the girl’s section in Target and head directly over to the 9-12 section of the boy’s clothing to buy my pants. So therefore, when I asked the seamstress to make them ‘loose’ she first gave me a look of utter confusion and then made the pants two sizes too small so that I couldn’t even put them on, let alone be comfortable in them. Three visits and three iterations of ‘loose’ later, when my mom asked how they felt, my exasperated answer was: “Cotton stretches in the wash, right?”
The first five days at any school will always be nerve-wracking no matter what country it’s in. However, the oh-she’s-the-new-kid treatment I got the first week of 7th grade never really seemed to go away. As the newness faded and became familiarity and my novelty of a new school faded and became part of daily life, so the nice relationships with my 37 classmates faded over time.
The first week had gone by and I had had a couple of forced conversations with my class. Two weeks ended and I still had no one to really talk to in lunch. A full first month had just passed but I was still optimistic. Two months and I was now fully familiar with the entire campus layout and had almost memorized my school schedule but I only knew the names of four people in my class. Three months came and went. There was still no one in my class who would really talk with me in lunch. In group projects, I had to really struggle and plead for someone to temporarily accept me into their little unit to complete a simple assignment.
Five months ended and I was the most depressed I had ever been. I still only knew a handful of names, I was still alone at lunch, and I still had to pull the my-teacher-told-me-too card to get into group projects. The only difference was that instead of my best-case scenario being a half-hearted conversation with someone, my best-case scenario was that my class ignored me. When my parents asked me how my day was, the pre-recorded little ‘It was good’ became the popular answer.
Six months and I was fed up. I hated waking up at 5:30 every day, pulling on the horrific uniform, heaving on my far too heavy backpack, eating an un-motivating breakfast, and dreading every second of the 25 minute drive to school.
Thank goodness for the school library. The books I buried myself in were the only things that kept me sane for the last three months of the circle of Hell known as Junior High. I am normally a very bubbly, out going person who will walk up to a perfect stranger and be able to make friends with them. As my time progressed, however, and all my normal modes of life and self-defense utterly exhausted, the one thing I had left to me, was to escape reality and submerge myself in a paper-filled, inter-dimensional portal of myth and fantasy. Nonetheless, my parents still wanted the best for me, though I fought the notion. So, for the last two months of that year, I was absolutely not allowed to ever –even under the most dire situations- read during the teacher’s lecture.
School ended and summer break started. I had the greatest two weeks of summer a nearly thirteen year old had ever had. Then, it seems, the school had lied to me. At the beginning of the year, the director had told my parents that, because it was my first year there, they would give me a pardon in all my Spanish classes because my Spanish sucks. Apparently I had failed my music class and apparently that, although my music class was in Spanish, and fell under the even-if-you-suck-we’ll-still-pass-you umbrella I still had to spend a full month of my summer break doing- makeup work? No, I did absolutely nothing. I sat there for two hours each day in my school uniform waiting for my music teacher to get there and then did about an hour not doing homework and instead learning the Honduran national anthem. By the end of the month I could play that anthem perfectly on my stupid plastic recorder.
I pity everyone who ever has to go through a public school environment for Junior High. Although the one I endured was a private school, it’s confining and – in many cases – conflicting rules produced an environment comparable to public school. That environment caused me to transfer schools next year. After I left, my old school stopped accepting gringos. I harbor the suspicion that I was the cause of this quite dramatic change.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

You know you are a missionary nurse when...

So...since I've been a missionary nurse I've had the opportunity to do all sorts of "fun" things. Lanced many an abscess, packed wounds, stitches, start IV's on the field, delivered babies - that kind of thing. However, it's always been on someone else! Makes sense, right?! Okay - now a little history - Mike PROMISES me that losing toenails is something that many runners experience. He had some friends that would lose them DURING a marathon. Well...after over 600 miles of training, and doing a marathon, I noticed that my big toe started to turn green underneath the nail. STOP here if you don't want any more information :-)

Then I noticed the toenail next to it. I looked at it, and I could almost lift the nail completely off. We have some friends visiting, and my friend Renee asked me when was the last timeI removed the nail polish completely off of my nail? I had to admit to her it had been a long time. So - off to go get the nail polish remover, and a few minutes later I exposed both of the nails to find that yes indeed, both nails were dead. So what's a girl to do? Well, I was able to pry the second nail off completely with just a little tugging - there was already a "baby nail" growing in underneath. But then there was the big toe...About 2/3rds of it I ended up being able to clip off and remove at the base...but there was a third of the nail that wouldn't come off - it was still attached underneath. A few hours later I got up the courage to go upstairs and prepare what I needed for my minor surgery. I pulled out the lidocaine, scrubbed my foot, and gave myself two injections to numb my toe. I then proceeded to shove a hemostat underneath the toenail to separate it from the skin underneath. Finally, I grabbed the nail with the hemostats, rolled it, and completely removed it. Yes...all by myself...alone upstairs on my floor. I really do need another medical person here.