Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What happened to 2013?

I know this is a time to look back at what happened in 2013, and let me tell you - it was a year filled with a whole lot! Not only stuff with our ministry, but personally as well.  At one point, looking back at just the last 6 months I felt that if A&E was going to drop Duck Dynasty, they should consider heading down to Honduras and for us to be the next reality show - that is the ONLY way the last 6 months could actually have happened - someone must have scripted our ministry/lives as a reality show...there just is no other way...on that note:

January - School supply distribution to over 500 kids; planted our first church; started prepping the clinic to open next month.

February - grand opening of The Clinic of the Tree of Life in Armenia Bonito.  A 5 1/2 year dream of mine.  After having weekly mobile clinics, this was a blessed relief!  My dad was visiting and had the opportunity to be there at the grand opening.  Clinic open four days a week.  We also hosted two short-term teams in February, one was the first medical brigade in the clinic - after a few tweeks, it proved to be quite successful.

March - established an inventory system in the clinic, started electronic patient data information, and internet came to Armenia!  We are the only customers with our sattelite on top of the clinic, but it works!

April - Started my Masters Class through Loma Linda University - Public Health Population Medicine.  This is a quarter system, and am taking one class at a time.  As it is a 54 unit degree, I have a long path ahead of me.

May - both Mike and I made separate support raising trips to the U.S.

June - Beginning of short term mission trip season.  Through the next 2 months we hosted 10 additional teams for a total of 127 missionaries for the year.  Madison also graduated Honduran High School.  We also started another church plant.

July - Our team mates, The Clows, are foster parents for a little 2 1/2 year old Honduran boy (Elias) and were unable to get a visa for him to go with them on furlough, so we started taking care of this little guy.  Yes, it's been a very long time since we have had diapers and a hyper little toddler around the house, and doing all this while still hosting teams was a bit challenging, but Madison helped out in a BIG way being the big sister she never had a chance to be.

August - we continued with short term teams

Setember - Another trip for Mike to the U.S. and we hosted a party for Day of the Child - had 120 kids come for food, a gospel message, and a gift.

October - this month we established an additional church plant, and the women of Team Honduras went on a retreat.  My sweet friend Mindy came to visit and worked alongside me at clinic.

November - Mike had another trip to the U.S., then a trip to the Dominican Republic, and Dr. Roger took a trip to the U.S. to work alongside some doctors who had come on a short term trip here.  My dad was also able to be with us over the Thanksgiving holiday.

December - Christmas party for the Kids of Kids Club, and we officially turned over this 5 1/2 year ministry to the church plant with Pastor Jesus.  We established our fourth church plant, hired staff for the high school in Armenia that will be opening in February, offered an etrance exam for kids wishing to start in the high school, and was the 1 year anniversary with Dr. Roger working with us.  We also saw the return of the Clow family and with a bittersweet heart we turned little Elias back over to them.  And during that time we dealt with house break-ins, dog stealings (not ours, one we were watching), and another dog who became severely ill and almost died (not ours, a different one we were caring for).  There was a motorcycle accident in front of our house, and we were first responders to that, and well...a whole lot more.  But...if you have made it this far, then I applaud you and will finish up with a huge well wishes for a Happy New Year - I pray you will listen to the  Lord's will for you this year and come down and see us some time! 

Or...you could wait until July 2014 when we go on furlough....but there is so much more happening between now and then that just seems like a lifetime away!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Mangled leg...

Me having a "conversation" with a bystander as I support this man's fractured femur 
Madison came running downstairs as I was talking on the phone to a friend in the States.  She tried to interrupt me, and I gestured to the phone inaudibly saying, "I'm talking on the phone!"  She said, "No...mom...you need to listen!  There has been a motorcycle accident right outside and someone is groaning."  I threw the phone to Mike, and ran out to take a look.  Mike took over, stopped me, so he could assess the situation for danger.  Once he gave me the "okay" I grabbed my emergency kit and ran out the gate in my flip flops, shorts, and putting on my gloves as I ran.

The scene I came upon was a man on the ground, and people starting to gather.  No one was rushing to his aid, cautiously standing back and not doing anything.  I approached the man who was groaning to do a quick once-over - and ABC assessment.  Only a small puddle of blood near his foot, he was breathing, and moving.  Then I looked at his leg.  His upper leg bone was bending at a sickening 45 degree angle. His lower leg was flopping around.  I could only partially assess him as the motorcycle he had been riding was partially laying on top of him.  I looked to the bystanders asking if anyone had called an ambulance, and their response was, "we did...but no one answered."  "Okay," I said, "have you called the police or anyone else?"  There were minor grumbles, and no obvious responses.  I didn't hear any sirens in the distance.  I then requested people to help me move the motorcycle and was given the reply, "NO!  We are waiting for the transit cops, we can't move the motorcycle."  Now, knowing this is the law here, that the transit police must assess the situation for fault and to figure out what happened, but I just shook my head in amazement.  No one had come to his aid.  No one had comforted him, no one was even touching him except me.

I looked at the taxi driver who was standing next to me, and I said, "what is more important?  Waiting for the transit cops, or helping this severely injured man?"  To which he replied, "We have to wait for the transit cops!"  The anger and frustration spewed over onto my face, that no one was going to mess with me.  So...I moved the motorcycle...because no one else would...and no one stopped me.  I then could get a better assessment of the situation.  He had sustained a large laceration to his foot - thinking about 30 stitches or more would be needed, and I could get a good view of his leg.  Since no one else would help me, I had to try and do the best I could.  I asked him his name, "Francisco," was his response.  "Where do you live?"  "Nearby he said."  He seemed appropriate to location and name.  His eyes were completely dilated.  I supported his leg with one hand, while I assessed for damage to the rest of him.  He finally stopped, looked at me and said, "Is my leg still there?  I can't move my leg or feel my foot."  I assured him that his limb was still intact, he simply couldn't feel it because he had severely broken his leg.  Why it wasn't a compound fracture (bone protruding) was an amazing thing to me.  I have never seen a leg so twisted without more damage being done.  He still had good pulses in his lower foot, so I felt a little better knowing that his fractured femur was not occluding any blood from going to his lower limb, or he that he had severed the femoral artery.

Mike had arrived at this point, and I told him that we needed to get him to the Emergency Room ASAP, and that the ambulance wasn't coming.  He started to go get the truck, when someone who had stopped said they could take him.  However, right after getting ready to transfer him to the truck, the fire department arrived.  Now...we have an INCREDIBLE fire department crew in the U.S.  Everyone is specially trained and has some sort of emergency medical training.  The paramedics in the US would have taken care of this immediately.  Not so here in Honduras.  There is very little emergency medical equipment on board a fire truck.  The two firemen jumped out of the truck with a stretcher (thank goodness), but not even a glove on their hand, no assessment of the individual, no c-collar, no splint for his leg.  But - don't blame the firemen - this is just not in their scope of practice.  I was just grateful for the stretcher.  I told the fireman to support his fractured leg.  We log rolled him onto the stretcher, and the two firemen, and four other by-standers lifted him to the fire truck, and away he went.

I went to bed that night thinking and praying for Francisco.  It made my heart sad that people were more interested in the police then helping this man.  It reminded me of the time in New York when I was carrying 150 pounds of luggage in three duffel bags when I fell down the entire length of stairs in the subway, and no one helped me.  People literally stepped over me, but no one offered to help.  My heart sank, because it felt the same.  At least I was there, lending a hand, offering a silent prayer for help and guidance.  I pray that Francisco will not lose his leg.  The probabilities are very high here.  The cost of orthopedic surgery is steep - having to pay for the surgery itself, and all the equipment that goes with it (x-rays, plates, screws, etc.) it is much cheaper to have an amputation.  It once again reminded me of the state of health care here.  It is desperate.  Few resources. Very little medicine.

Please join me in prayer for Francisco.

MATCHING GRANT FOR THE CLINIC - We have a $15,000 matching grant for the clinic, if you want to help - it's a quick easy click here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Clinic giving - Private Matching Grant

It is that time of year.  The end of the year....and therefore, end of year giving.  Our clinic is 100% reliant upon generous givers which allows us to give quality healthcare to the poorest of the poor.  Dr. Roger is an incredible physician who cares and loves for all those who come to the clinic.  We have seen such amazing cases, newly diagnosed cases of cancer, rare diseases, and normal aches and pains.  The ability to serve God's children, and reaching out to those who might otherwise be without medical care is a privilege I am reminded of on a daily basis.  So what does it cost to pay for a physician and assistant?  So glad you asked...$19,600.  UPDATE:  I JUST RECEIVED NOTICE FROM A PRIVATE FUNDER THAT HE IS WILLING TO DO A MATCHING GRANT!  So let's MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!!  If you give $100 - he will give $100, etc.   Help me continue to make this possible by easily contributing here :  https://donations.mtw.org/donate/AddDesignation.aspx?No=92410

I am looking for funding for an assistant as I will be leaving for furlough in July, and need someone to oversee the clinic while I am gone.

Sweet little 3 year old Nicole is one of the kiddos who comes to our clinic for free vitamins.

Handing out a walker and giving the gift of walking
Dr. Roger with a lttle baby at the clinic.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


A big word for basically a parasite caused by an infected sand flea.  Docs in the States most likely have only seen this in text books.  In the five years I've been here, I don't recall seeing any - however - this week?  We've seen two cases.  And two very different cases.  Going to get a little geeky here - hang with me...
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis affects the skin and mucous membranes. Skin sores usually start at the site of the sandfly bite. In a few people, sores may develop on mucous membranes.
  • Systemic, or visceral, leishmaniasis affects the entire body. This form occurs 2 - 8 months after a person is bitten by the sandfly. Most people do not remember having a skin sore. This form can lead to deadly complications. The parasites damage the immune system by decreasing the numbers of disease-fighting cells.
The first case we saw was a young 21 year old girl with severe complications from this that has involved her liver, and when I first looked at her, the whites of her eyes were completely yellow - jaundice from 

She has been fighting her disease for three years, and when I asked her what had been done for her, she gave me this desperate look and basically told me nothing had been done.  The hospital just doesn't have the resources for her, and whenever she had been to see a specialist, they were not there.  She had the second case - the systemic version.

The second case we saw was cutaneous leishmaniasis.  

This young man came to our clinic today.  Two cases of leishmaniasis in one week.  Certainly was an interesting way to finish out this year.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The consequences of diabetes

This sweet 42 year old, named Gladis, came to our clinic yesterday with complaints of an ulcer on the bottom of her toe.  Complications related to her diabetes has already caused one of her toes to be amputated.  Upon first glance at this toe, I don't know that it is even salvagable.  However, she has already been to the doctors, and they have been advising her to have her foot removed to help stem her problems.  Now, I'm no expert, but the foot seems pretty salvagable to me, but I'm not so sure this toe is.  Because of the medical advice she had received from the local public hospital she is terrified of returning, and told me that she simply wouldn't return unless there was no hope beyond hope.  She said to me, "you are one of the sweetest people I know, and I know that you can save it."  Okay...so no pressure there!  But, we've started her on a couple of different antibiotics, and I am bringing her into the clinic for daily cleaning and wound packing of her toe.  I told her she has lots to do.  The medicine and I can only do so much - but her job was the hardest.  She needed to change her life.  She has taken her diabetes very lightly, even with the removal of one of her toes.  She had eaten nothing but carbohydrates for breakfast, not a protein source in sight.  I spent about the next 30 minutes speaking with her, giving her literature, and am having her start a food journal so we can better evaluate her eating/drinking habits.  With lots of information to get her going, I told her the other thing we need to do is pray!  Pray that God would give her healing, endurance to change her life, and allow her body to heal itself.  Will you pray with me?  Pray for Gladis, her health, and especially her toe.