My experience is hard to put into words. When it came time to return home there was a part of me that wanted to stay. There were so many moments I saw the Lord working. Telling you about them all will be difficult, but I'm going to try and paint a picture for you of this trip and the amazing people I encountered.
I met up with my full team in Houston, Texas on Friday. Friends from college and a doctor who was a medical school classmate of my Dad’s became my second family and helped show me the ropes. In Houston, my team checked around 40 trunks full of supplies and the adventure began. Upon arriving in Tegucigalpa the team headed up to one of the small mountain villages where an after school program to supplement education takes place. It is run by the MDM Honduras organization. There we visited with the kids and parents. I met a sweet mother, Jacklynn, who was learning English and talked with me "because it was very important for her to practice her English to know how to speak it."
Saturday I was given the opportunity to participate in clinic. The team as a whole went to two hospitals to examine patients to determine if they were eligible for a hip or knee replacement. The hospital I went to was the Escuala Hospital. It is the main hospital in the center of Tegucigalpa and walking down the halls to get to the examination rooms was like seeing the Red Sea part. People lined both sides of the halls in anticipation of being seen and made a small parting for us to walk through. Between both hospitals over 100 patients were seen and the doctors met later that afternoon to decide which cases they would be doing. Throughout the whole week the team performed 18 knee replacements, 15 hip replacements, 10 spine surgeries, and 4 arthroscopies. Patients not on the surgery schedule were offered injections to help with their pain.
Sunday was a team day and we went to a church that had an English translation and to a spot called Valley of the Angles. It is an artsy tourist town and I got to see some very beautiful parts of Honduras long the way.
Monday, Wednesay, and Thursday I was blessed with the opportunity to be on Dr. Huenes knee surgery team. I was the circulating nurse for most of the time, so my job was to help set up the sterile field for surgery, assist in opening sterile supplies during surgery and ensuring that the sterile field was not broken. I also got to scrub in on two surgeries! For those who do not speak medical that means that I got to assist in actually performing the surgery. ake down our team supply room. After many hours of work and organizing, our supplies were back in trunks to either be sent back to the U.S. with us or to be stored in Honduras.
Sunday was a team day and after attending a church that provided an English translation, we visited an area called Valley of the Angles. It is an artsy, tourist town and I got to see some very beautiful parts of Honduras along the way.
Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday I was blessed with the opportunity to be on Dr. Huene’s knee surgery team. I was the circulating nurse for most of the time, so my job entailed setting up the sterile field for surgery, assisting in opening sterile supplies during surgery and ensuring that the sterile field was not broken. I also got to scrub in on two surgeries! For those who do not speak medical that means that I got to assist in actually performing the surgery.
Tuesday I was part of the Mountain team. Our project for the day was finishing a simple one room house. We put the siding on it and built 4 windows and a door. Later in the day we went and gave out food to a few poor families and taught the people in the area about a simple water treatment system.
Friday, I helped to take down our team supply room. After many hours of work and organization, our supplies were back in trunks to either be sent back to the U.S. with us or to be stored in Honduras.
Through all this, God struck me with several insights. As Americans we, especially me, take for granted the simplicities of life that the Lord has blessed us with such as clean water and access to healthcare. Often times I criticize the American healthcare system for what it lacks instead of seeing what blessings I've been given. The Honduran people I encountered called our team an answer to prayer. When we would go to pray for them, they instead would pray for us thanking God for being so faithful to answer their prayers. Even the patients we only gave injections to at the clinic could not stop saying thank you for the little thing we had done.
The family we built the one room house for said they never imagined they would be blessed by the Lord with such abundance. This house had a concrete floor, wood framing and was only as big as my own personal room and yet these people were over joyed. The family we brought food to said they were content because God had provided for them by the food we brought. Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." The people of Honduras seem to truly embody this verse. God definitely used them to increase my understanding of His true contentment.
Another insight the Lord showed me involved 1 Corinthians 12 when Paul is reminding the Corinthians that we are the body of Christ and each of us have our part to do within the body. There were 43 people on my team from different parts of the U.S. who ranged in age from 13 to 62. This team was ordained of God and operated in such unity as each person was content to play their part. Everyone helped when needed, laughed with one another and became family. I marveled at how I felt like I had known them for years.
The major thing God showed me was his faithfulness...again. My heart’s desire this trip was to spend a lot of time in surgery but I knew that I could be placed on our mountain team or prayer team during the week as well. In preparation I asked the Lord to humble my heart to serve in any capacity asked of me. The Lord surprised me by allowing me to be in surgery almost all week! Also, there were surgeries when we needed specific instruments to properly place the implants. These instruments weren't supposed to be in the kit we opened … BUT THEY WERE! Also, towards the end of the week we were running out of particular size implants. If we ran out of a certain size implant we couldn't do any more surgeries. As we were in surgery and praying about this, the next two patients we performed surgery on were different sizes than anticipated allowing us to do three more knee replacements! God is good all the time and all the time God is good!!
On the nursing student side of things, this trip taught me so much! I think I learned more about sterile technique, surgery and medical supplies in one week than I did in one whole semester of school. I loved every minute of being in surgery and we shall see where the Lord leads me in my nursing career.
It is an experience that will stay with me forever. I would love to return to Honduras again at some point to serve as these people have captured a piece of my heart.