By Tammy Berkman
Medical missions are amazing when you see how much suffering is alleviated. At our house, we have a saying, “Sometimes Love is the opposite of convenience.” In mission work, that is so true! Our missionaries have worked for months forming friendships, planting churches, and training pastors in the mountain villages around Gracias, Honduras, to earn the trust of the people, for such a time as this. Because of this trust, we were welcomed in to these communities to conduct a free medical and dental event. Our missionaries arranged to have translators and pastors from churches where they serve, when we arrived. Our team of 15, plus our full time missionaries and some Honduran locals, joined together to form teams consisting of a doctor, a church representative, a community member and a translator. They fanned out into the villages going house to house, to see patients in their homes. Other team members were stationed at the village church for a dental clinic. Every day our people set up a reception area, a makeshift pharmacy and a makeshift examination room with makeshift treatment tables and other tables equipped with instruments, supplies, syringes, meds and bandages, and a dental chair out of reclining lawn chairs with instruments and a sterilizer and a generator. Then the people came. With people lined up to receive much needed help, more than 200 toothaches were fixed or pulled, and even more medical problems are solved. One man had a hernia down to his knee. For real. He had been suffering for years. Lice, scabies. Children with cases of warts gone wild. All treated or referred to a surgeon in town. Some days our team was so busy they had not one bathroom break. Jesus, the healer, sent our team of doctors, dentists, nurses, EMS people, church members, a worship leader and Norman to lead us. Our team made hygiene packets and one led a hygiene class to show moms how to prevent illness and infection. One team member spent $1000 of her own $ in supplies. Others took off work and traded paycheck or vacation days for the privilege of being Jesus’’ hands for 5 days. One braved the trip with a physical condition that causes major fatigue and pain. One spent all day filming to record what is really impossible to fully capture on film: The love of Jesus in action. One team member braved the darkness within the walls of a prison to remind prisoners God has not forgotten about them and there is hope. Our missionaries hauled tables, drinks and lunch up to the village for our team each day.
Most of the team stayed in a hotel, but the Slyker’s had the “teaching team” stay with them. This meant their whole family had to share their bedrooms with us and Richard slept on the couch. At the Christian school, 113 children were taught the whole storyline of the Bible and labeled the 66 books of their Bibles with the 8,000 Post it flags. 8,000 Post-it flags that were donated. The names of the books of the Bible were reinforced by kids singing and dancing to the Bible Book Bop. Then we met with all 9 teachers in grades PreK-4 to train them in the use of the rest of the Bible Curriculum for the year, and supplies were given.
Next, we were surprised to learn that a Junior high school student is translating our “Teach the Whole Bible” workbook into Spanish, and we met with a group of 8 high school students and their adult sponsor who plan to teach the Spanish version of “Teach the Whole Bible” to neighboring villages.
Thank you, God! We all celebrated our last night eating out at a “nice” pizza restaurant in town. Until the lights went out all over town and the pouring rain came sprinkling through the roof onto our heads! No problem for the waiter, just move the table! When the rain slowed down, we raced to the car, running down the cobblestone street, which was now flowing like a stream.
The next morning, our caravan of 5 trucks (3 rented) departed at 4:30 am. As our truck turned onto the highway, we hung onto the seat as we sped up and swerved back and forth around the never ending curves on the road. The next 15 hours included nausea, lost suitcases and phone; delayed flight; playing cards on makeshift tables at the airport with lots of laughs; dragging luggage across airport; a missed connection flight; renting/driving the rest of the way home; and pure exhaustion. What an adventure!!!
I guess Love really is the opposite of convenience...at our house, AND in Honduras, AND at the Houston airport! How is it- that being inconvenienced - could produce so much joy and fun friendships? God is amazing in how He does things that way. So thank you, Lord, for all the inconvenience, for our team, for Richard and Bridget Slyker, for Billy Perez, for our translators, for Norman, for our drivers, for all the people who donated the $ to fund our trip, the healing, the follow up pain meds and antibiotics, the teaching and the joy! Father, You are the BEST!