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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trying to change peoples lives

Let's face it...it is not easy to get people to change their life habits in the United States where they are surrounded by education, the internet, and tons of resources.  Here, with the lack of education, very little patient information or general understanding of health, we are confronted by difficulties similar in the States, but multiplied a 100 fold.  Today a sweet young 17 year old girl came in to be seen.  She is almost 22 weeks pregnant and presented with high blood pressure and diabetes, and her body mass index is 39 (above 30 is obese).  To say she is high risk is an understatement.  Most likely both her diabetes and her blood pressure problems are related to her pregnancy.  For the next hour, Roger spent the time explaining all that was wrong with her, how to change her life, the precautions to take, and the signs of emergency.  We are praying for this young girl - she received more information than she would ever have received at a public hospital or clinic, and for this, I am glad that we can help.  Changing people's lives one person at a time.  

Would you like to see us continue offering incredible services to the poorest of the poor?  You can help out by giving a one time donation or an on-going contribution toward Dr. Roger's pay.  The new year is almost here, and I am aggressively looking for pay for his salary to enable him to continue working.  Can you help out?  https://donations.mtw.org/donate/AddDesignation.aspx?No=92410

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Darkness...but the Light shines through!

Your financial contributions are what have made the clinic continue to be a light in the darkness. To support Dr. Roger, to be able to continue running the clinic with me, PLEASE go here:

What does it mean to work on the mission field?  God tells us to GO!  For some that is physically going, for others it means to pray diligently for those on the field, and for others it means to financially support those people who are on the field.

During our time here, we knew going in that things were not going to be comfortable.  Things were not going to be easy.  Things were going to challenge us in ways we couldn't foresee.  Soon after we got here Honduras became the murder capitol of the world.  Not a thing to strive for at all.  And...for the next three years, Honduras has maintained that unfortunate title.

In the little 3,000 person community of Armenia Bonito, where we work, it has proven to be even more challenging then we could ever have imagined!  Five years ago we started out working from a small little building with no electricity, water, or even doors.  We have come a long way, and have truly come to love this community.  We are almost done with a High School, constructed a huge indoor soccer field, have planted a church, and are running a health clinic.  Sometimes, however, in the midst of all the amazing / great things going on, there truly are times that challenge you a bit more.  Since June there have been 10 murders just in this community.  This hurts my heart....a lot....we know these people, love these people, and when we find there is yet another person that has been shot it is heart breaking.  I'm just going to say it.  My heart is down.  I am saddened. I am discouraged. I am tired both physically and emotionally.  

The world is full of evil, and I know that - but it is one thing to hear it on the news, and the other to experience it up close and personal with people I know and love.

Here is what I hold firm to from a devotional I read just today by Lysa TerKeurst:

The Lord:  Recall the beauty of trusting the only One who can see what is and what is to come. Nahum 1:7... "The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." (NIV 1984)

Me: I do trust You. But for everything to end like this is so hard. It just seems pointless

The Lord: Nothing I allow is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt I will work good. Proverbs 19:20-21... "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (NIV 1984)

Me: Why does she (me/the community/Armenia) have to go through this?

The Lord: You don't have to have answers. You just need to trust. Isaiah 55:9b... "My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (NIV 1984)

Your financial contributions are what have made the clinic continue to be a light in the midst of this ever growing darkness. Please allow us to be the vessels of the light to this oppressive darkness.  To support Dr. Roger, to be able to continue running the clinic with me, PLEASE go here:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

End of a season

After five years of hosting Kids Club, it is finally coming to a close. The goal with Mission to the World is to turn all ministry over to Nationals to run. In otherwords, work yourself out of a job. We have not really had anyone to turn it over to, but now that the church in Armenia Bonito has been established for a year, it is time to turn it over to the church.  Pastor Jesús has been coming to Kids Club for the past 4-5 months or so to learn the ropes and see what has been going on, and for the kids to get to know him.  In a few short weeks our long-term intern, James, will be leaving, and that will signal the changing of the guard.  We will host a Christmas party, have our final Kids Club, and turn things over to the Pastor officially.  Pastor Jesús will be installing a decon, and the decon and he will be responsible for the future of Kids Club.  Most likely the days, times, and even location will change as it works for Pastor's schedule.  It will eventually move into the church, once that has been constructed.  This is a bitter-sweet time for me.  For over 3 years I have lead Kids Club, taken the children through the catechism, created a new process for how it has done, and James has become integral into it as well. But...as the goal is to turn things over to Nationals, it is a natural progression, and timely as the church grows and takes on new responsibilities.  We have been averaging 60-80 kids each week, the picture below are the 35 kids who had almost perfect attendance and were able to participate in the end of cycle fiesta.

I love the kids, and will miss them dearly, but I know that I will still see most of them around Armenia.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Medical crisis

This week we have had nine people from a community called Santa Ana that have come to our medical clinic.  To put that in perspective, they are traveling an hour and fifteen minutes via bus to come to our little clinic.  There is a government run medical clinic in their community, but it has NO medicine.  So they can go to the clinic and get a consultation, but then they can't be treated for their ailments.  Their only other option is a private clinic in their community that offers a consultation and medications for HNL1,500 which is about $75.00.  This means care is ONLY available to the rich people of that community.  We charge $2.50 for a consultation and $1.25 for all your medications. This makes the hour+ bus ride WELL worth it!  We can serve the poorest of the poor!  We continue to seek funds for Dr. Roger's pay to be able to continue our efforts to treat people like little Manuel who came to our clinic from the community over an hour away.  It is so easy to become a part of this effort by making an on-going or one-time contribution toward Dr. Roger's pay. Go to this link to make an EASY contribution... https://donations.mtw.org/donate/AddDesignation.aspx?No=92410

Monday, October 28, 2013

Roger in the U.S.

Roger playing 
Applying for a visa for a Honduran resident is no small task.  Not only is there an on-line application, with a substantial fee just to make an appointment, but then there is the drive to Tegucigalpa (over 6 hours away) and an in-person interview.  After all that, Dr. Roger did receive a 10 year visitor visa.  On the heels of the success for this visa, we sent him immediately off to the U.S.   He was invited by two physicians that came down during one of the medical brigades this last summer to come spend the week with them.  His time will include speaking at a church, accompanying the docs on general rounds at the hospital, speaking in front of students, attending a soccer game, and even going trick-or-treating with Dr. Rick's family.  This is going to be a great opportunity to meet new people, talk about the ministry he is involved in, support raise, and just experience the United States for the first time.  So far he was impressed with the train in the airport (flew into Atlanta), and many of the things we take for granted in the U.S. that just don't exist in Honduras (automatic soap dispensers for example).  He is enjoying the cuisine. I've "mandated"  Dr. Rick and Dr. Allen to see if they can get some experience with Americana - i.e. Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kreme, and even a Mega Wal Mart or other huge store.

I am actively support raising for Dr. Roger's pay for the following year - the only way to continue keeping him employed is through YOUR support!  I am also actively pursuing hiring a Honduran assistant to help him in the clinic while I am on furlough next year.  It would be an almost impossible task to run the clinic by himself.  So - how can YOU help?!  EASY!  Follow this link to make a one-time or on-going support contribution:


speaking engagement at Dr. Allen and Dr. Rick's church

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The gift of walking

Manuela arrived to the clinic a few days ago.  She is 90 years old and hobbled in barely able to walk, leaning heavily on her old cane.  With her other hand she reached out to anything that was close by to give her more stability.  This, on top of the fact that she was barely able to see from one of her eyes as she has a degenerative condition that is slowly making her blind.  I walked onto my storage room and pulled out the shortest walker I could find and gave her some brief instructions.  Before I could even finish my instructions she was scooting down the hallway with her new found freedom, and her family had to slow her down before she took off out of the clinic without her medications

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A taste of home

My sweet friend Mindy Hertzell came to visit.  She is a Registered Nurse, and came to hang with me and spend time in the clinic.  Since she has been here she has done a breathing treatment, medicine infusions, and a toe nail removal.  We have also had the opportunity to go hiking in the rainforest, and driven to the State Capitol.  It has been an awesome time, and am sad it is coming to an end.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hospital closed and our clinic open.

What is someone to do when a hospital closes?  When your only resource is to seek medical care wherever you can.  When the next closest public hospital is almost 2 hours away?  Well....you seek care wherever you can get it.  The last few weeks we have been bombarded with patients.  This week we have been oddly slow, I am hoping that is bcause we have gotten people over their crisis, but the overwhelming number of patients going through our clinic is wiping out our medical supplies.  One example is a gentleman who came in with a severe infection in his joint.  We have had him come to the clinic three days in a row where we have pulled out pus and infection in his knee, given three rounds of antiobiotics in his veins, oral antibiotics, crutches, and even a knee mobilizer.  It is patients like this that really need to be admitted, but there is no hospital to admit him to.  However, after three days of agressive treatment we decided he just needed to admit him, so we sent him out to a hospital 2 hours away.  The needs here are great, and our ability to serve them holistically we are seriously lacking in some basic things like laboratory equipment.  I have a great resource of a company in the States that will fully equip my clinic, including coming to train us on the equipment....so this is what I am saving up to get.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Intern Katie jumping in!

Katie, who joined Team Honduras just a few weeks ago jumped in immediately!  She has had experience with children's prorams, street kids, and other ministry in other countries, so when she found out she was going to be helping out in the clinic she was THRILLED!  So, day 1 I had her working in our intake area, and day 2 in our pharmacy.  With a few minor exceptions she is running my pharmacy.  She is learning how to say drugs like Digoxin, hydrochlorothiazide, and glibenclamide.  She is also learning generic names of all drugs like acetasalacyticacid is really just Asprin, acetaminophen is Tylenol, and also learning how to reconstitute drugs.  I always worry that people will be a little overwhelmed when they step foot in my pharmacy and take one look at all the different types of meds I have and go running, but she is taking it all in stride.  I do have some cheat sheets that tell location of meds, what their indication is, and how to give them, but she is asking less and less questions, and is doing a fantastic job!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hospitals closed

Had to turn people away today - the hospital is closed and we are not...so more patients than we could handle

When I say the healthcare is in a state of crisis here I mean it.  The hospital is basically closed because of lack of funds.  There are no gloves, no medication, no supplies of any sort.  The hospital is contaminated with water and dirt dripping down the walls.  The patients have to buy everything from gloves, to the doctors gown, to every bit of medicine and supplies.  Needless to say we maxed out our number of patients we could see today within ten minutes of opening, and had to turn people away.  I suspect until things change, we are going to be in this situation.

Help us continue to make our efforts possible by keeping Dr. Roger employed.  Follow this link
and watch the video below for more information.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dr. Roger and Clínica Árbol de la Vida

Dr. Roger and Erin Pettengill, RN, work in a small clinic in the jungle location outside of La Ceiba, Honduras. Erin is a long-term missionary, and Dr. Roger is a Honduran national physician. To continue this work we need to pay for the salary of Dr. Roger and an assistant. Both salaries will allow him to continue his work for an entire year with an assistant. Total I need to raise is $21,320. You can contact me at maddysmother@yahoo.com for more information or go to the link to donate directly: 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Playing at clinic

Many many children grow up without what we would consider "normal" kind of toys.  Here, manipulative toys, learning toys, building blocks are way outside of the norm.  For one thing, they are expensive and the other, parents would rather spend money on new shoes or clothes for their kids then "unnecessary" toys.  To keep children occupied while they are waiting to be seen, I have building blocks, dolls, and other manipulative toys.  What I find fun to watch is when the adults get involved.  They have never had the opportunity to play with toys like this, so often times I will go outside to our waiting area and find parents playing with our toys as much as the children are.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming near and far

We knew that our clinic would serve the community we are in.  What I don't think we realized was how far and wide people would come to visit our clinic. The fact that we provide private medical care and medicine for $3.00 is amazing, but the fact that we provide INCREDIBLE care at this price is invaluable!  So I guess it is no wonder that people come from near (across the street) and far (1 1/2 hours away) to get this great medical care!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dia de los Niños - Day of the children - Sept. 10th, 2013

Every year Honduras sets aside a day to celebrate children.  It is September 10th, and that happened to fall on our normal Kids Club day in Armenia Bonito just outside of La Ceiba, Honduras.  120 children joined us for a time of fun, a bible message, and junk food!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dia de los Ninos (Day of the Child)

Every year, most of Central America celebrates Dia de los Ninos - or Day of the child - on September 10th.  This is a HUGE event....I would venture to say it rivals Christmas in the amount of toys, candy and celebration that encompasses the entire country.  Each school has special events, churchs, even the mall has balloons, clowns, and lots of candy and piñatas.  Well, piñatas and enough candy to fill them don't come cheap.  I can't even tell you how many people have asked me for a piñata and candy this week.  As my funds are limited, I was able to buy three  piñatas - two for the local elementary school, and one for our own church in Armenia Bonito.  Delivered them today for the celebrations next week.  Fun to be able to provide this small thing toward a fun celebration.  Yes, one of the piñatas is from the Barcelona soccer team - a HUGE favorite here.  So - three  piñatas and 6 bags of candy for a total of 30 pounds of candy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Gangs, Guns, and God

by Mike Pettengill  (copied from his blog)
In recent months a new gang moved into the 3,000-person community of Armenia Bonito. They are associated with the notorious MS-13 transnational gang. In their first few weeks in the community the number of murders increased. The community is frightened. Some families are keeping their kids inside and avoiding the streets.
Mike and Jesús, the pastor of our new church plant, felt it was important to open a dialogue with the gang. Mike and Jesús went looking for the gang’s leader. They asked the other gang members where they could find the leader. Word got out and this spooked the gang. Two gang members approached our truck with guns pointed at Mike and Jesús. They flung the doors open, dragged Mike and Jesús out of the truck and shoved them to the ground. After searching the car for guns they kicked Mike and Jesús repeatedly and put their guns to their heads. “Why are you gun (1)here?!? What do you want?!?” screamed the young men as they pressed the guns tighter to their heads. With hands raised, Mike and Jesús replied in a calm tone, “Relax, we are not here to bother you. We only want to introduce ourselves and talk to you.” “Who are you?” The gun wielding men continued. Standing up, Mike said, “This is Pastor Jesús, he is the pastor of the new church, and I am Mike. I am the missionary who owns the new medical clinic.”
Calming down a bit the gang members put away their guns, lit up a few joints to calm down and said, “We are sorry we hurt you, but we are here to protect this community and we didn’t know why you were looking for us.” Jesús responded, “Don’t worry. We understand.” Mike asked, “Can we buy you guys some Cokes and sit down and talk?” Within minutes Mike and Jesús were surrounded by a dozen, Coke drinking gang members. During a 30-minute talk Mike refused to pay a “protection” fee, but offered free medical care to any of the guys at our clinic. Everyone was content and everybody parted ways.
IMG_5165A week later Umberto, one of the gang’s members, approached Jesús and said he wanted to talk. Mike and Jesús talked with him several times over a week. They gave him a Bible, talked about Christianity and Umberto became a Christian. But, he was scared. He wasn’t sure if the gang would let him leave.
Mike and Jesús agreed to meet with the gang with Umberto and ask if he could leave the gang because he was now a Christian. They brought plenty of Bibles and gave one to each member of the gang. After Umberto announced he was a Christian, Jesús asked the gang leader if Umberto had his permission to leave the gang. The leader looked at all the members and said, “If any of you want to leave the gang because you want to follow God, you have my permission.”
Since then, two more gang members have approached Jesús, become believers and left the gang. God’s work is being done (Ephesians 5:11Psalm 1:11 Corinthians 15:33).
Please be in prayer for our continued safety and that God will continue to impact the hearts of these young men.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What do you miss?

I am asked this question ALL the time!   I am asked by friends back home, I am asked by visiting missionaries, and I am asked by new people who have come to Honduras to live.  There is a list I could give, but quite honestly, most of the things are things I have chosen to give up, so to keep them on the forefront of my mind would not be a good idea.  We are surrounded by difficulties all the time - people dying, medical cares we can't take care of, extreme poverty, and an overwhelming need from everyone we see.  It honestly gets overwhelming at times...and we need time to just take a deep breath and remember why we are here.  To be the hands and feet of Christ, and to help those we can.

In the midst of all of this - it's hard to remember things that are "normal" back home.  Going to Home Depot and getting whatever kind of plant you want for your garden.  Pick up your plants, your fertilizer, a few gardening tools, and waalaa...you have a garden.  Here it's a whole other world.  Nothing eatable comes in plant form - everything must be grown from seed, then transplanted, then prayed upon to grow to fruition.  I've not had a lot of success.  

What grows...what doesn't.  Between the harsh sun and the torrential downpours, it's hard to figure out what will grow and what will perish.

I found two tomato plants the other day at a local nursery, and I couldn't have been more excited.  Now let's just see if I can keep them alive.  Yes, those are the kinds of things I miss.  Obviously friends, family, hanging out time, a sense of belonging...but in the midst of that - things that are "normal" - things like growing a garden...let's see where this takes me....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Health Fair In Honduras

On August 15, 2013 we hosted a health clinic for the kids attending the public elementary school in Armenia Bonito outside of La Ceiba, Honduras. The kids learned about teeth brushing, nutrition, exercise, abstinence, hand washing and more. Pastor Jesús gave a gospel message and prayed with the kids.

Watch this 2 minute, 25 second video to see the good health:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New House For Guevara Family

In the summer of 2013 we built a new home for the Guevara family. Their old home had dirt floors, rotten wooden walls and a rusty tin roof. Their new home has a raised concrete floor, block walls, electricity, running water and a flushing toilet. The Guevaras live in Armenia Bonito outside of La Ceiba, Honduras.

Watch this 2 minute video to see their new house:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Community and loneliness in the midst of many people

What does being in a community mean to you?  Is it your neighborhood, is it your church, is it your work?  It can be all of those things, or one of those things.  One thing that community has in common is things that are mutual to those involved.  A church community has God as the center.  A neighborhood has the safety and camaraderie in common.  Your work group has a common sense of stress, or success or failures.

On the mission field a community is typically twofold - the community you work in, and the team as a community.  The community you work in is filled with people you love, people you minister to, and people you have invested your life into.  The mission community team is filled with people who, mostly, have a common heritage - from the U.S., gringos, understand American Football, the idiosyncrasies of what it means to come from the U.S. and live in your host country.  These things bind a team together and create a community.  Within that community there are natural groups that form - people who are in the same stage of life, who have families, who don't, age, ministry objectives, etc.  The hard part can be when you find you don't fit in with any of the established groups.  When your child is the oldest, you are the oldest, the only medical provider on the team, not single, driven, and have different priorities.  It can be a lonely place.  It is when this realization comes that you come to that place in life where you have to be content with where you are, and who you are.  To find acceptance is others is not what is important, but to find acceptance with who you are as a Christian, and who you are in Christ is what is important.  To fill the lonely places with people always leads to disappointment and the failure of who we are as humans.  The only way to fill this lonely place is with Christ.

So although I may not be part of any particular community, the one community I am ALWAYS a part of is my community with Christ and my family.  In them I feel whole.  In them I am not lonely, and with Christ, He will never disappoint.  So the road outside may be lonely and isolating, the road with Christ can only be one that is full and filled with a sense of belonging.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church Serves In Honduras

August 10-17, 2013 we hosted a 19-person mission team in La Ceiba, Honduras. They held four days of medical clinics, put on a health fair, did construction work and so much more.

Watch this 2 minute, 20 second video:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

End of summer teams

Next week is our last short-term team of the summer.  It has been an incredible summer!  In Armenia Bonito we have hosted tons of teams and a whole lot of folks coming through to serve the people of Armenia Bonito.  During this time we had 11 Kids Club programs, 11 English classes, and 50 clinic days.  During the clinic days we served over 1351 patients.  We also hosted two education days for the local kindergarten and elementary school and taught 190 kids on dental hygiene, parasites, handwashing, nutrition, and for the 6th graders we had a class on abstinence.
Street Children clinic
The national police came for a visit
clinic in La Fe
Education day for the 1st - 6th graders

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Medical Mission Team Serves In Honduras

August 3-10, 2013 we hosted a 12-person medical team in La Ceiba, Honduras. They held four days of medical clinics in the communities of La Fe and Armenia Bonito. Over 270 patients received prayer, evangelism and treatment.

Watch this 2 minute and 30 second video to see their handiwork:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Medical Brigade

This week we had a full medical brigade this week.  We had four visiting docs, 2 RN's, a CNA, and some ancillary folks.  It was a full week indeed!

270 folks were cared for.  We did a combination of people coming to the clinic and us making home visits.  Having an opportunity to visit people in their homes is an incredible way to meet people truly where they are at.  There were several people we visited that were immobile and were able to bring great care to them directly in their homes.  We have seen pregnant mommies, newborn babies, the National Police even stopped by for a visit, and the elderly. Truly going through the whole gambit and all stages of life.

We started IV's, gave IV medications, took care of a gentleman who collapsed in our intake area, and so many more things it would take a whole blog to cover.  It was truly a great week and our team worked like crazy, and did an incredible service to those who came.

The week couldn't have gone without a hitch...the air conditioning in our truck gave out right before the team arrived.  As we are in the middle of two brigades, there is no time to even get the truck to the shop.  Also, day 2 of clinic the electricity went out for just over 3 hours.  With all those bodies in the clinic that left us sweating a whole lot more than normal!

We have definitely had an interesting week with lots of interesting patients.  Next week brings another medical week.  We are in the middle of three teams in a row, but at the tail end of our summer teams.  Then Madison and Mike head off to the States and Madison will be taking the GED.  No rest for the weary :-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Maddy's Mission Trip To Bogotá, Colombia

July 20 - August 3, 2013 our 17-year-old daughter Maddy took a mission trip to Bogotá, Colombia. She served with MTW's missionaries in Colombia, the Luptons.

Watch this 4 minute video to see Maddy's work in Colombia:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Street Kids Of La Ceiba, Honduras

Our Street Child program daily addresses the needs of the most forgotten and marginalized people in La Ceiba, Honduras. These kids live and work on the streets and are treated as vermin, not humans. Our Street Child drop-in center provides the gospel, hope, structure, the Bible, food and love to the kids who spend their lives on the streets.

Watch this 4 minute and 30 second video to see the kids who Christ has called us to love:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Houston Lake Presbyterian Church Serves In Honduras

July 20-27 of 2013 Houston Lake Presbyterian Church from GA served with us in La Ceiba, Honduras. These 14 short-term missionaries made a great impact in the community of Armenia Bonito.

Watch this 2 minute and 15 second video to see the blessings they provided:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Phoenix United Reformed Church Serves In Honduras

July 20-27 of 2013 Phoenix United Reformed Church from AZ served with us in La Ceiba, Honduras. These 12 short-term missionaries made a great impact in the community of La Fe.

Watch this 2 minute, 15 second video of their effort:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Covenant Presbyterian Serves In Honduras

July 13-20, 2013 Covenant Pres. from Paso Robles, CA served with us in La Ceiba, Honduras. These nine short-term missionaries made a great impact in the community of Armenia Bonito.

Watch this 2 minute, 15 second video to see their amazing work:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The harsh realities of poverty

Washing her clothes
     I live, work and breath every day in the midst of poverty.  My clinic serves the poorest of the poor in the middle of an extremely poor community.  I care for children that have not eaten, who don't have shoes to go to school, whose hair is tinged red from being in a state of chronic malnourishment. But even among the poor there are levels of poor.  In the States, there are so many resources.  Honestly, we have rich poor compared to so much of the rest of the world.  Food stamps, unemployment, soup kitchens, and the list goes on.  This is the advantage of living in such a wealthy nation.  Here, the resources are absent.  No feeding programs, food stamps, or social resources of almost any kind other than what the Non-Profit organizations like ours has to give.  Given all that, it still shocks me at times, and humbly reminds me of the country I live in when I see what I saw today.  An adult woman of probably 35 or 40 years old found a fountain next to a restaurant, and the only clothes she owned, she took each item off one by one and scrubbed it down in the fountain before putting it back on.  It left me humbled and saddened.
      Never have I been in a place in my life where this is my reality.  I pray I always keep that heart for the poor and never forget what I do have.  Not long after we got here, 5 years ago, Madison being  barely 11 years old, we found a young street boy curled up in his single t-shirt sleeping on the street.  We took him to a used store and bought him a pair of pants and some food.  Madison was so troubled.  She said "mom...we have SO much, and he has nothing...we need to give everything away and help him."  I said "honey...that is exactly what we have done.  And here we are, to help people just like him."
  I told her not to feel guilty because we had things and he did not.   I said it isn't shame on us, it is shame on them that have and do not give as we have been mandatd by God to do.
     So pray for this woman who has left 100% of her pride to have come to this place in her life where her only clothes she must wash piece by piece in a fountain in the middle of the city.  And while you are at it, pray for all the other people who are seeking God and seeking peace in their lives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pillowcase Dresses

Blanca Estela
There is NEVER a shortage of ministry opportunities for folks back home.  This is an example...the team from Paso Robles brought down some pillowcase dresses that were made by a sweet woman in their congregation to give to the girls in Armenia Bonito.  New clothes are reserved for Christmas or birthdays.  Rarely does a child receive things we are accustomed to like toys, candy, etc.  Parents have to save up money, and clothes are more important.  So, having this opportunity to give out dresses "just because" to many of the young girls in Armenia is a HUGE blessing!  And the girls couldn't have been more excited as they were modeling their new dresses for the camer.
Daniela Yojana

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Westminster Presbyterian Serves In Honduras

In July of 2013 Westminster Pres. from SC served with us in La Ceiba, Honduras. These 11 short-term missionaries made a great impact in the community of Armenia Bonito.

Watch this 2 minute video to see their work:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Helping each other out

 I have been truly blessed in my ministry.  Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been without a lot of work.  Each year I have submitted grant applications for children's vitamins and for parasite medications.  Many times I was denied, but I never gave up.  I kept asking, submitting applications, and made my voice heard.  Because of this, for the past three years I have received huge grants, based on my applications, for both the parasite medications and for children's vitamins.  The amount of poverty, and therefore severe malnourishment can be a bit overwhelming.  Couple that with a child having a parasitic infestation is a recipe for life long disaster.

     A week ago, Dr. Roger  let me know that he was going to be involved in a medical brigade made up of the Honduran airforce, and Honduran doctors.  He asked me if there was any way that we as an organization could participate.  I explained because of our working with summer teams coming, for me to make myself available to a community that lies almost two hours away from La Ceiba, on the day the teams comes was just not a possibility.  However, I did tell him I could give him some extra supplies, and some vitamins and parasite medications.  At almost $1.00 a dose for parasite meds, and almost $4.00 for a single month supply of vitamins, costs can rise fast.  The government here just doesn't have money.  But with our help, from my little clinic, we were able to supply almost 4,000 parasite medications, and over 8,000 children's vitamins.
     Because of the donation of medications and supplies, the Honduran Air Force made a special visit out to our clinic last week to thank us for the donations, and to give us a certificate of appreciation.  I am constantly surprised how God is using our little clinic to glorify Himself.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Mother of One...a Role Model to Many...Elias comes to live with us

Add caption
Before we were even married, we had the child discussion, as a good couple SHOULD.  Mike told me that ONE child was all he wanted.  He wanted to give 100% of his heart (beside what he had for me) to one child.  So that's what was decided, and that's what we did.  17 years later I have the most amazing young woman a mother could ever hope for.  Madison's heart is for Jesus, her love for life is contagious, and her welcoming spirit shows she is a friend to anyone.  In Kids Club (for better or worse) I am a Godly woman role model for many of the impressionable young people. What does it mean to be a woman, a wife, a mother, and a Christian?
     God decided that at 45 (me) and 44 (Mike) years old, we would become the temporary home/family for a sweet young Honduran boy.  Little Elias is 2 1/2 years old, and has lived the last 7 months of his life with our teammates, the Clows.  Elias's mom is not able to care for him, so the Clow's took him into their home and made him a part of their lives.  They got a Honduran passport for him, and did everything they could to get a visa for him to go with them on their 6 month furlough.  However, the U.S. Embassy decided that Elias did not meet the requirements for a visitor visa, so Elias (unbeknownst to him) was left without a home.  That's when Mike approached me and asked if we would consider fostering him while the Clow's were in the U.S.  I immediately agreed.
    I am NOT his mother, and do NOT pretend to be.  I am NOT his aunt, his grandmother, or any other family member.  What God has asked me to be is a strong female role model in his life to show him love, stability, pray with him, change his diaper, feed him, and teach him the alphabet.  In other words,  to provide a temporary Godly home and give him the nurturing his biological mother struggles to give.  
     So pray for us.  Pray for little Elias who once again is going to a different living situation.  Pray that we can somehow balance life with a little boy, a 17 year old daughter, our full-time ministry, and a healthy marriage.  We love this little boy so much, and are excited to have him become a part of our life, if only for a season.  Through it all, I hope to glorify God and His little creation named Elias.  I pray that I can continue to be a good wife, mother, full-time nurse, Masters Degree student, and administrator of a clinic.  I look forward to the next 6 month and what God will show us, how He will grow us, and how He will give us exactly what we need when we need it.  The fruit of the Spirit is exactly what God gives to us, and what I hope to show to this little guy:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Trinity & Grace Community Serve In Honduras

June 15-22 Trinity Pres. from PA and Grace Community from AL served with us in La Ceiba, Honduras. These 26 short-term missionaries made a great impact in the communities of La Fe and Armenia Bonito.

To see their great work watch this 2 minute and 30 second video: