A few weeks ago, a team that included myself traveled to Danli, El Paraiso in Honduras. The purpose of the medical mission was to help the local community with medical care. For the past year we have promoted and recruited people with medical and non medical backgrounds. Our efforts paid off, and we ended up with the third largest mission team that we have ever had in our ministry. We assembled a wonderful team of 22 short term missionaries from 5 different states that included: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Florida and New Hampshire.
On August 12th, we arrived in Tegucigalpa (capital of Honduras) around 11AM at Toncontin International Airport and you could sense the excitement and anticipation in many of the team members. I had not met anyone from the Michigan delegation so I was particularly looking forward to that. There were some volunteers that were on their 16th mission trip and then there were some newbies. We also had the youngest ever short term missionary on our team at just 9 years old. The team was led by Dr. Rick Reeves (Michigan), who was now on his second medical mission trip to Honduras. Many in his delegation had driven countless hours throughout the night to get to their airport of choice in Illinois. I traveled as the pastor and spiritual leader on the team. Early in the the morning, I met up with the NH, MA and RI group at Logan International Airport in Boston. We flew to Miami and we met up with our last team member at the airport. We were greeted in the luggage area by my father, missionary Hector Newman, with his traditional ear to ear smile. It had been a very pleasant flight and as a matter of fact I flew in with a former high school friend of mine that was traveling back to Honduras from Florida. It was wonderful to see him again after 20+ years and catch up. After loading the trucks with all of the luggage and medicines and grabbing a quick lunch we headed to our hotel in Danli. Even though Danli is only 60 miles from Tegucigalpa, the pothole filled highway makes it almost a 2 hour drive through the picturesque Honduran landscape.
Our hotel was located in the heart of Danli so we unloaded and got some rest. After dinner I took a shower and got ready for the youth church service that night. A few months earlier my dad had invited me to preach at their youth meeting. The service was filled with youth and I was excited to see the growth in spiritual maturity and physical growth in many of the kids that I have previously connected with throughout the years. The title of my sermon was "Youth: What is your destination?" I shared with the youth 5 Biblical principles to help them set goals and ways to achieve them. Five youth consecrated their lives at the end of the message and came to the front so that I could lay hands and pray for them. Right near the end of the service there was a youth that shared a brief emotional testimony. He talked about how God had rescued him from the drug scene and how he was so excited to be a part of a church. I could sense his gratitude towards our Lord by how passionately he talked about how he had been rescued by our Savior. It was so refreshing to hear his testimony. The boldness in this young man's heart was specially touching to me seeing that he was sharing this with a church full of his peers. Back at the hotel many stayed up late sorting the medicines and some resting from a long travel day.
On August 13th, there was more sorting of medicines and many in the team took the time to get to know other members of the team. Later on that night we went to the San Cristobal Church for the evening Sunday worship service. The youth led the worship and the church was packed with many newcomers and members. The church has been growing steadily under missionary Hector Newman's leadership and it was noticeable. There were many new faces and people just excited to have a place to worship the Lord. Our medical team prepared a song and Lisa Waterman led us in practice. When the time in the service came for us to be introduced we went to the front and after introducing ourselves we sang, "Open the Eyes of my Heart Lord". Afterwards I preached the message titled, "Called to Serve" and used Exodus chapter 3 as the text. It was a message that challenged the congregation to serve when God calls.
On August 14th, we woke up early, had breakfast and left towards the San Cristobal church where we would be hosting the brigade for the rest of the week. When we turned the corner to the street where the church is located, we saw a lot of people already waiting. We headed inside the church and quickly got ready and assembled our temporary medical facility inside the church. We had some Honduran doctors (2 dentists and one general family physician) also join our team. After the set up was complete I gathered the whole team and we prayed for a blessed day and week. Then we headed to open the doors and started helping those who had come for medical need. Many who had been waiting since 6AM(we opened around 8:30AM) perked up knowing that soon they would be helped. I remember speaking to this middle aged woman who was outside waiting to get in and be seen by the doctors. I spoke to her through the metal bars on the church fence. I asked her, "Where are you from?" she responded, "Santa Rita." "How far is that from here?" I asked and she said "Very far." "How far?" I asked, and she said, "Well in order to get here I had to walk half an hour to get a bus and then I rode a bus for 3 hours." Imagine having to travel that far for medicine? The day was hot and humid and many people outside were anxious to get inside. The scene was chaotic to say the least. For many of us this was not our first time volunteering for a medical mission but it sure looked like it. The flow of things did not go as planned but it was minimal confusion. It was perhaps that we were just a little rusty. That night when we got back to the hotel and after the team assembled we debriefed. We heard suggestions on how to improve the flow and service of things. It was a true example of working together as a team. Dr. Reeves then went on to tell us how many people we had served that day. It was 197 people! I cannot put into words how it feels to do something for the Lord that is so fulfilling. We were so excited!
On August 15th, we went in with a vengeance with the goal of fixing the little quirks from the first day. Many of the suggestions that were made the previous night were put into place and executed. The day was a complete success! Being a non medical volunteer my main job was to keep the influx of people coming in at an acceptable flow for our medical team. I remember late in the day there was a guy was complaining about the wait times. I was trying to explain to him that we were doing our best to get everybody seen and how important it was to be grateful that missionaries from far had come to serve the people in Honduras. Additionally, I reminded him that the medicine was free. As soon as I finished talking to him a woman that was coming out said to me, "It was worth the wait!" as she left with a big smile and a bag full of medicines. That put a big smile on my face as well. That night we went to the church dedication service at Bellavista. It was a beautiful celebration of their brand new building. Pastor Hector Newman brought the message based on King Solomon's dedication prayer of the temple. The Bellavista church is pastored by Milton Santos and is one of our first church plants in Danli.
On one of our last days of the medical mission as the day was dwindling down a youth from the San Cristobal church approached me and started a conversation. She shared her life's story with me. Her parents abandoned her when she was a baby and her extended family rejected her as well. She went on to tell me how her uncle sold her to some guy who raped her. At this point I was not sure why she confided in me all of her personal tragedy. Her story continued as I listened intently. Her eyes were filled with hurt as she shared how she has had feelings of rejection and depression for most of her life. Then she paused, looked at me and told me how grateful she was for being part of a church that has taken her in as family. She lit up as she continued saying how she feels welcome and loved at my dad's church. I encouraged her in the Lord and reminded her that despite all of what she's been through the Lord has not forgotten her.
Overall, it was an amazing week! It was a week full of God's blessing to those seeking medical help and to us serving. The week's patient tally was around 944 (probably closer to 1,000 since we weren't able to get all of the patient cards back) that were seen and assisted by our medical team! Dr. Reeves and the medical team treated patients with hypertension, diabetes, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, gout, arthritis, diarrhea or GI infections, asthma or other lung disease, headaches, sore throat, abdominal pain, fever, fungal skin infections, broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome just to name a few. The dental team led By Dr. Gustavo Argeñal focused on extractions, fillings and cleanings. What an amazing team. Many on the team were already talking about coming back in 2018. To God be the glory!
Interested in joining any of our mission trips for 2018? Below are the scheduled 2018 mission trips:
2018 January 11-18 Building Team (Intibuca)
2018 February 17-24 Building team (Cofradia, Cortes)
2018 March 11-17 Youth Team (Danli, El Paraiso)
2018 June 23-30 Medical Mission (Intibuca)
2018 Sept. TBD Medical Mission II (Danli, El Paraiso)
Rev. Enrique Newman