A few years ago when I was down here a U.S. team came and I hooked up with them. They had a very charismatic, full-bore Rambo-like team leader. He would lead us in a cheer.
Leader: What are we gonna do?
Team: Leave it all!!!
Leader: Where we gonna leave it?!?
Team: ON THE MOUNTAIN!!
And he would then lead us through the cheer 2 or 3 more times, each time increasing in passion. This past Monday our staff led a team of young women from Arkansas up into the mountains. They were accompanied by a pediatrician and his wife, and then a Honduran physician and a dentist joined us later in the week. The trip had 3 purposes: construction, building relationships and playing with the kids, and hosting an outdoor medical clinic.
Here’s some of my impressions:
**Leaving it all on the mountain is certainly an inspirational concept. The problem with it is that you then have nothing left for hiking back out of the mountains. The last day a fourth of the team were sick, and during the night I became ill and woke up to a day of hiking out of the mountains. An hour and a half into the hike I had no reserves left and couldn’t go any further. I had to ride a pack-mule the rest of the way back. Embarrassing and an assault on my male ego, but I had nothing left. (I was concerned about my wife, Leslie, handling the rigors of the hike and, fortunately, she avoided all sickness and managed the hike.)
**Les, Dr. David, and Tiffany (one of the Arkansas women) provided a medical clinic in a little mountain village, Las Crucitas, “the crosses.” My understanding is that no one had ever done so in recent memory. In light of time restraints and the difficulty in getting there the 3 rode mules in and out. (Out of curiosity, I googled Las Crucitas, and was informed that “nearby accommodations” were in Tegucigalpa at the Hotel Excelsior. Tegicigalpa is a 3-4 hour drive from the mission-base, and then it’s a two hour and 15 minute drive on an unpaved road from the base to Monte Verde, followed by 3 to 4 hour hike, and then a mule ride to get to Las Crucitas. Thanks for the hot tip.) Regardless, they provided medical care to a number of children and adults and were received with much gratitude.
**Many of the women become pregnant at an appalling early age. Very disheartening and typically sealing their fate and future. While they were in Las Crucitas a woman proudly told them that she is 49 and just celebrated her 38th anniversary. You do the math. At our base camp in the mountains I met a young mother with three children. She is seventeen; her oldest son is 7. We met a thirteen year old mother. Many of these women have lost their childhood, their adolescence, and, without some intervention, have forfeited their future and dreams. It makes me very sad.
**Reg. the construction, we completed a house by constructing the trusses, putting on the roof and white-washing the adobe brick walls. The family was so eager to get out of their shack that they began moving in before we were even finished. They now have a shelter that will protect them and last them for generations.
**the kids. The team brought coloring books, some soccer balls, balloons, bubble-blowing stuff and provided unbelievable care and individual attention. They arranged a “salon” and washed the kids’ hair. The physical touch and tender stroking of their hair was moving. More than hair was cleansed; something on the level of the soul was touched, as well.
**When the three returned from Las Crucitas, we then hosted a major medical clinic where we were stationed, Santa Maria. We held it in open air “pavilion.” People stood in line for hours, waiting until they could be seen by the doctor or dentist. The team had brought a massive supply of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. The dentist pulled a lot of teeth, team members washing the instruments each time and then proceeding to the next patient.
**It’s all about personal contact—one on one. The team leader, Linda, would take several of her team and hike to the individual shacks that housed each family, befriending them. They came to one mother’s house and she was very moved by their personal interest in her. She told them, “I had heard you people were here in the area; but you came to me.” It’s one thing to talk the faith; walking it is what it’s all about. This team did both. As Christ-followers we represent God; we are to mirror Christ’s love. God comes to us; we don’t have to figure our way through the maze, and we, in turn, go to others. Way to pay it forward, team!
**I can’t dance. When I do, onlookers usually think I need medical attention and fear I’m having a seizure. I was in a mother’s “house of sticks”—the mother for whom we finished her new house. She’s 56 y.o., a grieving woman whose husband had died recently. She had a little portable radio that could pick up a signal and was playing some music. I began dancing and she began laughing and it was a beautiful thing to see, even for a moment, light in her saddened eyes. Laughter on her grief-ridden face.
We will have a few days back here at the Mercy International base and then another team comes in Wednesday. We will be building in the local area this week. Thank you for your prayers and for your encouragement.
Be thankful for what and who you have.
Grace and Peace, Steve and Les
Grace and Peace, Steve and Les